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Development Account Projects

Enhancing the capacity of developing countries and countries with economies in transition for effective integration in the multilateral trading system

Background:

The General Assembly emphasized the importance of the strengthening of, and the attainment of greater universality by, the international trading system and of accelerating the process directed towards accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) of developing countries and countries with economies in transition. In this context, the General Assembly also emphasized the necessity for the UNCTAD and the WTO to provide technical assistance, within their mandate, thereby contributing to the rapid and full integration of those countries into the multilateral trading system (General Assembly Resolution 53/170, para.15).

Accession to the WTO is an unprecedentedly complex process, which constitutes a major challenge for more than 30 developing countries, including seven least developed countries, and economies in transition. At UNCTAD IX, member States agreed that UNCTAD should focus on assisting countries in the process of accession to the WTO in order to achieve their effective integration into the multilateral trading system. The project would support developing countries and economies in transition in their efforts to pursue policies aimed at sustainable economic development and effective integration into the international trading system, especially through accession to the WTO on balanced terms.

Objective:

To strengthen the capacity of officials from developing countries and countries with economies in transition to take part in the accession process of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and to take maximum advantage of the opportunities created by the multilateral trading system

Expected accomplishments:

  • A full understanding by Government officials of WTO requirements and the mechanisms of the WTO, thereby enhancing their ability to negotiate in the accession process
  • Information and analyses necessary for the determination of accession negotiations and for the preparation of accession-related documents as regards goods and services

Effects and Impact:

The project contributed substantially to the improved preparation for negotiations on accession to WTO for the beneficiary countries, particularly the acceding LDCs. Implementation of this project significantly enhanced the capacity of government officials of beneficiary countries to understand WTO requirements for accession negotiations, thereby allowing them to more effectively conduct such negotiations based upon their individual interests from a development perspective. It also strengthened the capacity of beneficiary countries to identify appropriate trade policy options for deriving advantages and coping with the challenges of the international trading framework, and enhanced understanding of the sectoral impacts and implications of the relevant WTO agreements on their national economy.

Through the preparation of specific studies conducted under the project, the private sector, together with the government was provided with the necessary analysis on new market access conditions to enable it to identify immediate and potential trading opportunities of relevance to their countries. Such studies/reports included areas such as textiles and clothing, agricultural products and some specific services sectors such as tourism, and professional services and movement of natural persons.

The project has substantially contributed to the successful and balanced accession of Cambodia as the first LDC to complete WTO accession negotiations after the establishment of WTO in 1995. Cambodia became 148th member of WTO in October 2004.