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Enhancing the capacity of developing countries and countries with economies in transition to participate in global trade is becoming increasingly critical for the economic growth of these countries.

The ability of enterprises in these countries to trade internationally depends increasingly more on their ability to enter into global value chains that are established by transnational corporations. On the one hand, this requires working on the supply side, enabling enterprises to manufacture products with high-export potential in the quantities and at the level of quality required by the markets. On the other hand, it requires evidence of market conformity, enabling these same enterprises to ensure that their products conform to the relevant international standards, in particular private buyer requirements, and technical requirements.

On the supply side, UNIDO will continue to support enterprises in their efforts to offer competitive, safe, reliable and cost-effective products in world markets. This requires identifying sectors and products that have competitive potential and are suitable for local value addition as well as analyzing and assessing trends in industrial performance at national, regional and global level, and formulating strategies and policies designed to improve industrial competitiveness and to overcome technical barriers to trade (TBT) and comply with sanitary and phyto-sanitary measures (SPS). UNIDO further assists developing countries and economies in transition upgrade their manufacturing processes in sectors with high-export potential to internationally acceptable levels and support the creation of export consortia, a specialized form of SME network as well as designing and implementing national and regional commodity-based trade capacity-building programmes, in cooperation with international partner agencies such as WTO, ITC, FAO and CFC.

With respect to conformity, UNIDO will continue to help enterprises comply with international standards and market requirements, and will assist countries that have recently acceded to WTO, or are in the accession process, to develop the conformity infrastructure needed, in particular, to fulfill the requirements and obligations under the WTO TBT agreement and the agreement on the Application of SPS measures. It will do so by developing capacities in national standards bodies to perform internationally-recognized product testing and calibration based on analyses of infrastructural and service gaps in metrology, testing and inspection services, and by developing accreditation institutions to accredit laboratories, system certifiers and inspection bodies.

UNIDO will also provide assistance to address the growing significance of private sector requirements for enterprise systems and product standards. Of particular importance are the standards regarding food hygiene and food safety (ISO 22000), but there are also other important international systems standards such as quality management (ISO 9001), environmental management (ISO 14001), and social accountability (SA 8000). It will also support producers in performing self-declarations of conformity such as the CE markings and others. Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is also an area where international buyers are increasingly requiring exporter compliance, especially in light of the international standard on social responsibility (ISO 26000).