ITC Trade Facilitation Programme’s mission is to increase the competitiveness of the private sector, especially small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), by building export capacity, reducing direct and indirect trade transaction costs and deepening regional integration through trade facilitation measures.Trade Facilitation has important implications for a country’s export competitiveness as businesses continually require efficient access to imported raw materials, intermediate goods and capital goods. The benefits of “fluid borders” and improved trade logistics are major sources of competitive advantage which are even more critical in today’s world of increasing global production sharing, shortening product lifecycles and intensifying global competition. Even though there are advantages for all countries, the need for effective trade facilitation is greatest for landlocked developing countries (LLDCs) as their trade is dependent on the efficiency of border controls and transit mechanisms in neighbouring countries.The fragmentation that lies at the core of global value chains requires goods to cross borders several times during the production stage and to comply with customs procedures and other border administration measures each time. Inefficient export and import procedures, lack of competitive transport services and excessive red tape add to the cost of doing business for companies located in many developing and least developed countries. Businesses have increasingly expressed concern about overbearing or unnecessary trade transaction costs and have called for greater transparency, efficiency and procedural uniformity in customs procedures.ITC has deployed various trade facilitation solutions to reduce procedural complexity and minimize the related transaction costs, while maintaining efficient and effective levels of government control.
Bridging the soft trade infrastructure with actual situation In many developing countries, the high cost and poor quality of essential infrastructure services, such as ports, road transport, finance and telecommunications, have a negative impact on the global competitiveness of all exporting enterprises. Restrictive practices often prevent new investments and competition in these sectors. As a result, there is a significant increase in operational costs which is particularly damaging for SMEs and, in some cases, prevents companies from exporting altogether. Although, these issues are often addressed separately by development partners, they lead to suboptimal results. ITC focuses on the “soft infrastructure” services that enable exporters to make use of the improvements in infrastructure. Supported by public-private dialogue, it promotes evidence-based business advocacy on services liberalization and appropriate regulatory reforms.Facilitating SMEs to connect to global value chainsITC’s training programme on Supply Chain Management is designed to help enterprises with international purchasing and sales. ITC’s modular approach to managing supply chains is easily adaptable to the needs of each industry or sector, and is geared towards measurable improvements in supply chain performance, in terms of reduction of time, cost and uncertainty of production and export processes. Hundreds of trainers have been certified under this programme through ITC’s network of trade support institutions. These trainers in turn build the supply chain management capacity of SMEs in their respective countries.Using public-private partnerships in customs modernization ITC plays an important role in bringing stakeholders together from private and public sectors to identify business problems and develop concrete solutions in trade facilitation. The goal is to create public-private partnerships (PPP) to establish systems for efficient crossing of borders which will increase the competitiveness of traders e.g. establishment of single window systems.
To maximize impact in the field, ITC mainstreams the following five dimensions in all of its projects:
ITC published a guide on the Bali package.