From theory to practice: Using what we already have

Reflecting on the third Brussels Briefing, Ambassador Patrick Gomes (Guyana) focused his intervention around four main points.

To avoid repeating the same things over and over again, he argued that we need to clearly define the bottom line of the debate on Aid for Trade, looking at its context and purpose. These find their reason in the MDGs, and agriculture is a key element in order to achieve them.

Ambassador Gomes suggested that while the definitional issues need to be addressed for greater “clarity of meaning and purpose”, lessons from “best practices” or the monitoring procedures so far undertaken can be ‘packaged’ and disseminated to enhance productivity and competitiveness of enterprises across ACP countries. When talking about infrastructure, for example, it is important to consider this in a broader dimension, comprising also elements such as water and irrigation, or non-physical infrastructures, such as organizational capacities in farmers’ associations.

In terms of resources, again, his perspective differed from Glenys Kinnock’s call for additional funding. The key question he asked is “are we using what we have now? Are we overcoming inefficiencies in aid delivery?” In other words, it is not just a matter of more money. The key issue is to “use what is there for more precise objectives, with less regulations and confusion.” In that regard, the support to bananas is interesting; only 16% of the Aid for Trade funds could actually be absorbed by recipient countries.

Lastly, he reminded participants that the erosion of trade preference must be addressed. This calls for “compensations, assistance and adjustments.”

Links:

Summary of presentation (doc format)

See more from the 5 December briefing

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