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Development Account Projects

Promoting subregional growth-oriented economic and trade policies towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals in Arab countries of West Asia and North Africa


Economic growth in the Arab countries of West Asia and North Africa can benefit from cohesive policies that enhance the contribution of regional trade to the achievement of sustained economic growth, long-term structural transformation and the Millennium Development Goals. Regional integration, complemented by national reform initiatives, offers a stepping stone towards increased inward investment, transfer of technologies, improved terms of trade and trade expansion, increased investment in higher value-added production processes and industrial upgrading.

Lack of political stability aside, the low level of intraregional trade in Arab countries stems to a great extent from national and regional policies based on a trade-driven approach to development, rather than a development-driven approach to trade. This project seeks to support development and regional integration efforts in selected Arab countries in West Asia and North Africa, with emphasis on conflict economies, by promoting a development-driven approach to trade. This will be addressed through an innovative approach that involves the conceptualization of tailor-made programmes, analytical parameters, policy frameworks and institutional arrangements to build and strengthen the selected countries’ institutional capacity in the area of economic and trade policy and facilitate the implementation of regional integration initiatives. The project will be implemented by UNCTAD, in collaboration with ESCWA and ECA, and taking advantage of previous work done on the region.


Enhanced contribution of regional trade to the achievement of sustained economic growth, long-term structural transformation and the Millennium Development Goals.

Expected accomplishments:

  • Improved economic and trade policy-making capacities in Arab countries in North Africa and West Asia that follows a development-driven approach to trade, with emphasis on conflict (war-torn) countries, drawing on internationally recognized standards of data and economic policy analysis
  • Increased production and utilization of international statistical methods and standards in the economic and trade policy-making processes of the selected countries to address the issues of growth and regional integration.
  • Increased collaboration between the six targeted countries and between regional and international development agencies.

Implementation status:

Informative discussions during the third and final workshop in Casablanca on data availability, consistency, quality and its role in informing trade policy-making were useful for government representatives as well as for the work of the consultants. Moreover, the discussion highlighted the potential contribution UNCTAD and other international organizations can make to support the production and harmonization of trade statistics in the region.

The final expert meeting provided a platform for the exchange of ideas on the project's conclusion and policy recommendations. The consultants presented the outcomes of their studies and delegates from the participating countries participated actively in the discussion on the relevance, applicability and implementation of such policy recommendations. The Quantitative Study provides a number of important trade indices constructed by the consultant. The indices are useful for gauging trade potential and informing trade policy making.

The country studies, workshop and expert meeting discussed deep regional integration and its role in reducing unemployment and poverty.