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  • Generating business leads
    Business partnerships and alliances are built on contacts and trust. The most effective way to foster these relationships is to bring together potential trading partners. In such a forum, the businesses can exchange information, knowhow and best practices.


    An increasing number of regional as well as national trade and business promotion organizations understand that in order to be more effective they need to get closer to the level of interaction between buyers and sellers of goods and services. To find out more and to access online resources, please expand this section.
     Bringing together buyers and sellers of goods and services has many benefits:
    • Buyers/sellers meetings provide a means to transform political intentions promoting South South trade into economic reality as trade is actually generated during the event.
    • These meetings are multifaceted and versatile trade promotion tools as they cover imports and exports of goods and services, as well as investment opportunities in the South South context.
    • The meetings demonstrate, through the volume of business generated, the untapped potential for South South trade.
    • Trade and business promotion organizations gain credibility among the constituencies 

    Buyers/sellers meetings are most useful at regional levels where trade among member countries is rather low, but the potential for trade expansion is considerable. The meetings are a cost-effective way to bring together trading enterprises from different countries. Businesses can quickly make the right contacts without major travel expenses.

    Organizations find that participating in buyers/sellers meetings benefit them in other ways as well. The meetings encourage networking between like-minded institutions in different countries. This allows them to continue to work together to promote business among the enterprises. The meetings also provide these organizations with a potential income-generating activity, and a highly visible service for its members. Finally, in preparation for the meetings, the organizations conduct supply and demand surveys, giving them an insight into a specific sector of their country’s economy. This enhances the credibility of these organizations as an important partner in the policy dialogue with their governments. In this is of interest to you, the Promoting Regional Trade section of this website may be of interest.

    Data and Research

    ITC has conducted more than 1,000 supply and demand surveys since the inception of its South-South Trade Programme in 1987. Those surveys cover sectors including: food and agro-processed food; textile and clothing; wood and furniture; pharmaceuticals and natural products; humanitarian relief items; and leather and leather products. More than 5’000 worldwide company profiles have been produced as a result of the surveys, and more than 100 buyers/sellers meetings have been held. The average business transactions generated during these events have reached over five hundred million USD.
     ITC assists organizations in preparing and hosting buyers/sellers meetings. Most of the meetings are elements in integrated programmes for intra or inter-regional trade expansion, while others are tailor-made arrangements in support of ad hoc trade promotion events.

    Advisory Services

    The participants of the buyers/sellers meetings will make recommendations to the trade and business promotion organizations. It is important that the organizer, in cooperation with the relevant national and regional institutions, act on the recommendations.
     Direct follow up activities can consist of, for example, study tours and marketing missions to exporting and importing countries. In some cases a need is identified for further product and market development work at the enterprise level, which could require a complementary but separate programme activity.


    ITC’s business generation programme enables Trade Support Institutions (TSIs) to deliver matchmaking services and organize buyer/seller meetings. This is done by providing support throughout the process, which includes the design, development, and organisation of the meeting.
     In particular, ITC provides training to TSIs to carry out the following three stages of the approach:
    • The first is the identification of import/export opportunities. This happens through statistical analysis of trade flows among countries in a region and the rest of the world. It provides data on products that the countries have to offer or need on a sector-by-sector basis and that are believed to have intra-regional trade potential.
    • The second stage is to undertake more detailed field research to establish what the target market needs. This is done in order to identify the specific demand and supply characteristics by sector and to determine what the normative requirements are in the target market. The results confirm the opportunities through in-depth supply and demand surveys for the most dynamic product sectors.
    • The third stage is to share the information. It is given to the businesses for their use as well as to trade and business organizations. This step translates the opportunities into business by bringing the potential importers and exporters together in a buyers/sellers meeting, and providing them with a forum to transact business. This is followed up by complementary trade promotion activities, including support at the enterprise level in product and market development, marketing missions, trade fairs and training events.


    ITC is currently working in partnership with the Organisation Internationale de la francophonie (OIF) to promote intra- and inter- regional trade among countries in West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA), the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC), the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC), and the Francophone Mekong area (Cambodia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Viet Nam).
     The Programme for African Capacity Building for Trade (PACT II) also has a strong component on strengthening regional trade integration and support institutions. It focuses on, among other things, building the capacity of the three African regional economic commissions, COMESA, ECCAS, and ECOWAS, and their apex bodies in the area of trade development and promotion. It also contributes towards building region-wide trade support institutions and business networks.
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