Statement at the EIF breakfast meeting

4 December 2013
ITC News

Speech by Ms. Arancha González, Executive Director, International Trade Centre
Delivered on 04 December 2013 at the EIF breakfast meeting, Bali, Indonesia


Honourable Ministers
WTO Director General Azevedo
UNCTAD Secretary General Kituyi
Executive Director, Executive Secretariat for the EIF Adhikari
EIF Board Chair, Ambassador Getahun,
EIF Steering Committee Chair Ambassador Kairamo
Ladies and Gentlemen

The EIF has made enormous progress since its inception. Today it is universally considered as a key delivery mechanism to assist LDCs to integrate into the global trading system. The relevance of the EIF for LDCs has been widely recognized by the findings of the Mid-Term Review in 2012 and by the outcomes agreed to at the WTO Fourth Global Aid for Trade Review in 2013. But more importantly, its relevance comes from the high positioning assigned to the EIF by the LDCs themselves within their Development Agenda. Today’s meeting is a testament to that interest.

For ITC the EIF is not just “another programme”: at ITC we strongly believe that it represents a turning point in ensuring predictable and effective support for LDCs in line with their priorities and based on transparent and internationally accepted development cooperation practices. The EIF represents for ITC the point of departure of any of its LDC country-specific actions and capacity building initiatives. This is not to say that the EIF has delivered on all that has been promised. There are areas where collectively we as a trade and development community could have done better, but it does not contravene the fact that the EIF is a unique global partnership with strong linkages at the country level.

I am sure that around this table we all agree that it is now the right time to match the commitments that we have collectively made to the EIF with adequate resources if we want the EIF partnership to move to the next level: what I call 'EIF Version 2'. Much progress has been made, especially in the areas of trade mainstreaming, developing national trade capacity and tackling supply-side constraints to trade but now there is a need to move to a higher plane and focus on the operationalization of this capacity building into delivery on tier 2 projects.

The uniqueness of EIF comes exactly from its inclusive partnership of countries, donors, agencies, the business sector and civil society. This partnership is focused on implementing integrated trade and development solutions for local communities with the aim of fostering employment, higher incomes and creating economic opportunities for LDCs and for vulnerable populations such as women and youth. This ultimate objective of achieving poverty reduction and sustainable growth is consistent with the debate on the Post 2015 process. It is clear that the EIF is one of the tools to deliver on the MDGs and will have a role in partnering with LDCs in operationalizing the outcomes of this post 2015 debate. Hence, I see continued commitment to the EIF not just as a commitment to the trade and capacity building sector but also to building effective institutional responses to the questions of global employment, sustainability and peace and security which form elements of the post 2015 dialogue.

The ITC remains committed to the EIF. We are involved in projects in almost twenty LDCs and we intend to grow our partnership through developing linkages between the EIF projects and the integrated solutions that we offer to our clients. We want to do this through the needs assessments and DTIS’s which are owned by the LDCs themselves. We have a responsibility, as do all actors that work with the EIF, to ensure that any delivery is based on country needs and focuses on impacts and results. Harnessing results and showing impacts is sometimes a medium to long term process. We must be balanced in our expectations. We need to show value for money but we also need to understand that results may not always be immediate. Nevertheless positive change at the country level has to be measured and tracked to show how the EIF partnership effort has made a difference for the poor. More importantly, to show how it has contributed to creating a more conducive business and trading environment. This will take a cooperative spirit amongst the LDCs, agencies and development partners involved in the process.

We can all agree that expectations and demands on the EIF moving forward will be greater. In some cases this is likely to go beyond the present resources of the programme. We need to begin to think about what the EIF will require, both financially and institutionally, to allow it to continue to deliver on its mandate and respond to the growing- and sometimes- more sophisticated needs of the LDCs. This is a discussion on resource mobilisation that needs to start now.

In closing I once again recommit the International Trade Centre as a true partner to the EIF and to the LDCs that it serves. I believe in the EIF and its potential for doing even more. And behind that belief you have my personal commitment as Executive Director. Thank you.