Secretary-General Supachai Panitchpakdi was addressing the forty-seventh annual meeting of the Joint Advisory Group, which reviews the operations of the International Trade Centre (ITC). ITC was created in 1964 as a joint venture of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and UNCTAD. It helps private businesses take advantage of the opportunities for economic growth offered by trade, and serves to complement the work of UNCTAD and the World Trade Organization (WTO) in creating better market access and trade conditions around the world.
UNCTAD Secretary-General Supachai Panitchpakdi, addressing the meeting of the Joint Advisory Group on the International Trade Centre on 6 May 2013
"Over the last decade, I have had the privilege of leading the WTO secretariat and then the UNCTAD secretariat," Mr. Supachai told the meeting on 6 May. "I have seen ITC undergo many changes. One of its most enduring strengths has been its ability to continuously evolve - to adopt new concepts and approaches to providing assistance to countries and their enterprises."
"Given current trends in the world economy," he said, "ITC would do well to focus on bolstering regional trade, as well as the rapidly expanding trade between developing countries known as South-South trade. South-South trade has rebounded dramatically from the disruption that took place at the beginning of the financial crisis," he said. "The expansion of South-South trade is likely to continue. This should be taken into consideration in our efforts to support trade-promotion institutions."
Mr. Supachai also called for increased attention to helping businesses in developing countries to link into global value chains - the vast and growing global trade in intermediate products - and to 'climb' the value chains; that is, to produce goods of greater value and complexity. "Among other things," said the Secretary-General, ITC may "consider tailoring its interventions in order to more actively promote forward and backward linkages between the traded sectors and industries - be they extractive or assembly - and the rest of the economy, so as to spread the gains of trade more widely and support employment, structural transformation, and poverty reduction."
He recommended that additional areas of future work should include helping the private sector to support agricultural development - a major issue in the wake of the recent food crisis. And he especially recommended a focus on expanding productive capacities, or the ability of businesses in developing nations to produce goods of greater variety, complexity and value.
"In recent years, there has been a renewed recognition of the prime importance of productive capacity, or, in ITC terms, business export capacity," Mr. Supachai said. "Today, hardly anyone would dispute that supporting export capacity constitutes a core element of modern trade strategies."
The Secretary-General began his presentation by lauding the significant cooperative work carried out by UNCTAD and ITC. Among other things, the organizations collaborate on the UNCTAD Virtual Institute, the Empretec progamme, the BioTrade Initiative, and the Transparency in Trade Initiative.
Meeting of the Joint Advisory Group on the International Trade Centre, 47th session