ITC 60 years

Changing trade, changing lives

    For six decades, ITC has worked with developing countries to transform their economies through trade, evolving from a technical assistance agency with a handful of staff to an all-round trade-led development agency supporting sustainable development through small businesses.

    With the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development now entering its final years, and with the world grappling with one crisis after another, this work has become more urgent than ever. There is no time to waste.

    As we prepare for the next chapter in our history, we at ITC stand ready to ramp up our efforts to make the ideal of connected, sustainable, and inclusive trade into reality, and in turn help deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals.

    That is because we know, from 60 years of experience, that we will only achieve “the future we want” if the world’s small businesses are leading the way.

    One agency, 60 years of delivery

    • We started operations with a handful of staff in 1964 – before the first moon landing! – and are now delivering on four “moonshots”, which are high-ambition, strategic pushes to support women, youth, green trade and digital connectivity.
    • We started as a source of trade intelligence and technical assistance for developing countries… and through the decades, have evolved into an all-round trade-led development agency.
    • We are the UN small business agency. We prioritize people, planet and prosperity in our work to strengthen small businesses, paying particular attention to the needs of women, youth and members of vulnerable communities.
    • Our goal at the end of the day – no matter if we’re working at the policy or project level – is for small businesses to sell more value-added goods and services in international markets so they can earn more, create quality jobs and invest in their communities.
    • We work with partners at all levels, including entrepreneurs, policymakers, big business, international institutions and funders, to ensure all of the solutions we develop are locally owned and locally led, to ensure they deliver lasting change.
    • Our world is in crisis mode: from the COVID-19 pandemic to the impacts of climate change, the small businesses we serve are living in an increasing fragile environment. At ITC, we are working to “right the ship” for the long term, while also ensuring small businesses get the support they need right now to survive and thrive.
    • One of the biggest lessons we’ve learned over 60 years is that the current “rules of the road” don’t always reflect what small businesses actually need. That is why ITC is bringing the voices of small businesses to decision-making forums—such as the World Trade Organization ministerial conferences and the United Nations climate conferences—so policymakers can hear from them firsthand.
    • From experience comes creativity. Our six decades of hands-on support to small businesses, paired with world-class research and policy analysis, has given us the foundation we need to pivot, quickly, to new ways of working—while ensuring these are the right solutions for small businesses. Whether it’s partnering with major brands, incorporating artificial intelligence into our trainings, or engaging with a wider suite of economic sectors (such as sports and the creative industries), we’re always looking to stay ahead of the curve.

    UN Deputy Secretary-General visits ITC

    Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed and the International Trade Centre look ahead to Summit of the Future

    The year 2024 is pivotal for ITC and the UN system: while ITC is marking 60 years in operation, the UN is preparing for the Summit of the Future in September. Together, these events are targeting a sea change in how international cooperation works in practice—one that delivers on both the Sustainable Development Goals and on the intergenerational promise of multilateralism.

    During her visit to Geneva, Mohammed met with ITC’s Executive Director Pamela Coke-Hamilton and staff to discuss preparations for the Summit of the Future, including how ITC’s work can contribute to the Summit’s success.

    Upcoming: Save the Date!

    1 May: ITC celebrates its official birth date – with a new corporate video and the launch of “Humans of ITC”.

    27 June: On Micro, Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises Day (MSME Day), ITC will host its official celebrations with stakeholders, staff and partners at its parent institution, the World Trade Organization, during the Ninth Aid-for-Trade Global Review. Next to a high-level panel, ITC will host a cocktail reception and reveal its Anniversary Publication.

    More dates and events coming soon. Watch this space!