November 18, 2020

Global Trade Helpdesk Aims to Provide Accurate and Trusted Information Companies Need to Plan Their Expansion Into International Markets

"Make informed decisions" is a mantra my colleagues hear me say often. In the area of global trade, while the internet hosts a wealth of information, finding accurate and trusted information is a daunting task. Therefore, I have come to appreciate the Global Trade Helpdesk (GTH), a multi-agency initiative jointly led by the International Trade Centre (ITC), the Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), and the World Trade Organization (WTO) that aims to simplify market research for companies, and especially Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), by integrating trade and business information into a single online portal.

The GTH website accurately notes: "Access to trade and market intelligence is critical to export success. However, micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) often lack the resources and skills to acquire and process trade-related information. This places them at a disadvantage and prevents them from exploring trade opportunities."

What is more, "According to ITC's surveys of 28,000 enterprises in 56 countries (2010-2017), 'lack of access to information' and 'information transparency issues' were reported as key obstacles by nearly half of the firms surveyed. The analysis further demonstrated that the smaller the company, the greater the challenges in accessing and using the relevant trade and market information. To address these prevalent information asymmetries hindering the competitiveness of MSMEs, the GTH brings together crucial information from across agencies in a user-friendly format to improve access to information for MSMEs and to provide access to crucial resources that can empower them to become active exporters."

The GTH initiative builds on existing ITC, UNCTAD and WTO services" and several partnering organizations "to provide an integrated solution that puts a wealth of global trade information at the fingertips of entrepreneurs around the world. Using GTH, firms can compare demand for their products across markets, explore tariffs and other market access conditions, access details about buyers, navigate domestic export processes, and find business partners."

In the coming years, "the initiative will continue to expand and integrate crucial trade intelligence and strengthen links with national and international information sources to provide the most comprehensive information possible to global exporters."

Specifically, the initiative will focus its efforts in four key activities to enhance MSME access to key market information:
  1. Develop an interactive web application integrating relevant and comprehensive trade and business information;
  2. Build a network of international, regional and national partners coordinating trade information collection and dissemination;
  3. Strengthen data collection efforts, to maximize synergies and ensure comprehensiveness and updates of the information; and
  4. Provide capacity building to enhance GTH dissemination especially for MSMEs to make better informed trade decisions.
The video below (or available through this link) provides a brief overview of the GTH platform.

Will the Global Trade Helpdesk help you find accurate and trusted information for your company or organization to plan its expansion into international markets?

(Along with the GTH, you may find posts on trade, including "Export 101: Choosing Your Export Market," useful in deciding how to evaluate which international market presents the best opportunity for your business or organization.)

Aaron Rose is a board member, corporate advisor, and co-founder of great companies. He also serves as the editor of GT Perspectives, an online forum focused on turning perspective into opportunity.

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