12 Sept 11 - SECO-funded UN Cluster initiative in Laos and Tanzania

CEB Inter-Agency Cluster on Trade and Productive CapacityUNCTAD Secretary-General and the Head of the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), met to reflect on cooperation to date and discuss upcoming projects.

Ambassador B. Maser, Head of Economic Cooperation and Development, SECO met with Supachai Panitchpakdi, UNCTAD Secretary-General on 12 September. The two discussed the forthcoming UNCTAD XIII Conference, UNCTAD support to the G-20 and the support provided by SECO to the Inter-Agency Cluster on Trade and Productive Capacity, coordinated by UNCTAD.

Ambassador Maser also attended the first meeting of the Global Management Board of the SECO-UN Cluster Initiative. The Board endorsed the work plan for the Lao PDR project under this initiative. During the Board, SECO confirmed approval of an additional credit proposal for a new project in Tanzania, under the framework of the Initiative.

The Board decided to field a fact-and-needs assessment mission to Tanzania in October 2011, with the purpose of establishing coordination mechanisms amongst all stakeholders involved, as well as determining, together with the Government of Tanzania, the areas of intervention for the project.

Background details

Following the establishment of the Inter-Agency Cluster on Trade and Productive Capacity, the Swiss Government, through the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) has selected Lao PDR as a pilot country for the implementation of a trade related technical assistance program with the Cluster.

SECO is funding this three-year program, entitled "Enhancing sustainable tourism, clean production and export capacity in Lao PDR", to the amount of US 4,040,000. Four agencies members of the cluster will be implementing the program namely: ILO, ITC, UNCTAD and UNIDO. UNOPS will manage the program's trust fund.

The main objective of this project in Lao PDR is to develop an overall competitive tourism industry, while at the same time strengthening the organic agriculture and the handicraft (especially the silk) industries in order to achieve a spill-over effect on those sectors through backward-linkages, and improving the export volume and quality of the above mentioned sectors, thereby positively impacting on poverty in targeted provinces of Lao PDR.

The project will address four main areas of technical cooperation:

  • Development of a competitive and sustainable tourism industry

  • Strengthening of backward linkages of handicraft (especially silk) and organic agriculture to the tourism industry

  • Facilitating exports to regional markets and meeting international requirements for target sectors

  • Addressing cross-cutting issues concerning cleaner production, strengthening the local trade related forums and task forces (NIFGS) and supporting the government in the DTIS update process

This innovative initiative offers the Government of Lao PDR new opportunities to benefit from the UN expertise through a "single window" and in a coordinated manner.

This pilot project will, to the extent possible, demonstrate the efficiency of multi-agencies programs, and represent a milestone for the design of future similar programs. SECO announced the launch of the same type of assistance programme in Tanzania, which has been selected as the second country to benefit from this initiative.



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