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Welcome to this first Global Review of Aid for
Trade. We have a lot to accomplish — and not much time to accomplish it
— so I will keep my remarks short.
As you all know, the WTO is about making trade possible. Our core
business is to create trade opportunities through multilateral trade
opening and the building of multilateral rules to ensure a level playing
But, we also know that removing obstacles to
trade is often not enough for countries to reap the benefits of trade
opening, including the ones that will come as a result of a successful
conclusion of the on-going negotiations under the Doha Development
Agenda, whose conclusion is now in sight for 2008.
To fully benefit from further trade opening,
countries require the right domestic policy framework, institutional
capacity and economic infrastructure to be in place. This is as much a
reality in the North as it is in the South, in the East as well as in
It would be fair to say that developed
countries have the possibility to mobilise the resources needed for that
and that their business has the capacity to pursue and exploit fully the
opportunities presented by trade opening.
In many developing countries, though, these
resources come in the form of development assistance. And this is where
aid for trade comes in. We see aid for trade as central to helping
developing countries move from making trade possible to making trade
Almost two years ago — at the 2005 Hong Kong
Conference — Ministers gave the WTO a mandate to help developing
countries, especially the least developed, build the trade capacity they
need to take advantage of trade opening. They did this in the belief
that this could contribute to achieving their development goals.
To implement this Hong Kong ministerial
mandate, last year I outlined a plan for mobilising and monitoring Aid
for Trade. This plan was based on the collective efforts of a Task Force
of WTO members and multilateral donors. It involved global tracking of
financial flows, self assessments by partner and donor countries, three
high-level regional meetings, and a series of “periodic reviews” in the
WTO Committee on Trade and Development. These various threads would be
woven together in a Global Aid-for-Trade Review and debate in the
Today we are seeing the culmination of the
work for 2007.
In a moment I will ask the OECD Secretary
General to present the joint WTO/OECD report Aid for Trade at a Glance
2007. The report gives a comprehensive picture of Aid-for-Trade flows
from 2002 to 2005 — the last year for which data is available, and just
before the G-8 Summit in Gleneagles and Hong Kong commitments to
development aid started to take effect. Like everything, it can be
refined and improved — as discussed in yesterday's technical workshop.
But overall, I think it provides us with a clear snapshot of global Aid
for Trade flows and a solid baseline from which to measure future
progress. I want to thank the OECD for their excellent work.
The report also analyzes the Aid-for-Trade
self assessments — 30 from donor countries, 8 from recipients and 10
from international agencies. The results are important. Just as
important was the process of arriving at the results. It had the effect
of encouraging ministries and agencies to start an internal dialogue
about Aid for Trade, to reflect on their goals, and to ask themselves if
they can do better. These self assessments provide an important tool for
advancing Aid for Trade, which I hope can be expanded, especially for
partner countries, in 2008.
Next key multilateral and bilateral agencies
will be given an opportunity to explain what they are doing to advance
Aid-for-Trade. We want to hear their priorities and plans — including
plans for scaling up financial assistance and improving their own trade
capacity — both in country and at headquarters.
Then in the afternoon and tomorrow morning we
will hold three regional “roadmap” sessions — on Latin America and the
Caribbean, on Asia and the Pacific, and on Africa — moderated by the
President of the Inter-American Development Bank, the Vice President of
the Asian Development Bank , and the Executive Secretary of the UN
Economic Commission for Africa respectively — and including key
recipient and donors countries. The aim is to focus on specific regional
priorities — especially Reports and Recommendations of the Regional
Reviews — and to suggest some practical steps for taking the
Aid-for-Trade initiative forward.
The Global Review will end on Wednesday with a
debate in the General Council where we will be looking for feedback and
input from all Members about next steps for the WTO, including how we
can improve monitoring and especially evaluation.
Aid for Trade is a complex subject. Every
country has its own needs and priorities. There are a multitude of
players covering a multitude of policies. But despite this complexity,
some common themes have emerged from this first year of monitoring which
are worth mentioning.
First leadership. No grand plan to expand
trade capacity will ever work unless developing countries want it,
unless they “own” it, and unless it advances their national interests.
The only successful trade-lead development strategy is one which is
created and executed by countries themselves — and which is mainstreamed
in national plans. Responsibility ultimately rests with you.
Second, priority setting. The challenge for countries is to decide on
the projects that matter most and that will deliver the biggest return
on investment. Having one hundred priorities is having no priorities. To
move forward, we need clear objectives and deliverable plans.
Third, thinking regionally. Many capacity and “connectivity” problems —
especially for small or landlocked countries — are regional in scope. We
can help Rwanda construct the best transport corridor in Africa. But
unless it is connected to an equally effective transport corridor in
neighbouring Uganda, Kenya or Tanzania, Rwanda will remain cut off from
Fourth, increased and predicable financing. Donors have a responsibility
for increasing the overall financing envelope — by following through on
their Monterrey, Gleneagles and Hong Kong pledges. It is up to recipient
countries to decide whether this new money is spent on trade or some
Fifth, mobilizing the private sector. It is business - not governments —
that trade. So for this initiative to work, we need to involve the
private sector directly in telling us where the problems lie, in helping
to devise the solutions and — with a bit creativity and the right
incentives — in providing some of the resources through public-private
There was another theme — the most important — that ran throughout the
years' discussions. It is that trade, investment and domestic reform are
the main drivers of economic growth and development. Aid for Trade can —
and must be - an important complement to a successful Doha Round with
development as a central pillar. But, let me be clear and frank on this,
it can in no way be a substitute.
The challenge now is to take what we have learned about Aid for Trade
over the past year and apply it to concrete solutions. That is why you
are here. To tell us the solutions, to outline your plans, and to
explain how you plan to implement them.
It has never been the goal of the WTO to direct or dictate how Aid for
Trade should be delivered. We are not a development agency. Except for
our involvement in training, we have little specific expertise and
limited resources. We have no intention of becoming another development
agency in an already crowded development field.
However, we do have a role and a responsibility for ensuring that our
Members — especially the least developed among them — can benefit from
the trade opening and strengthened rules we are working so hard to
negotiate. We are undertaking monitoring but not for monitoring's sake.
We want to create a forum, a dialogue, a “spotlight” — you choose the
metaphor — to encourage all of the key actors to honour commitments,
meet needs, improve effectiveness, and reinforce mutual accountability.
Political scientists would probably describe this as open method of
cooperation. Bottom up incentives to come up with collaborative
This “spotlight” is working. In this room we have ministers, senior
officials, heads of multilateral and regional organizations gathered
together to answer one question — how to expand the trade capacity of
developing countries? We all agree that trade can be a powerful engine
of development — China, India, Brazil, South Africa and many others are
living proof of this reality.
We agree that making trade possible is only half of the challenge —
making trade happen is the other half, which requires infrastructure,
technology, know-how, financing and competitive exporters. And we agree
that the future of an open world economy — and the multilateral trade
system that underpins it — depends on all countries sharing in the
benefits more equitably.
This year has been a long and eventful journey — one which has literally
taken us around the world in our efforts to mobilize more and better Aid
for Trade. We must stay focussed on that fundamental objective. That is
why we are here. That is the benchmark against which our success — or
failure — will be measured. I am looking forward to a constructive
discussion — and to setting out a roadmap for the next part of the
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