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Interregional partnership for promoting trade as an engine of growth through knowledge management and taking advantage of information and communication technology

Background:

The International Forum on Trade Facilitation, held in Geneva, the 29-30 May 2002, and organized by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe with collaboration of the other Regional Commissions recommended that Governments should consider integrated and targeted sub-regional, regional and international approaches to broadening the scope and enhancing the benefits and cohesion of customs, trade and transport facilitation projects. In this context, the United Nations agencies including the Regional Commissions should play a strong role in supporting and developing technical cooperation initiatives for the implementation of trade facilitation measures and instruments, in cooperation with other relevant international organisations. It also recommended that the regional commissions develop, in collaboration with relevant UN agencies, a common project on capacity building for trade facilitation that would address a set of components of an incremental approach, making the best use of the existing infrastructure.

The components would be trade facilitation policy and implementation issues; technical assistance to 1.business; and support to countries, sub-regions and regions formulating negotiating objectives and strategies on trade facilitation.
As a response to these recommendations, representatives of Regional Commissions (ECLAC, ECA, ECE, ESCWA and ESCAP) agreed to prepare this joint project, which supports the MDGs as well as the goals defined by DESA for the 4th tranche while building on the specific advantages of each regional commission and benefiting from the great heterogeneity of development situations present in the various regions. This joint project should be seen as complementing the UNCTAD and WTO technical cooperation for capacity building, growth and integration programme, in the Doha development agenda.

Objective:

Strengthen both the international competitiveness as well as the negotiating capacity of developing countries by sharing knowledge on problems and best practices in the various countries and regions on trade promotion and diversification; a greater participation of small and medium-sized enterprises in the global supply networks, designing and implementing trade facilitation policies at the national and regional levels and a greater use of knowledge management and information and communications technologies in supply chain management (millennium development goal 8, target 12 (A/56/326, annex)).

Expected accomplishments:

  • Trade facilitation, promotion and diversification concepts and practices incorporated into national and regional trade policy as well as in development plans
  • Strategies implemented to integrate small and medium-sized enterprises in international supply chains trade, thereby promoting linkages between the foreign sector and the rest of the economy
  • Strategies implemented for advancing national priorities in trade policy formulation and international trade negotiations
  • Regional strategies implemented to increase regional trade, in the context of open regionalism, through rationalization of cross-border procedures and the creation of regional chains of competitive suppliers

Implementation status:

The project has gone a long way in promoting the understanding and implementation of trade facilitation instruments and supporting the WTO negotiators in their deliberations on the topic. The activities have greatly helped to spread the knowledge and technical expertise of trade facilitation amongst the Regional Economic Commissions. In the Asia and Pacific region government officials now show increased understanding on Doha Round negotiations, WTO negotiations on trade facilitation, current trade facilitation situations and trade facilitation tools and measures, and priorities for trade facilitation capacity building and technical assistance. As result of a conference which formed part of the project several recommendations to ensure effective trade facilitation reforms of member countries of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) were made.A workshop administered by the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia received very positive feedback. Participants from this region expressed the need to carry out similar workshops on trade facilitation targeting the SMEs. Regarding the Western Asia as well as Latin American and Caribbean region one of the obstacles to dissemination of ICT and trade facilitation instruments has been the lack of literature in Arabic and Spanish respectively. To improve the situation the project is providing literature and electronic tools in the regions’ languages.

More information can be found:

Outline

Programme

Trade toolkit