United Nations Inter-Agency Cluster on Trade and Productive Capacity

The Inter-Agency Cluster on Trade and Productive Capacity is an interagency mechanism dedicated to the coordination of trade and development operations at the national and regional levels within the UN system.

The Cluster makes a concrete and direct contribution to the UN system-wide coherence reform by coordinating its participation in operations at global, regional and country level and by accessing innovative multi-donor funding mechanisms:





Delivering as One: 2030 Agenda

UN-CEB Delivering as one

The CEB Inter-Agency Cluster is an inter-agency mechanism dedicated to the coordination of trade and development operations within the UN System.

It proposes comprehensive solutions with an optimized articulation between the formulation of common policy recommendations and their effective translation through joint-programmes at the country level.

Since its establishment in April 2007 and its official launch by the United Nations Secretary-General during UNCTAD XII Ministerial Conference in April 2008, the CEB Inter-Agency Cluster on Trade and Productive Capacity makes a concrete and direct contribution to the overall Aid for Trade initiative and United Nations System-wide Coherence reform by coordinating its participation:

Inter-agency Cooperation Mechanisms

Contribution to the United Nations System-wide Coherence:

  • Contribution to the Aid for Trade initiative with complementary assistance provided by the members of the Clusters.

  • Cooperation within the Cluster on the design and formulation of common policy analysis and recommendations developed in the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

  • Cooperation and coordination within the Cluster at the UN System level including, when appropriate, within the United Nations Development Group machinery for the setting-up of new UN rules standard mechanisms on the Delivering as One (DaO).

    The Cluster' operations are designed to propose optimized interface with other inter-agency mechanisms. For instance, in the case of Least Developed Countries, the joint programmes developed by the Cluster are proposed in conformity with the Enhanced Integrated Framework' diagnostic trade integration studies.

  • Cooperation and coordination within the Cluster for a better inclusion of the Non Resident Agencies (NRAs) in the DaO process. A better inclusion of the NRAs in the DaO is contributing to the increase of quality of the Joint-Programmes at the country level as those inter-agency operations benefit from a wide range of expertise existing within the UN System, notably on policy issues.

  • Coordination of trade capacity building resources to increase the transparency and efficiency of trade-related technical assistance (see UNIDO's Trade Capacity Building Resource Guide for more information)

UN-CEB Cooperation

Country Projects funded by SECO

Building on the principles of the aid effectiveness agenda, which calls for country-driven, coherent, timely, flexible and result-oriented assistance, the Cluster advocates for innovative pooled financing mechanisms.

It encourages for instance funding from bilateral Donors (such as the Switzerland' State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) in support of Cluster' joint-operations managed by a common administrative agent.


Operation of the Cluster at Country Level

Open list of countries with coordinated operations or joint programmes focusing on Trade and Productive Capacity that are designed and implemented by Cluster Organizations.

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United Republic of Tanzania

The SECO-UN Trade Cluster Project in Tanzania, officially titled “Market Value Chains Relating to Horticultural Products for Responsible Tourism Market Access”, is an innovative project anchored in the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment of the United Republic of Tanzania.

The project is improving livelihoods by strengthening responsible tourism practices of sourcing high-quality products and skilled labour locally and has positive results to share.

As part of the UN Delivering as One, the project involves five UN agencies — UNCTAD, ITC, UNIDO, ILO and UNOPS — combining their strengths to support Tanzanian counterparts.

The project is funded by the Government of Switzerland’s State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO).

UNOPS is the Trust Fund Manager and provides coordination.

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UN-CEB Tanzania  

Lao People’s Democratic Republic


The innovative project “Enhancing sustainable tourism, cleaner production and export capacity in the Lao PDR” was a recent development project that was anchored in the Ministry of Industry and Commerce (MoIC) of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR).

The project aimed to improve livelihoods of the Lao population by strengthening Green Tourism practices, the introduction of a National Quality Certification Mark, and sourcing high quality agriculture and handicraft products locally.

As part of the UN Delivering as One, the project involved five UN agencies (UNCTAD, ITC, UNIDO, ILO and UNOPS), combining their strengths to support Lao counterparts.

The project was funded by the Government of Switzerland’s State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO).

UNOPS is the Trust Fund Manager and provides coordination.

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Multi-Donor Trust Funds

In order to finance joint cluster activities, Multi-Donor Trust Funds (MDTFs) are used on global, regional and country levels.

The following are examples of such funds.

As major new initiative for integrated policy support to advance the SDGs, a new pooled fund has been jointly developed, the Joint Fund for the 2030 Agenda.

The substantive focus of the Joint Fund reflects an area in which the UN, as a smart investor, expects to achieve the greatest impact by allocating its resources wisely. The Fund reflects the UN's financing approach, outlined in the UNDG companion piece, "Funding to Financing", including the need to use limited UN resources as a catalyst to influence much larger financial flows. The Joint Fund also underscores the UNDS's recognition of the need to put in place appropriate policy environments that catalyze investment by reducing risks.

This inter-agency pooled fund seeks to support Member States' efforts to accelerate progress in achieving national sustainable development goals through integrated and interdisciplinary policy support. It is expected that integrated policy implementation can trigger needed responses to help achieve the paradigm shift towards sustainable development.

The Joint Fund, as outlined in these Terms of Reference, will provide programme countries with catalytic policy support (as identified by national stakeholders with UN Country Teams and in their respective UN Development Assistance Frameworks, UNDAF) in response to specific, complex, and multi-dimensional policy challenges. To this end, the Joint Fund will draw on the multi-sectoral policy expertise that exists across the UN to enhance cross-sectoral government approaches to national and sub-national policymaking and policy implementation. It will also provide financing at a scale and duration that allows for deeper policy engagement and innovative approaches.

The United Nations Great Lakes Regional Strategic Framework (UN GLSF) is a multi-agency, regional and cross border coordination mechanism to promote peace and security through a multisectoral approach in the region of the Great Lakes including Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.

This joint effort encapsulates a development approach to the peace and security issues in the region.

It is aligned to the Road Map of the Special Envoy of the United Nations Secretary-General for the Great Lakes Region and supports the implementation of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the DRC and the region.

The respective Multi-Donor Trust Funds supports the implementation of activities of this framework and facilitates the coordination between the involved stakeholders.

United Nations Development Assistant Frameworks (UNDAFs) represent essential frameworks to plan, coordinate and implement joint UN activities for upcoming years in the respective countries, aligning them to national development priorities and strengthening the partnership between Governments, international organizations as well as other stakeholders from the private and public sector.

This joint initiatives are at the very heart of UNCTAD's approach to promote inclusive trade, investment and development in close cooperation with other Inter-Agency Cluster development partners.

The respective MDTFs help to implement the strategic priorities that are outlined in the UNDAFs (e.g. in Albania for the pillar on "Economic Growth, Labor and Agriculture").

Multi-Partner Trust Fund

Established in: May 2016


  • Effective operationalization of joint programmes at the global, regional and country level.

  • Develop analyses and policy recommendations.

  • Supporting the Implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

  • Coordination of activities in three thematic areas: Trade and Employment, Trade Facilitation, Trade and Global Value Chains.

Contribution to SDGs

Target 17.11: "Significantly increasing the exports of developing countries, in particular with a view to doubling the least developed countries' share of global exports by 2020"

The work of the Cluster contribute to the SDG 17 on the Global Partnership aiming at promoting a universal, rules-based, open, non-discriminatory and equitable multilateral trading system under the World Trade Organization" under three thematic areas:

The Cluster is proposing the development of a coherent policy framework that creates jobs using trade as an essential instrument.

To achieve that exports support a high share of employment creation a wide range of coordinated activities in the areas of sectoral and industrial development, investment (both domestic and foreign) promotion, skill strategies development (both in domestic and export sectors), trade and market access mainstreaming (including trade related regulations and voluntary standards), corporate social responsibility and social protection are conducted.

Download: Trade and Employment

The Cluster is proposing systemic capacity-building focusing on entire value chains from primary production through processing to trade.

This would include in particular policy and value chain governance, sector business environment, investment and technology transfer, quality and standards compliance, productivity, innovation, value addition, trade logistics, as well as related financial and other trade support services.

Download: Trade and Value Chain Development

On trade facilitation, the work of the Cluster is a mirror of the national inter-agency collaboration, which is necessary for practically all measures of trade facilitation.

It will directly contribute to the article 23 of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement entered into force on March 2017.

Download: Trade Facilitation