Boosting global trade for Least Developed Countries 

Least Developed Countries (LDCs) are set to receive $250 million worth of help to boost their capacity to trade on the international stage, in order to increase economic growth and reduce poverty.

The Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF) helps LDCs become more active players in global trade by helping them tackle export constraints, as part of the broader Aid for Trade initiative.

Vientiane morning market, Laos
The EIF helps boost the trade capacities of LDCs, enhancing local economies. Vientiane morning market, Laos. Photo: EIF

Aid for Trade supports export-oriented trade programmes which help LDCs more successfully integrate into the global trading system, build on their comparative trade advantages and increase and diversify their exports. The EIF is an independent multi-donor programme which supports these goals while focusing on country ownership, results and accountability.

EIF trust fund

Through the EIF, a range of national and international organizations help LDCs better integrate trade into national development strategies, coordinate the delivery of trade-related technical assistance and build their capacity to become more involved in the global trading system. Making trade a priority in national development plans in turn ensures that adequate funding and domestic resources are provided for local EIF programmes.

The EIF is financed by a trust fund with contributions from a range of donors. It is already assisting 45 LDCs worldwide and two countries that recently graduated from LDC status. The EIF reviews and approves country requests for support and then finances projects from conception to implementation.

Monrovia market, Liberia.
The EIF plays a crucial role in lifting people out of poverty. Monrovia market, Liberia. Photo: EIF

Two stages are central to the EIF process. The first stage implements ‘Tier 1’ projects which fund Diagnostic Trade Integration Studies to identify constraints on competitiveness, supply chain weaknesses and the sectors of greatest growth and export potential. These studies help tailor trade and development strategies to the specific needs of each country, thereby increasing national ownership. An implementation phase follows, supporting the integration of trade priorities into national development strategies, the identification of funding for key priorities, and the delivery of trade-related assistance.

‘Tier 2’ projects fund small-scale projects to build up trade related and export capabilities. On the national level, government focal points lead the in-country EIF process, supported by donor representatives and a national committee for decision-making and coordination. On the global level, the EIF Steering Committee, Board, Executive Secretariat and Trust Fund Manager support national governments to review effectiveness, ensure transparency, make decisions and manage funds for the programme.

On behalf of the EIF Board, UNOPS supports the EIF as its Trust Fund Manager, in collaboration with the above-mentioned partners.

UNOPS trust fund management

UNOPS role as Trust Fund Manager includes trustee functions (such as the negotiation of agreements with partners, etc.), the preparation of budgets and financial management forecasts, fiduciary appraisal of project proposals and assessment of the grant recipient’s capacities, monitoring of compliance with requirements, and financial reporting to the EIF Board and donors. UNOPS also provides recommendations on capacity building and training, helps review the overall effectiveness of the framework and ensures transparency of the EIF process.


To date, 22 donors from Europe, North America, Asia, and the Middle East have committed a total of $210 million to the EIF Trust Fund.

At the end of 2010, 29 ‘Tier 1’ projects had been approved in 26 LDCs across Africa, Asia, the Middle East, the Pacific and the Caribbean, to a total of $19.5 million. These include setting up national EIF structures in LDCs such as Bhutan and Haiti, in preparation for starting the trade studies. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Afghanistan, the studies have been approved and are being drafted, and in Yemen and Liberia priority trade reforms are being integrated into national development strategies.

Through the EIF Trust Fund Management team in Switzerland, Bangkok, Dakar and Nairobi, UNOPS is ensuring timely and transparent fund disbursements. The UNOPS Switzerland office, the designated fund manager for the EIF initiative, already has extensive experience in financial management through the management of funds for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

Achieving UNOPS contribution goals

During 2010-2013, four high-level goals are defining the work of UNOPS. They are called ‘contribution goals’, since UNOPS contributes to the work and results of its partners. This project is working towards the third contribution goal: the ability of people to develop local economies and obtain social services.

Key facts

Project title
Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF) Trust Fund Management

Partner organizations
International Monetary Fund, International Trade Centre, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, United Nations Development Programme, World Bank Group, World Trade Organization, United Nations Industrial Development Organization (observer)

Executing agency

$250 million

UNOPS services
Trust fund management