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    "Enhanced Integrated Framework" Serves as Model for Aid for Trade


    International Trade Forum - Issue 3/2006, © International Trade Centre

    The Integrated Framework (IF) is an international initiative through which the International Monetary Fund, ITC, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, United Nations Development Programme, World Bank and World Trade Organization combine their efforts with those of least developed countries (LDCs) and donors to respond to the trade development needs of LDCs.

    The IF strives to mainstream trade into national development and poverty reduction strategies and to assist in the coordinated delivery of trade-related assistance. Since its inception in 1997, a growing number of countries have joined the initiative.

    How it works

    Countries implement the Integrated Framework in three stages:

    1. Preparatory activities, during which the LDC government sends an official request to participate in the IF process. A technical review is conducted. Upon endorsement by the IF Steering Committee, the government then sets up a national IF steering committee and, to the extent possible, identifies a lead donor.

    2. Diagnostic phase, which results in a Diagnostic Trade Integration Study.

    3. Implementation, when follow-up activities translate the findings from the diagnostic phase into an action plan, which serves as a basis to coordinate delivery of trade-related technical assistance.

    By October 2006, 43 least developed countries were at different stages of the IF process. Twenty-two had validated their diagnostic studies and lists of trade priorities.

    The IF in brief

    Trade Forum interviewed Francesco Geoffroy of ITC, who was involved in the original development of the Integrated Framework and has been temporarily seconded to WTO to work on the transition to the Enhanced IF.

    Q: What is the Integrated Framework?

    A: It's an initiative by all major stakeholders in technical assistance for trade, to make sure that assistance to the world's 50 poorest countries is better coordinated and responds to what beneficiaries identify as their priorities. This is achieved by better mainstreaming of trade into their development agenda. The final aim is to enable these countries to integrate the global economy and benefit from opportunities generated by the multilateral trading system.

    Q: The term "Enhanced IF" has been used a lot recently. What is "enhanced" about it?

    A: The Enhanced IF addresses three of the IF's main concerns:

    • Ownership by LDCs. Special attention and funds are now devoted to this objective to ensure that the country owns the initiative.
    • Funding requirements. Funding is at a much higher level than before. It is set at $200-$400 million. Previously, funding was about $40 million.
    • Management structure. This is being changed. It will now include national implementation units in the countries. In Geneva, an IF Board will have a "think tank" function; the IF Secretariat will have more staff to ensure monitoring and follow-up; and the IF Steering Committee will act as the supervising organ of the initiative.
    Q: Why is this important to the Aid for Trade discussion?

    A: It represents a first package of assistance to LDCs that prioritizes technical assistance for trade, is coherent and builds on synergies among all the players in the pro-cess. It's also important because this model may be used for Aid for Trade at large.

    Q: What is ITC's role in the Enhanced IF?

    A: It is mainly to help LDCs build sustainable capacity to participate in this initiative. This includes strengthening national implementation arrangements, ensuring that the business sector is participating in the IF and helping to build up LDCs' supply-side skills and capacity to export.

    For more information, contact Siphana Sok, Director of ITC's Division of Technical Cooperation Coordination, atsok@intracen.org