Helen Clark: Remarks at “Addressing the challenges of mainstreaming trade”

18 Jul 2011

UNDP side event at the Third Aid for Trade Global Review
Geneva, 4:30pm

‘Trade and Human Development: A Practical Guide to Mainstreaming Trade’ was prepared in collaboration with the Secretariat to the Enhanced Integrated Framework - a partnership of LDCs, donors, and international organizations working to build the trade capacities of least developed countries.

To offer guidance for trade practitioners, it brings together the findings of fourteen case studies from countries at various stages of development and from different regions. Using the evidence of good practices, it suggests practical ways in which governments and stakeholders can overcome obstacles to mainstreaming trade in development processes.

Doing that means taking trade considerations into account when development policy and initiatives are planned and implemented, with the aim of achieving far reaching benefits, including for the poor and marginalised. It also means using trade proactively and strategically to attain specific national development goals.

Cambodia and Mauritius provide examples of best practice in this work.

•    Through measures which are integrated within its national development plan, Cambodia is strengthening its ability to tap new export markets, such as for rice, cassava, and cashew nuts. That is helping to diversify its economy and grow the incomes of small farmers.  Cambodia’s long standing mainstreaming efforts helped it to become the first LDC to accede to the WTO after the Uruguay Round, and to win donor support for a Sector Wide Approach for Trade.

•    In Mauritius, in part due to its strategic use of trade, average per capita income increased from US$ 260 in the 1960s to over US$ 5500now, lifting it to middle income country status.  Now, Mauritius is taking measures to diversify its exports and increase its competiveness. It is setting clear targets to improve its transportation and communications systems, reduce tariffs, and attract investment. Mauritius has embedded sectoral strategies within its national development plan, to support, for example, a move to the production of specialty sugars, and also targeted assistance to manufacturers, particularly SMEs, to improve product quality, innovate, and identify new markets.

The “Practical Guide” we are launching today identifies three areas which are critical for the success of mainstreaming:
•    having a strategic and nationally owned trade vision;
•    having effective leadership in responsible institutions; and,
•    having the co-operation of development partners.

I shall refer to each of these in turn.

A strategic and nationally owned trade vision acts to connect trade, finance, and development, and draws on a full understanding of the role of trade, and of both the opportunities and risks it presents. The vision must be translated into strategic goals and concrete action plans- outlining the expectations and roles of all responsible for seeing it through.

A 2008 UNDP review of 72 poverty reduction strategies revealed that, despite many mentions, trade was too often vaguely referred to as an objective, rather than as a strategic means to reduce poverty and advance development. There is, however, much good practice cited in the “Practical Guide” on using trade to meet development objectives.

As trade considerations cut across normal silos and sectors, effective leadership must engage a range of ministries and authorities, ensuring that all understand and appreciate how their ministry or unit is important for reaching trade-related objectives.

Dynamic engagement from leading authorities is also needed to bring in other key stakeholders as full partners, including private sector actors, and civil society organizations.  To build a national constituency for trade strategies, such efforts must broaden national understandings of how trade can be important for meeting national and local development objectives.

It is clear that development partners can play an important role in mainstreaming trade, including by better integration of trade into their own strategies, assistance programmes, and activities.  Alignment and clear divisions of labour between donors, governments, the private sector, and civil society are highlighted in the case studies from Laos PDR, Rwanda, and Sierra Leone. All partners have to play a part in ensuring that aid for trade delivers.

To take forward the guidance offered in this report, the Enhanced Integrated Framework Secretariat and UNDP’s Trade and Human Development Unit have committed to stepping up their joint efforts to develop the capacities of LDCs on trade mainstreaming.

As well, through its engagement in the UN Chief Executives’ Board’s inter-agency cluster on trade and productive capacities, UNDP will continue to work for better alignment on trade mainstreaming across the UN development system’s programming.

In conclusion, UNDP hopes that this “Practical Guide” released here today will help empower countries to use trade as an instrument for advancing sustainable human development.