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    Aid for Trade: Investing in People

     

     
     
    International Trade Forum - Issue 2/2009

    The Second Global Aid for Trade Review hosted by the WTO in early July revealed areas of consensus on the way forward. One after the other, heads of international organizations called for moving on to the implementation phase, resisting protectionism, more trade finance, a stronger role for the private sector and completing the Doha round. Strengthening the regional dimension of Aid for Trade, encouraging country ownership and better impact evaluation were also high on the agenda. "If Aid for Trade was urgent in 2007, it is essential today - it is the investment that will allow many developing countries prepare to exit the crisis by enhancing their trade capacity," stated WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy at the event.

    We believe in the importance of Aid for Trade in creating positive change within countries. It is our responsibility to translate the broader trade imperatives into reality for the private sector on the ground and to ensure that this brings benefits to those who need them most.

    ITC is 100% Aid for Trade. Of the five building blocks on which Aid for Trade is built - trade policy and regulations, trade development, building productive capacity, trade-related adjustment and trade-related infrastructure - ITC plays a specific role in the first three.

    The current economic crisis is focusing governments' minds on the trade and development policy options that can deliver most to their economies. Aid for Trade is complex in itself and, with the added complexity caused by the crisis, there is an important role for us in making sure that the issues (and the opportunities) are well understood in developing countries and donor communities. Especially in the business community.

    ITC strongly encourages private sector involvement in Aid for Trade, looking to involve them in three ways. Firstly as beneficiaries: the ability of private businesses to take better advantage of the global trading system and expand in a sustainable way must be the main outcome of this initiative. Secondly as partners: through active involvement of chambers of commerce, financial institutions including development banks, foundations and business sector associations, whose input is critical in making aid more effective or in reducing risk . And finally, as facilitators of market access, since large global companies have an important role to play in integrating small producers into global supply chains.

    While "hard" infrastructure is indispensable for enabling trade, it is the "soft" infrastructure that makes enterprises competitive. Investing in people is key - business people need well-informed, market-savvy trade support networks if they are to take advantage of export opportunities and adjust to a changing world.

    In this issue of our magazine, we explore the broader policy views through leading international commentators, but also look to balance this with the stories of individuals and businesses that are succeeding, despite changes in the global economy. These are the stories that inspire all of us and provide a real-life blueprint for what can be achieved through trade to benefit communities in developing countries.

    ITC continues to advocate for business in the world of Aid for Trade. We believe that public-private dialogue is even more critical in making sure that decisions are made collectively, backed by both the right information and a keen awareness of what makes a difference on the ground.

    We want to support decision-making at this time when such difficult choices need to be made.