The Trade and Development Board today unanimously adopted a strategy for UNCTAD´s technical cooperation activities that will remain in force until UNCTAD X, in the year 2000. The strategy will be implemented through annually updated rolling three-year plans.
On the basis of this strategy, the UNCTAD secretariat has prepared, for the first time, an annual plan for its technical cooperation. The budget of approved projects for 1997 amounts to almost US$30 million (compared to about US$25 million in 1996).
Half of this amount will be devoted to practical assistance in the areas of services infrastructure and trade efficiency, including transport. The other half will be allocated to activities such as debt management, trade analysis, enterprise development, and innovation and investment policies. Another breakdown demonstrates that nearly 40 per cent of funds are assigned to the least developed countries (LDCs) in line with member States´ recommendations that priority be given to the 48 poorest countries. Nearly one-third of the approved projects are destined for Africa.
The overall purpose of the strategy is to enhance the human and institutional capacities of developing countries, and of countries with economies-in-transition, to promote their own development process. A key objective is to improve the ability of countries to participate fully in international trade, investment and production.
Practical activities in those areas will be closely interlinked with UNCTAD´s analytical work. They will include national case studies and policy reviews on specific development issues, advisory services, training, software and manuals on best practices for human resources and institution building, and dissemination of databases for use by governments or civil society.
UNCTAD´s technical cooperation will be demand-driven. It will act increasingly at the country-level with a direct impact on national development.
Much emphasis is placed on the need for inter-agency coordination to create more synergies and avoid duplication in order to optimize the impact of technical cooperation. To this end, UNCTAD will cooperate closely with the World Trade Organization (WTO), the International Trade Centre (ITC), the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and other agencies. There will also be a systematic exchange of information and best practices.
The strategy, adopted at a one-day executive session of the Trade and Development Board, also calls for strengthened cooperation with the private sector, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the academic community, both as beneficiaries and as sources of expertise, with regard to UNCTAD´s operational activities.
Strict quality control on technical cooperation programmes will be exercised by the UNCTAD secretariat, through adherence to commonly established quality standards at the project design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation stages. In order to facilitate monitoring, measurable targets will be set up when projects begin. Periodical evaluations will examine the impact of the activities against their objectives and will recommend ways to deal with deficiencies.