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    UNIDO and ITC Sign a Cooperation Agreement to Increase Exports


    © International Trade Centre, International Trade Forum - Issue 1/2001

    In a bid to intensify industrial and trade development, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and ITC signed a Cooperation Agreement on 24 August 2001. With a budget of approximately US$ 5 million and a time span of three years, the programme is expected to significantly improve market access for products originating from Central America, thus spurring economic growth and creating employment opportunities.

    During his visit to UNIDO's Vienna headquarters in late August, ITC's Executive Director, Mr. J. Denis Bélisle, signed an agreement for joint activities to facilitate access to markets; improve the competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs); and provide support to productive sectors, as well as for quality management and standardization.

    Complementary expertise

    "Within the UN family, ITC is a priority partner for us," said Mr. Carlos Magariños, Director-General of UNIDO. "Both organizations have a firm tradition of working directly with and in support of the business sector. In many ways, UNIDO's expertise in productive capacity building and ITC's tools and services in export development are mutually reinforcing. Together we can make a real impact on countries' ability to participate in international trade and reap the benefits of globalization."

    Trade facilitation, export development

    "The focus of ITC is on the business sector, especially SMEs. We therefore have a common cause with UNIDO in working for their benefit," stated Mr. Bélisle. "In an increasingly globalizing economy, industrial development and trade go hand-in-hand, and so should ITC and UNIDO. We have worked together before and we have a good mutual understanding. We have intensified that understanding through this Cooperation Agreement. We will immediately embark on identifying short-term joint activities in trade facilitation and at the same time prepare for sustained long-term cooperation for industrial and trade development."

    ITC and UNIDO have already begun work on a large-scale regional programme on trade facilitation in Central America, to tackle specific technical barriers to trade in production areas with critical export potential. Part of the technical assistance will be to improve the infrastructure for standardization, product certification and information networks, and for the introduction of quality management systems at the enterprise level. An important component will be to estimate the extent of lost trade between Central American countries and industrialized markets, due to difficulties in complying with market entry requirements in terms of technical regulations and standards. The World Trade Organization and other relevant agencies linked with the United Nations will also be active partners.

    For more information, contact R. Badrinath, Director, ITC Division of Trade Support Services, at badrinath@intracen.org