Trilateral co-operation among UNCTAD, WTO and ITC vital to strengthen trade impact
The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), World Trade Organization (WTO) and the International Trade Centre (ITC) should enhance greater inter-agency collaboration by exploring new areas of mutual interest which will strengthen the visibility and relevance of the Geneva trade hub globally.
UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi underscored the importance of adopting a unified approach to create greater trade impact at the ITC Joint Advisory Group Meeting in Geneva on 11 June 2014. He stressed the importance of co-operation to achieve ‘coherence of purpose’ by harnessing the potential of trade for global good.
‘Our commitment to inclusive development should be strengthened by deliberate actions of working together, identifying areas where we can do better than we have done in the past,’ said Dr Kituyi. ‘I am glad that in both ways between WTO and UNCTAD, and between ITC and UNCTAD, we will make substantial progress in breaking new ground with new working relationships that will no doubt deliver on our shared responsibilities and mandates.’
The Secretary-General said the three Geneva-based organisations provide assistance to member countries in streamlining public policies, assisting government officials in capacity-building, and strengthening the role of the private sector, including entrepreneurs, small scale traders and investors, ‘to deliver on the promise that trade can contribute to economic development’. This, he said, bodes well particularly for the developing world.
Dr Kituyi emphasized the need for comprehensive, focused and coherent economic and trade policies, as well as financial resource mobilisation, and domestic action with international solidarity, to achieve desired goals.
He said the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the WTO and UNCTAD on the exchange of information and the establishment of a common database on non-tariff measures is aimed at providing quality, open source data to facilitate market access and trade development.
‘This represents a very clear model where an institution that is at the forefront of dealing with liberalising trade and movement of goods and services like the WTO, and an institution that has probably the most elaborate database on non-tariff measures like UNCTAD, find synergies to reduce the duplication of our work, enhance utilisation of what we have – expertise and data – and impact positively on the use of trade for development,’ said Dr Kituyi.
He added that the MOU between UNCTAD and ITC on trade facilitation and capacity building in developing countries has led to the recent co-hosting of a meeting of African experts in Mauritius.
‘We’ve already deepened our work in the field on trade and the productive capacity sector of the UN Cluster system, authorised by the UN Chief Executives Board for Co-ordination (CEB), in our initiative in setting up a centre of excellence on trade facilitation training for African officials and entrepreneurs, and we’re very much looking forward to deepening this co-operation,’ said Dr Kituyi.
The Secretary-General pointed out that countries ‘which do not trade with each other tend to tread on each other’. Economic relations between countries, he said, will strengthen ties for mutual benefit.
Looking ahead, Dr Kituyi reiterated the critical importance of trilateral co-operation among UNCTAD, WTO and ITC to add ‘concrete’ substance to the debate on a post-2015 agenda. He said the Geneva trade hub is best placed to examine the cross-cutting role of development work by integrating strong economic and trade considerations in collective goals for the future.