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1. This annex provides a description of the main technical cooperation projects and projects undertaken by UNCTAD in 2011. It is presented in accordance with the structure of the thematic clusters around which the technical cooperation projects and projects are grouped. A table showing the individual projects implemented by each cluster follows the relevant section. The technical assistance and capacity-building activities draw on research conducted by UNCTAD and on policy suggestions arising from UNCTAD’s intergovernmental machinery. The technical cooperation projects and projects, including through synergies created within and among the clusters, also contribute to the implementation of the Aid for Trade initiative.
X. Cluster X
Globalization and development strategies
Lead division: Division on Globalization and Development Strategies (GDS)
366. The programmes under this cluster aim at contributing to the achievement of the expected accomplishments of the strategic framework related to increased understanding of the global economic environment and of policy choices at the national and international levels, improved empirical and timely statistics, and in the case of the occupied Palestinian territory, improved policy and institutional capacities and enhanced international cooperation for the recovery and sustained development of the economy.
C. Special programme: UNCTAD assistance to the Palestinian people
372. Development context: The development context of the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT) continued to be complex and peculiar, given the prolonged occupation conditions on the ground that severely limits Palestinian economic prospects nationally, regionally, and internationally. The Palestinian economy in 2011 also suffered a great deal of fiscal retrenchment as a result of uncertainty surrounding the release of Palestinian revenues rooted in Israeli control over the tax and customs clearance revenue that it collects on behalf of the Palestine Authority (PA), unfavourable economic conditions, and the slow flow of donor funds. The situation in 2011 deteriorated further with a serious humanitarian impact. The forced displacement of Palestinian families and the destruction of homes and other property in the OPT, including East Jerusalem, continued. These demolitions deprive people of their homes, their main source of physical and economic security, in addition to disrupting their livelihoods, reducing their standards of living and undermining access to basic services, such as water and sanitation, education and health care.
373. Economic growth in the OPT continues to be unsustainable, reflects a recovery from a low base, and is mainly driven by donor aid rather than a rebounding private sector, which remains stifled by restrictions on access to natural resources and markets. Unemployment remained high, and poverty and food insecurity, especially in Gaza, continue to be alarming. The estimated 10 per cent GDP growth in the first half of 2011 was driven by exceptionally high growth of 28 per cent in Gaza – mainly led by the construction works aimed at rebuilding the property destroyed by the Israeli military operation in December 2008–January 2009.
374. The ongoing blockade of the Gaza Strip, in particular, resulted in increasing reliance on the “tunnel economy”, which expanded during 2011. Indeed, despite a relative easing in the movement of goods through the Israeli-controlled border crossings, the import of basic construction materials thus consolidated the tunnel economy’s position as the main driver of economic activity. Its role is so overwhelming that established legitimate businesses have had to adapt to it to some extent. Yet the tunnel economy is not a substitute for lifting the blockade and movement restrictions, because it drives much of Gaza’s economic activities underground and undermines business viability via much higher transportation costs and exposure to danger by taking risks to make ends meet.
375. Long-term development prospects remained grim. Restrictions not only increase prices of basic staples such as vegetables, fruits, and sugar, but also continue to obstruct wider agricultural development as well as urban and rural economic and spatial planning.
376. Objectives/features: Drawing on its intimate knowledge of the Palestinian economy garnered from 27 years of sustained support to Palestinian development efforts, research and policy analysis, UNCTAD in its work seeks to strengthen the institutional capacities of the Palestinian Authority (PA) and to support the Palestinian private sector using a selective and flexible mode of operation to respond to the evolving needs of the Palestinian people, despite funding shortfalls and difficult field conditions. UNCTAD’s multi-faceted programme of technical assistance to the Palestinian people draws on the experience of UNCTAD as a whole, and is carried out in close cooperation with the PA, the Palestinian private sector, civil society organizations, United Nations agencies and other international agencies. The programme emphasizes the interrelated treatment of trade, finance and enterprise development, with technical assistance activities grouped within four clusters: (a) trade policies and strategies; (b) trade facilitation and logistics; (c) finance and development; and (d) enterprise, investment and competition policy.
377. Outputs: By achieving major accomplishments under three previous projects, UNCTAD has played a pivotal role in building and modernizing Palestinian customs capacity since 1999. UNCTAD’s contribution featured the introduction of its Automated System for Customs Data Analysis (ASYCUDA) and the provision of extensive training to PA functional and IT staff as well as private sector agents. As a result, Palestinian customs are able to implement new customs procedures, enhance customs controls, significantly enhance revenue collection, and interface with the Israeli customs system more effectively. In close coordination with the PA, UNCTAD developed a project document for a new intervention to consolidate previous achievements and completely hand over the system to the PA. The EC agreed to fund the new technical cooperation project, which is expected to commence in mid-2012.
378. Building on UNCTAD’s past contributions to Palestinian private sector institution-building and the establishment of the Palestinian Shippers’ Council (PSC), UNCTAD signed a $2.1 million Grant Agreement with the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) to finance a technical cooperation project entitled “Developing Palestinian Trade Facilitation Capacity”. Project implementation commenced in April 2011. The goal is to build the knowledge base of Palestinian shippers (exporters and importers) by consolidating the institutional capacity of the PSC; increase shippers’ awareness of internationally recognized best practices on trade facilitation; and strengthen national capacities for providing training and advisory services to Palestinian shippers and policymakers in the area of trade facilitation.
379. In 2011, UNCTAD and the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) signed a Memorandum of Understanding to strengthen the PCBS’ economic modelling and forecasting capacity and to enhance the PA’s capacity for producing, evaluating and interpreting economic, demographic and labour indicators. Within this context, in 2011 UNCTAD conducted a one-week training programme for staff from the PA and PCBS on its macroeconometric model of the Palestinian economy and transferred the model to the PCBS. The model will be used to produce the PCBS official economic forecasts. Another goal of this activity is to enhance the PA’s ability to formulate alternative economic policies.
380. In early 2011, UNCTAD completed the implementation of the Development Account, sixth tranche, “Promoting Subregional Growth-oriented Economic and Trade Policies towards Achieving the MDGs in Arab countries”, which benefits the OPT and four other Arab countries. Project activities provided a platform for the exchange of ideas and experiences among policymakers from participating economies, UNCTAD staff and experts. The project studies and discussions, conducted with Millennium Development Goals 1 and 8 in mind, have led to publication of a book on pro-poor trade and growth strategies, infrastructure and institutions to facilitate regional integration and harmonization of trade statistics. The Arabic version of the book will be published in February 2012 and the English version in May 2012.
381. Moreover, in 2011, UNCTAD hosted Palestinian diplomats and briefed them on the United Nations system in Geneva. This was in cooperation with the United Nations Division for Palestinian Rights, and part of an annual programme for PA diplomats to deepen their knowledge of the United Nations system. The training covered UNCTAD’s scope of work, including Trade and Development Board meetings, as well as the work of other United Nations agencies in Geneva.
382. Results: (1) Enhanced PA and PCBS capacity in producing, analysing, evaluating and interpreting demographic, economic and labour data to guide the formulation and implementation of socioeconomic policies. PCBS now uses an UNCTAD economic model for the production of its official economic forecast. (2) A new three-year trade facilitation technical cooperation project “Developing Palestinian Trade Facilitation Capacity” was launched in April 2011; two workshops were held during the reporting period, with more than 70 people receiving training on trade facilitation; and a study on the constraints of the Palestinian trade facilitation was commissioned. (3) The policy experiences and findings of the project on “Promoting subregional growth-oriented economic and trade policies towards achieving the MDGs in Arab countries” will be published in a book entitled Economic and Development Policies in the Arab World. The Arabic version will be published by Al Faris House and the English by Routledge Publishing. The book focuses on pro-poor economic, trade and regional integration strategies in five Arab countries including the OPT and makes specific policy recommendations for achieving Millennium Development Goals 1 and 8. It includes a detailed study on Palestinian external trade, along with a wide range of trade indices and quantitative indicators that are essential for sound Palestinian trade policymaking. (4) UNCTAD training has deepened the knowledge of Palestinian diplomats of the United Nations system in Geneva, which led to improving the PA’s capacity to deal more effectively with the international community and harnessing the resources it provides to support Palestinian development.
A. Trade logistics
5. Other capacity-building activities in transport and trade facilitation
422. UNCTAD launched a new project in cooperation with the Palestinian Shippers’ Council to facilitate transport and trade in Palestine. The project is funded by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and aims to strengthen the capacity of the PSC to serve as focal point for the promotion of shippers’ interests and facilitation of their trade and transport-related activities.
423. One output of the project is a client-orientated service portfolio for the PSC, developed with input from the shipping community. Interviews, workshops and questionnaire-based needs assessments have been carried out by the project team to identify the most critical services required by Palestinian shippers. These include research, policy advocacy, training, networking and strategic partnerships as well as legal advice.
Executive direction and management and support services
Lead entities: Office of the Secretary General (OSG), Technical Cooperation Service (TCS) and Resources Management Service (RMS)
563. Activities under this cluster include support services projects from which all divisions benefit, as well as projects under the direct responsibility of the Office of the Secretary-General. Trust fund projects in support of activities for cooperation and outreach with civil society and for activities carried out in the areas of gender and trade are also included in this cluster.
A. Strengthening results-based management of UNCTAD programmes
564. In 2011, this trust fund enabled the conduct of several activities aimed at strengthening accountability and lessons learning of the secretariat. This involved in particular the publication of the results-oriented UNCTAD Annual Report, the conduct of two external evaluations that were considered by member States at the Working Party and the annual session of the Trade and Development Board, and contributions to inter-agency initiatives on evaluation through the United Nations Evaluation Group. Brief summaries of these activities follow.
2. External evaluations of UNCTAD’s programmes of work
567. Following the decision by the Trade and Development Board in 2009, with the support of this trust fund, UNCTAD conducted two external evaluations for consideration by its member States in 2011:
(a) An in-depth evaluation of UNCTAD’s programme on science and technology for development; and
(b) An independent evaluation of UNCTAD’s programme of assistance to the Palestinian people.
571. The objective of this evaluation was to analyse and document the results and lessons learned from programme implementation and to provide recommendations aimed at strengthening the work that UNCTAD undertakes to benefit the Palestinian people. More specifically, the evaluation:
(a) Made recommendations, to suggest, inter alia, adjustments to the programme structure, the portfolio of activities, and the way the three main areas of its work could complement each other;
(b) Identified the programme’s main constraints and challenges and made recommendations as to how they could be addressed; and
(c) Highlighted what has been successful and can be replicated elsewhere.