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The EIF partnership commends Myanmar's swift progress in programme implementation

Member of the EIF partnership since April 2013, Myanmar is making rapid strides in the implementation of the EIF programme, as was highlighted during an open-ended panel discussion on 9 September 2014 at the World Trade Organization, under the chairmanship of H.E. Mr Minelik Alemu Getahun, Ambassador of Ethiopia and Chair of the EIF Board.

The Myanmar Delegation, led by H.E. Dr Pwint San, Deputy Minister of Commerce and EIF Focal Point, provided a comprehensive update on the various steps taken during the first year since the country's admission to the EIF, and in particular, the set-up of the EIF National Implementation Arrangements, including the establishment of the EIF National Steering Committee, characterized by an important representation of the private sector, and of the EIF National Implementation Unit. Moreover, the Diagnostic Trade Integration Study (DTIS) – led by the World Bank – has now begun and will lay the blueprint for trade‑based development in Myanmar.

As it is transitioning to a fully fledged market-oriented economy, Myanmar has embarked on a number of other processes, such as the preparation of the National Export Strategy and the National Trade Facilitation Implementation Plan. In March 2014, Myanmar successfully completed its first ever Trade Policy Review at the WTO.

"The EIF has helped us lay very strong foundations that carry the potential for trade to be a key driver of our development and achieve results and impact on growth and poverty reduction. Therefore, the EIF programme has become one of our key priorities to implement", H.E. Dr Pwint San said.

In the discussion that followed the presentation, Mr Alberto Menghini, representative of the European Union and EIF Donor Facilitator in Myanmar, highlighted the importance of the EIF as an instrument of coordination of Aid for Trade initiatives among donors, making sure that the assistance is aligned with the country's priorities. "Looking forward to the Tier 1 project – Mr Menghini said – we see it as a turning point to start providing technical assistance and building capacities to help Myanmar implement its own priorities".

H.E. Mr Cristopher Onyanga Aparr, Ambassador of Uganda and Coordinator of the WTO LDC Group, praised Myanmar's good performance and execution of the EIF and called for renewed and extended support to the EIF after the end of the current phase, end-2015. "The EIF is there to help LDCs to uplift their economic status", he added.

WTO Deputy Director-General Mr Yonov Frederick Agah emphasized the interest and support that the Myanmar Trade Policy Review (TPR) drew among WTO Members. He also highlighted the importance of linking the implementation of the results of the TPR with the ongoing DTIS process. "The linkage with the DTIS, a key tool of the partners of the EIF, will further assist in consolidating Myanmar's trade and economic policies as well as development assistance programmes", he noted.

ITC Deputy Executive Director Ms Dorothy Tembo highlighted the great opportunity provided by Myanmar's participation in the EIF and ITC's focus on the development of Small and Medium Enterprises and job creation. She also emphasized the value of working within the framework of the EIF, which "allows agencies to associate together and provide the best possible support to LDCs", she said.

In his remarks, Dr Ratnakar Adhikari, Executive Director of the Executive Secretariat for the EIF, commended the Government of Myanmar for placing trade at the heart of the development discourse and thanked the Minister for the strong ownership provided to the EIF process.

Dr Adhikari reiterated the EIF's commitment to Myanmar but reminded participants of the catalytic nature of the programme. Since its support alone cannot help address all the trade‑related challenges facing the LDCs, LDCs need to leverage resources from the domestic or external actors to augment the funds required to address their trade-related priorities as identified by the DTIS, he added. "Leveraging is not only salient from the perspective of meeting resource gaps, but also for the sustainability of the initiatives implemented through the EIF support", Dr Adhikari said. Triangular cooperation between the EIF Country, the EIF Secretariat and the Donor Facilitator remains vital".