SPEECHES — DG ROBERTO AZEVÊDO
Remarks by DG Azevêdo at high-level lunch discussion
Ladies and gentlemen,
Unfortunately I can't be here for long – it is the nature of the Aid for Trade week that we seem to have 20 things happening at any one moment! But I wanted to make sure that I joined you today to underline how important the EIF is for our Aid for Trade work – and for the WTO as a whole.
The EIF helps LDCs to develop the tools, skills and capacity they need to trade. If we get this right, it means supporting these countries to reap the benefits of trade and improve the lives of their citizens.
Two years ago we launched the second phase of the EIF here at the WTO, during the last Global Review of Aid for Trade.
Today's event is all about the implementation of this work – and the results achieved so far. I am pleased that some of the beneficiary countries are here to share their perspectives.
Your voices are vital in informing how we take all of this forward. So let me bid a special welcome to all of you. Thank you for being here this week.
51 countries have benefitted from EIF support since the initiative was created.
In 2016 alone the EIF supported 189 micro, small and medium-sized enterprises to improve production and create new jobs producing a range of goods – from spices, mangoes and honey, to textiles and many other areas.
This is very welcome. But it does not mean that the work is done. Rather, it is a reminder of how important this work is – and how much more focus it deserves.
We all know that there is still a long, long, long way to go to fully integrate the LDCs into the global trading system.
Even though the LDCs account for more than 13 per cent of the world's population, their share of world trade is still below 1 per cent. We have to do more.
Working across the board, we can ensure that trade becomes an even more powerful tool for LDCs to leverage growth, development and job creation. This is essential to creating a truly inclusive trading system – and to achieving the new Sustainable Development Goals.
Of course, none of this can be done without a proper focus on capacity building. This work is more and more central to everything we do at the WTO. I have been working to increase its prominence over the last four years as Director-General – and I will continue to do so over the next four.
So, looking ahead, I want to leave you with three points.
First, I believe that the work of the EIF can continue to be as important as ever for the LDCs. But this requires engagement from all of us.
Second, we must work harder to show results and demonstrate that this work is delivering. This is how we will keep strengthening these efforts over time. So I ask you to stay engaged in the EIF's work – tell us where it is effective and what it can do better. And, if you also believe in this programme like I do, I ask you to raise your voices as advocates for the EIF.
And this leads me to my third point.
If we want the EIF to continue carrying out this important work in the future, we have to ensure that it has the necessary support.
I will be hosting a Replenishment Conference in the second half of 2018 with a view to mobilizing additional resources for Phase Two.
To those of you who are thinking of contributing to the EIF, I urge you to stay engaged as the work develops.
To those who have already contributed, I would like to thank you for your kind generosity. And, in particular, I would like to thank the European Union and Commissioner Mimica for the generous donation that will be formalised here in just a moment's time, which follows up on their pledge made at our Ministerial Conference in Nairobi.
Working together, we can ensure that more LDCs benefit from global trade, and that the global trading system is truly working for the common good.
Thank you. Enjoy the lunch – and the rest of the Global Review.