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  • FOREIGN TRADE REPRESENTATION

  • FOREIGN TRADE REPRESENTATION icon
    ITC’s Foreign Trade Representation (FTR) programme is aimed at trade representatives, diplomats, and managers of overseas trade offices who work in developing countries, least developed countries or countries in transition. The FTR’s events and consultancies focus on four major areas: Networks, Strategies, Services, and Management.

    Information

    To find out more about the FTR programme’s four main areas of focus and to access related online resources, please expand this section.
     Since its inception in 2008, the programme has generated a wide range of tools and training materials in English, French and Spanish. These include in particular:
    The programme itself examines:

    Networks: Why and how internal and external trade support networks need to be strongly interconnected. How to tap resources offered by networks of institutions, companies, people, as well as virtual networks.
    Strategies: Linking FTR with national export strategies and other strategies (e.g. investment, tourism, etc). How to define clear priorities in terms of the nature of clients to be targeted by FTR, export products and services, market segments and market entry strategies. Carrying out product and market selection exercises. Using online market analysis tools in practice sessions.
    Services: Assessing the needs of target users. Comparative advantages of FTR. Seeking service specialization between overseas FTR offices and headquarters. Helping FTR develop a strong service portfolio.
    Management: Looking into the daily operation of FTR offices and developing clear terms of reference. Using templates, checklists and other tools. Managing the entire FTR network. Using CRMs and other information systems. Monitoring results and evaluating performance.
    Links to selected external websites:
    Database of embassies, worldwide
    Training of commercial attaches by CBI
    "My virtual trade commissioner", by DFAIT Canada
    Governments on the Web  

    Advisory Services

    Advisory missions are a key part of FTR’s work. They enable ITC to assess the strengths and weaknesses of national FTR networks and provide targeted advice to them. These initiatives involve examining the institutional context in which trade representatives operate, their terms of reference, the diverse tools they are using (guidelines, templates, information systems, work processes), as well as their coordination and evaluation mechanisms. Advisory missions are best undertaken in combination with - and if possible ahead of - possible training events.
     In 2010, advisory missions took place in Indonesia, Algeria, and Paraguay. They led to the formulation of detailed recommendations at the network level, and to the design of training programmes to be implemented on a regular basis for new staff to be posted abroad with trade representation functions.  

    Training

    At the national level, training workshops help participants to learn about tools and methods, share good practices, and update the skills of staff posted abroad. These workshops also involve network supervisors (from headquarters and from Embassies), representatives of major TSIs, and representatives of the business sector. At the regional level, meetings of FTR network coordinators allows for the exchange of ideas related to good practice in the coordination and management of FTR networks from diverse countries.
     National workshops have been held so far with trade representatives from the following countries: Guatemala, Belize, Egypt, Mexico, Indonesia, Benin, and Algeria.

    An example of a successful training initiative at the regional level was the “Regional meeting of FTR coordinators in Central America and in the Caribbean”. The event was organized in Spanish with the active cooperation of the CEI-RD, in Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic), November 2010. The meeting gathered participants from 13 countries: Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, and Venezuela. 

    Links to related ITC documents:
    Recommended 8-week FTR/TIS programme for Indonesian diplomats
    Programme of the national FTR workshop held in Algiers (in French)
    Programme of the regional meeting in Santo Domingo (in Spanish)

    Projects

    ITC’s current programme for strengthening Foreign Trade Representation networks started in September 2008. By the end of 2010, the following had been put into practice:

    • National FTR workshops
    • Advisory missions at national level
    • Regional meetings of FTR coordinators
    • Development of training materials
     The following countries requested assistance from ITC’s FTR programme, and their overseas trade representation networks have benefited from programme inputs at the national level: Guatemala, Belize, Egypt, Mexico, Indonesia, Benin, Algeria, and Paraguay. All workshops and consultancies were customised to meet the requirements of partner organizations.

    Large projects of ITC (such as ENACT) are also progressively including FTR components in their activities. Algeria and Morocco are two initial candidates expected to benefit from the FTR programme, under ENACT. More countries and regions are expected to follow in 2011.  

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