Enhancing the Contribution of Preferential Trade Agreements to Inclusive and Equitable Trade


DA9 Project Information

Expanding trade and investment has driven growth in many developing countries. High growth has contributed to major reductions in poverty and improvements in overall welfare in the Asia-Pacific as in other regions. However, substantial variations in performance among countries persist and, as a consequence, not all countries - and much less all groups and individuals within countries - have been able to benefit equally from trade. In particular, least developed countries, landlocked developing countries, and other countries with special needs, have not benefited from trade as much as some other developing countries.

In order for these countries to foster further economic and social development, they need better access to markets alongside further development of productive and supply capacity.

Preferential trade agreements (PTAs) have the potential to promote growth, employment and social welfare. Enhanced access to markets may create trade opportunities, boost trade volumes and facilitate regional integration. Larger, more competitive markets can also benefit consumers by providing more varied and cheaper goods and services. PTAs may offer developing countries opportunities to modernize and upgrade their domestic regulation in particular for the services sector, investment and competition with a view to greater economic efficiency.

The project focuses on a group of pilot countries that exhibit the most urgent demand for assistance and support, and have potential to benefit from project and the PTAs. In order to provide a larger and more sustainable impact, all materials created for evidence-based policymaking and other capacity building programmes are being made publicly available in a user-friendly format through communities of experts such as ARTNeT, while to support researchers, policymakers and interested individuals in research the Asia-Pacific Trade Indicators Portal (APTIP) has been developed to allow for easy, user-friendly access to indicators of inclusivity and information on preferential trade agreements in Asia and the Pacific. Data on preferential trade agreements is provided by the Asia-Pacific Trade and Investment Agreement Database (APTIAD).

Asia-Pacific Trade Indicators Portal (APTIP)

Additionally, using the established approach of ARTNeT (The Asia-Pacific Research and Training Network on Trade) and UNNExT (UN Network of Experts for Paperless Trade), an advisory board of preferential liberalization experts was established to provide ongoing support for governments and other public and private stakeholders in the PTA process. This board is expected to be sustained in the longer-term by utilization of in-kind contributions creating the potential for operating on a self-funding basis. The advisory board draws part of its membership from the ARTNeT and UNNExT network of scholars, knowledge communities and trade and development practitioners who have already demonstrated a willingness to provide advice and assistance to governments on these issues. The list of members of the PTA Advisory Board can be found here.

Project Details

  • Project code and Development Account Fascicle: 1415AL, 9th tranche
  • Start date: 2015
  • End date: December 2017
  • Beneficiary Countries: Bangladesh, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Mongolia, Myanmar, and Viet Nam (Asia-Pacific); Burkina Faso, Guinea, Mauritius, and Senegal (Africa); Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Jamaica (Latin America and the Caribbean) 
  • Executing Entity:  Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) 
  • Co-Operating Agencies within the UN System: Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and United Nations Conference for Trade and Development (UNCTAD)