Strengthen capacity of the League of Arab States to Promote Trade Integration

Sector/ Subsector: Arab economic integration – Trade Policy Reform

Implementing Agency: UNDP

Project’s Partner (s): Egypt, Kuwait, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Swedish International Cooperation Agency (Sida), ITFC, IsDB, UNDP

Brief Description: UNDP assisted the Economic Sector, League of Arab States (LAS) in strengthening institutional arrangements, the introduction of results-based work plans and design of Operational Procedures for the Arab Economic Integration Department of LAS. Numerous policy papers on trade policy reform towards closer regional economic cooperation and requirements of Arab Customs Union (ACU) were prepared and
endorsed by the senior management, including the Outlines of the establishment of ACU. Several activities of capacity building were carried out for officials of LAS and representatives/trade negotiators of Arab countries .



Overall Result:Major focus consists of design and establishment of adequate institutional arrangements within the Economic Sector in the pursuit of better efficiency and professional services. Proposals for restructuring and a Draft Manual of Operational Procedures were prepared and adopted in principle by the Arab Economic Integration Department (AEID) of LAS. Outlines of the establishment of Arab Customs Union were also endorsed with a focus on having proper institutions to undertake preparatory work and design of the ACU. Training on trade facilitation, trade in service, economic cooperation, for more than 80 officials of the LAS and Arab countries, were delivered to support trade policy reform.
Target Countries:League of Arab States and Arab countries
Duration: 09 months09 months
Start date: March 2014
End date:December 2014
Expected Results: Policy recommendations in realization of GAFTA and suggestions aimed at deepening Arab Economic Integration
Expected impact: Introduction of effective implementation of commitments in economic integration has been identified as the key approach. UNDP promotes the collective responsibility and continuous consultations among trade policy makers and negotiators of Arab countries in function of the Arab economic cooperation. Sharing of good experiences and operational practices also forms part of the new
Approved budget:$ 309,000
List of deliverablesDeliverable 1: Completed assessment of needs of institutional development of the AEID LAS. Designed specific measures to address needs of institutional development and those of capacity building.

Deliverable 2: Prepared the Policy Outlines of Arab Customs Union which were adopted by LAS as a guide for further tasks.

Deliverable 3: Conducted the training courses of Commercial Diplomacy in collaboration with UNCTAD and of Trade in Services for officials of LAS and trade negotiators of Arab countries.

Deliverable 4: Designed a concept note on investment programs, included preparation of technical background for the OECD-led Seminar.

Deliverable 5: Prepared the concept note on the competition as part of trade policy and deepening Arab economic integration.

Deliverable 6: Prepared Draft Manual of Procedures and establishment of its implementation plan.

Deliverable 7: Contributed inputs to two analytical documents on institutional development and expected impacts of a common external tariff within the Arab Customs Union.

Deliverable 8: Enhanced the standard reporting template for the review of GAFTA implementation and concerned action plan.

Deliverable 9: Conducted five sessions of in-house training for staffs of LAS on trade policy reform.

Deliverable 10: Facilitated exchange of experiences on strategic planning and program design for senior officials of LAS.

Main Lessons learnt:Lesson 1: The UNDP technical team cooperated closely with the senior management and officials of the AEID in the design and reengineering of tasks and functions.

Lesson 2: Getting clear understanding of needs of beneficiary countries is essential to secure design of responsive activities.

Lesson 3: Alignment of strategies and directions of Arab economic integration to the global agenda is very important in the pursuit of more integration of Arab economies into the global economy.

Recommendation (s) for follow-up:Reinforcing the regional ownership of project activities is a pre-requisite for effective implementation and sustainability of Arab economic integration. To that end, dialogues and consultations among countries should be further promoted.

Implementation of commitments by all countries in a timely manner is imperative to nurture confidence and public trust to the Arab economic cooperation programs. From international experiences, deepening regional economic integration requires adequate institutions or working groups and mechanisms of policy making. To that end, training and capacity building will be essential to support these institutions to perform in accordance with political mandates.

Building implementation capability should be part of a comprehensive package of reform and be delivered into a program of policy reform and modernization.

Adoption of selected good practices and experiences in regional economic programs of other regions of the world such as ASEAN, Africa, Europe, among others will be important for more transformational steps of deepening Arab economic integration.