Workshop on Aid for Trade and the Doha Agenda: Implications for Southern Africa, 23-24 August 2006
On 23 to 24 August 2006, the South African National Treasury, the Commonwealth Secretariat (Comsec) and the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA) organized a workshop on Aid for Trade. The aim was to bring all stakeholders to share and exchange ideas on how Aid for Trade can work for developing and least developed countries (LDCs) putting special focus on implications for Southern Africa.
Experts were drawn from international financial institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund; Ambassadors representing their countries at the WTO; senior government officials of southern African Ministries of Trade and/or Finance; as well as civil society and the private sector.
All stakeholders made reference to the recommendations of the Task Force on Aid for Trade to the General Council of the WTO. The general mood that filtered from the discussions was that trade liberalization alone was not sufficient to stimulate growth and development in developing countries and LDCs. Aid for Trade is not a new concept but one that has evolved and has an important role to enable developing countries, particularly LDCs, to use trade more effectively in promoting growth, development and poverty reduction. Building supply-side capacity and trade-related infrastructure is the key to facilitate access to markets and to increase exports.
In order for Aid for Trade to be effective, stakeholders were encouraged to adopt country-specific approaches related to their needs assessment. A call for governments to ‘mainstream’ trade into their development strategies was accentuated. The Enhanced Integrated Framework for LDCs and the national strategies for developing countries will form an essential foundation for strengthening the demand-side of Aid for Trade. The importance of identifying regional needs also came under the spotlight with suggestions of ensuring that regional integration organisations play a role on assisting countries to identify such needs.