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JITAP: A Partnership for Trade Development in Africa

The new Multilateral Trading System that emerged from the Uruguay Round of trade agreements poses significant challenges, but can open up new vistas for trade of African countries. JITAP - the Joint Integrated Technical Assistance Programme - mobilizes the expertise and support of the World Trade Organization (WTO), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the International Trade Centre (ITC) to help African country partners benefit from the new Multilateral Trading System. JITAP is the first program that the three organizations have established to deliver jointly a broad range of selected technical assistance inputs to a number of countries simultaneously, focusing mainly on capacity building.

In a first stage, eight countries participate in JITAP: Benin, Burkina-Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Tunisia, Uganda, and the United Republic of Tanzania. Four are LDCs. A group of eight new countries was added: Botswana, Cameroon, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Senegal and Zambia Thirteen donors are contributing to the funding of the programme, currently amounting to US$10 million.

Origins                                                                                                                              Top of the Page

African Trade Ministers, meeting in Tunis in October 1994, called on the international community to help strengthen their capacity to:

  • Participate in the World Trade Organization.

  • Integrate into the new Multilateral Trading System.

  • Take advantage of new trade opportunities arising from the globalization of world markets.

Following the meeting in Tunis, WTO’s Director General and ITC’s Executive Director visited African countries to meet with Heads of State, key government ministers and with private sector representatives. Officials in these countries stressed the need for trade-related technical assistance (TRTA).

During the UNCTAD IX conference in Midrand, South Africa (May 1996) the heads of WTO, UNCTAD and ITC announced their commitment to develop a joint programme to help meet the needs expressed by these countries. The three organizations carried out a thorough needs assessment in the eight partner countries during 1996-97. They jointly identified priority needs and prepared national technical assistance projects to meet these needs. Critical needs were similar in all countries, as were the programme activities that addressed them. When in March 1998 the three organizations set up with donors a Common Trust Fund to mobilize donor support, the individual projects were transformed into the JITAP programme and implementation was initiated. Today, thirteen donors contribute to the Common Trust Fund.

Meeting the needs of partner countries                                                                  Top of the Page

JITAP enhances development opportunities of African country partners, through their more effective participation in the Multilateral Trading System (MTS). Its activities aim to meet the most pressing needs of the eight countries, corresponding to the needs expressed at the Tunis ministerial meeting. JITAP’s three objectives are to:

  • Build national capacity to understand the evolving MTS and its implications for external trade.

  • Adapt the national trading system to the obligations and disciplines of the new MTS.

  • Seek maximum advantage from the new MTS by enhancing the readiness of exporters.

The objective of JITAP II is to build and strengthen the capacity of selected African countries to integrate into the Multilateral Trading System (MTS). More specifically, capacity in partner countries is to built or strengthened in three main areas:

  • Trade negotiations, implementation of WTO agreements, and related trade policy formulation

  • National knowledge base on MTS

  • Supply capacity and market knowledge of exporting and export-ready enterprises to derive benefit from business opportunities presented by trade liberalization under the emerging MTS.

Like its predecessor, JITAP II will be implemented jointly by ITC, UNCTAD and WTO in an integrated manner, in cooperation with the beneficiary countries and with support from the donor community.

Implementation and management                                                                            Top of the Page

Coordination at national level

As in JITAP I, for each country coordination among participating institutions at national level is promoted through National Steering Committees. Technical counterparts in each country carry out implementation of JITAP projects within this framework. A national focal point is identified in the ministry responsible for international trade. Typical counterparts include the Directorate for International Trade in the Ministry of Commerce, trade promotion organizations, chambers of commerce and industry and local academic institutions.

The programme coordination from Geneva

In Geneva, a steering group comprising senior representatives from UNCTAD, WTO and ITC, the donors and partner countries provides guidance for the JITAP programme. Day-to-day management is handled by designated focal point officers of ITC, UNCTAD, and WTO working in close cooperation.

A Programme Coordination Unit operates from Geneva covering all partner countries. Its role is to coordinate technical inputs and assist individual countries in implementing activities, facilitating interaction between Geneva and the participating countries.

Key JITAP features                                                                                                       Top of the Page

JITAP is first and foremost a capacity-building programme. Its distinctive features are:

  • Joint participation of the three Geneva organizations to the full extent of needs assessment and programme implementation.

  • Establishment of national networks of trainers and experts in WTO-related issues.

  • An Internet-based Communication and Discussion Facility that will enhance networking among partner countries and between them and the Geneva-based organizations.

  • A single or generic programme with activities to address critical common needs, based on individual country needs and responses.

  • Organization of scores of implementation actions in “Modules” of programme elements, with each Module covering all partner countries.

  • Simultaneous implementation across all eight countries, Module-by-Module jointly by ITC, UNCTAD and WTO. This is the first practical arrangement in which the three organizations are working towards realizing a common goal.

These features are designed to enhance synergies among partner countries; among the Geneva-based organizations; and between the two groups, as well as synergies among programme activities. They are also designed to ensure efficient use of resources , through economies of scale and scope in management and programme implementation; sustainability through networking and other capacity-building features; and replicability of the JITAP programme in other countries, should it be decided to expand the programme. Avery important feature is the role of JITAP as a framework for catalyzing other trade-related technical assistance, including those under the Integrated Framework.

The Programme is based on a partnership among the executing organizations and the participating countries, with a close supervision of the donor countries on the progress made and outstanding issues. As much as possible, it favours using national human resources to undertake the planned activities, including the experts and trainers trained under the programme itself. JITAP also promotes networking as a guarantee for the sustainability of the capacity built. The institutional support is also part of the programme priorities, namely in the form of setting up Reference Centres and strengthening the Inter-Institutional Committees (IICs) as frameworks to coordinate MTS issues in the countries, and to prepare negotiations.


Programme modules                                                                                                    Top of the Page

Five Modules of JITAP

Module 1: MTS Institutional support, Compliance, Policies and negotiations.
Module 2: Strengthening MTS Reference Centre, and NEPs on TBT and SPS
Module 3: Enhancing MTS knowledge and Networks
Module 4: Product and Services Sector Strategies
Module 5: Networking and Programme Synergy.


Bringing partners together                                                                                         Top of the Page

In responding to the challenge of realising the vast potential for synergies among the hundreds of partners involved in the programme, JITAP has developed a Communication and Discussion Facility (CDF). This Internet-based solution allows for cost-effective communication ranging from on-line discussions and implementation updates, to the retrieval of relevant technical documentation about the programme. The CDF also makes available programme-related information to the general public. It is accessible on http://www.jitap.org/cdf

In responding to the challenge of realising the vast potential for synergies among the hundreds of partners involved in the programme, JITAP has developed a Communication and Discussion Facility (CDF). This internet-based solution allows for cost-effective communication ranging from on-line discussions and implementation updates, to the retrieval of relevant documentation. The CDF also makes available programme-related information to the general public.

Funding                                                                                                                           Top of the Page

The Programme is funded through a Common Trust Fund (CTF) supported by a number of donor countries. The CTF is composed of two windows: Window one, where funds are contributed by donors to support programme development, generic activities and activities in countries facing shortage of resources; and Window two, where contributions are ear-marked for specific countries.  The activities are only implemented when the resources are made available in cash to the three executing organizations. Most partner countries have contributed to the programme activities in the form of counterpart funding.

Evaluation                                                                                                                       Top of the Page

A mid-term evaluation was undertaken for JITAP in August-September 2000. The evaluation mission commended the conceptual framework of the programme and described as a trend-setting programme for trade related technical assistance in the aftermath of the Uruguay round and globalization of the world economy. It was also described as an effective framework for catalyzing initiatives on other TRTA initiatives. The evaluation confirmed that the programme was building capacity in the partner countries for participating actively in the evolving multilateral trading system. It recommended that the programme be consolidated during the period 2001-2002, and subsequently extended to a new group of countries. Currently, more than twenty five countries are requesting to be associated with the programme.

A summative evaluation was undertaken between February and May 2002 by a team of two international evaluators and a national external evaluator in each participating country. The evaluation also examined the MTS-related capacity in two non-participating countries as benchmarking cases, to assess the progress made towards the objectives of the programme. The CTF Steering Group reviewed the conclusions and recommendations of the summative evaluation in June 2002.

The CTF Steering Group Meeting appreciated the extensive findings and recommendations of the evaluation mission. The group concurred with the overall conclusion that JITAP makes an important contribution to raising awareness and developing capacities in the beneficiary countries for managing their integration into the multilateral trading system (MTS).

On 19 December 2002, the JITAP Common Trust Fund Steering Group (CTF SG) met in Geneva and endorsed the JITAP II Programme Document, effectively extending the programme for another four years (2003-2006) and expanding it to eight new countries, i.e. Botswana, Cameroon (non-LDCs) and Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Senegal and Zambia (LDCs). In this respect, several donors pledged substantial support to the programme. In total, sixteen African countries will be covered under JITAP II.

The CTF Steering Group agreed on a set of criteria for starting work in JITAP countries under the new phase:

  • The confirmation of the countries’ interest in benefiting from JITAP;

  • The readiness to allocate counterpart resources, both human and financial in the form of budgetary allocations to support activities to be initiated under the programme;

  • The setting up of a JITAP National Steering Committee (NSC) and the designation of a National Focal Point for JITAP, with whom all contacts would be undertaken;

  • The creation/institutionalisation of an Inter-Institutional Committee on the WTO; and

  • The commitment to the mainstreaming of trade as an instrument for poverty reduction.

    JITAP is a new type of partnership between WTO, UNCTAD, ITC, the participating countries and the donors that presents a solid vehicle for providing MTS-related support and allows seizing the vast opportunities made available by the emerging Multilateral Trading System.

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