• home

    Fast-track Fund for Asian Trade Development


    © International Trade Centre, International Trade Forum - Issue 1/2005 

    In Asia, 19 developing countries and two regional organizations stand to gain from fast-track access to trade-related technical assistance, in a three-year, €5 million programme financed by the European Commission (EC) and ITC. The aim is to help countries to integrate better into the world economy and to contribute to poverty alleviation and sustainable development.

    Trade moves at a faster pace than ever before. Lengthy approval procedures of most trade assistance programmes can mean risky delays in response. This faster, lighter scheme helps to bridge the gap.

    Managed by ITC, the Asia Trust Fund (ATF) supports national efforts to benefit from WTO rules or sector- specific initiatives to strengthen exports. The fund supports projects for short‑term assistance, with a budget of up to €200,000 and a maximum duration of one year. The fund complements bilateral programmes of the EC, ITC and other development partners, particularly for national and regional trade development strategies, including Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers.

    Since launching the ATF in 2004, ITC and the EC have organized meetings in Brussels, Geneva and Bangkok to brief diplomatic representatives of eligible countries on the aims of the initiative and how it operates. The first meeting was hosted by the EC; the second, by ITC; and the third, by the International Institute for Trade and Development, Thailand's focal point for the ATF.

    First projects under way

    The first projects are under way in Mongolia and the Philippines. The Mongolian project explores whether branding products of Mongolian origin could boost potential exports, such as cashmere, by taking advantage of intellectual property agreements (TRIPS). Market analysis of Mongolian exports, draft legislation, workshops and a final round table will take place.

    The Philippines project will help government authorities build a coalition to promote exports of services.

    Eligible Countries

    The Asian countries are Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, India, Indonesia, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Timor-Leste and Viet Nam; the two regional organizations are the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation.

    See the ATF web site at http://www.intracen.org/atfor contact Xuejun Jiang, Coordinator, Asia Trust Fund (atf@intracen.org).