Trade Policy Development > United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

Mainstreaming trade

UNDP works with national stakeholders to design and implement a strategy for mainstreaming trade in order to enhance policy coherence and the development impact of trade policies, effectiveness of institutional mechanisms and national ownership of initiatives supported by the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF) and Aid for Trade. Mainstreaming trade is defined as the process of integrating trade into national and sectoral development planning, policymaking, implementation and review in a coherent and strategic manner. This means taking trade-related issues into account when planning and executing broader development objectives. It further implies using trade proactively to attain specific national development goals, including poverty reduction. Mainstreaming takes place at three levels: 1) policy; 2) institutional; and 3) international cooperation.

UNDP assists national stakeholders to develop a road map for mainstreaming trade, customized around the country’s needs. An executive group or network is identified among these stakeholders to lead implementation. This effort is currently being piloted in four LDCs, with plans to scale up taking the results of the pilots into account.

Specific tools that have been developed to support this work include:

  • Trade and Human Development. A Practical Guide to Mainstreaming Trade

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Capacity assessment of trade-related institutions

UNDP assists LDCs taking part in the enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF) programme to identify trade-related institutional capacity constraints and develop an action plan to overcome them. The objective is to strengthen organizational performance and contribute to making trade a strong driver of inclusive growth and transformation in LDCs. UNDP’s methodology focuses on the assets and needs of the capacity assessment owner – i.e. the lead agency in charge of trade policy formulation and implementation, typically the trade ministry – taking into account the requirements of other trade-related organizations and stakeholders. To this extent, the purpose, scope, focus and priorities of the assessments are tailored to the specific needs of countries. This effort is currently being piloted in five LDCs and will be scaled up in the near future based on results.

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Trade diagnostic and needs assessments

UNDP undertakes trade diagnostic assessments in the context of the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF) and trade needs assessments under the Aid for Trade (AfT) Initiative. Specific tools that have been developed to support this work include:

  • A Guide, How to Conduct Trade Needs Assessments in Transition Economies;
  • A Guide, How to Conduct Trade Needs Assessments in Developing Countries;
  • Capacity Assessment for Trade Policy Implementation;
  • Human Development Impact Assessment of Trade Policy

UNDP coordinates its support to the EIF and AfT primarily through the UN Chief Executives Board (CEB) Interagency Cluster on Trade and Productive Capacity, and more generally through UN country assistance plans. UNDP prioritizes support to vulnerable country groupings, such as the least developed countries (LDCs), land-locked developing countries (LLDCs) and small island developing states (SIDS). This focus area envisages the design and development of joint inter-agency support programmes in as many as 60 countries.

For more information: and

For more information on the CEB Trade and Productive Capacity Cluster, please see:

Human development impact of trade and investment policies

Human Development Impact Assessment (HDIA) of trade and investments policies aims to integrate human development concerns into domestic policy-making through a participatory approach. By demonstrating the likely or existing effects of any aspect of a policy choice, the HDIA can facilitate a greater understanding among policy-makers of the implications of their decisions, and thereby foster not only greater and more informed debate on those decisions but also provide a basis for monitoring the impact of policy choices.

The HDIA process identifies the specific policy, policy proposal or negotiation issue to be assessed and the stakeholders upon whom it will have an impact or will most likely impact. While determining causal relationships and transmission channels can present conceptual challenges, the HDIA is based on the assumption that policy impacts can be analyzed through their effects on four essential pillars of human development: productivity, equality, sustainability, and empowerment. Accordingly, the HDIA offers a flexible and customizable framework and therefore methodological choices are connected to a number of contextual factors, including the scope of the exercise, timeframe and data availability.

The HDIA of trade and investment policies is not only an analytical tool. The process of conducting the HDIA itself develops capacity by creating awareness of the linkage between policy making and human development. It also supports national institutions’ efforts to establish reliable, participatory and transparent policy monitoring systems.

Inclusive growth and poverty reduction in the Asia Pacific region

Biplove Choudhary and Yumiko Yamamoto 
UNDP Asia-Pacific Regional Centre, Bangkok, Thailand
Tel: +66 (0)2 304 9100;

The Inclusive Growth and Poverty Reduction (IGPR) portfolio of UNDP’s Asia-Pacific Regional Centre includes policy advisory support to countries to accelerate progress on the MDGs through enhanced participation in inclusive processes related to trade and globalization. Advocacy on employment and gender-responsive trade and macroeconomic policies and support for regional integration, trade promotion and export diversification are important components of the IGPR portfolio.

UNDP’s entry point on the work related to fostering inclusive globalization rests on its niche in making trade work for human development – i.e. trade as a key driver of poverty reduction. Particular attention is given to the South Asia and the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) in the region. IGPR is working with a consortium of partners and agencies to foster deeper regional integration in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) region and to promote greater cooperation on achievement of MDG with both the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the SAARC. UNDP is also assisting countries in line to graduate from LDC status and is collaborating with governments to build productive capacities through accessing the multi-agency Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF).

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Regional integration and institutional capacity development for trade policy formulation and implementation in Africa

The project aims to enhance the capacity of African countries to formulate appropriate trade policies and participate effectively in the global trading system. It serves to support the countries and the regional economic communities to improve competitiveness and capacity for trade through strengthening the trade institutions, research and policy advice. It also focuses on working with beneficiary countries to mainstream trade into comprehensive national development frameworks and poverty reduction strategies so as to enable a more integrated approach to trade policy formulation and implementation.

Angela Lusigi, Regional Bureau for Africa, 
Headquarters, New York
Tel: +1 212 906 5925

The countries that benefit from this project are: Burkina Faso, Lesotho, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Rwanda, Togo and Uganda. Regional economic communities (RECs) such as the ECOWAS (West Africa), UEMOA (West Africa), COMESA (East and Central Africa) and SADC (Southern Africa) are also participating in the project.

Specifically in regard to the Enhanced Integrated Framework, 33 UNDP country offices in sub-Sahara Africa support various aspects of the implementation of the Economics programme.