UNDP and Sida sign a $6.7 million agreement to advance economic integration in the Arab region

Aug 22, 2017

Amman - The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) signed today a cost-sharing agreement in the amount of USD 6.7 million (SEK 54,800,000) for three years to strengthen Arab economic integration for inclusive sustainable development. The agreement will contribute to promoting trade and deepening Arab economic integration as well as enhancing coherence of trade-related policies. It will also aim at improving the business environment and the competitiveness of the region to enabling the creation of sustainable jobs in the future.

“Sweden is committed to supporting the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and the implementation of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on Financing for Development,” asserted Eva Smedberg, Head of Division of Middle East and North Africa, at Sida, who signed the agreement on the agency’s behalf. “To that end, we believe that trade can play a major role in economic growth and poverty reduction”. Poverty reduction is the overall goal of Sweden’s development cooperation and contributes to peace and stability as it is the aim of the Strategy for the Middle East and North Africa.

The agreement will support a new project entitled “Arab Economic Integration - PAFTA Plus”, which aims to take regional economic cooperation to a new level that improves competitiveness of Arab goods and services, strengthens partnerships in trade policy design, and creates economic opportunities for youth and women. The project will provide technical assistance to the League of Arab States (LAS) and its Member States to implement the Pan Arab Free Trade Agreement (PAFTA), which came as a result of the recently-concluded Arab Agreement on Liberalization in Trade in Services, and the establishment of the Arab Customs Union (ACU). The project will also contribute to reforms aiming at diversification of economic activities undertaken by Arab countries, particularly oil-exporting countries, in recent years.

The new initiative will scale up support to policy makers for the modernization of the supply and value chains and the reform of policies in preparations for the ACU, in areas such as facilitating trade and transport corridors, promoting investment in quality infrastructure, and enhancing competition, among others. This will strengthen economic partnerships in the region through better Arab connectivity and stronger coordination among countries. Throughout its activities, the project will promote the role of private business and industries in economic integration and diversification and will focus on issues of gender equality and women’s economic empowerment.

“We are happy to continue our partnership with Sida to promote growth and sustainable development in the Arab region,” stressed Khaled Abdelshafi, Director of the UNDP Regional Hub in Amman, who signed the agreement on behalf of the UNDP Regional Bureau for Arab States. “Building on the positive results we have achieved together over the past years through the Aid for Trade Initiative for Arab States, this new partnership will help us leverage our best expertise and scale up our efforts, to support economic integration in the Arab States”.

The UNDP-Sida collaboration on the “Aid for Trade Initiative for Arab States” supported the League of Arab States (LAS) in the implementation of resolutions and decisions by Arab Leaders in the areas of trade in services, preparations for the Arab Customs Union and trade facilitation. The project also assisted the operationalization of cross-border operations between Egypt and Sudan and supported Egypt and Jordan in the establishment of National Single Windows.

Contact information

In UNDP: Mr. Noeman Al Sayyad, Regional Communications Advisor (noeman.alsayyad@undp.org)

Mr. Quang Le, Chief Technical Advisor, Aid for Trade Initiative in Arab States (quang.le@undp.org)

In Sida: Mr. Alexander Atarodi, Senior Programme Manager (Alexander.Atarodi@sida.se)

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