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    Asia Trust Fund is on Track


    © International Trade Centre, International Trade Forum - Issue 4/2006

    This fast-track facility for trade assistance in Asia is responding well to new Asian needs.

    Since its launch in September 2004, the Asia Trust Fund (ATF) - funded mainly by the European Union (EU) - has been recognized as a demand-driven facility that has responded effectively to urgent and new needs for trade-related technical assistance in Asia.

    A recent mid-term review, carried out by an independent consultant for the European Commission, confirmed this and recommended continuing the Asia Trust Fund when the current phase ends in June 2007. Beneficiaries and donors discussed the report at a meeting in Chengdu, China, in November 2006.

    In today's fast-moving trade environment, countries must keep up with constantly changing rules and regulations. The Asia Trust Fund, by reducing project development time and expediting delivery, has helped provide a "rapid response" to changing needs.

    "The beneficiaries' strong ownership, as well as the focus on immediate and urgent needs, are among the advantages of the ATF compared to other technical assistance programmes," commented Sun Yuanjiang from China's Ministry of Commerce, who also serves as a government focal point for ATF, at the meeting. China and Denmark also made financial contributions to the programme.

    The programme has provided funding and technical support to 22 projects in 14 countries and to a regional organization in Asia. It aims to support developing countries' integration into the world economy and promote sustainable economic growth through increased exports.

    Vincent Piket of the European Commission's EuropeAid Co-operation Office noted: "The value of the rapid response and demand-driven nature of ATF is appreciated by all and should remain a bottom-line principle."

    Stakeholders noted that the ATF can be a valuable complement to ongoing bilateral and multilateral initiatives. "While the size, scope and time frame of ATF projects are limited, our experience shows that small projects may have great multiplier effects," said Patricia Francis, ITC's Executive Director. "To create better synergies, projects under the ATF should be better linked to ongoing bilateral technical assistance programmes or even serve as a leading force."

    For more information, contact Xuejun Jiang, ATF Coordinator, atjiang@intracen.org