For use of information media - Not an official record

Geneva, Switzerland, 20 December 1996

Today, Mr. F.Blankart, Swiss State Secretary for Foreign Economic Relations, and Mr. Rubens Ricupero, Secretary-General of UNCTAD, signed an agreement establishing a bilateral trust fund for financing trade-related technical cooperation projects. Switzerland, pledged an initial instalment of US$3 million to the trust fund, which will be replenished as funds are allocated to individual projects.

Switzerland is traditionally among the largest contributors to UNCTAD´s operational activities. The establishment of the trust fund demonstrates the strong support of the Swiss Government to the development of UNCTAD´s technical cooperation activities as redefined at UNCTAD IX.

UNCTAD´s technical cooperation activities aim at strengthening trade policy formulation and implementation, at raising the efficiency of trade operations and at facilitating exports from small and medium-sized enterprises. UNCTAD has developed several programmes that have proved to be of great practical use in these fields, such as the trade efficiency initiative; the establishment of Trade Points; ASYCUDA (Automated SYstem for CUstoms DAta); and TRAINFORTRADE (a training/human resources development programme).

As stressed by President Jean-Pascal Delamuraz at the first Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization in Singapore last week, it is vital to assist LDCs in their effort to integrate the world economy. Accordingly US$1 million out of the initial instalment will be directed towards the trust fund in favour of LDCs, now being set up in UNCTAD.

The new Swiss trust fund will save time and money by providing resources on a stable basis and simplifying administrative procedures.

"This generous financial pledge represents a vote of confidence by Switzerland in the new directions being taken by UNCTAD since our Conference last May", said Mr. Ricupero at the signing ceremony. "It will enable us to do our job better on behalf of those who can least help themselves."