Features

Together on the trade route out of poverty for post 2015

16 September 2014
ITC News
The Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF), the only Aid for Trade programme exclusively dedicated to LDCs, lifts people out of poverty and puts communities on a path towards sustainable development, writes EIF Executive Secretariat Ratnaka Radhika Ri.

Thanks to Pashmina, things are getting better. Now we are getting food to eat and our children are also going to school. Of course, we are faced with a number of problems. While raising Chyangra they get infected with disease, for which we need medicines. if we could add a few more goats, a few more, it would benefit us a lot.’ These are the words of Dhorje Gurung, a Pashmina farmer in Nepal’s Ghani village.

As does any farmer, small-scale producer or local trader benefiting from the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF), Dhorje has clear views about how trade has improved his living standards. A father of seven, he knows how to raise Chyangra goats in difficult terrain, but climate hardship combined with poor infrastructure, diseases, or access to credit or markets are some of the challenges that still prevents Dhorje from realizing his potential.

Dhorje’s situation, provides in a nutshell the purpose of the EIF partnership: using trade as a tool to lift people out of poverty and put communities on a path towards sustainable development. As in Dhorje’s case, it can yield positive impacts on other key development indicators such as food security, employment, health and education.

In Nepal, Pashmina – a cashmere wool – is regarded a priority sector, and the EIF’s Pashmina Enhancement and Trade Support (PETS) Project, neatly fits into the country’s strategy. In partnership with the Ministry of Commerce, the International Trade Centre (ITC) and the Nepal Pashmina Industries Association, the project was launched in March 2014 and aims to strengthen the competitiveness of Chyangra Pashmina through increased brand recognition and improved product quality.

REDUCING POVERTY THROUGH TRADE

The EIF is a unique global partnership among least-developed countries (LDCs), donors and international agencies. It is the only Aid for Trade programme exclusively dedicated to LDCs.

In the Gambia, for example, the EIF and its partners are working to improve the living standards of rural communities. This is done through support for the development of new drought-resistant crops and improved market opportunities for rural farmers. Home-grown agricultural produce such as cashew nuts and sesame are supporting the growing tourism sector and local products are increasingly sold to hotels and restaurants. The project targets a 3% increase in sales of cashews, groundnuts and sesame thanks to new export opportunities, product diversification, improved value addition, quality enhancement and strengthened sector support institutions.

TRADE IN THE POST-2015 AGENDA

As for most international organizations, the work of EIF has been guided by the goals set out in the Millennium Development Goals. The final outcome document of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development emphasizes two concepts at the core of the work of the EIF partnership. These are the primary responsibility each country has for its own economic and social development and the role of national policies and strategies; and the paramount importance of the joined engagement of governments, civil society, private sector and international agencies to achieve sustainable development.

Among the sustainable development goals (SDGs) there are two that are of particular relevance to the work of the EIF: doubling the share of global exports from LDCs (SDG 17) by 2020; and the pursuit of sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, fully and productive employment and decent work for all (SDG 8). To achieve these goals, the outcome document calls for an ‘increase of Aid for Trade support for developing countries, particularly LDCs, including through the Enhanced Integrated Framework for LDCs.’ Beyond the two SDGs with an explicit trade component, the EIF work aimed at increasing revenues for the poorest has the potential to make positive impacts on other development goals such as gender, education, health and food security. Cooperation among international agencies will remain crucial in achieving these goals.

Poverty eradication remains the greatest global challenge in the post-2015 development agenda. To achieve this, a transformative shift is being pursued in areas including addressing inequality, harnessing business, skill development, and increasing the use of technology. EIF partners are already active in these areas but can contribute further, especially through productive capacity-building work.

For example, in Cambodia the EIF and development partners including the European Union, the IFC and the private sector are supporting the milled rice sector and meet the government target of 1 million metric tons for export by 2015. The EIF support is part of a government’s programme on the development of SMEs in the agro-industry sector and aims at strengthening and diversifying products and milled rice export supply capacity. This adds value to paddy rice, which would in turn lead to creating jobs and bigger profits for everyone along the rice chain from farmers to millers. With the major improvements in milled rice quality, Cambodian fragrant rice won for the second year running the ‘World Best Rice Award’ for the second year running, at the 2013 Rice Traders World Rice Conference in Hong Kong.

OUTLOOK FOR THE FUTURE

Currently, the EIF is undergoing a comprehensive evaluation that will allow the partnership to determine the future of the programme beyond the current phase ending in 2015. If it is continued, the EIF must strengthen its contribution in areas vital for the full achievement of sustainable development in LDCs. Top of its priorities will be to plug LDCs into the global value chain, to ensure that these countries, too, can have a long-term and sustainable future.