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Geneva, Switzerland, 13 October 1999

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the Andean Community will work together to promote the trade and investment interests of the subregion. A Declaration establishing a framework agreement on future cooperation was signed today (13 October) in Geneva (Switzerland) by the Secretary-General of UNCTAD, Mr.Rubens Ricupero, and the Secretary-General of the Andean Community, Ambassador Sebastian Alegrett of Venezuela.

The Andean Community is an economic grouping comprising Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela. Its main objective is to promote growth and development in the member countries through economic and social cooperation, and to improve the position of the region in the international economic context.

At the signing ceremony, Mr. Alegrett expressed great satisfaction at the renewed cooperation with UNCTAD as the Andean countries were preparing for important trade negotiations at the multilateral and regional levels. The goal of the Andean Community was to establish a common market by the year 2005. Integration was part of the answer to the need for accelerated growth and development in the region.

Mr. Ricupero pointed out that integration at the regional level should not be considered incompatible with integration at the multilateral level. Rather, in many cases, the former could enhance the latter as it allowed countries to go through the learning process of competing on foreign markets. The Joint Declaration offered concrete possibilities for the two Secretariats to assist the Andean countries in their integration efforts. In this regard, the quality of integration, rather than its pace, was of concern if integration was to be sustainable.

Two major areas for cooperation between the two Secretariats have been established. One will be: coordination of the Andean countries´ negotiating position in multilateral economic forums, in particular within the framework of the World Trade Organization (WTO), and training of Andean negotiators under UNCTAD´s Commercial Diplomacy Programme.

Under today’s agreement, a joint programme to analyze and monitor the negotiations in WTO and to prepare background papers of relevance to the multilateral process will be established. In the area of commercial diplomacy, there will be special emphasis on the "new items" on the multilateral trade agenda In addition, UNCTAD and the Andean Community will develop, together with academic centres in the region, a permanent programme of training and research on international trade.

The second area of cooperation aims at enhancing policies of the Andean Community in the areas of trade and investment. They will work jointly on the design of manufacturing policies within the framework of multilateral trade disciplines, and develop a Community-level legal framework for electronic commerce. The two institutions will jointly analyze and monitor foreign investment in the Andean Community and community policies on the protection and promotion of foreign investment, including intra-regional investment. They will seek to strengthen Andean Community rules on competition policies, and analyze industrial competitiveness and technological innovation in the Andean subregion and in the international context.

UNCTAD and the Andean Community will analyze the latter’s relations with other regional-integration processes and its integration in the globalization process. In this regard, they will support the participation by the business sector in regional integration schemes, and develop a regional information system on public procurement.

Information on the Andean Community can be found on the Internet.