The Global Trade Helpdesk (GTH) is a multi-agency initiative jointly led by ITC, UNCTAD, and the 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 initiative builds on existing ITC, UNCTAD and WTO services as well as partner organisations, including FAO, IADB, AFDB, WCO, and WB among others, 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.

Over the next nine 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.

Tackling information challenges for MSMEs

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.

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.

Building the foundations for sustainable and inclusive trade-led growth

The Global Trade Helpdesk will focus its efforts in four key activities to enhance MSME access to key market information:

  • Develop an interactive web application integrating relevant and comprehensive trade and business information.
  • Build a network of international, regional and national partners coordinating trade information collection and dissemination.
  • Strengthen data collection efforts, to maximize synergies and ensure comprehensiveness and updates of the information.
  • Provide capacity building to enhance GTH dissemination especially for MSMEs to make better informed trade decisions.