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Advancing economic competitiveness

Industry is a seedbed for entrepreneurship, business investment, technological progress, the upgrading of skills, and the creation of decent jobs. All these factors contribute to sustained productivity improvements that can ensure pro-poor outcomes and contribute to increased living standards, particularly in developing countries. In addition, better access to domestic and international markets can make an enormous contribution to developing countries’ fight against poverty. 

By positioning industries at the right stage of global value chains, countries may benefit from opportunities offered by global trade, including more jobs, exports, and foreign direct investment (FDI). In addition to enhanced resilience, market access can bring the much needed capital and technology essential for growing a strong, inclusive, transformative economy. Participation in global trade is an important aspect of any country’s strategic approach to Inclusive and Sustainable Industrial Development (ISID).

Many people in many developing countries, in particular in the Least Developed Countries, live in an agrarian, often subsistence economy. Many young people grow up without opportunities to learn entrepreneurial and industrial attitudes and skills, resulting in poverty with persistent unemployment or underemployment. Entrepreneurship is therefore an inclusive process that enables the bottom billion – women and men – in rural as well as urban areas, to achieve social mobility. Entrepreneurship also transforms economies and enhances industrial development, inclusively and sustainably, from individual and grass-root levels. 

Against this background, UNIDO supports programmes towards investment and technology promotion, SME development, trade capacity-building, and entrepreneurship development.

UNIDO provides advisory services to improve the business and policy environment for the private sector, assisting with  the creation of productive capacities. Its programmes support investment and technology opportunities to help enterprises, especially SMEs, improve productivity and innovation, and achieve systemic competitive advantages. Building on a robust global network aimed at fostering investment, technology and other partnership opportunities, UNIDO seeks to enable SMEs to capitalize on their unique dynamism and flexibility by strengthening  synergies among enterprises and with support institutions

In the context of trade capacity-building programmes, UNIDO strengthens international trade norms and standards by assisting developing countries and transition economies in upgrading production and processing systems to enhance the quality of local products, in particular through the adoption of improved technologies, and help them conform to the standards required by international markets. UNIDO builds capacities in both public and private institutions to formulate trade policies and strategies based on economic and statistical analysis, as well as benchmarking competitive performance at sectoral and product levels and supporting the establishment of trade-related databases such as inventories of technical barriers to trade (TBT), which are designed to expand exports from the industrial sector.

 In the field of strengthening the standards, metrology, testing and conformity assessment infrastructure of its beneficiary countries, UNIDO supports standards institutions as well as TBT and sanitary and phyto-sanitary (SPS) measures enquiry points through various regional programmes and country projects. UNIDO also supports developing economies in addressing the increasingly important issue of voluntary private standards, with emphasis on the  uptake of corporate social responsibility (CSR) standards, as a means towards increasing their competitiveness. 

UNIDO also supports, in addition, the development of entrepreneurial culture and skills through improving the performance of public services for businesses to create an environment where entrepreneurial actions are rewarded. Using a bottom-up growth strategy for poverty reduction, UNIDO introduces practical entrepreneurship curricula at secondary and vocational training institutions, particularly targeting the development of entrepreneurial skills among young people, both girls and boys, before they enter into the workforce. This is enriched through elements of ICT training, combining the basics of entrepreneurship with practical experiences in the use of new technology and thus preparing young people for key labour market requirements and an increasingly networked information society.