> “Why Aid for Trade? Why is the WTO Involved? And What Now?” — Statement by the WTO Director-General at the Roundtable on Aid for Trade
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The heart of the Doha Development Agenda is a “trade and growth” agenda that is of
central importance to helping developing countries and LDCs to reach their Millennium
The multilateral trade negotiations are of course at the core of the DDA. They are
widely accepted to offer a major opportunity to reinforce and broaden medium-term growth
In the past twelve months, Aid for Trade has become an important political and
economic complement to the negotiations, that can contribute greatly to unlocking the full
growth potential of a successful Doha Round.
Last July, as you know, together with members, I decided to suspend the trade
negotiations to allow a period of “time-out” for Ministers to consider how they can each
contribute to breaking down the remaining obstacles to substantial liberalisation of trade,
particularly in agriculture. I know that a serious political reflection has been taking place in
capitals since then. I am convinced that the result of this process will be an acknowledgement
that there is no acceptable alternative to the successful conclusion of the Round.
The real questions, then, are “how” and “when” we can conclude the trade negotiations.
The right answers, I believe, are “ambitiously” and “soon”. We are close to moving the trade and
growth agenda a big step forward, and that is an opportunity that we cannot afford to miss.
A factor that is complicating the conclusion of the negotiations is the evolving public
response to globalization in many parts of the world. Today it is not only global income growth
that matters, it is also who shares in that growth and how. Politically, we cannot leave the
question of “who gains what?” from trade liberalisation up to market forces only.
We have to address concerns about adjustment costs, capacity constraints and supply
responses in developing countries and LDCs. Where those cannot be taken care of with national
resources or by the private sector alone, we must try to build an effective international response.
That is why Aid for Trade has such an important role to play in support of the
conclusion of the Doha negotiations, and why WTO Ministers took the initiative in Hong Kong
to mandate me and a Task Force of member governments to produce recommendations on
raising additional financial resources for Aid for Trade and making the Aid for Trade initiative
I am working closely with Paul Wolfowitz, Rodrigo de Rato and your regional
development financial institutions on Aid for Trade, and will continue to do so as the
implementation stage gains momentum under your leadership. Aid for Trade is not part of the
WTO single undertaking and will continue to move forward despite this temporary suspension of
negotiations. We consider a comprehensive Aid for Trade package as necessary in itself and a
necessary part a successful Round.
The WTO's role in Aid for Trade is predominantly one of advocacy for additional
resources and enhanced coordination both at the multilateral level and at the domestic level in
the case of beneficiary countries.
Advocacy, on the one hand, with trade and finance Ministers and their officials, to
encourage them to raise the profile of the trade and growth agenda at the domestic level, to
ensure it is appropriately incorporated in their national development programmes, and use ODA
best practices when presenting their trade-related needs for international support.
And, on the other hand, advocacy also with finance and development Ministers and
officials, to encourage them to provide a well-coordinated and generous response to requests for
additional development assistance for trade projects and programmes that is commensurate with
the needs of developing countries and LDCs, particularly once the results of the Doha Round
start to be implemented.
WTO Members will discuss the recommendations of the Aid for Trade Task Force in
mid-October. I expect their consideration of any institutional role for the WTO on Aid for Trade
to focus on monitoring, using our Trade Policy Review process for example. No direct
development assistance role is foreseen for the WTO.
I also wish to note the success we have collectively achieved in revamping the
Integrated Framework for LDCs which we consider an important milestone in our coherence and
cooperation efforts. Work is underway to operationalise the revamped IF with an executive
secretariat that will better coordinate the implementation process and also support efforts to
enhance the capacity of LDCs to benefit from the IF.
In our view, the test for our collective success in bringing more and better A4T should
not be limited to trade mainstreaming in national development plans only but to the increased
capacity of LDCs and developing countries to translate the trade opportunities that trade opening
will provide into increased trade flows of goods and services. This is the foundation of any
successful integration in the multilateral trade system.
We shall work closely with established mechanisms — at the bilateral, regional and
multilateral levels — to help us make the Aid for Trade initiative operational and successful. I
know I can continue to count on the support of my colleagues in the Bank, the Fund and the
regional development banks to do that. I am seeking also the support of you, Ministers, in this
Committee, to help bring the WTO's trade and growth agenda to a successful conclusion.