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Aid-for-Trade Global Review 2024 to look at mainstreaming trade into development strategies

The next Global Review of Aid for Trade will take place from 26 to 28 June at the WTO under the theme “Mainstreaming Trade”, it was announced on 1 February at a meeting of the Committee on Trade and Development. Proposals to organize sessions at the event may be submitted up to 31 March 2024.

The biennial Global Review serves as a global platform to highlight areas where developing economies and least developed countries (LDCs) need support to overcome supply-side constraints limiting their participation in global trade. It helps galvanize support for tackling these issues so that these countries derive the maximum economic benefits from trade. Proposals to organize sessions at this year’s edition can be submitted here.

At the meeting, members were also updated on initiatives by partner organizations to further the integration of developing economies and LDCs into the global economy.

Mainstreaming trade

Zambia said that the development of standards to support industrial and trade growth and increase the participation of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in the economy are high on its agenda. Trade will play an essential role in supporting Zambia’s future graduation from LDC  status as well as its efforts to mitigate the effects ofclimate change.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) shared an overview of its “E-Commerce Strategy and Implementation Plan 2023-2027” launched in July 2023, under which measures related to e-commerce will be adopted at the regional level to create jobs and help diversify economies.

As outlined in its International Development White Paper released in November 2023, the United Kingdom underlined the importance of tackling climate change and biodiversity loss and eliminating extreme poverty in developing economies in order to accelerate progress on meeting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The UK emphasized how trade in goods and services can serve as an engine of economic transformation in these countries.

Reports by international financial institutions

Three international financial institutions updated the Committee on current projects.

The African Development Bank said that USD 2 billion has been mobilized for a period of three years under the Sustainable Bond programme, through which the Bank is financing projects to support climate change and inclusive growth in Africa. A total of USD 1.5 billion has also been invested in the African Emergency Food Production Facility to build the resilience of Africa’s food systems by boosting the production of cereals and oil grains.

The Asian Development Bank noted that it has supported 47.5 billion MSMEs — of which 46.1 million are owned or led by women — in boosting their participation in global supply chains and international trade. Projects have focused on infrastructure capacity-building, access to finance, digital connectivity and policy reform.

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development highlighted current projects relating to digital connectivity, food security, trade facilitation and increasing the participation of MSMEs in world trade. The Bank has disbursed EUR 13 billion across the economies where it operates in 2023 and EUR 2 billion in Ukraine since the outbreak of the war.

Aid for Trade activities

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development drew attention to the “Shaping the Future of the Digital Economy” conference to be held from 6 to 8 May in Geneva, which will look at how to enhance developing economies’ participation in e-commerce. This follows on from the eWeek organized in December in Geneva, which brought together over 3,500 participants from 159 countries.

The United Nations Industrial Development Organization noted that USD 3 billion has been allocated through the “Alliance for Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones” to build agro-industrial capacities in African underdeveloped rural areas. The “Africa Food Regulatory Agencies Forum”, held in Egypt in October, focused on current food safety capacity-building initiatives and identified countries’ needs to operationalize the African Continental Free Trade Area.

China provided an update on its Aid-for-Trade activities in 2023, including support for investment in production and manufacturing equipment in agriculture, development of trade-related transportation infrastructure, and organizing seminars on trade facilitation and e-commerce.

The United States discussed the U.S.-Africa Leaders’ Summit that took place in December 2022, highlighting initiatives on supply chain issues, digital payments, e-commerce, and skills training in Africa.

WTO members’ trade policy reviews

With reference to its latest Trade Policy Review that took place in November, Chinese Taipei said that it provided USD 432 million in official development assistance in 2022. This is outlined in its “International Cooperation and Development Policy White Paper” issued in December 2023.

Türkiye said it has recently introduced a “Far Countries Strategy” in an effort to ramp up its exports of goods and services. Türkiye’s Trade Policy Review was completed in November.

Other trade- and development-related projects

The Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF) said that over half of its projects seek to boost agriculture capacities in LDCs and referred to 100 ongoing initiatives on e-commerce. The EIF announced the establishment of an Interim Facility to continue its operations in 2024 following the upcoming conclusion of Phase 2 of the EIF and until a new multilateral support mechanism for LDCs becomes operational.

The Standards and Trade Development Facility outlined its support to over 80 developing economies and LDCs since 2015. This includes a project to mix bio- and conventional pesticides to limit residues and to increase agri-food exports. Other projects include developing the electronic exchange of phytosanitary certificates used in trading plants and plant products and scaling up the ePhyto Solution in Africa.

The WTO’s Trade Facilitation Assistance Facility gave an update on progress in members’ implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement. A total of 156 WTO members have ratified the Agreement, representing 95.1 per cent of the total WTO membership. The WTO Secretariat also noted that the Fisheries Funding Mechanism Trust Fund — which held its first Steering Committee meeting on 31 January — has received over CHF 8 million from 14 WTO members and commitments of over CHF 3 million.

The International Trade Centre (ITC) explained how it is supporting developing economies and LDCs in negotiating and implementing trade agreements as well as developing economies currently negotiating their accession to the WTO. Bringing the voices of small businesses from developing economies into WTO decision-making fora also features highly on ITC’s agenda.

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