The World Trade Organisation (WTO), the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the International Trade Centre (ITC) have signed a memorandum-of-understanding (MoU) to provide businesses with better access to trade data.
The MoU will see the creation of an online platform called the Global Trade Helpdesk that will help businesses access data on potential export markets, according to a statement from the WTO.
By making data freely available through a user-friendly interface, the Global Trade Helpdesk will, according to the WTO, make it easier for companies across to accelerate trade and cut costs.
It will also help policymakers make better-informed decisions about trade and investment policies and will ensure that the international community provides better support to small and medium-sized enterprises.
To do this, it will contain comprehensive information on market requirements, such as taxes, tariffs and relevant health and safety standards for export products. It will also contain information on business opportunities, such as market prices and events, as well as current trade statistics.
Due to be completed in three years, the Global Trade Helpdesk will also draw on data from international institutions and banks, such as the Inter-American Development Bank and the World Bank Group.
WTO Director-General Roberto Azevdo said: “Gaining access to information on tariffs and other requirements for accessing export markets imposes costs on firms wishing to trade, and for small businesses, this can be a substantial barrier to market entry.
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“The Global Trade Helpdesk is a joint endeavor to help remove this barrier by providing businesses with the critical information they need. It will be particularly helpful for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, which need reliable data to pinpoint export opportunities.”
Mukhisa Kituyi, Secretary-General of UNCTAD, also commented: “The Global Trade Helpdesk is a practical tool that enables companies to access the data they need to make informed decisions about trade.
“It is an innovation that helps level the information playing field. Working hand in hand with our partners at the ITC and WTO, we’re addressing the needs of the trade community in a concrete fashion, and helping to transform actions into real results.”