Sorry that it has taken me a bit of a while to get back to you on the issue of Aid for Trade. I have just been able to sit down after a busy week discussing with WTO members and Heads of International Organisations on this topic.
It was never going to be easy to bring together the huge crowd that we saw in Geneva last week for our first Aid for Trade Global Review.
Bob Zoellick, from the World Bank ; Dominique Strauss-Kahn, from the IMF ; Kemal Dervis, from UNDP ; Donald Kaberuka, from the African Development Bank ; Luis Alberto Moreno, from the Inter-American Development Bank ; and Rajat Nag, from the Asian Development Bank were all there. Luckily none of them missed their plane connections !
We also had with us Supachai Panitchpakdi of UNCTAD ; Juan Somavia, of the ILO ; Edouard Dayan, from the Universal Postal Union ; Patricia Francis, from the ITC and Abdoulie Janneh, from the UNECA. Never has the WTO seen so many heads of international organizations gather at our headquarters for a conference like this ! I guess it is a clear signal of the importance they – we – all attach to Aid for Trade.
Heads of multilateral agencies
From left to right : Luis Alberto Moreno, IADB – Edouard Dayan, UPU – Dominique Strauss-Kahn, IMF – Rajat Nag, ADB – Patricia Francis, ITC – Abdoulie Janneh, ECA – Pascal Lamy, WTO – Angel Gurría, OECD – Valentine Rugwabiza, WTO – Kemal Dervis, UNDP – Robert Zoellick, World Bank – Juan Somavia, ILO – Donald Kaberuka, AfDB
We also had ministers from many of our Member countries as well as representatives from civil society and from business.
This conference has given us the tools we need to put our plans on track. I was asked by journalists and members of civil society what was it that made this conference special. Obviously too many conferences come and go. So what is it that made this one special ?
I would say there are three new elements : first, there is consensus to move on to the phase of implementation, to chose sectoral priorities and to mainstream them into development strategies at the national and regional level. Second, we need to develop good monitoring and evaluation tools ; and thirdly, we need to ensure adequate funding.
Donors have made commitments that would lead to $8 billion in new financing for Aid-for-Trade by 2010 and bring the total support to $30 billion. Recipient countries need infrastructure, enhanced institutional capacity, better standards testing facilities and more knowledge among their officials on how to take advantage of WTO rules. Even with the enhanced financial commitments, however, there will always be resource constraints. So donors absolutely must deliver on their commitments and recipient countries will need to prioritize. Roads, telecoms networks, ports, testing laboratories, training programmes – all are essential but it will not be possible for every country to have everything it wants.
Clearly a lot of work ahead of us in 2008.
At the Conference we also heard a lot of voices in support of the Doha Round. At the end of the day the Doha Round is the WTO’s core business ! Bob and Angel made vibrant interventions as did Garteh Thomas from the UK and the Finish Trade Minister Paavo Väyrynen. Aid for Trade is separate from the Doha negotiations but it is clear that the trade opportunities stemming from Doha will need Aid for Trade to be translated into realities.
The next three months will be crucial for the Doha Round which we all hope can be concluded before the end of 2008. I will keep you posted ; Stay tuned.
Copyright image : Eric Piermont, AFP