Thirty-fourth Session of the Joint Advisory Group on the International Trade Centre UNCTAD/WTO
Geneva, 30 April - 4 May 2001

The thirty - fourth Session of the Joint Advisory Group on the International Trade Centre UNCTAD/WTO held from 30 April to 4 may 2001 in Geneva was chaired by the Permanent Representative of Romania to the Office of United Nations and the International Organisations in Geneva, H.E. Mme Ambassador Anda Filip.

In her opening remarks, the Chair congratulated the ITC's Executive Director for the quality and diversity of the activities undertaken by him and his staff in the last year, expressing the appreciation for the excellent cooperation developed over the years among UNCTAD, WTO and ITC and for the manner in which the technical assistance was provided by the ITC, focussing to business communities and business support institutions in developing and transition economies, with special attention paid to LDCs.

The Chair also referred to the ITC's dynamic, transparent and flexible approach, including needs assessment, combined global, regional and country projects, paying special attention to national capacity-building, promoting partnerships and networking and making full use of advanced technologies for delivering technical cooperation.

Romania's views on the activities developed by ITC UNCTAD/WTO in the year 2000
Intervention by Romanian Delegation

Madame Chair,

First, I would like to express my delegation's entire gratitude for the very comprehensive and structured manner in which the ITC Annual Report 2000 was prepared and to congratulate the Executive Director - Mr. Bélisle and his team for their excellent work.

I will start by conveying Romania's message of appreciation for the technical assistance activities developed by the ITC in the year 2000, aimed at promoting developing countries' and transitional economies' foreign trade, having as ultimate goal their full integration in the multilateral trading system.

Apart from the fact that Romania was the first transitional economy where the International Trade Centre UNCTAD/WTO has started to implement technical assistance projects, the cooperation between this institution and its Romanian partners was from the very beginning and continues to be a successful one.

It is a great pleasure for me to announce that a recent independent evaluation of ITC's technical cooperation with the Government of Romania over the past 10 years has commented on its good results and its effectiveness.

Madame Chair,

If you allow me, I would like now to give a short outlook of specific projects developed in Romania by ITC with special focus on projects under progress in the year 2000, trying in this way to present an evaluation of the ITC's activities in the last year from a Romanian perspective.

A project called "Strengthening of the Romanian Foreign Trade Centre" meant to prepare this institution in providing trade information services and consultancy to Romanian business operators ended in March 1999, a Terminal Tripartite Review undertaken by UNDP, the Romanian Government and the Romanian Foreign Trade Centre, in April 2000, concluding that the respective project was a success, in the sense that enabled the institution, which acts as a national trade promotion body, to become a specialized and qualified provider of trade information and services to the concerned business community.

Taking into account that the above mentioned project laid also the foundations for direct technical assistance in two priority specific sectors, a second phase of this project, called "Strengthening Romania's Export Capacities", intending to exploit the achievements of the first project and to expand them into a new one, was developed in close cooperation between Romanian Foreign Trade Centre specialists and ITC and started in late 2000. The new project, with a duration of two years and benefiting from the contribution of Swiss Government and UNDP, focuses on strengthening of trade information at the Romanian Foreign Trade Centre by spreading its benefits with the territorial Business Centres, and on capacity building and enterprise support in textiles and garments and wooden furniture. Having as purpose to give a regional dimension to the technical assistance activities, enabling thus a large number of companies to have access to new knowledge in the two fields of activity, this project was based on consultations between the Romanian Foreign Trade Centre and ITC aimed at finding the best manners to address the needs of business operators.

It is important to underline that already from the starting of this project, due to its magnitude and targets, along with the good previous collaboration between ITC, UNDP and Romanian Foreign Trade Centre, all these parts expressed ideas of future cooperation beyond 2002, seeking to address further product and market development and new sectors.

In the context of the great importance attached by the Government of Romania to the SMEs' support, a new project implemented by ITC, UNCTAD and WTO is now under progress in Romania, as a part of a broader project financed through the "Agence Gouvernementale de la Francophonie". This interregional project on enterprise competitiveness in francophone countries is based on a very attractive approach aimed at improving the capacity of project partners and their networks in providing practical trade-related training and counselling services to SMEs.

A number of regional projects evolved in the purchasing and supply management area, implemented in Romania jointly by ITC and by the Swiss Association for Purchasing and Material Management, including training seminars for the future trainers in purchase management. The Romanian Association of Supply Management - the ITC's national partner, has started a training program in Romania that led to the formation of a core group of trainers, using their expertise not only in Romania but also in the Republic of Moldova. The success of this project stands on its relevance to the country's needs and on the high quality activities undertaken by the Swiss organization and ITC. Based on these achievements, a follow-up regional project for improvement in purchasing support systems and services in Central and Eastern Europe was under progress in the year 2000.

Beside national, regional, and interregional projects, the active and valuable presence of ITC in Romania is also visible through its generic services utilized by various Romanian organizations and enterprises.

Aiming at making good use of the specialized trade information processed by ITC as tools designed to enhance the competitiveness of SMEs, in the year 2000 were under progress arrangements for adaptation, according to the Romanian needs, of the publications "Trade Secrets - The Export Answer Book for Small and Medium Sized Exporters" and "Secrets of Electronic Commerce - a Guide to Small and Medium Sized Exporters".

In this context, it should be mentioned that Romania was the first country which approached ITC for translating the publication "Business Guide to the Uruguay Round" into another language than English, French and Spanish. The Guide, translated by Romanian Foreign Trade Centre and launched in 1996 in a workshop in Bucharest, conducted by an ITC consultant, is used for training in the government sector and is also used by private sector organizations. At present, the Romanian Foreign Trade Centre is preparing the launching ceremony of the second issue of this publication, called "Business Guide to the World Trading System".

In the field of trade in services, Romanian Foreign Trade Centre and ITC cooperated in supporting services firm within the event CYSERV 2000 - an international forum for the promotion of trade in services in the Mediterranean, Middle East, Central and Eastern Europe and the Community of Independent States. The follow-up activities developed after this event indicated that the Romanian companies found it well-organized and valuable in terms of services promotion.

This wide range of activities developed by the International Trade Centre UNCTAD/WTO in Romania, based on specific requirements of assistance, show undoubtedly that ITC, jointly with UNCTAD and WTO, are the main technical assistance agencies working with the government and government bodies in the area of trade development.

The special role that ITC has been playing in Romania over the last 11 years has largely been the consequence of the institution's internationally recognized ability to translate practical concerns of the private sector to the government, the most illustrative example being the establishment and development of public sector bodies such as trade promotion organizations, acting as a linkage between the business community and the government.

The evaluation report mentioned above also underlined that the very good results of the ITC and Government of Romania cooperation are largely due to the very close collaboration between the concerned parties: Romania, ITC and the donors throughout the whole projects cycle.

The long-term cooperation between ITC and various institutions from Romania successfully continuing at present, is also a result of the flexibility shown by ITC in adapting to the requests expressed by the cooperating parties toward finding the most proper methods of addressing the specific needs of the business community, along with the fact that ITC is providing a number of generic services that are adding value to its support, apart from the national and regional projects.

A significant evidence of the ITC's professionalism is also the funding provided by donor countries. Being recognized that good performance is the most important aspect for continuous funding, Switzerland has steadily been one of the most important donor countries for all the projects developed by ITC in Romania, along with UNDP.

In brief, when assessing ITC' performances, special reference has to be made to its major contribution and competence in institution building, in assisting its partners to integrate into the multilateral trading system and in building enterprise competitiveness.

In our opinion, ITC was also extremely effective in responding to the new challenges of the evolving IT sector and the electronic commerce, in terms of providing qualified assistance in the field and also adapting its support to the specific needs expressed by its partners.

Through the generous contributions offered by donor countries, ITC is providing valuable tools to developing and transition economies in order to promote their foreign trade activities.

As regards the future orientations proposed by ITC and reflected in its Annual Report, Romania is supporting them, being of the view that enhanced cooperation with other organisations and technical cooperation agencies would also contribute to their fulfilment.

We note from the Annual Report 2000 that ITC is expanding its technical cooperation with economies in transition and in this connection I would like to suggest to use increasingly the expertise available in these countries and in particular in Romania in foreign trade development selected fields.

In the meantime, increased available financial resources have to be envisaged, as a tool of ensuring continuous upgrading of the ITC's activities.

The Romanian delegation wishes to take the pleasant opportunity provided by the Thirty-fourth Session of the Joint Advisory Group on the ITC UNCTAD/WTO to underline the significant impact of the extremely qualified assistance received in time from this organization, both in terms of implemented projects and joint activities meant to foster trade promotion attitudes, along with its appreciation for the particularly professional and friendly manner in which the ITC staff has always approached all the joint activities.

We also want to express our hope that the fruitful collaboration between my country and ITC will continue in the future, having the Romanian business community as an ultimate beneficiary.

Thank you, Madame Chair.

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