unctad.org | When projects are delivered in less time than expected
When projects are delivered in less time than expected
30 May 2017
Written by Arántzazu Sánchez
Article No. 4 [UNCTAD Transport and Trade Facilitation Newsletter N°74 - Second Quarter 2017]

The refurbishment of your kitchen is taking longer than the architect claimed it would take; you are not as advanced as you thought you would be in preparing for the exam of that online course you are taking; the launch of the publication you have prepared had to be postponed because it was not going to be ready in time… Does this sound familiar? Delays are part of our daily personal and professional life. We learn to adapt to them.

International agencies and donors frequently experience that the completion of a project that they so thoroughly planned is being delayed or that the implementation rate is not progressing as expected. Today, I want to share with you a completely different picture. At UNCTAD, we have managed to deliver in less than five months, the first yearly tranche of our newest project. And the results are worth reading.

With the entry into force of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) on 22 February 2017, the countdown of various deadlines for the implementation of the trade facilitation provisions by developing and least developed countries have started to run.

Assisting countries in this process has become an urgent matter. There is no time to be bureaucratic or passive. It is time for action.

In November 2016, UNCTAD launched the project to support implementation for the WTO TFA in three members of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), with funding received from the European Union (EU).

The project was due to start two months later, but the early reception of funds allowed UNCTAD to be ready for implementation by January 2017.

By mid-January 2017, official Interest Letters from Cameroon, Gabon and São Tomé e Príncipe were received.

At the end of January 2017, the three countries in question participated at the First International Forum for National Trade Facilitation Committees (NTFCs), organized in Geneva, Switzerland.

Participants from Gabon and São Tomé e Príncipe work, together with UNCTAD in the preparation of Terms of Reference for their National Trade Facilitation Committees

The event, which gathered over 300 representatives from 70 countries, aimed at strengthening the capacities of the leaders of NTFCs around the world. This event was the perfect platform to kick-off the project with national counterparts.

São Tomé e Príncipe
Representatives from Customs and the private sector from São Tomé e Príncipe during the First African Forum for National Trade Facilitation Committees
Celestin Nzengue of Gabon
Celestin Nzengue, Ministry of Commerce of Gabon, in a picture that symbolizes the launch of the Empowerment Programme for his country.

It was the enthusiasm of our national counterparts, their urgency to start working on the implementation of trade facilitation reforms that made it easy to move rapidly and organize the subsequent activities of the project.

Thanks to that and the collaboration of other organizations such as the World Bank Group and the UN Economic Commission for Europe, four training activities were organized so far, three of them in the respective countries. They focused on how to set up a national trade facilitation committee as well as on international trade facilitation recommendations and standards.

To have a look at the detailed results of these activities, click on the pictures below:

São Tomé
(6-10 March)
São Tomé
(9-12 May)
(15-18 May)

Five months and four events later, we look forward to continuing the project with the partner countries based on the second financial contribution from the EU and we hope we will be able to keep this motivating delivery path.


For further information, please contact Arántzazu Sánchez (arantzazu.sanchez@unctad.org)

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