Northeast Asia Regional Cooperation Programme

The Challenge

The Northeast Asian (NEA) sub-region, including the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), China, Mongolia, the Russian Federation, the Republic of Korea and Japan, is one of the fastest growing economic regions in the world. Despite global importance, both strategically and geopolitically, regional cooperation and development between the NEA member countries has lagged far behind its potential, due mainly to historic tensions and political mistrust. Even though political will for regional cooperation is strong at central government level and has been backed up by institutional achievement, the operational environment for business and investment continues to hamper deeper regional economic cooepration and growth. In addition, there are no regional mechanisms whereby local-level needs and realities can be expressed at the central level.

The Response

UNDP has been playing a key role in supporting regional efforts in NEA. Its Tumen River Area Development Programme (TRADP) launched in 1991, now rebranded as the Greater Tumen Initiative (GTI), and has served as an intergovernmental platform for economic cooperation and exchange in the area. Building on this momentum, the project acts as a framework for multi partner cooperation and partnership to further deepen the regional development and revitalisation of NEA. It works to achieve greater pro-poor growth and sustainable development in pursuit of MDGs. It supports full national ownership of regional initiatives, aiming to give continued support to existing cooperation mechanisms and facilitate the establishment of GTI Local Cooperation Mechanisms, a GTI Trade Facilitation Committee, along with selected support to components of GTI and NEA regional development projects. In addition, it will help to establish new partnerships in NEA for resource mobilisation.


Over the past year, the programme has made concrete progress in priority sectors of the GTI (i.e., trade) as well as contributed to the institutional development of the GTI. It provided inputs to the Concept Note on Promoting GTI NEA Local Cooperation Mechanism which was approved by the GTI 12th Consultative Commission Meeting in September 2011. The Local Cooperation Mechanism aims to further promote the NEA local governments’ initiatives in regional economic cooperation and build synergy among the local and central governments in NEA. In relation to this, the coordination meeting for the GTI NEA Local Cooperation Committee (LCC) convened in November 2012, during which the LCC Framework as well as the Plan for the Inaugural LCC Meeting & Local Development Forum were reviewed by 30 Director General level officials from local provincial governments of China, Mongolia, ROK, Russia and Japan and opportunities for local economic development in NEA were further investigated. In addition, a study on How to further develop the Local Cooperation Mechanism was conducted and recommendations were well received by related stakeholders.

The programme also contributed to the Inaugural Meeting of Trade Facilitation Committee in November 2011 and facilitated the Capacity Building Workshop on Trade and Investment Facilitation in NEA in December 2012 which brought together more than 60 participants from international organizations, public and private stakeholders from NEA, greatly contributing to information and practices sharing and provided technical support to the Comprehensive Trade Facilitation Study in NEA.

Last but not the least, it has mobilised essential support to the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding for establishing the NEA EXIM Banks Association, which aims to address the development bottleneck presented by inadequate capital, through effective coordination and provision of international expertise on the functionality of such an association.

Who finances it?

Donor Amount
UNDP          US$ 500,000

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