Joint ITC-WTO Workshop on Aid for Trade and SME Competitiveness
The meeting heard a report on the Workshop on Aid for Trade and SME Competitiveness jointly organized by the WTO and the International Trade Centre (ITC) on 9 October 2014. The workshop noted that SMEs play an important role for employment, income growth and gender empowerment. At the same time, SMEs have a high failure rate due to limited access to finance, lack of institutional support, non-tariff trade barriers and an unfavourable business environment. Participants in the workshop discussed areas where more could be done to support SMEs and help them integrate into global trade.
A joint ITC-WTO background note on Aid for Trade and SME competitiveness can be found here.
Enhanced Integrated Framework
The meeting included a briefing by representatives of the Enhanced Integrated Framework, a multi-donor programme that promotes trade in least-developed countries (LDCs). The EIF has recently launched a new trade mainstreaming facility to further help countries put trade at the centre of their development agenda. Since its launch in June 2014, members have submitted requests to access the facility for additional support.
Uganda (representing the LDC Group), Nepal and Benin commended the EIF's work and called for an extension of the programme beyond 2015. Uganda noted that since 2008 the EIF has funded 120 projects in 45 countries. The EIF Annual Report 2013 highlighted that 90 per cent of EIF Tier 1 countries, which receive support for identifying constraints to trade, had included trade in their national development plans.
National Aid for Trade initiatives
China, Dominica (representing members of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States) and Chinese Taipei shared their experiences on Aid for Trade. China said that it has helped developing countries boost trade by promoting infrastructure development, providing export market opportunities for LDCs and assisting in trade-capacity building. Dominica highlighted how Aid for Trade has helped OECS countries develop regional strategies and prioritize trade in their development agendas. Chinese Taipei described its four-year project aimed at helping Belize improve efficiency by introducing information technology solutions.
Mobilizing resources to support trade integration
The European Union presented findings of its Aid for Trade monitoring report for 2014. It noted that EU support for Aid for Trade in 2012 was 20 per cent higher than in 2011, making the European Union the world's largest trade assistance provider. Africa has received the largest share of this assistance, and the European Union has maintained its commitment to LDCs.
Uganda pointed out that LDCs attracted only 24 per cent of total Aid for Trade in 2012. It called upon members to prioritize the needs and interests of LDCs and to ensure that at least one-third of Aid for Trade is disbursed to LDCs.
The meeting also heard presentations from the ITC and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) on their Aid for Trade work.
Monitoring and evaluation exercise for Fifth Global Review of Aid for Trade
Members reviewed the questionnaires and case story templates to be disseminated as part of the monitoring and evaluation exercise that will feed into the Fifth Global Review of Aid for Trade to take place in June 2015. The Review will focus on "reducing trade costs for inclusive, sustainable growth". Once finalized, the questionnaires and requests for case stories will be circulated to partner countries, bilateral and multilateral donors, regional economic communities and South-South partners to assess the aid needed to reduce trade costs. The request for case stories will also be circulated to the private sector.
Aid for Trade is a WTO-led initiative that helps developing countries and least-developed countries trade. At the Ninth Ministerial Conference in December 2013, a Ministerial Decision on Aid for Trade (WT/L/909) reaffirmed WTO members' commitment to the initiative, recognizing the continuing need for Aid for Trade in developing countries, and in particular least-developed countries. The Aid for Trade Work Programme for 2014-2015 is focused on “reducing trade costs for inclusive, sustainable growth”.