The WTPF, an international non-governmental organisation established in 2000, grew out of an innovative programme of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). Through a network of more than 100 trade information and facilitation centres, known as Trade Points, the WTPF assists small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in over 70 countries worldwide to trade internationally through the use of electronic commerce technologies. Capitalising on over a decade of Trade Point market presence, the Federation constantly seeks strategic partners for the development of new value-added services to enable it to better serve its clients.
The WTPF is involved in the following activities:
- Helping SMEs find reliable business partners through its Trade Point Network in over 70 countries worldwide and encourages them to become more digitally active in trade transactions
- Providing access to international market and investment information worldwide
- Providing a unique Electronic Trade Opportunities (ETO) system allowing SMEs to post and receive trade leads free of charge
- Offering companies a non-stop presence on the web through the Global Trade Directory System (GTDS)
- Entering into public and private partnerships to promote its goals
- Receiving official government and trade missions in its headquarters in Geneva
- Engaging in outward missions to promote the Trade Point network
- Organising annual general assembly meetings and regional meetings
- Representing Trade Points in international trade-related forums
What is a Trade Point?
The WTPF describes a Trade Point as “a trade facilitation centre where participants in foreign trade transactions are grouped together under a single physical (i.e. an actual office) or virtual roof to provide all the necessary services for trade transactions. Examples of such trade facilitation centres might include chambers of commerce, customs, foreign trade institutes, banks, freight forwarders, transport agencies and insurance companies, etc. The Trade Point is also see as a “source of trade-related information, providing actual and potential traders with data about business and market opportunities, potential clients and suppliers, trade regulations, standard and certification requirements, etc.”. Ultimately, the Trade Point network is a gateway to a global networking, accelerating the access of SMEs to electronic commerce.
The Global Trade Directory System
The Global Trade Directory System has been developed to be an extensive database of companies worldwide. This service is still in the early stages of development, however. It is a membership-based service (currently costing US$200) and it gives you the opportunity of giving your company global visibility. The benefits of the GTDS for registered companies are:
- Your company data is freely available to anyone with internet access
- You will have a presence on each local Trade Point website
- It gives you a chance to find new trading partners and to penetrate new markets
- It generates new business right where trade is being promoted
- It helps you save costs on marketing and business travel
- It give you access to the Company Alert service
Companies registered with the GTDS who are Certified Trade Point Members also have access to the password protected areas of the WTPF integrated website and preferential ranking in the GTDS search engine. Becoming a Certified Trade Point Member essentially means that your company is evaluated and certified as a bona fide trading company giving credence to your standing in the international community.
The Trade Point network in South Africa
The Trade Point network in South Africa started off quite promisingly. The Tshwane-Pretoria Trade Point (TPPT) took the initiative to launch the Trade Point network in South Africa. This was later followed by the Johannesburg Trade Point which was established under the auspices of the JCCI. Trade Points were also planned for Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Durban, and SEDA (the Small Enterprise Development Agency – a government agency) eventually took over the operations of the South African Trade Point network.
Unfortunately some impetus has been lost and the TPPT closed down in 2006. While the JCCI still runs an active export promotion office for its members, the Johannesburg Trade Point appears to have disappeared. Just recently a Trade Point office was established in Kwazulu Natal, but is apparently not contractually affiliated to the WTPF. The other proposed Trade Points have not yet seen the light of day.
Thus if you are interested in making contact with the Trade Point network the best suggestion we have for you is to visit the WTPF website and to join them direct!
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