Debating Aid for Trade: Key issues and challenges

In his conclusions on the topics covered in the third Brussels Briefing, Cornelius Mwalwanda of the UNECA indicated that Mrs Kinnock had set the tone of the discussions.

ACP countries, and Africa in particular, need Aid for Trade. This is clearly related to the trade reforms these countries are undergoing. The economic shocks the EPAs will produce need to be compensated somehow. Moreover, as each country has its own individual priorities, and these are often different from those of the donor community, the AFT agenda needs to integrate the two.

This presents different challenges. Mwalwanda argued that the most important is to move “from goodwill to action.” But this can only be done if additional resources are made available for developing countries, and if donors better coordinate their actions. Furthermore, the issue of ownership is essential. Developing countries need to see their own priorities in the Aid for Trade agenda.

Lastly, the discussion again revealed the importance and the key role or regional organizations and regional markets for developing countries to benefit from opening up their economies.

From a European perspective, Kathleen Van Hove of ECDPM welcomed the amount of information shared and the different perspectives and ideas that fed into the briefing session. She reminded us that trade policy is only one of the many instruments to achieve economic reform and poverty reduction. If we focus on trade, the most important thing to address is to make sure that each country defines its own reform agenda. However, there is no doubt that support is needed to benefit from integration in the global economy.

She felt that the discussion showed the need for experts to keep on working on elements such as definitions. But, the most important thing now is indeed action. This has to come from both sides, from the donor community as well as from recipient countries, and has to be inspired by some “innovative thinking.” We have to find what can catalyze change and strongly invest on it, especially by looking at the many lessons from past efforts.

See more from the 5 December briefing

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