Press Release Geneva No. 220 23 April 2004 40 Years of Aid to Trade From a tiny team of five at its creation 40 years ago on 1 May 1964, the International Trade Centre has expanded to a staff of more than 200, with 700 consultants, from over 50 countries. “Developing countries asked GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, the precursor to WTO) to help them develop their exports in 1964, and they set up ITC,” recalls J. Denis Bélisle, ITC’s Canadian Executive Director. “The UN, through UNCTAD, joined four years later in the ITC venture. For four decades, we’ve been helping business in developing countries to take advantage of the world trading system. We are a small agency but we are down-to-earth and practical.” Practicality is what ITC will emphasize during its annual meeting (the Joint Advisory Group, which opens Monday, 26 April), where it will launch its 40th anniversary celebrations. New Jobs, Economic Development from Cut Flower Exports The week-long meeting will hear Li Gang, Vice-President of the Yunnan Flower Association, speak and show a film on Wednesday 28 April on his province’s US$ 415 million flower business which started from zero only 10 years ago. “The rapid growth of the Yunnan flower industry would not have been possible without the support and the assistance of ITC and the Swiss Government,” says Kong Chuizhu, Vice-Governor of Yunnan Province. The Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (seco) funded the three year ITC project. Improving Trade Talks – Bringing Business and Government Together Also on Wednesday at the Palais meeting, Tatiana Philippova, head of the Bishkek Chamber for Trade Development in Kyrgyzstan (which joined WTO in 1998), will describe her cooperation with ITC, notably in helping businesses to learn how to deal with trade negotiators on products of export importance to Kyrgyzstan. Knowing What to Export Another example of the practical nature of ITC involves JOBS, a private sector development programme, funded by the US Agency for International Development. The head of JOBS, Imran Shauket of Bangladesh, will address the Wednesday session on the use JOBS makes of ITC’s market analysis tools for developing export opportunities. (These tools are available free in May, as part of ITC’s 40th anniversary activities.) On Wednesday afternoon at ITC, there will be a “Competitiveness Tools Fair,” open to journalists, diplomatic missions and international organizations in Geneva, featuring presentations of over 50 ITC tools in use in developing and transition economies. Free Legal Advice for Small Firms One very practical example is ITC’s work on model contracts for small firms in developing countries, which cannot afford to have their own lawyers. Information on how to draw up Street address: ITC, 54-56, rue de Montbrillant, 1202 Geneva, Switzerland Telephone: + 41-22 730 0111 Fax: + 41-22 733 4439 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Internet: http://www.intracen.org Postal address: ITC, Palais des Nations, 1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland -2- international contracts in balanced and easily comprehensible terms is not always readily available for these firms. Yet, at a time where world merchandise exports are increasing by 6% each year, many small companies have to export as part of their daily business – without a lawyer’s advice. So ITC developed model contracts available in English, French and Spanish, on joint venture agreements, sales agreements, and sector-specific areas such as co-publishing agreements. A committee of lawyers from 45 countries, working pro-bono, drafted the model joint venture contracts. They are free on the Internet, at http://www.jurisint.org The site is Google’s number 1 for international contracts. It also contains over 150 different models from other organizations for all principal kinds of international transactions (agency contracts, letters of intent, e-commerce, etc.). Since Internet connections are inadequate in a number of countries, ITC sends the on-site contracts free of charge to small firms and business lawyers, and regularly provides training on how to draft contracts. Another of ITC’s publications, “A Business Guide to the World Trading System”, has been translated into ten languages, many in developing countries. “Countries say they find these tools extremely useful,” says Bélisle. ITC will also use the occasion of ITC’s 40th anniversary to launch an international trade fellowship programme for developing-country business graduates. The programme is jointly run with AIESEC (a student-operated body founded in 1948 and now operating in 84 countries). Hewlett-Packard Geneva is the programme’s first sponsor. Two young Africans will spend a year in Geneva, first at ITC and then at Hewlett-Packard. “This is either the first such UN fellowship arrangement with a big firm, or one of the very first,” says Gian Piero Roz, Director of ITC’s Division of Programme Support who negotiated the agreements, which will be signed on Monday at the annual meeting. “It is our hope to expand ITC’s fellowship activities substantially.” The fellowship programme is run within the UN Global Compact’s programme for cooperation between business and UN system organizations. Referring to all these projects, publications and activities, Executive Director J. Denis Bélisle concluded: “Forty years of hard work in trade development and continued commitment to contribute to sustainable development through trade is what should be celebrated on ITC’s 40th birthday on Saturday, 1 May.” ITC’s Annual Meeting will take place at the Palais des Nations, Room XX from Monday, 26 April through Friday morning, 30 April. The signature of the Fellowship Programme is on Monday, 26 April at 3 pm Presentations from China, Kyrgyzstan and Bangladesh are on Wednesday, 28 April from 10 am to 1 pm. The Competitiveness Tools Fair will be held at ITC Headquarters, 54-56 rue de Montbrillant, on Wednesday, 28 April from 2 pm to 5 pm. *** For more information: Contact Ms Natalie Domeisen, Senior Public Information Officer, tel.: +41 22 730 0370; fax: +41 22 733 4439; e-mail: email@example.com *** About ITC The International Trade Centre is the technical cooperation agency of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the World Trade Organization (WTO) for operational and enterprise-oriented aspects of international trade development. As the United Nations focal point for technical cooperation in trade promotion, ITC works with developing countries and economies in transition to set up effective trade promotion programmes to expand their exports and improve their import operations.