Helen Clark: Remarks at the Third Global Review of Aid for Trade

18 Jul 2011

Session Two: consolidating recovery, simulating growth
Geneva, 18 July 2011, 9:45am


I am pleased to participate on behalf of UNDP in this Third Global Review of Aid for Trade, as UNDP attaches considerable importance to this agenda.

The joint OECD-WTO report, “Aid for Trade at a Glance: 2011”, suggests that aid for trade is becoming more central to development strategies.

Developing countries are certainly seeking to strengthen their competitiveness, advance regional integration,and diversify their exports. The Aid for Trade initiative is highly relevant in advancing these aspirations.

At UNDP we see the potential of trade to expand opportunities for local entrepreneurs, generate employment, deepen local skills, and grow both economies and the domestic revenue needed to sustain development progress.

UNDP´s central interest is in seeing trade harnessed as a vehicle for achieving sustainable human development.

Clearly, more countries and more people need to be able to benefit from trade. The least developed countries’ share of world merchandise trade, for example, remainedat just under one per cent of the total in 2009.

We see Aid for Trade as critically important in building the capacities of LDCs to trade, and we work within the Enhanced Integrated Framework to advance those capacities – including in a number of Pacific Island countries, Comoros, Bhutan, and the Central African Republic.

As a result of this work in Comoros, its trade ministry was able to identify opportunities in the country´s tourism, fisheries, and agriculture sectors,and improve the management of its main port – all highly conducive to improving its trade prospects.

To take Aid for Trade to a new level, concerted efforts need to be made to mainstream trade in national development strategies, so that it is seen as a key contributor to development progress.

This Third Global Review points to progress on mainstreaming, but more is needed to ensure that trade strategies are translated into operational action plans and get budget allocations to back them. To support this work, UNDP and the Enhanced Integrated Framework Secretariat, will release later today “A Practical Guide to Mainstreaming Trade’, aimed at making the best use of trade as a development instrument.

For trade and the growth it generates to drive achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and other internationally agreed goals, the benefits must reach more people. In general, many women and minorities who experience marginalization are less likely to benefit without changes in policy and practice. The Aid for Trade Review recognizes the efforts UNDP has been making in Africa to target support to women entrepreneurs engaged in cross-border trade, and we look forward to working with Aid for Trade partners to do more work in this area.

UNDP is committed to helpingt ake the Enhanced Integrated Framework forward.Measures need to be taken to improve both knowledge sharing and delivery, including by connecting partners within virtual communities and networks. We also suggest exploring in future discussions how we can ensure the sustainability of national implementation arrangements.

The demand for aid for trade is great, but tight fiscal circumstances among many traditional donors mean that growth rates in aid for trade flows of recent years are unlikely to be sustained.

In this constrained environment it becomes more important than ever to demonstrate results from development investments.

The OECD/WTO review affirms the importance of that, but also shows that doing so is not a simple exercise.

Capacity building in particular takes time, and causality between the investment in it and poverty reduction, and other development outcomes, may not be easy to show.

Setting expectations of outcomes and measuring and reporting results against them are among the challenges which every development actor faces. I believe thatwe are all seeking to implement best practice in this area, as each of us wants to demonstrate the value of our work to stakeholders and partners.

Going forward, South-South co-operation in the trade field is being scaled up, and holds great potential.

So does regional integration. UNDP launched a publication on its potential for LDCs in Africa at the Fourth UN Conference for LDCs in May. To this end, UNDP is pleased to be supporting the efforts of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa and of the East African Community Secretariats, to build their policy analysis capacities and service to their member states.

In conclusion, we agree with the Third Global Review that the assessment of the Aid for Trade Initiative to date can be deemed to be broadly positive.

The test before us is to ensure that Aid for Trade works to generate inclusive growth and achieve sustainable human development, and that we can demonstrate how the investment made in it contribute to that.