With an aim to leverage and support Least Developed Countries’ graduation journey, the 29th Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF) board meeting is underway in Thimphu.
EIF is a global partnership between the LDCs, EIF donors and the EIF agencies including the International Monetary Fund, International Trade Center, UNCTAD, UNDP, World Bank, World Trade Organisation.
EIF board chairperson Mani Prasad Bhattarai said that EIF aims to support the world’s poorest countries in realising global economic empowerment and social resilience through trade, which contributes to poverty reduction and sustainable development.
“EIF seeks to address the specific barriers to trade faced by vulnerable or margsinalised people, particularly women and youth,” he said.
The EIF assists the LDCs in addressing trade barriers and productive capacity constraints, promoting human and institutional capacity development; facilitating trade coordinating mechanism between the country’s government, its private sector and donors; and developing projects that create jobs and eradicate poverty.
Economic Affairs minister, Loknath Sharma said that the partnership has helped the country in mainstreaming trade in the developmental plan and building human capacity in trade and other related sectors.
He said that EIF initiatives such as online potato auctioning, people data hub, and one-stop information center have been beneficial to farmers, traders and government agencies.
The online potato auctioning, he said has transformed the traditional auctioning to electronic trading system which has reduced transaction costs and increased price transparency. “With the introduction of such online auctioning, the income of potato farmers increased by Nus10,000 per truck load.”
So far, Bhutan received financial assistance worth USD 3.45 million from EIF.
Lyonpo said that the country has implemented various studies and projects through EIF. He said that the project on export diversification under Brand Bhutan and the Diagnostic Trade Integration Study (DTIS) are underway.
Through these studies, he said Brand Bhutan initiative would be carried forward and DTIS is expected to come up with a comprehensive trade strategy for Bhutan.
Brand Bhutan initiative is a priority in the 12th Plan. The Cottage and Small Industry and Startup development programme is a flagship programme of the government.
Lyonpo added that Bhutan should take advantage of EIF’s support to LCDs with the transitional period of five years after its graduation and implementation of projects focused on productive capacity development.
The two-day board meeting will discuss issues at strategic and policy levels including the evolution of LDC trade and investment in the global context.
The board will also have a dedicated session on LDC graduation to learn from other countries’ experiences, and discuss how the EIF can best leverage its partnership to support the LDCs in their graduation.
Meanwhile, executive director of EIF Executive Secretariat, Ratnakar Adhikari said that the meeting would take into account the progress made in 2019 and to set the course of action for the EIF in 2020. “The EIF enables the LDCs to reap the benefits from new market access opportunities and the world trading system.”
The EIF partnership comprises of 51 countries, 24 donors, and eight partner agencies.
Bhutan became the member of EIF earlier this year after joining the EIF beneficiary in 2009.