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Report by the Secretary-General of UNCTAD
Annex I: REVIEW OF ACTIVITIES UNDERTAKEN IN 2001
3. Special programmes
a. UNCTAD's assistance to the Palestinian people
35. Development context: Since its establishment in 1994 of the Palestinian Authority (PA), it has been engaged in a sustained programme of economic reconstruction and development, with wide international involvement. The widespread economic crisis in the occupied Palestinian territory during 2001 entailed new economic pressures and policy challenges, while not diverting the PA from its strategic term development goals. UNCTAD's assistance to the Palestinian people has accordingly focused on operational activities in support of both immediate and medium-term PA development needs.
36. Objectives: Working in close cooperation and coordination with other concerned international agencies, the secretariat has responded to PA requests for assistance since 1995 in a range of areas. In line with the provisions of the United Nations Medium-term Plan for 1998-2001, as well as paragraph 167 of the Bangkok Plan of Action, UNCTAD continued its work, in accordance with its mandate, in assisting the Palestinian people to develop capacities for effective economic policy-making and management. Its programme of technical cooperation in this area aims to provide concrete assistance with a view to bolstering public institutional development and strengthening the enabling environment for the private sector.
37. Features/output: As a result of continuing streamlined and selective operational activities, especially advisory and consultancy services, group training and technical support, the year witnessed further progress in projects already begun and new assistance in other areas. While the situation during 2001 rendered the provision of technical assistance more complicated and enforced a more prudent pace, modalities were identified to permit the limited pursuit of work in these and several other project areas. In particular, modest but concrete progress was made in three projects:
38. UNCTAD was able to launch these projects despite extraordinary field conditions, which adversely affected the ability to deploy UNCTAD staff and expert missions as well as the travel of Palestinian trainees or national project staff. However, proposed project activities in other areas were pending owing to a lack of resources and priority attention to urgent economic needs arising from the recent crisis:
39. Continued deterioration in field conditions forced suspension of ongoing or planned technical assistance activities in the following areas:
40. Meanwhile, in response to a request by the Palestinian Authority's Minister of Economy and Trade, the secretariat initiated a joint effort with the International Trade Centre (ITC) to respond to urgent technical assistance needs posed by the economic crisis since October 2000. Despite an appeal to a number of donors to contribute to implementation of a package of urgent UNCTAD/ITC technical assistance, no funds were forthcoming. However, within the limits of existing resources, the secretariat was able by the end of 2001 to deliver advisory services on three issues identified by the PA in the context of the above-mentioned request:
41. Results: The analytical component and technical comparative advantages that UNCTAD maintains in this programme continue to feature as an essential prerequisite to effective design and sound implementation of technical assistance. Palestinian Authority's reliance on UNCTAD for policy advice, as reflected in the urgent requests for technical assistance, testifies to both the continued relevance of UNCTAD's competences and its flexibility in responding to beneficiary needs, in even the most uncertain circumstances. Palestinian Authority's preoccupation with urgent needs has not detracted, however, from pursuit of work in key institution-building projects, which have started to operate in a limited manner. Project design and implementation are coordinated closely with UNDP and other organizations. Relations with Palestinian Authority remain strong and based on confidence in the proven track record of UNCTAD's assistance.
(ii) MEDITERRANEAN 2000
290. Palestinian Territory (phase III): A fact-finding mission in October 1999 established the need for and feasibility of an EMPRETEC programme in the Palestinian Territory. A comprehensive background study was conducted to assess the constraints of Palestinian SME development and to identify options to implement an EMPRETEC programme. A comprehensive project document was then prepared, negotiated with key stakeholders and signed in June 2001. The counterparts are the Palestinian Banking Corporation (PBC), which is hosting the programme, and the Ministry of Economy and Trade of the Palestinian National Authority. The local director and the programme assistant were hired. The continued political unrest in the Middle East has delayed the implementation of the programme; training activities have been rescheduled for 2002, jointly with the EMPRETEC Jordan programme, to benefit from economies of scale.