Joint Advisory Group Meeting: The 44th Session of ITC's Joint Advisory Group (JAG) Meeting in December 2010 Saw Emphasis Placed on the Commitment to a Partnership Approach by the ITC, World Trade Organization (WTO) and United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in Delivering on the Aid for Trade Agenda

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The objective of the annual JAG meeting was to review ITC's work programme through its 2009 Annual Report, Consolidated Programme Document for 2011 and draft Operational Plan for 2011.

Specifically under this agenda, a key objective is to enhance dialogue with the private sector, promoting the role of small- and medium-sized enterprises and microenterprises, with particular importance given to their financing needs and ensuring their voice is heard in trade-related matters.

'Delivering as One' approach successful

In his opening remarks, Dr. Supachai Panitchpakdi, Secretary-General of UNCTAD, said that an agenda for delivering Aid for Trade to developing countries is 'crucial for the proper functioning of their productive and export capacities and long-term competitiveness.' He noted that this is particularly so for least developed countries (LDCs), where investment needs in productive and export infrastructure are significant but at present, insufficient.

'In order to sustainably achieve high rates of growth, LDCs need to raise their rate of fixed capital formation to at least 25% of GDP but, as last year's LDC Report showed, current rates of fixed capital formation are 18% of GDP for African LDCs and 21% of GDP for Asian LDCs,' Dr. Supachai said.

In addressing his concerns over declining proportional aid to develop sector productivity, Dr. Supachai said that 'if Aid for Trade is to be a meaningful contribution to developing countries' productive and export capacities, it has to be additional and it has to be large enough to address the infrastructural needs of developing countries, especially the LDCs.' Collaborating as members of the UN-CEB Inter-Agency Cluster on Trade and Productive Capacity, ITC and UNCTAD have worked together over the past year in more than 20 countries across five regions involved in One UN Pilot projects.

Citing numerous examples of successful UNCTAD-ITC initiatives in countries ranging from Albania to Rwanda and Haiti, Dr. Supachai said there is a need for systematic consultation when launching operations at the country level in areas where the agencies' activities are closely related.

'The Interagency Cluster is now an established and successful mechanism of coordination which will need continued support,' Dr. Supachai said.

Within the context of ITC's draft Operational Plan, Dr. Supachai said UNCTAD and ITC should work together to identify further complementarities in several areas including:

* Improving trade facilitation to enhance trade competitiveness;

* Improving trade support institutions and the business environment;

* Trade intelligence;

* The interface between environmental issues and trade policy, with a particular focus on the natural resource-based sectors, including organic food;

* The improvement of supply chains and the integration of regional and global value chains, with a particular focus on obstacles facing African small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in entering global value chains; and

* Support to public private dialogue on the implications of economic partnership agreements, with a particular focus on trade in services, competition policy and trade and investment.

Towards the conclusion of the Doha Development Agenda

Mr. Pascal Lamy, Director-General of WTO, addressed the meeting saying that a number of important events in the past year had impacted on the work of international agencies, and also provided a better sense of the prospects for all countries to exit the global economic and financial crisis.

Among these key events was the September 2010 UN Summit in New York on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Among the issues raised was the fact that for a majority of developing and least developed countries the gains they made towards achieving the MDGs had been seriously eroded by the crisis. Furthermore, the majority of developing countries made it clear that open trade represents their best chance to exit the crisis and the conclusion of the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) is now more urgent than ever. …

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