Exhibition World Issue 3 – 2021 | Page 26


WTCA at 50 +: Beacon for events and trade burns ever brightly

Paul Colston explores how a global brand for trade , events and investment built a 50-year-old international network and is charting a course for the next half century
he World Trade Center ( WTC ) is one of the most prestigious venue and trade brands in the world . Located in 90 countries , WTCs serve local business communities and act as platforms and a global ecosystem for trade and networking .
The World Trade Centers Association ( WTCA ), founded in 1969 , has grown to embrace 320 members . It also licenses the association brand .
The WTCA , at its April 2021 ( digital ) General Assembly ( GA ), charted a new course which included the launch of an Artificial Intelligence-powered B2B matchmaking platform , which , said WTCA executive director of business development , Robin van Puyenbroeck , will “ enhance our network ’ s ability to connect and facilitate trade for our members and their business networks ”.
The November 2020 , WTCA Member Forum brought together 300 participants from 141 WTCs across the globe and highlights included the introduction of three new WTCA partnerships - with UFI , the global association of the exhibition industry ; the Global Trade Helpdesk with the UN Conference on Trade and Development ( UNCTAD ) and International Trade Centre ( ITC ); and the UN Global Compact ( UNGC ).
Global connector
You may have attended an event behind the famous signage of these venues and mixed with the commercial property developers , economic development agencies , and international businesses who form the main target groups for membership , as the WTCA acts to create and take advantage of the international synergies .
Although each WTC concept varies due to the development needs of a specific region , the two most common components of successful WTC operations are :
1 . A physical , iconic , multi-use property , branded ‘ World Trade Center ’ that visually marks its city / region as open for international business
2 . An international business / trade services provider for tenants and the local business community . Services typically include : trade information ; trade missions ; B2B matchmaking ; business services ; dining / membership club services ; conference and exhibition and tenant services .
Impact and achievements
WTCAs are diverse , so let ’ s meet some . In Ghana , WTC Accra has taken SMEs on 22 trade missions . These have helped Ghanaian businesses procure supplies , raise capital , expand to new
Below : WTC Moscow markets , and obviate the daunting prospect of going through the process alone .
According to the World Bank , doing business in Ghana is now easier than in any other West African country .
“ For SMEs like mine , it ’ s very difficult to expand beyond the borders of Ghana . WTC Accra creates opportunities ,” says Jerry Afful , whose businesses include advertising , entertainment events , and real estate .
Afful travelled with WTC Accra on trade missions to Turkey and the US , succeeding on both trips to source materials needed . Prior to his first trade mission with the WTC , he had travelled to China independently , which was a comparatively cumbersome and costly process .
In Paraguay , a WTC was opened in 2015 . “ We saw the need and the market for the kind of opportunities and benefits a WTC would bring ,” says Oliva Ibañez , brand manager for WTC Asunción . The WTC has four buildings ; including two restaurants , and more than 200 offices hosting 2,184 professionals , and represents the single largest private investment in the country , totalling US $ 77m .
WTC Asunción has become the anchor around which a new business district has developed . In just three years it has grown to feature more than 20 high rises , 12 hotels , 5,000 offices , and nine conference centres .
In Gibraltar , the setting up of a WTC in 2017 helped address a shortage of office space . It is now a pivotal part of the territory ’ s investment strategy and the WTC was 97.5 % occupied on opening .
“ Some of our biggest customers are located in the same building . It means we don ’ t have to travel far . If someone calls with a problem , we can take the lift and be on their floor in five minutes ,” says James Elliot , MD of tenant company NetEnt . “ Just using the name World Trade Center on your business card opens many doors .”
26 Issue 3 2021 www . exhibitionworld . co . uk