Building Consensus

…bringing together stakeholders to raise awareness, build consensus, and increase the development orientation in technical assistance and capacity building on trade and investment

Aid for Trade and Development: Moving Towards Implementation  

Oxford, UK
April 11, 2008

A 2008 roadmap for the Aid for Trade initiative, as proposed by the WTO’s Director General, was recently approved by the WTO General Council. In it, the DG identified three priorities: strengthening developing country ownership, moving on implementation and improving the framework and capacity for monitoring.  As such, these three topics are likely to guide work on AFT in the coming 12 months.

On monitoring, the OECD has taken the lead at the global level, with complimentary work needed to develop a basket of indicators that would enable an assessment of impact.  Similarly, the operationalization and implementation of AFT now requires the preparation and refinement of national and sub-regional AFT strategies.  To help ensure ownership, these should be supported by wide-spread stakeholder consultations, especially with the private sector and other non-state actors.  Such a process should build on those initiated in the lead-up to the 2007 Regional AFT Reviews, wherein many developing countries and regions began preparing such sub-regional plans.  What seems clear at this point is that a great deal of effort at the international and domestic level is still required to properly empower beneficiary countries and regions to actively and directly participate and guide this work.

An important complimentary process is the launching of a second phase of the seminal Global Trade and Financial Architecture (GTFA) project, which helped in large part to provide the intellectual underpinnings and broad-based international support needed to advance AFT in its infancy.  Supported by the UK Department for International Development (DFID), the project aims to identify priorities of joint policy action (international cooperation) to support the process of globalisation by enhancing its inclusiveness and sustainability. One of the main themes of GTFA-II is operationalising trade and sustainable development, taking better account of the distributional and equity effects of globalization and looking towards the use of appropriate instruments to facilitate adjustment.  In this sense, the work differs from the previous phase by focusing more explicitly on actual policy formulation and implementation.

In terms of moving towards AFT implementation, one institutional framework under consideration – at least for LDCs – is the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF).  There is still a vacuum with respect to concerns of non-LDCs as well as cross-country and regional needs.  Addressing such challenges is to be a key focus of GTFA-II, as per DFID’s announcement during the November 2007 Global AFT Review of its intention to spearhead the development an EIF-equivalent process for non-LDCs and for tackling regional aid for trade issues.  Similarly, numerous other donors are advancing their work towards the preparation of AFT strategies and attempting to grapple with the myriad of challenges involved with moving towards implementation.

To respond to some of these challenges and concerns, the Oxford meeting has been convened with three objectives in mind:

  • Developing country/region representatives will share their experiences with the preparation of their AFT plans;
  • Specific actions to advance the work on AFT networks and developing monitoring and impact assessment capacity will be explored; and
  • Providers of AFT resources will exchange views on their respective strategies, in particular with respect to implementation mechanisms for non-LDCs and regional programmes

Participants List

Meeting Report