It all started about half a century ago. In 1958, Wassenaar (Holland) hosted half a dozen CEOs from Western European Trade Promotion Organizations (TPOs) who decided to make a round table for sharing their views and experience of common interest. The meeting was a great success since our forefathers – these silver fox-type of personalities - decided to meet again. They certainly had no clear vision or grand design of what could happen in the next fifty years but simply felt like a professional family, looking forward eagerly to the next conference.
Thus, the tradition was born.
Since then, the world has seen a lot of history. The cold war ended, reshaping the structure of Europe dramatically. Globalization has picked up momentum, and so has the rise of integrated economic regions. European integration has taken large leaps forward. In the context of ETPO, this opened the doors for new members from Central and Eastern Europe and today, some 40 delegates from 28 countries get together in the annual conferences. At the same time, the missions of the TPOs have gone through a remarkable evolution. Instead of limiting themselves to traditional export promotion activities, the TPOs are playing a growing role as national agents boosting the global competitiveness of their local industries. Investments, services, tourism and innovation promotion are high on their agendas. The agendas of the meetings have become more and more professionally tuned. Besides the crucial management and leadership issues,the dialogue covers stategic thinking, operational performance, client relationship management, country promotion, policy framework,value for the money invested in TPOs and so on.
At the end of the day, the tradition is still the same: a continuum of voluntary get-togethers, hosted by colleagues in different locations of Europe, for information and inspiration. ETPO has never had a fixed structure, it is a self-steering network.
Together, we have felt that it is time to support this tradition by a new, common platform. The ETPO website has been designed to serve as a space to communicate, store the immaterial assets of our past experience and institutional memory and to provide a link to the member TPOs’ websites. It is also intended to be a database that what we have mutually created and use together, as well as to help us in organizing future conferences. It is designed to be our common tool and it will be as good as we make it, depending on our contributions and efforts.
Let’s make it happen, with an open mind and by learning on-the-go!
Of course, it is also a platform to welcome new members! If you are not a partner yet, please, join us as soon as possible to belong to this great family!