IN the previous articles, we established Saint Lucia is classified as a Small Island Developing State (SIDS) and that as such “in order for (Saint Lucia) to achieve sustained economic growth and sustainable development, it is necessary to develop overseas markets for value-added exports in areas in which they are internationally competitive.”
We also established that the development of a National Export Strategy (NES) should be the business of everyone because its effects on the economy are so pervasive. We mentioned the very important need for our efforts to be collaborative and coherent. The agencies on Team Saint Lucia were detailed. It was briefly mentioned that Saint Lucia was “ably assisted by a team from the International Trade Center (ITC)”.
The International Trade Center (ITC)
The World Trade Organization (WTO) is an inter-governmental organization which regulates international trade. The WTO officially commenced on January 1, 1995 under the Marrakesh Agreement signed by 123 nations on April 15, 1994, replacing the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), which commenced in 1948.
The International Trade Centre (ITC) (French: Centre du commerce international (CCI)) is a subsidiary organization of the WTO and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and provides trade-related technical assistance. Whereas the WTO mainly deals with the rules of international trade and UNCTAD with research and advocacy, ITC’s mandate is narrower as it is solely concerned with helping (so-called) developing and transition economies to promote their exports. The pure focus on technical assistance is rare within the UN system as most other organizations that provide technical assistance usually engage in multiple areas and kinds of assistance.
The ITC has developed a number of indispensible tools for policymakers, strategy owners, programme managers, academics, business owners and specifically, exporters.
Thanks to the support from donors to ITC Trust Fund and the European Commission (EC), ITC created a suite of market analysis tools, including Trade Map, Market Access Map, Investment Map and Standards Map, to help users investigate the trade-related information of over 220 countries and territories. Since January 1, 2008, the market analysis tools suite became a Global Public Goods and all users from least developed and developing countries and territories have been able to access the tools free of charge.
The Trade Map is an interactive online database on international trade statistics. It presents indicators on export performance, international demand, alternative markets and the role of competitors from both the product and country perspective. Trade Map is considered one of the world’s biggest trade databases as it covers trade flows (mirror and direct) of over 220 countries and territories and 5,300 products defined at the 2-, 4- or 6-digit level of the Harmonized System. Users can choose to see the data either with pre-calculated trade indicators (e.g. growth, market shares, average unit values, etc.) or in times-series (e.g. monthly, quarterly and yearly) from 2001 onward.
In 2012, Trade Map, in collaboration with Kompass, included “company contact information” module to help companies identify trading partners in 64 countries.
Trade Map sources yearly data from UN COMTRADE and collect monthly data directly from national statistics bureaus or customs authorities.
Market Access Map
An analytical web application that serves the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) efforts (Goal 8: Market Access Indicators by ITC, UNCTAD and WTO) with the aim of enhancing market access transparency and facilitating the analysis of trade policy issues.
Market Access Map, also known as “MAcMap”, presents comprehensive information on the different types of barriers that affect international trade, such as applied customs tariffs (e.g. Most Favored Nations tariffs, preferences granted under trade agreements), ad valorem equivalents, tariff rate quotas, trade remedies, rules of origin, certificate of origin, bound tariffs of WTO members and Non-Tariff Measures (NTMs).
Market Access Map is used by both economic operators to find information on market requirements and trade policymakers to prepare for trade negotiations.
By 2015, Market Access Map included MFN and preferential tariffs of over 190 countries as well as Non-Tariff Measures (NTMs) data for approximately 70 countries. It recently became available in French and Spanish in response to a growing number of active users from Latin America and Africa.
The Investment Map database collects yearly FDI statistics for about 200 countries and detailed FDI sectoral and/or country breakdown for about 115 countries.
The Investment Map helps Investment Promotion Agencies identify priority sectors and competing countries for foreign investments, as well as existing and potential foreign investors. Moreover, it helps companies identify potential locations for investment abroad.
The Sustainability Standards website, also available at www.standardsmap.org, provides comprehensive, verified and transparent information on voluntary sustainability standards and other similar initiatives covering issues such as food quality and safety. The main objective of the programme is to strengthen the capacity of producers, exporters, policymakers and buyers, to participate in more sustainable production and trade.
Sustainability Standards is an online platform which enables its users to explore and compare over 210 sustainability standards and build their personalized business roadmap towards sustainable trade. Users, which include producers, manufacturers, brands, retailers, researchers and policymakers, can:
• Identify standards or codes of conduct which apply to their own business
• Review the main features of the selected standards and codes
• Generate comparisons of standards’ content requirements
• Self-assess their business against standard requirements, generate their personalized sustainability diagnostic report which traces out a roadmap towards sustainable trade
• Save and share their sustainability diagnostic report with actors along the value chain via the Sustainability Network
The Sustainability Standards website aims to provide its users with solutions to the following issues: lack of a credible, central, and neutral repository for standards information; confusion over the proliferation of standards applied in international markets, developed by companies, industry associations and NGOs; audit fatigue at the suppliers’ level (example: buyers doing multiple audits of the same supplier of sugar originating from India); need for more transparency and comparability between companies’ audit protocols in order to create trust and mutual recognition: “one audit fits several companies.
The ITC has a programme which may be of interest to our Small and Medium Enterprises; it is called the Trade And Enviroment Programme (TEP). The ITC’s Trade and Environment Programme (TEP) aims to strengthen the competiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in developing countries exporting agri-food and natural products.
The programme provides capacity building and trade intelligence to exporters and producers with a view to secure market access, improve climate resilience and the sustainability of their sourcing. This results in higher incomes for exporting MSMEs and the rural poor. TEP also works closely with ITC project managers to mainstream sustainability approaches into ITC programming and policies (Trade and Environment Program Newsletter, May 2015).
The ITC has a wealth of experience assisting countries like Saint Lucia in developing mechanisms to participate in world trade. The ITC professionals working with TEPA are very experienced, knowledgeable, affable and very accommodating. As a result, Saint Lucia enjoys a great relationship with ITC professionals, an essential prerequisite for successful teamwork.