Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Connectivity and inclusiveness highlighted at opening of Aid for Trade global review

Continued support is needed to improve connectivity, lower trading costs and increase women’s participation in trade, particularly in developing and least developed countries (LDCs), speakers at the opening plenary session of the Aid for Trade (AfT) Global Review 2017 said.
Providing the support will ensure trade contributes further to alleviating poverty and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the speakers said, on the occasion.
"Many factors inhibit connectivity and inclusiveness, whether it’s poor infrastructure, high trading costs, or gender discrimination," WTO director-general Roberto Azevêdo said at the opening of the three-day event. "And they all act as major constraints on sustainable development," he said, adding that work to bring down these barriers can go a long way to connect more people and improve more lives.
The biennial Global Review provides a platform for high-level discussions on the Aid for Trade initiative, which aims to build the trading capacity of developing countries and LDCs. This year’s Global Review is dedicated to the theme of 'Promoting Trade, Inclusiveness and Connectivity for Sustainable Development'.
According to DG Azevêdo, the right infrastructure must be in place to activate trade’s ability to deliver sustainable development. This includes the physical infrastructure of essential roads and ports, the soft infrastructure of rules, institutions and skills that help players take part in trade, and the digital infrastructure to connect people to the global marketplace at lower costs.
"The Trade Facilitation Agreement," he added, "is also a tool that helps cut trade costs, with developing countries and LDCs to benefit most. We need to make a difference in all of these areas – and this is why Aid for Trade is so important."
Since the Aid for Trade initiative was launched, almost $300 billion has been disbursed for Aid-for-Trade support in 146 developing countries and LDCs, DG Azevêdo said, pointing to data in the WTO-OECD publication titled 'Aid for Trade at a Glance 2017', which was launched at the opening session. "A huge body of research, including some 500 case stories, illustrate further the difference Aid for Trade has made," DG Azevêdo added.
Likewise, UNCTAD secretary-general, Mukhisa Kituyi highlighted the constraints faced by developing countries and LDCs in participating in trade, particularly online. "At a time when global commerce is going electronic, if you are not visible, you are not existent," Kituyi said.
Aside from digital connectivity, physical connectivity remains an important factor for trade, secretary-general of the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Angel Gurría said, adding that trade facilitation and the offline infrastructure for trade - roads, ports, and bridges - are ever more important in the digital world.
"Aid for Trade is central in ensuring benefits from cross-border trade reach women, small firms, entrepreneurs, farmers, everyone everywhere,” senior director of the World Bank Trade and Competitiveness Global Practice Anabel Gonzalez said, adding that Aid for Trade initiatives work best when they are done in a coordinated manner in partnership with all stakeholders.

No comments: