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New York, 6 July 2000

Joint statement on the mandated review of the integrated framework for trade-related technical assistance to least-developed countries (IF) by the six core agencies (IMF, ITC, UNCTAD, UNDP, World Bank and WTO)

Mr. J. Denis BÚlisle, Executive Director of ITC, Mr. Rubens Ricupero, Secretary-General of UNCTAD, Mr. Mark Malloch-Brown, Administrator of the UNDP, Mr. Mike Moore, Director-General of WTO, , Mr. Reinhard Munzberg, Director and Special Representative to the United Nations of the IMF, and Mr. Kemal Dervis, Vice-President for Poverty Reduction and Economic Management, World Bank, Heads and representatives of the six core Agencies for the Integrated Framework, met at the UNDP Offices in New York on 6 July 2000.

They issued the following joint statement:

We, the representatives of the six core agencies of the Integrated Framework for Trade-Related Technical Assistance to Least-Developed Countries (IF), reaffirm our commitment to work together, on the basis of our respective mandates and competence, to assist the Least-Developed Countries (LDCs) to integrate into the global economy in a manner supportive of their overall development objectives, and in particular their strategies for poverty reduction.

Trade liberalisation and reform are key elements of economic policy contributing to higher rates of growth and poverty reduction. The multilateral trading system plays a vital role in maintaining sound, stable, rules-based trade relations among nations. We are committed to assisting LDCs to take fuller advantage of this system, including their support for accession to the WTO. We recognize the necessity of continuous meaningful improvements in market access for LDCs, as a vital complement to their own efforts to liberalize their economies. Furthermore, we are convinced of the importance of trade-related assistance and capacity-building efforts if LDCs are to integrate effectively into the global economy and reverse the trend in some LDCs towards increasing marginalization.

We have examined the results of the mandated review of the Integrated Framework of trade-related technical assistance (IF). The issues raised in the review and its conclusions and recommendations make clear the need for strengthening the IF and improving its functioning.

We are determined to make the IF an effective mechanism for assisting in the delivery of trade-related technical assistance and capacity-building. We are convinced that this effort will only prove successful if it constitutes an integral part of the overall development and poverty reduction strategies of the Least Developed Countries. We are further convinced that in order to mainstream trade and trade-related activities effectively into national development and poverty reduction strategies, adequate resources must be made available at the policy and programme formulation stage of the process, as well as for the implementation.

In view of these objectives, and having regard to consultations among stakeholders, the IMF, ITC, UNCTAD, UNDP, WORLD BANK and WTO:

  • Take note of the Report of the independent IF Review Team, which they regard as a useful input into the decisions taken hereunder:
  • Agree to make every effort to support the integration of trade, trade-related technical assistance, and capacity-building into the national development strategies and plans of LDCs. This would be ensured principally through such instrument as Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs) and would influence other development frameworks such as the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF). In doing so, these efforts will ensure dynamic interaction and dialogue among LDCs, donors and agencies, fully respecting country ownership.
  • Agree that this mainstreaming effort will be led and coordinated by the World Bank, according to the principles of the Comprehensive Development Framework, with participation and inputs from the other core agencies and other stakeholders. Building on initial Needs Assessments and subsequent work, this will involve formulating country-specific integration strategies as part of the mainstreaming process. These activities will feed into the World Bank Consultative Groups (CGs) and UNDP Round Table Meetings (RTs) where countries will present their medium-term policy frameworks and financing needs, including for trade-related assistance, for support by the donor community.

    Existing programmes under the auspices of the IF will continue to be pursued and reported to the IAWG, with every effort to mainstream these activities within the broader ambit of national development strategies, as outlined above.
  • Agree to invite representatives from LDCs and donor countries to serve, along with Heads of the core agencies, in a Steering Committee to help ensure proper oversight, policy guidance, adequate funding, and ownership of the Integrated Framework for trade-related technical assistance.

    In consultation with LDCs and donors, the core agencies will agree upon the structure and operating procedures of the Steering Committee by 31 October 2000 at the latest.
  • Agree that the Inter-Agency Working Group (IAWG) will ensure transparency and adequate coordination of the activities of the core agencies under the IF, primarily through the continuing flow of information on activities under the IF, and, inter alia, will make periodic reports to the Steering Committee.
  • Agree that the WTO Secretariat will continue to chair the IAWG. The Administrative Unit for the IF, currently located at the ITC, will be folded into the WTO Secretariat. On a voluntary basis, staff from other core agencies will be seconded to the WTO Secretariat.

    The core agencies will draw up precise terms of reference for the IAWG by 31 October 2000 at the latest.
  • Agree to seek donor support for and voluntary contributions to an Integrated Framework Trust Fund (IFTF) for the purpose of mainstreaming trade and trade-related assistance into development architecture. The IFTF would finance: i) the formulation by countries of trade integration strategies as part of their PRSPs; ii) project preparation and design of trade capacity building projects in areas that are identified as priorities in the PRSP; iii) regional projects that do not fall within the scope of the CG/RT process; and, iv) limited and urgent capacity-building activities for LDCs for which no PRSP will be prepared or where CGs/UNDP Round Tables are not taking place (including in an appropriate time-frame). The funding objective for the period 2001-2003 is set at US$ 20 million.
  • Agree that the IFTF will be administered by UNDP on behalf of the core agencies of the Integrated Framework on the basis of terms to be agreed among agencies and donors.
  • Agree to give active support for and contribute towards achieving the objectives of the Third United Nations Conference for the Least-Developed Countries (LDC-III) to be held in Brussels, May 2001, using the preparatory process for the Conference.
  • Agree that while there is merit in the idea of enlarging the IF to apply to other developing countries, this should not be undertaken at the present time, but rather re-considered in two years when improvements to the IF have been tried and seen to be working.