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About the Development Account

Thematic Reviews

Trade and Development

UNCTAD projects funded by the Development Account focus on assisting the integration of developing countries into the world economy, particularly through effective participation in the multilateral trading system. The projects also comply with UNCTAD’s current technical cooperation strategy, which emphasizes human and institutional capacity building, impact, and sustainability at the field level.

Capacity-building for Debt Sustainability Analysis

The project on capacity-building for debt sustainability analysis resulted in enhanced analytical skills of national officials and noticeable improvements in institutional arrangements of Debt Management Offices in the Ministry of Finance and Central Banks of beneficiary countries, which will facilitate the decision-making processes of debt managers. The project was based on a bottom–up approach that provides training, first, to the technical staff of debt offices and balance of payments analysts, and, subsequently, to analysts involved in the preparation and formulation of comprehensive debt strategies. Capacity-building in debt analysis is a long-term undertaking and calls for specific changes in the Debt Management Offices, particularly in their structures and functional organization, as well as in quality of staffing.

Capacity-building in Developing Countries to Attract and Benefit from International Investment

The project on capacity-building to attract and benefit from international investment resulted in improved capacity of national policy-makers to develop better investment policies and more effective handling of negotiations on international investment agreements. Negotiators from beneficiary developing countries now better understand international investment rule-making, especially by acquiring enhanced skills for formulation of international investment accords in the context of their countries’ particular development needs.

Capacity-building for Competition Law Policy

The project on capacity-building for competition law policy upgraded capabilities of national competition authorities in the beneficiary countries in order to improve the formulation and enforcement of national competition rules, such as those dealing with cartels and abuse of dominance. In addition, the project helped negotiators to participate more effectively in multilateral negotiations on competition policy in the World Trade Organization (WTO) and other international fora.

Enhancing the Capacity of Developing Countries and Countries with Economies in Transition for Effective Integration in Multilateral Trading System

Another UNCTAD project on effective integration into the multilateral trading system of developing countries and countries with economies in transition sought to enhance and improve arrangements and analytical capacities of beneficiary countries to prepare for negotiations on accession to the WTO. Government officials now better understand detailed and often complex requirements for accession to the WTO, thereby enabling them to develop more effective strategies of participation in such negotiations from their specific development perspective. National officials are able better to identify appropriate trade policy options for deriving advantages and coping with the challenges of the international trading framework, including improved understanding of sectoral impacts and implications of WTO agreements on their national economy.

Capacity-Building Impact of Trade and Development Projects

Capacity-building as pursued by UNCTAD projects clearly enhanced relevant human and institutional capacities in developing countries: (a) to analyse national needs and interests through more effective consultations within government entities and improved understanding among government and other national stakeholders; (b) to assess various policy options and formulate effective policies; and (c) to implement policies effectively. For example, Project 00/01N on accession to the WTO, Project 02/03K on investment, and Project 02/03 on competition policy all enhanced the capacity of negotiators to formulate negotiating strategies and assess implications of proposals of counterparts. Several projects gave particular attention to the special needs of LDCs, as reflected in the outcomes of the recent UNCTAD conferences, as well as the second and third UN conferences on LDCs. In this regard, six out of 18 beneficiary countries of Project 00/01N on accession to the WTO were LDCs. In the context of Project 02/03K on investment, an Internet-based interactive database, "Investment Compass", was designed to benchmark the investment environment based on best practices. Eighteen out of 52 countries covered by the database are LDCs. Seven out of 14 countries that benefited from Project 02/03M on competition policy are also LDCs.

Most of UNCTAD’s projects targeted the public sector of beneficiary countries. Some, such as a third tranche project on capacity-building for diversification and commodity based development, focused on needs of small producers and traders. Project 00/01N on WTO accession provided the private sector and the Government with analysis on new market access conditions to enable the identification of potential trading opportunities, including in such areas as textiles, clothing, agricultural products, and services (tourism, professional services, and movement of natural persons).

In the implementation of its projects, UNCTAD coordinated, to the extent possible, with other relevant UN and non-UN agencies involved in technical assistance on trade, investment, and development. To ensure project sustainability, particular attention was given to the use of local consultants and experts. The needs assessment and analytical reviews carefully considered relevant policy-making processes of beneficiary countries. For example, Project 00/01N on accession to the WTO, drawing on inputs of national consultants and academia, resulted in a number of useful sectoral WTO impact studies in such areas as: agriculture (dairy products, cereals, and meat); industrial sectors (textiles and clothing, chemical products, pharmaceuticals, automotive sector, and information technology products); and services sectors (professional services, telecommunications, financial services, and transport).

Often the main method of implementing projects was the conduct of national, regional, and inter-regional workshops, brainstorming meetings, and the establishment of networks of experts and practitioners. A good example in this regard is Project 02/03P on commodities, which succeeded in arranging Web-based dissemination of data and led to a wider utilization of inputs than would have resulted if information were presented only in workshops and seminars. Under the third tranche project on investment, a network of 1,350 different government institutions (48 per cent of which were from developing countries), international and non-governmental organizations, universities and private sector entities was established.

The training activities involved in projects benefited extensively from information and communication technology, including in e-training. In this context, training materials were made available to participants well in advance of courses on-line and/or on CD-ROM. In addition, e-based facilities were established to support training courses and to provide for an e-based follow-up mechanism. In particular, UNCTAD used the “Trainfortrade” programme and the related distance learning methodology. The “Training of trainers” approach, supported and complemented by distance learning, has worked well to ensure project sustainability.

Capacity-building in Developing Countries to Attract and Benefit from International Investment

Drawing on best practices, the project developed two Internet-based applications: one for benchmarking national investment policies and the other to use as an e-training facility for international investment agreements. The “Investment Compass” is used to benchmark the investment environment. Benchmarking methodologies provide policy-makers, investment promotion agencies, and other relevant national institutions with tools to assess strengths and weaknesses of the current policy environment and to consider short-term and the long-term actions to improve it. “Investment Compass” was complemented by intensive training courses on international investment agreements which took advantage of the project. An Internet-based interactive distance learning facility created by the facility’s training materials is available in English, French, and Spanish.

The conceptualization and implementation of UNCTAD projects draws on the agency’s strength and competitive advantage in the areas of policy analysis, as well as its support to relevant intergovernmental bodies. Development Account projects facilitate further integration of operational activities with both UNCTAD’s involvement in intergovernmental processes and its research and analytical work.

Capacity-building for Diversification and Commodity Based Development

The project was an effective way to gather, analyze, and share a variety of national experiences with regard to diversification efforts. This comprehensive effort allowed UNCTAD to identify key reasons behind obstacles to diversification and to present coherent analysis, benefiting from practical examples, in a series of analytical studies presented to UNCTAD’s recent intergovernmental meetings. As a result, there is an increasing awareness at the national and international levels of the need to supplement market access to commodities through efforts to facilitate de facto market entry, as well as to remove supply side obstacles and enhance competitiveness of developing country commodity exporters.

Some of UNCTAD’s projects generated donor interest and resulted in an additional supply of extra-budgetary funds. These funds, which supplemented the resources made available to UNCTAD, definitely helped the sustainability of many projects. For example, in the context of commodities and diversification, UNCTAD is able to conduct two follow-up activities, such as on the cost of compliance with sanitary and phytosanitary standards from which Guinea, Mozambique, and Tanzania benefit and on facilitating deliveries of tropical fruits from small producers in West Africa to European supermarkets (implemented in partnership with a European supermarket chain).

Capacity-building for Key Issues on the International Economic Agenda

The third tranche project on capacity-building for key issues on the international economic agenda benefited from the guidance of an advisory body, under the chairmanship of the President of the Trade and Development Board and with the membership of 15 of UNCTAD's Member States. This approach proved useful, as the Advisory Body was able to provide important insights on the content of the regional training programmes conducted by the project. It directly focused on the design, organization, and implementation of the training courses. The Advisory Body frequently provided advice to the Secretary-General of UNCTAD for the conduct of the project’s activities, signifying a new level of cooperation between the Secretariat and the Member States.