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ESCAP and ITC to support better trade in Asia and the Pacific

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Staff writer ▼ | June 30, 2015
The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and the International Trade Centre (ITC) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to strengthen their support for developing countries.
Shamshad Akhtar
Economy   A strong focus on least developed countries
The memorandum is in support of the implementation the World Trade Organization's Trade Facilitation Agreement (WTO TFA).

Ensuring that small and medium-sized enterprises benefit fully from the WTO TFA is crucial.
Under the terms of the MoU, ESCAP and ITC will leverage their unique strengths, products and services to provide coordinated and integrated capacity building support to ESCAP member States on trade facilitation issues.

United Nations Under-Secretary General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP Dr. Shamshad Akhtar emphasized that the MoU will reinforce the partnership between ITC and ESCAP, and build synergies between two of the key organizations working on trade facilitation in the Asia-Pacific region.

“ESCAP has had a long standing and comprehensive support for trade facilitation which extends from our regular research and capacity building to our dedicated work on regional connectivity which engulfs strengthening of transit and cross broader trade facilitation.

"We remain committed to the implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement which is quite pertinent to a number of landlocked, least development and small island economies, among other developing countries.

"Building on our work, we count on this MoU to enhance synergetic approaches towards supporting countries with special needs in Asia and the Pacific in implementing the WTO TFA, develop paperless trade modalities, make sure that trade reforms are in sync with business sector's needs and ensure that we are able to assist them in addressing potential challenges,” said Dr Akhtar.

“By strengthening our collaboration, we are better positioned to provide assistance and capacity building to least developed countries and land-locked developing countries in a more harmonized and coordinated way.”

“This integrated approach will greatly strengthen our capacity to support our stakeholders in the Asia-Pacific Pacific to benefit from the WTO Agreement.

"Ensuring that small and medium-sized enterprises benefit fully from the WTO TFA is crucial and we will enhance the capacity of countries to cut red tape, remove regulatory and procedural barriers to trade, and significantly reduce their cost of doing business," added ITC Executive Director Arancha González

Cooperation between the two organizations will concentrate on delivering a joint compendium of capacity building and training, with a strong focus on least developed countries (LDCs) and transition economies. Actions include, among others, joint workshops on accession to WTO and implementation issues related to other WTO agreements.

The WTO TFA was agreed in December 2013, the first major advancement in multilateral trade negotiations under the Doha Development Agenda. The TFA contains provisions for expediting the movement, release and clearance of goods, including goods in transit.

Under the TFA, international organizations and development partners are called upon to provide capacity building support to WTO members in a coordinated and sustainable manner.