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From Nepal, a call to encourage trade within regions

Your latest issue was very informative. I was delighted to read about the harmonization of business laws by 15 African countries ("African Business Laws on CD-ROM, Internet", Forum 4/99). I believe this serves as an example of what the developing and least developed countries could achieve in boosting intra-regional trade and improving the investment climate of the region as a whole.

Regional trading blocks are proliferating, with the aim of expanding intra-regional trade. This type of trade can work as cushion against fluctuations in world trade. In the major regional groupings, intra-regional trade accounts for the large portion of the total trade of the member states.

Yet there is a difference in how effective regional trading agreements are in practice. Regional groups among developed countries have higher levels of intra-regional trade than those among developing countries. The share of intra-regional trade for countries in the South Asian Association for Regional cooperation (SAARC) in 1996 was a meagre 4.3% of the region's total exports, according to a WTO report. During the same period, intra-regional trade formed 47.5% of the North American Free Trade Association's total exports, and 61.5% of the European Union's total exports.

Restrictive trade practices, lack of information and unreliable transportation links are three of the main factors inhibiting expansion of intra-regional trade in developing countries, despite the huge potential.

Trade relations amongst SAARC countries are affected by high tariff levels and non-tariff barriers, including quantitative restrictions and discriminatory practices, according to a study by the Centre for Economic Development and Administration in Kathmandu. Despite the liberalization of import tariffs by almost all SAARC countries, non-tariff barriers are hindering the potential for trade expansion. Regional trade agreements should address non-tariff barriers and restrictive trade practices.

Lack of information is a real barrier. In our region, the absence of a regional trade information bank is widely felt. Similarly, trade fairs that promote small and medium-sized enterprises of the region are few and far between.

Lack of reliable inter-regional transportation is another limiting factor for firms in the developing countries to reap the advantage of the intra-regional trade. The SAARC region needs to build an integrated transportation network. This could provide a significant boost to the flow of goods and people within the region.

Without addressing all these factors, it would be futile to expect a boost in intra-regional trade.

Navin Subedi is an MBA student at the School of Management, Kathmandu University, Nepal

ITC's Market News Service (MNS) Clinches the Deal

We were able to negociate a contract with a Latin American company thanks to the MNS. As the exporter had no idea of the value of its produce on the European market and refused to give the goods on consignment, they agreed to use the MNS as a reference price and then share the profits or losses depending on the final selling price on the spot market.

M. Rabbow, E.A. Jencquel Gmbh, Hamburg, Germany

We have been disseminating MNS reports by publishing selected products, depending on seasonality and product potentials, in the Business Times, a leading weekly newspaper, since March 1999. This has triggered many inquiries from local suppliers for market information. Recently, we started to publish the same information in the Kiswahili newspaper, Majira, and the response is good. We are now going to focus on a bulletin for flower producers, to make full use of ITC's MNS report on cut flowers.

M.J. Mfaume,

Board of External Trade,

Dar es Salaam,

United Republic of Tanzania

Editor's note:

ITC's Market News Service provides price and market information on a subscription basis. Subscription is free to LDCs only. Contact for more information, or visit ITC's web site at mns.htm

Feedback from Iran

I read Dorothy Riddle's interesting article on "Creating World Class Marketing Materials". Apart from the outstanding guidelines expressed in the article, I noticed the concentration on cultural factors to consider when targeting foreign markets. Can you recommend resources, so I am able to study the topic of social and business etiquette in cross-cultural relations?

Abdol Rahim Zohaby, Iran

Editor's note:

Call to our readers: Please send us your suggestions, and we will print them in a subsequent issue.

Honduras: Send us more

First of all, let me say that Forum magazine is our no. 1 source of information. All the clients of our trade information centre take advantage of your information. We also summarize articles and refer to its content in our monthly bulletin. Congratulations.

We definitely appreciate all the documents and information you send us and will gladly receive as much as you can send. The business community in developing countries is uninformed and therefore we try to gather as much as we can, and of course dissiminate to a growing audience.

I was reading one of the Forum issues again today and remembered to write about the following.

A couple of months ago, I downloaded all the documentation related to the Executive Forum on National Export Strategies held by ITC in September 1999. I have read all the documents and feel they are an excellent source of information and guidance for me and for our organization.

It would have been most appropriate and beneficial for Honduras and FIDE to have known of such an event and to participate. Is ITC planning to organize another event like this? Is there information about all of ITC's events, seminars and programmes on ITC's web site, so that we can stay informed?

Brenie Matute, Vice President, Information Division,

Foundation for Investment and Development of Exports, Tegucigalpa, Honduras

Editor's note:

The next Executive Forum will be held in the Lake Geneva area in October 2000 on the theme "Export Development in the Digital Economy". Check ITC's Executive Forum site ( periodically for news and papers, or to download information from last year's event.

The Executive Forum brings together a selected number of participants from trade-related public and private organizations worldwide in order to develop national export strategies. Participants directly contribute research to the event and then work jointly to shape its conclusions. By its very nature, the Executive Forum limits the number of participants at the actual event, which is a working meeting to shape strategies. The conclusions are presented on ITC's web site, in its magazine and in a publication in order to bring the results to a broad audience. We encourage readers to use the information in your own speeches and publications (with attribution to ITC) and as a springboard to design events and develop new strategies at national level.

If your organization has an expertise in e-commerce issues and would like to contribute to the research process, contact Brian Barclay, Executive Forum Coordinator, at

Cuban interest in e-commerce

A colleague has given me a copy of your magazine for the first time, and I enjoyed it very much. I work at the Information Centre of GEOCUBA, our country's chief producer and distributor of maps and nautical charts, with a national and international clientele. We also do environmental research. We are especially interested in electronic commerce, and are pleased that your magazine touches on this and other cutting-edge trade themes of interest to us. Please keep us on your mailing list!

Jorge Arg[ddot{u}]ello Alcover is an information specialist at GEOCUBA, Havana, Cuba.

Editor's note:

You'll see more on e-commerce in coming issues of the magazine. To keep your finger on the e-commerce pulse, check out "ITC and the Internet", a regular feature in each issue. A "Close Up" dossier on e-commerce is also in preparation. Please send us your examples of how e-commerce is used successfully in developing countries for inclusion in forthcoming issues.

Looking for back issues of Forum? Check the Internet

I have read Catherine Taupiac's article about six reasons for world buyers to use the Internet ("Manage Purchasing with the Internet", Forum, 1/99). It's very good. Can you tell me where to find it on your web site?

Ms. Jin, USA

Editor's note:

Back issues of the Forum for 1999 in English, French and Spanish are available (in PDF format) on the web at
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Publication:International Trade Forum
Date:Jan 1, 2000
Previous Article:General Agreement on Trade in Services: Opportunities for Developing Countries.
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