Geneva, 10 October 2013
During the 70th Session of the WTO Sub-Committee on Least Developed Countries (LDCs) - held today in Geneva – WTO Member states officially welcomed the new EIF Executive Director Dr. Ratnakar Adhikari and expressed their deep appreciation to the outgoing Executive Director, Ms. Dorothy Tembo for the leadership she provided to the programme, which started and fortified under her 5- year tenure.
"The importance of EIF, as a framework for mobilizing resources, for the enhancement of LDCs' trade capacity cannot be overemphasized – said the delegate from Nepal on behalf of the LDC Group - It has proved its worth by delivering results on the ground and has been instrumental in supporting LDCs to mainstream trade in their national development strategies, helping LDCs to set up structures needed to coordinate the delivery of trade-related technical assistance and providing support to LDCs to build their trade capacity and enable them to address supply-side constraints".
Referring to the positive Mid-Term Review of the programme, the delegate from Nepal underscored that ensuring an adequate level of funding is key to ensure the continuing success of the EIF mission and called for the EIF to become a gateway to broader Aid for Trade resources and for new partnership opportunities to be explored.
The Sub-Committee on Least-Developed Countries is composed by all members of the WTO and supervises the implementation of the WTO Work Programme for the LDCs. It also monitors the work of the EIF Trade-Related technical Assistance to LDCs.
Making strides, showing results
In today's annual submission, outgoing Executive Director Ms. Dorothy Tembo highlighted the continuing growth of the programme both in terms of country participation and result delivery in mainstreaming trade and accessing resources. A total number of 49 countries are now EIF beneficiaries with South Sudan and Myanmar being the latest addition. "The enhanced participation of LDCs and the increasing recognition of EIF as trade and development tool is gratifying and remains imperative" noted Ms Tembo.
Since July 2009, 36 countries have accessed Tier 1 resources for institutional capacity building and trade mainstreaming projects, majority of which are nationally owned and implemented thus contributing to the enhancement of countries' capacity to absorb and implement technical assistance and manage fiduciary aspects.
EIF National Implementation Units are also actively working towards identifying and realigning trade priorities through Diagnostic Trade Integration Studies (DTIS). As of 2013, a total number of to 43 DTIS have been validated of which 7 have been updated and another 16 under way.
To date, 17 Tier 2 projects – that address supply side constraints identified by through the DTIS process – have been approved and are directly funded out of the EIF Trust Fund. The EIF has also supported the development of other projects financed through different mechanisms at country level. Provisions of capacity building remains a priority for the EIF: modules for trade mainstreaming, project development, gender mainstreaming, mid-term programming and stakeholders engagement have been developed made available to EIF countries while synergies with new and potential partnership – such as the UNWTO are sought – to strengthen the provision of capacity development opportunities to LDCs.
New challenges ahead
In his first address to the Sub-Committee on LDCs, Dr. Adhikari indicated that his priority will be "to take the programme to the next level where countries not only decide and articulate their trade priorities but also effectively leverage support from all partners and allocate resources from the respective national treasuries for implementing trade-related activities which have significant spin off in terms of sustainable economic growth and poverty alleviation".
Dr. Adhikari also emphasized the importance of increasing the engagement with regional institutions such as regional development banks, regional economic and social commissions of the United Nations and regional economic groupings in order to address the problem of under-provisioning of regional public goods that are necessary for LDCs to take advantage of market access opportunities available at the regional level.
Building on interventions from Solomon Islands and Australia delegates he also emphasized that LDCs face the crucial challenge of converting market access into market entry. "Helping LDCs to reduce trade costs and upgrade their standard-related infrastructure– he concluded – are fronts where the EIF partnership has been very active thus far and will continue to be for the days to come".