WTO news: what’s been happening in the WTO

26 February 2002

Heads of international agencies agree to work together to implement the WTO's Doha Development Agenda

Heads and representatives of the six core international agencies (ITC, IMF, UNCTAD, UNDP, World Bank and WTO)(1) agreed at a meeting in Washington today to provide concrete support to help Developing and Least-Developed Countries (LDCs) take part in the current trade negotiations and draw on the benefits of the open trading system. 

The communique adopted at the meeting, hosted by World Bank President James D. Wolfensohn, and chaired by WTO Director-General Mike Moore, agreed that the implementation of the Integrated Framework (IF) — a program aimed at delivering assistance in trade-related areas to LDCs — would contribute to the realisation of the Doha Development Agenda launched at the 4th WTO Ministerial Conference in November 2001. Welcoming the new trade round, the meeting identified areas for coordinated and joint inter-agency action in support of the negotiations. Agency heads focused in particular on the steps required for the effective implementation of the IF and the extension of its benefits to other LDCs. The WTO sees inter-agency coherence and capacity-building for LDCs as key elements in successfully concluding the new round. 

The meeting also agreed that practical follow-up to on-going competitiveness studies in IF- beneficiary LDCs would contribute to the realisation of the Doha Development Agenda. In this regard, they agreed to enhance agencies' responses and seek an increase in resources dedicated to these areas on priority technical assistance and capacity-building projects in the IF. They jointly called on bilateral donors and multilateral agencies, in coordination with beneficiary countries, to assume lead donor roles in LDCs taking part in the IF. 

“The Doha Development Agenda is a vital part of the fight against poverty, but is too extensive for any single development agency, and as a consequence we have come together in a partnership that will take advantage of the skills and experiences of each of our organizations,” said Mr Wolfensohn. He informed agency heads that the World Bank was increasing resources dedicated to trade work, and confirmed that the World Bank would work, in coordination with other agencies, in support of the Doha Development Agenda. 

“The good practices of coordination and coherence that we were establishing in the context of the IF provide the basis for inter-agency partnership in responding to the challenges of Doha,” said Mr Moore. 

The six heads and representatives welcomed the progress made in the Integrated Framework, which is currently operating on a pilot basis in three LDCs — Cambodia, Madagascar and Mauritania. They reaffirmed the lead role of the World Bank in the process of mainstreaming trade into plans for national development and strategies for poverty reduction. The IF stresses the necessity of reflecting trade priority areas of action, through country-led poverty reduction strategy papers and plans for national development, so that trade can more effectively exercise its function as an engine for economic growth. 

Agency representatives recognised the urgency in enhancing linkages and improving coherence between the trade and development communities. They underscored the position that improved coherence was necessary to address the complex trade development concerns of the LDCs and the non-LDC low income economies. 

They also emphasised the central role of technical assistance and capacity-building in assisting Developing Countries and LDCs to draw on the benefits of the open, rules-based multilateral trading system. But they noted that technical assistance and market access were no substitute for market opening, which was needed to ensure that these countries secured a share in the growth of world trade commensurate with their needs for economic development. 

Agency heads agreed to meet again after the WTO's Mexico Ministerial Conference in 2003 to review the effective implementation of their commitments.

> Final joint communique by the six core agencies of the Integrated Framework — IMF, ITC, UNCTAD, UNDP, World Bank and WTO


1. Mr. Eduardo Aninat, Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Mr. J. Denis Bélisle, Executive Director of the International Trade Centre (ITC), Mr. Carlos Fortin, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Mr. Mark Malloch Brown, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Mr. James D. Wolfensohn, President of the World Bank, and Mr. Mike Moore, Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). back to text