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    The international community is paying more attention to the new geography of international economic relations. South-South trade flows, which are the fastest growing segment of world trade, are increasing at more than 10% per annum and they now represent more than 40% of all trade by developing countries.  


    The ITC Business Generation programme aims at facilitating intra and interregional trade and cooperation by improving the abilities of Trade Support Institutions to organize South-South matchmaking events in key export sectors. This programme generates new trade and investment transactions between enterprises in developing countries and transition economies. 
     In June 1999, ITC launched the ‘South-South Trade Promotion’ initiative. The programme is designed to use trade expansion as an effective vehicle for regional economic integration. Its objective is to identify trade and investment opportunities in the South, both at intra and inter-regional levels, and to convert them into business transactions.

    The ITC Business Generation programme follows a four-step methodology to identify trade and investment opportunities and translate them into business transactions. This is done by bringing importers and exporters together. The four steps are: 

    • Trade flow analyses that identify import, export and related investment opportunities across groups of countries. 
    • Supply and demand surveys that document market characteristics in order to identify opportunities and potential clients through field research on a product and country basis   
    • Buyers/sellers meetings which serve as platforms for companies to conduct business transactions and take advantage of the identified opportunities. 
    • Follow-up actions at enterprise, institutional and government level aims at sustaining south-south business links  

    The programme is delivered at the enterprise, institutional and government level to sustain South-South business links. A special component of the programme includes linking developing country enterprises with international aid agencies operating in their region.

    The programme is delivered at the enterprise, institutional and government level to sustain South-South business links. A special component of the programme includes linking developing country enterprises with international aid agencies operating in their region.

    ITC Business Generation one pager

    The South-South website  

    The South-South Methodolgy

    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.
     These surveys cover: food and agro-processed food; textile and clothing; wood and furniture; pharmaceuticals and natural products; humanitarian relief items; and leather & leather products. More than 3,000 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.

    Advisory Services

    Participants of the buyers/sellers meetings 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 consist of 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 complementary but separate programme activities.

    The organisers of the meetings do not always have the expertise or ability to provide technical assistance to enterprises. In some countries trade support institutions offer these services to SMEs, often free of charge. Many enterprises are not aware of this.  


    ITC’s business generation programme improves the ability of Trade Support Institutions (TSIs) to deliver matchmaking services and organize buyers/sellers meetings. Support is provided 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 analyses of trade flows among countries in a region and in 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 target market’s requirements are. Results are confirmed through in-depth supply and demand surveys. 
    • The third stage is sharing the information. It is given to businesses as well as trade and business organizations. This 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 working in partnership with the Organisation international 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 Mekong area (Cambodia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Viet Nam).  
     The Programme for African Capacity Building for Trade (PACT II) includes a component on strengthening regional trade integration and support institutions. It focuses on improving 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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