Promoting responsible global trade as a force for good

Tue 5 Sept 2023
Posted by: Marco Forgione

Marco Forgione in front of Parliament

Since its inception in 1935, the Institute of Export & International Trade (IOE&IT) has been a charitable organisation.

It was established to enhance the UK’s export performance and help professionalise international trade through training and education. Today our charitable aim remains the same – raising awareness of the benefits of international trade, while supporting businesses and individuals, in the UK and globally, to get involved in it.

We do this because we believe that responsible international trade is a force for good in the world. It drives economic growth, lifts people out of poverty and enhances cultural links between countries and communities, contributing to peaceful international relations.

It’s a belief we share with the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the International Trade Centre (ITC), organisations with which we work closely, partnering with them to promote issues such as diversity and gender equality in trade, as well as encouraging sustainable and responsible business practices. 

A global reach

While we remain headquartered in Peterborough and retain a UK focus, our charitable remit is global in scope. We were originally established as a UK entity, but to deliver our charitable mission we have to look beyond the UK to deliver the benefits of free trade and ensure that international partners reap the benefits of professional, compliant, healthy international trade.

Further, the challenges faced by all governments are increasingly global, whether that’s the inflationary pressures that followed war in Ukraine and the Covid-19 pandemic, or the rising impact of climate change.

The value and benefits of trade can no longer be for a select few countries to enjoy. It follows from the ethical values that underlie our charitable remit that we should ensure the benefits of trade are felt as widely as possible around the world.

This is why we are beginning to expand our global reach and footprint, with new offices in Kenya, Hong Kong and Brussels. Our international development work is vital to our overall ambition to see more people and communities across the world lifted out of poverty.

We are supporting overseas businesses, communities and governments to realise the benefits of trade through capacity building programmes, delivering training courses and qualifications across the world, often in partnership with national governments and export promotion agencies, as well as multilateral bodies such as the WTO and ITC.

Boosting global trade

We also work to promote fair and responsible trade internationally, often through our collaborations with national and pan-national organisations. It’s a privilege to play our part in initiatives like SheTrades – an ITC-led programme supporting female entrepreneurs to enter international markets.

We also supported the development of new “digital trade corridors” between the UK and Kenya, via the Trade Logistics Pipeline (TLIP) project, which was delivered in partnership with TradeMark Africa and IOTA Foundation.

This brings together cutting-edge technologies to generate comprehensive and real-time supply chain data, giving enforcement agencies the information they need to adopt a risk-based approach to conducting border controls, reducing the checks needed on lorries, ships or planes carrying goods over borders.

Solutions such as TLIP can save considerable time for businesses and border agencies, allowing for more efficient and economically beneficial trade. In so doing, it addresses non-tariff barriers to trade, making trade more accessible to businesses both in the UK and globally.

Keeping a UK focus

While we are working to extend our reach and impact globally, we also must maintain our efforts to promote the benefits of trade and exports to UK businesses. Helping more business to understand and start trading internationally is a major part of what we do. There is a huge resource library available on our website, and anyone can access these.

To encourage more businesses to understand and get involved in trade, we regularly offer targeted voucher support programmes. One last year allowed people to claim access up to £2,500 worth of education, helping them acquire the professional skills and knowledge to start exporting. This was the Exporting Starter Pack.

We’re in an era where many national governments are looking inward and potentially retreating from globalisation, despite it having been a driving force for the world economy in the 21st century.

At such times it is more important than ever that we continue to bang the drum in support of global free trade. It’s for this reason that I am proud of our charitable remit and the work we do towards fulfilling it.