21 April 2016
Today the EIF Steering Committee (EIFSC) held its seventh Session, the first since the start of EIF Phase Two. In a positive engaging atmosphere marking new beginnings, the EIFSC Chair and Ambassador of Sweden, H.E. Mr Daniel Blockert, opened the experience‑sharing session by highlighting some of the major milestones of the EIF programme in 2015, including the launch of EIF Phase Two.
In her report to the EIFSC, the EIF Board Chair and Ambassador of Sierra Leone, H.E. Ms Yvette Stevens expounded on the EIF achievements, the EIF changes and the challenges that the programme faced in 2015. She said, "The EIF partnership continued to grow, with Equatorial Guinea joining the EIF as the last of the 48 LDCs. The EIF has therefore reached its target of 51 countries, including 3 countries (Cabo Verde, Maldives and Samoa) that have graduated from the LDC Group. This marks a milestone for the EIF that should be recognized and acknowledged."
Ambassador Stevens also underscored the new guiding principles of the EIF programme for 2016‑2018, which were adopted by the EIF Board yesterday. The guiding principles include a judicious use of limited resources available to the programme; an enhanced partnership, and increased visibility and outreach; the creation of a virtuous circle of efficient and effective implementation and delivery; and the creation of an enabling environment for resource leveraging and programme delivery. On key 2015 results, she highlighted that "38% of the resources were leveraged through government contributions."
Challenges affecting programme delivery were highlighted, including political instability, the outbreak of the Ebola virus and natural disasters. In concluding her report, the Chair welcomed the Netherlands as a new EIF Donor and also raised the operational challenges of delivering the Programme Framework for EIF Phase Two because of the limited resources available. She called on the EIF Donor countries to make additional contributions to the EIF in order to support growth and development in the LDCs through the EIF framework.
Ambassador Blockert underscored the fact that the EIF was specifically mentioned in the Global Development Agenda as a vehicle for Aid for Trade (AfT) for the LDCs. He said, "The reference to the EIF in key global initiatives, such as the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, committed to by leaders shows the value the EIF can offer." Introducing the case story on graduation and how EIF support was being used to help graduated countries, he noted, "This is within the context of the upcoming Mid-term Review of the IPoA and is an important part of the global development agenda to help the LDCs to grow and alleviate poverty, and clearly, the EIF has a central role to play. In fact, the EIF is specifically mentioned in the IPoA."
Samoa and Cabo Verde, both graduated countries, shared how they have been using EIF support for policy development and mainstreaming cross-sectoral work with respective line ministries. Mr Justin Lima, the Acting EIF Focal Point and Principal Foreign Service Officer at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Samoa, highlighted the challenges that remained for Samoa as a graduated country, including the high costs of doing business; access to finance; decline in industrial development; isolation and long distances to major markets; loss of preferential market access and market entry challenges; as well as supply-side constraints. He noted that the EIF remained the only trade‑specific programme in Samoa, adding, "The EIF is very important and continues to help in resource mobilization to our Islands that are vulnerable to external shocks."
On his part, Mr Amilcar Monteiro, the EIF Focal Point and Director of Commerce of Cabo Verde, highlighted the country-led and EIF‑supported process taking place in Cabo Verde, which was serving as the basis for all trade policy development and trade support in-country. He also underlined the 13 projects that had been developed in response to the EIF‑funded Diagnostic Trade Integration Study (DTIS), which were meant to deliver 37 outputs, including institutional capacity building, policies and strategies.
The Cambodian case story on using the EIF to support graduation aspirations was presented by Mr Pich Chhieng, the NIU Coordinator and Director of the Department of International Cooperation at the Ministry of Commerce. With support from the Integrated Framework and the EIF programme since 2001, Cambodia has been able to leverage the EIF's analytical framework and processes to make trade an engine for growth and support efforts to move up the development ladder. EIF resources have also been used to commission a study on the potential impact of graduation, to enable Cambodia to define a clear strategy that will mitigate any risks linked to graduation. Mr Chhieng also identified what the EIF and AfT could do to support Cambodia's road to graduation, including consolidating efforts in economic diversification; highlighting EIF current support to the silk, rice, fisheries, cassava and tourism sectors; building trade negotiation capacity; and developing a smooth graduation transition strategy.
On the sustainability theme, Mr Nazaire Paré, EIF Focal Point and Director General of the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Handicraft in Burkina Faso and an EIF Board Member, elaborated actions that have been taken to facilitate an efficient delivery of results and anchoring of the sustainability of EIF interventions in his country. He noted that to achieve overall sustainability, development programmes needed to target institutional, human resource and financial sustainability. And for Burkina Faso, institutional sustainability required integrating the EIF process into existing Government structures and the participation of all stakeholders.
The case stories and the report from the EIF Board Chair were welcomed by the delegations from Benin as the WTO LDC Group Coordinator, Cabo Verde, Chinese Taipei, Germany, Japan and Lao PDR, as well as a representative from UNCTAD.
To further mark new EIF Phase Two beginnings, it was agreed to extend the EIFSC's mandate to directly report on the EIF's contributions towards achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and the implementation of the Istanbul Programme of Action for LDCs (IPoA). This was based on the revised Terms of Reference for the EIFSC for EIF Phase Two approved by the EIF Board. In this vein, the Executive Director of the Executive Secretariat for the EIF, Mr Ratnakar Adhikari, said, "Since the EIF can contribute to 10 SDGs, with two directly related to the EIF, reporting on the contribution made by the EIF to various indicators relating to these goals is absolutely necessary". He further mentioned, "Since the EIFSC is the forum for transparency, information‑sharing and exchange of experience, where views of the entire partnership are reflected, reporting by the Chair of the EIFSC directly to the UN-OHRLLS will add to the credibility of the process." This proposal was adopted by the EIFSC.
Notes to the editors:
The EIF is a multi-donor trust fund, which provides financial and technical support to build trade capacity in all 48 LDCs and three graduated countries. The EIF programme administratively housed within the WTO is the only global AfT programme exclusively designed for the LDCs and is, therefore, uniquely placed to assist countries to develop sustainable trade strategies, which have a positive impact on people's lives through the promotion of private sector development and job and income opportunities.
The EIFSC, held once a year, gives the EIF partnership an opportunity to provide strategic advice and guidance on the implementation of the programme and its overall goals and to act as a forum for exchanging information, experiences and good practice among all partners. The EIFSC will also consider and transmit through the existing system-wide reporting mechanism on LDCs the contributions of the EIF towards the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and the implementation of the IPoA.