DEVELOPMENT: AID FOR TRADE
The Director-General of the WTO announced the composition of the Task Force at the General Council meeting of 7 February 2006; the Task Force was chaired by Ambassador Mia Horn af Rantzien of Sweden. Charged with operationalizing Aid-For-Trade, the task force submitted its recommendations to the General Council on 27-28 July 2006.
In general, the recommendations consider that Aid for Trade should aim at strengthening needs identification at the country level, donor response and the bridge between donor response and needs. Included in its recommendations is the establishment of a monitoring body in the WTO which would undertake a periodic global review based on reports from a variety of stakeholders. The report concludes with a series of further steps to be taken to make its recommendations operational as soon as possible and suggests that the Director-General establish an “ad hoc” consultative group to follow up on the Task Force's recommendations.
At the General Council on October 10, the Council took note of the report of the Task Force (WT/AFT/1), endorsed the recommendations contained therein, and agreed to the specific next steps outlined in Section H of the report, in order to ensure coherent and effective follow-up to the report and its recommendations. The Task Force Chair made a statement highlighting, inter alia, the wide consensus on the main issues. Delegations, in welcoming the report as an important first step, highlighted, inter alia, the critical importance of moving expeditiously to operationalize aid for trade; that although it would help countries adapt to and benefit from the present opportunities in the trading system, it was not a substitute for the development benefits that would flow from a successful Doha Round, which would itself give rise to new AFT needs that would have to be addressed; the need for coherence, and strong monitoring and evaluation of implementation; the need for additional, adequate, predictable, sustainable and effective financing, which should be made available without conditionality and in grant form to LDCs and IDA-only countries. The Council also heard a statement from small low-income countries-in-transition of their need to be treated as beneficiaries under this endeavour. The Director-General, providing an update on his task of exploring mechanisms to secure additional financial resources for AFT, said he would report to the next Council on implementation of the follow-up to the Task Force's report.
back to top
At the year-end General Council (14 December, 2006) the Director-General reported on progress in implementing the Aid for Trade agenda. He noted that the WTO had a catalytic role to play ensuring that relevant agencies and organizations understood the trade needs of WTO Members and encouraging them to work together more effectively to address these needs, in line with the Coherence mandate. On his consultations regarding additional financing, the key donors had confirmed that they remained committed to following through with their Hong Kong pledges. Other donors, both developed and developing, had signalled their willingness to be part of this process. Turning to the issue of monitoring and evaluation, he had circulated a concept paper which laid out multiple forms of monitoring, at the global and country level; assessing global flows; progress reports from agencies and organizations and in-country assessments. For the latter, national Aid-for-Trade Committees (where needed) were envisaged. He emphasized that the monitoring needed to focus on what the money would achieve. Furthermore, a general assessment of Aid for Trade would be included in future Trade Policy Reviews and the first periodic review as well as a debate in the General Council would take place in the autumn of 2007. An ad hoc consultative group, comprising a network of donors, recipients and private sector representatives would serve as a resource and sounding board in preparing periodic reviews.