Pat Francis praised by WTO

Paying tribute earlier this month to Francis, who for a decade had propelled Jampro to become the key player in luring and facilitating foreign and local investments in Jamaica, French economist Lamy told the Joint Advisory Group of the ITC that the outgoing executive director had done a tremendous job of raising the organization’s profile through a period of economic crisis, a task he stressed was not easy.

“I know this first-hand. It takes determined stewardship and sometimes the courage to make and take what may appear to be unpopular decisions at the time. I am sensitive to that but I am confident that some of the important changes that Patricia has made to the work of the ITC will deliver dividends in the future,” Lamy said.

“One of the most important areas of success has been in the area of fundraising. Patricia and her team placed a great deal of emphasis on developing an effective fundraising platform and raising the profile of the organization and I believe this has been successful,” said Lamy, who himself has had an enviable record of stewardship of the WTO over the past eight years and will also be demitting office in September.

Noting that under the tenure of Francis the ITC has become a partner to the WTO on a number of issues, Lamy cited the Aid for Trade concept which he said has been successful in providing financial and capacity-building assistance “to developing countries, specifically to least-developed countries, to allow them to take advantage of market access openings and thus place trade-led growth as a central pillar of national and regional development strategies.”

Ascribing the success of Aid for Trade to Francis’ ITC, Lamy praised the impact and effectiveness of the concept in increasing exports and diversification, and improving “capacity to identify trade-related opportunities and dialogue with the private sector”.

Lamy also commended ITC’s contribution at the WTO’s Third Global Review of Aid for Trade in 2011, and the important role it has played in monitoring the private sector for this July’s Fourth Global Review which has attracted 700 responses so far.

“With the focus of the Global Review on value chains, it was necessary that the private sector be intimately involved in the process …which will shed further light on how small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in developing countries can enter, benefit from and move up regional and global value chains.”

Informing that the Francis-led ITC will be jointly hosting a series of side events at the upcoming Global Review, Lamy said its role in the Aid for Trade agenda “will only take on greater importance in the future”.

Lamy posited that as official development assistance (ODA) falls and traditional development partner budgets are reduced because of the crisis, greater focus will need to be placed on three additional sources of funding: South-South trade-related capacity building, domestic resource mobilization, and private sector investment, which he argued Francis’ ITC is well placed to successfully source.

“ITC’s existing links with SMEs, which make up the economic tissue of many developing countries and with large companies on the ground, make it an automatic partner in linking and leveraging investments from non-traditional sources,” Lamy said of the Francis-led organization.

Putting another feather in Francis’ cap, Lamy pointed to a 21st century world where innovations in technology and transportation are constantly transforming the ways we think of and do trade. In this regard he said, “We all have to be ahead of the curve. And it is here that the ITC can shine: because of its proximity to the ground in countries, it can anticipate and incorporate new trends and priorities into its work stream.”

Francis’ ITC has also been commended for remaining “ahead of the curve and certainly ahead of the multilateral trade rule book” in several areas which, Lamy said, include “the increasing prevalence and impact of non-tariff measures on trade, its work on services, specifically in the area of tourism, on gender and trade, on value chain analysis and on the green economy.”

The ITC was also praised for what Lamy said must also form a central pillar of its work, namely, “its pragmatic approach to innovation in trade-related technical assistance and the efforts in expanding South-South trade and assisting less developed countries, landlocked developing countries, small island developing states and sub-Saharan Africa to diversify their exports towards emerging markets.”

Formed in 1964, the ITC is the joint agency of the WTO and the United Nations. Its aim is for businesses in developing countries to become more competitive in global markets, speeding economic development and contributing to the achievement of the UN’s Millennium Development Goals.

As such, the ITC focuses on implementing and delivering practical trade-related technical assistance projects, which is also the focus of the Aid for Trade agenda that underpins its activities and responds to the developmental needs of the countries. The ITC supports the policy and research objectives of the WTO, which deals with the global rules of trade between nations, and its main function is to ensure that trade flows as smoothly, predictably and freely as possible.


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