Trade Experts Meet in Accra to Find Bold Solutions for Resilience and Recovery
25 May 2022
Governments, trade experts and professionals from 57 countries convene in Accra for the 13th World Trade Promotion Conference and Awards.
Small businesses are the engine that drives the global economy. They create jobs, drive innovation, and support socio-economic development. As the COVID-19 pandemic made the world’s economy shudder, small businesses remained the backbone for recovery and sustainability. With this realization, trade promotion organizations around the world are called upon to support these businesses to survive and be more sustainable, competitive and bold to meet the economic and development challenges of our time.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the 2022 World Trade Promotion Organization (WTPO) Conference in Accra, Ghana’s Minister for Trade and Industry, Hon. Alan Kyerematen stated that “the need for trade promotion organizations worldwide to effectively support MSMEs to address the challenges of a post-COVID economy is now a development imperative.” He added that “if the world is to benefit from its numerous advantages, trade must be placed at the centre of our development agenda.” The Minister advocated for an aggressive effort to pursue initiatives that mainstream trade in national development plans.
The 13th WTPO Conference and Awards was hosted by Ghana, under the leadership of the Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA), in partnership with the International Trade Centre (ITC), the joint agency of the United Nations and the World Trade Organization.
The event brought together leading trade professionals, experts and governments from 57 countries to celebrate the achievements of their peers, learn from the best practices of other nations, and support the next generation of leaders. This year, the conference was on the theme “Bold solutions for resilience and recovery.”
The event featured insights into the current state of global trade. Managing risk, sustainable trade and business opportunities with the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) were the focus of three major plenary sessions. The second day focused on “humanizing work” and sharing tools and best practices for trade promotion leaders to take action in their organizations. Side events included a workshop on national export strategy before the conference, and the annual meeting of the Economic Community of West African States just after the conference.
The event was also an occasion to recognize best practices and exemplary performance of trade promotion organizations with global awards. As the previous winners – Procomer of Costa Rica, Enterprise Georgia and Business Sweden – could not receive their trophies due to the pandemic, they received them in Accra.
The 2022 winners were unveiled in an evening ceremony. Zimtrade (Zimbabwe) received the award for sustainable and inclusive development; Matrade (Malaysia) won for information technology; and Jampro (Jamaica) won for partnerships.
The conference also served to highlight support to businesses through two Memoranda of Understanding, one for African countries and one for Ghana. In the first, ITC Executive Director Pamela Coke-Hamilton signed an MOU with Wamkele Mene, Secretary-General of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat. This partnership brings ITC expertise to the service of the AfCFTA, as part of its strategy for the private sector to access market opportunities across the continent.
The second MOU launched the Netherlands Trust Fund V Ghana project to boost Ghana’s tech and agribusiness sectors, with an accent on small business. The project launch was signed by the ITC Executive Director Pamela Coke-Hamilton; CEO of GEPA, Afua Asabea Asare; and the Director of International Programmes of the Netherlands Enterprise Agency, Tjerk Opmeer. This project will support young farmers to increase their output using innovative solutions and the integration of technology.
The world economy continues to face numerous global and local challenges. As the world is recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, the geo-political conflict between Russia and Ukraine are further evidently putting a strain on economies around the world. “The global response to adversities between Russia and Ukraine has brought about profound uncertainties in an already uncertain world”, said Dr. Asabea Asare, Chief Executive Officer of GEPA. To ensure that businesses and economies can thrive and grow, governments and businesses need to find new and innovative ways to connect, communicate, and collaborate.
“Trade promotion organizations can make all the difference,” said Pamela Coke-Hamilton, ITC Executive Director. “They must help businesses to mitigate risks and embrace opportunities of a green transition. They must help women, youth and vulnerable groups join global value chains, and overcome systemic barriers that keep them from developing their businesses for export.”