Delivering Aid for Trade: Contribution of the United Nations Inter-Agency Cluster on Trade and Productive Capacity

26 February 2012

A number of United Nations resident coordinators met on 22 February with the United Nations Inter-Agency Cluster on Trade and Productive Capacity to discuss the best methods for using aid to enhance trade and the productive abilities of developing countries and countries with economies in transition.

This information session, which dealt with the work carried out by the Cluster, also attracted member States and representatives of non-governmental organizations.

The goal of the information session was to convey - via different perspectives - the Cluster´s effectiveness in contributing to the delivery of aid for trade. The United Nations Inter-Agency Cluster on Trade and Productive Capacity, for which UNCTAD is the coordinating agency, is part of the United Nations´ Delivering as One initiative. Under Delivering as One, international organizations coordinate and complement each other´s work to help developing countries. Currently, fifteen agencies are members of the Cluster, which has an open-ended membership.

Since its official launch in April 2008 by the Secretary-General of the United Nations at the UNCTAD XII quadrennial conference, the Cluster has contributed to system-wide coherence by providing coordinated technical assistance at the country level in the area of international trade and productive capacity.

Expanding "productive capacity" - that is, the ability of an economy to produce a broader variety of goods, and goods of greater sophistication - has been identified by UNCTAD as a critical factor in spurring stable, inclusive economic growth and job creation.

Panel members
Panel members at the briefing on the United Nations Interagency Cluster on Trade and Productive Capacity on 22 February 2012

United Nations resident coordinators coordinate and monitor United Nations programmes under way in developing countries and countries with economies in transition. Among those attending Wednesday´s information session were the coordinators for Bhutan, Cape Verde, Lesotho, Serbia and Ukraine.

High-levels officials also came from the Cluster´s partner agencies such as the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL), the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), the International Labour Organization (ILO), the International Trade Centre (ITC), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS).

From the donors´ side, Switzerland shared its insights as contributor to an ongoing Cluster programme in the Lao People´s Democratic Republic and to a forthcoming programme in the United Republic of Tanzania. A number of beneficiaries from African, European and Latin American countries spoke of the effectiveness of the Cluster approach in their respective countries. These speakers said that the coordination provided by the Cluster helped to ensure that aid efforts were coherent and mutually supportive. They said that the most effective practices emerging from the Cluster´s empirical approach had been instrumental in the design and implementation of joint projects and were paving the way for the effective delivery of aid for trade.

Agency members of the Cluster stressed its role in mainstreaming trade into United Nations national assistance plans and in ensuring policy coherence. They noted that the joint programmes designed within the Cluster aimed at establishing complementarities between the various mandates of the partner agencies. They further noted that coordinated activities in various sectors or areas of assistance led to greater effectiveness and had a wider impact than small and disconnected operations.

Participants in the information session said that continued donor support, in particular through the Multi-Donor Trust Funds, is crucial to ensuring the success of the "Delivering as One" approach.