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WEDF 2014 session report: Closing session

  • Closing remarks - session report

    Speakers

    • Mr. Francis Gatare, CEO, Rwanda Development Board
    • H. E. Mr. Pierre Claver Ndayiragije, Ambassador and Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission of the Republic of Burundi to the United Nations Office and other international organizations in Geneva
    • Ms. Arancha González, Executive Director, International Trade Center

    Overview

    The joint closing ceremony of the14th World Export Development Forum and the 3rd Women Vendor Exhibition and Forum ended two and a half days of deliberations and business meetings. It was the first time that WEDF was held in Africa, in a least developed country or a landlocked developing country. WVEF participants signed 44 letters of intent with a total value of US$ 5.5 million.

    Highlights

    Mr. Gatare highlighted the importance of the implementation of the policy measures and best practices discussed at WEDF. “The government of Rwanda is determined to continue to build the capacity of the private sector producers and to make operations easier for our SMEs,” he said. “We continue to create a more favorable investment climate and to double our efforts in export promotion. We are rising to the challenge and taking competition positively to inspire improvements in the quality and quantity of our exports.”

    Mr. Gatare congratulated the participants of WVEF for the results achieved, business deals concluded and urged for the work to continue. “It is critical that we continue to center efforts and discussions on women in business, as the SME’s which they predominantly own are the backbone of our economies,” he said. The conference is over, but the partnerships built here need to be maintained, he said. “I encourage both individuals and companies to follow up on discussions held, in order to ensure materialization of ideas, deals and partnerships forged during this forum.”

    Click here to read Mr. Gatare’s full statement.

    Ambassador Ndayiragije, Chairperson of the WTO Committee on Trade and Development, summed up the main takeaways of the event. “These three days have confirmed that SMEs have a critical role to play in raising global competitiveness and sustaining development and poverty reduction,” he said. “The employment creating role of SMEs, especially for women and youth, is of particular importance for developing and least developed countries.”

    Countries need to reduce the cost of doing business for small businesses, he said. “The landscape of value chains has created opportunities for SMEs – as importers, exporters of goods and services, or as suppliers to larger multinationals.”

    He urged countries to simplify and harmonize customs procedures and implement the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement. He pointed to the importance of the digital economy and the opportunities it provides for Africa. He highlighted the importance of investing services to increase the overall competitiveness of countries, as well as to the increasingly important role played by emerging markets as trading partners and investors.

    “I am taking these messages with me to the WTO to contribute to the upcoming Aid for Trade Global Review,” he said.

    Click here to read Ambassador Ndayiragije's full statement

    Ms. González thanked the Rwandan government for hosting the event. “We are particularly happy to have organized WEDF in Rwanda - a country that has placed trade and support for the private sector at the heart of its development policy,” she said.

    She listed the pledges made by participants during the conference:

    • Kosgeb Turkey offered to train African governments at no charge on developing incubators, an area in which it has extensive expertise.
    • The Mara Group has offered its free online app to be used by Africans who seek mentors and peer-to-peer networking across Africa.
    • The Government of India encouraged African business people to take advantage of its sponsored training facilities.

    Ms. González also pointed to 44 letters of intent signed as a result of over 500 business-to-business meetings held at WVEF. The combined value of the deals is US$ 5.5 million. As important as the numbers are the partnerships formed. “It is also the links we have created that we hope we continue in the future,” she said.

    As another concrete outomce of WVEF, she pointed to the launch of a new initiative to source from women vendors, with commitment from multinationals and from UN Women. “I was very pleased that the Minister of Trade and Industry of Uganda pledged to be the first to implement this initiative in Africa,” she said.

    ITC will integrate many of the learnings of the conference into its projects and programmes. “ITC intends to strengthen the partnership with SMEs to address these issues and help them - help you - to internationalise. We are committed to focusing on deliverables. We are committed to results. We are committed to trade impact for good,” she said.

    Click here to read Ms. González’ full statement.

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