WTO news: what’s been happening in the WTO

Geneva, 23 March 2001

Director-General Mike Moore & Danish Ambassador Henrik Iverson commend donors' pledges to new integrated framework trust fund

International efforts to build trade capacity in Least-Developed Countries (LDCs) received firm support last week (15 March 2001) with donors pledging US$ 4.5 million for the six agency Integrated Framework of technical assistance (IF).

Ambassador Henrik Rée Iversen (Denmark) and Ambassador Victor Lechesa (Lesotho) were elected as Chair and Vice-Chair of the IF Steering Committee. Representatives of LDCs and donor countries welcomed the significant reforms undertaken in the IF process by the six agencies involved: the International Monetary Fund, International Trade Centre, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, United Nations Development Programme, World Bank and World Trade Organization.

The enhanced IF is designed to mainstream trade into LDCs overall development plans and poverty reduction strategies so that trade-related technical assistance is delivered within a coherent policy framework. The US$ 4.5 million will be used to fund an improved management structure pilot plan in which the Steering Committee will provide policy oversight and guidance. The IF Trust Fund will be managed jointly by representatives of the six core agencies, donors and LDCs.

The following specific pledges have been made: Denmark — US$ 300,000; the Netherlands — US$ 300,000; Norway  — US$ 500,000; Sweden — 3 million Swedish Kroner (about US$ 300,000). UNDP pledged US$ 300,000, and the World Bank informed the Steering Committee it had proposed to its Development Grant Facility a contribution of US$ 1.5 million to be made to the IF Trust Fund. At a 19 March meeting of development ministers hosted by the United Kingdom, British Development Minister Clare Short pledged a British contribution of US$ 500,000.

The United States has announced a programme of bilateral assistance to the LDCs as part of its support to the IF pilot scheme. Other WTO member governments have indicated they would shortly be making their announcements.

WTO Director-General, Mike Moore, and Ambassador Iverson hailed the reforms made to the IF and praised the efforts of the six core agencies, donors and the LDCs in setting up the pilot programme. They said this initiative represents an important “confidence-building measure” towards both the U.N. Conference on Least-Developed Countries (LDC-III) in May and the efforts to meet LDC needs in the run-up to the November WTO Ministerial Conference in Qatar.