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“ITC 50 years of Trade Impact for Good: Where Next ?”

10 June 2014
“ITC 50 years of Trade Impact for Good: Where Next ?”

Opening remarks by Mr. Michael Møller
United Nations Under-Secretary-General
Acting Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva

“ITC 50 years of Trade Impact for Good: Where Next”

World Trade Organization, CRI Room
Tuesday, 10 June 2014 at 15:00

Distinguished Ministers
Madam Executive Director, Dear Arancha
Dear Colleagues:

First of all, congratulations! Congratulations to the International Trade Centre and to all the colleagues who have worked over the past 50 years to realize the full potential of trade for development. It is a pleasure to have with us also two previous leaders of ITC – Mr. Denis Bélisle and Ms. Patricia Francis – who have both played key roles in this work. ITC is a well-respected member of our United Nations family here in Geneva. We appreciate being able to celebrate this milestone with you – and we look forward to our work together over the coming 50 years!

The geography of trade has changed significantly since the establishment of ITC. Twenty years ago only 10% of trade was between developing countries. It is now estimated that by 2020, trade between developing countries will climb to one-third of global trade. The stories of the countries that are represented here highlight this transformation of the trade reality. These trends present tremendous opportunities for shared prosperity, but opportunities need to be recognized, seized and nurtured. ITC is critical to this work.

Experience and research clearly show the indispensable role of exports in transforming small and medium-size economies. They represent the biggest source of untapped potential in fuelling growth, creating the jobs we need and expanding the individual and collective skills base.

ITC has helped to unlock this potential of trade over 50 years through projects, technical assistance and capacity-building. Every day, the work of ITC has made a difference for individuals across the globe, empowering them to build more resilient and export-ready enterprises. Another good example of the direct impact and clear value of the collective work of the United Nations in Geneva.

The partnerships that have been built with the critical mass of civil society actors engaged here in Geneva in analysis and research on the nexus between trade and development have been a great asset in these efforts – and I hope that these partnerships will continue to be enhanced.

Together, we need to ensure that trade is properly integrated across our activities. Trade opening has much to contribute to the fight against climate change by improving production methods, making environmentally friendly products more accessible at lower costs and allowing for a more efficient allocation of resources. As we move towards a legally-binding climate agreement, these positive aspects of trade need to be reflected in our thinking and in our implementation activities.

The Bali Package provides a strong foundation for moving ahead in allowing trade to be a force for good for developing countries, though challenges remain. Governments will have to do yet more to remove barriers both to global and intra-regional trade and to improve transport infrastructure to fully capitalize on trade.

As we look ahead today, there is no doubt that the work of ITC will gain in importance as part of the post-2015 development agenda. Already now, as the discussions become more intense in New York, we are seeing how trade occupies a much more prominent place in the global debate than it did, for example, when the Millennium Development Goals came into being. As a member of the United Nations Task Team, ITC is feeding expertise into the conceptualization of the agenda. And together with the many development partners in Geneva, ITC will be absolutely instrumental in the implementation of the agenda. And this is when the real hard work starts and when the experience accumulated over the past 50 years will come to the fore.

Once again, on behalf of the colleagues of our United Nations family, congratulations. And best wishes for the important work ahead.

Thank you very much.