Organized under the theme “Empowering Connected, Sustainable Trade”, this year's Global Review will look into how to connect the most vulnerable populations to international trade — the digital economy in particular — and how developing economies can use trade to boost economic growth, meet development objectives and build resilience. Special emphasis will be placed on green initiatives and climate change. The WTO-led Aid for Trade initiative seeks to mobilize resources to help developing countries and least-developed countries (LDCs) overcome trade-related constraints that limit their participation in international trade.  

At the meeting, several members and partner organizations highlighted the need to make digital connectivity more affordable for developing countries so that it can support trade development. Speakers also emphasized the essential role that “green” projects play in helping promote economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and combat the economic and trade effects of the conflict in Ukraine.

The Committee chair, Ms Usha Chandnee Dwarka-Canabady of Mauritius, updated members and observer governments on preparations for the Global Review.  Requests for sessions can be submitted until 13 May via the form available here.

China  and other members stressed that the pandemic continues to affect developing countries' ability to trade.  In their view, increasing aid efforts for vaccines and vaccination remains essential to address the “vaccination gap” between developed and developing countries. China announced it has provided over 2.1 billion doses to more than 120 countries and international organizations. On climate change, Guyana drew attention to its Low Carbon Development Strategy — referenced in its recent Trade Policy Review — which seeks to further its agricultural development objectives.

A number of members took the floor to outline past and present aid-for-trade activities in Ukraine and to express their strong opposition to the conflict there. In particular, the European Union referenced the “Food and Agriculture Resilience Mission” initiative launched by France's President Emmanuel Macron, the EU, G7 and African Union on 24 March. The Russian Federation expressed concern over the restrictive measures introduced by several members on Russian products and sectors in response to the conflict.

Partner institutions presented their ongoing initiatives and shared their assessment of priorities for the Global Review. The African Development Bank called for resources to be mobilized to help mitigate the risks of a food security crisis in Africa resulting from reduced agricultural exports from Russia and Ukraine. The Enhanced Integrated Framework outlined how it is helping LDCs mitigate the effects of ongoing crises, namely climate change, the pandemic and the conflict in Ukraine. An EIF project is underway to help eight African countries operationalize the African Continental Free Trade Area and create a more efficient and inclusive trade environment.

A total of 37 developing economies are benefiting from projects by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) to support their resilience to global economic shocks and their participation in global trade. This includes a new project aimed at facilitating the participation of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in global supply chains. The Inter-American Development Bank underscored the importance of promoting inclusive trade, implementing projects linked to trade facilitation and export promotion, reducing logistics costs for customs, coordinated border management and strengthening the productivity of global value chains.

The International Trade Centre explained how it is helping promote an inclusive transition to a low carbon economy in developing countries by increasing the competitiveness of MSMEs  —  including women-owned enterprises — notably through the SheTrades initiative. ITC's projects also seek to expand MSMEs' digital presence to promote the export focus of their activities.

Projects led by the Islamic Trade Finance Corporation are underway in Nigeria to enhance the competitiveness of firms involved in information and communication technologies and agrifood. In Egypt, the institution is training businesses to export more. In Mauritania, it is helping artisanal dyeing plants improve their competitiveness. In addition to supporting MSMEs' participation in global trade in Yemen, the institution is also upgrading the Arab economic integration system.

The Standards and Trade Development Facility (STDF) highlighted the importance of strengthening veterinary services and monitoring the capacity to undertake risk assessments related to food safety, animal and plant health in developing countries. The STDF is taking forward work on good regulatory practices and is organizing a series of webinars as part of its Climate Change Week.

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) said that policy recommendations resulting from the “E-commerce week” held in April include encouraging the adoption of policies aimed at making the digital economy more inclusive and supporting digital transformation in developing countries. UNCTAD is preparing action plans building on the “eTrade Readiness Assessments” carried out recently in Jordan, Malawi and Tunisia.

The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) said that future initiatives will focus on reducing poverty and achieving food security — especially in Africa — through technology transfer and agribusiness development. UNIDO's projects also focus on low carbon industrial production and access to sustainable energy.

Reporting on the spring meetings of the IMF and World Bank held in April, a representative from the World Bank noted that low and middle income countries in Africa and the Middle East are the most affected by the current rising energy and food prices, particularly the most vulnerable populations such as women and children. He highlighted the importance that trade policy can make in keeping markets open and facilitating cross border exchanges and warned against the negative effects of export curbs on trade and economic flows.

Next meeting

A workshop detailing the findings of the 2022 monitoring and evaluation exercise will be held on 31 May.

More information on Aid for Trade can be found here.




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