EU Aid for Trade
Increased participation in world trade has the potential to be an engine for growth and poverty reduction in Least Developed Countries and developing countries by generating revenues and employment, lowering prices on essential goods, and promoting technology transfer and increased productivity. Market opening and strengthened international trade rules provide new opportunities, but are not on their own sufficient to generate trade, especially in the poorest countries. Many countries face domestic constraints such as a lack of productive capacity, excessive red tape and inability to meet standards in high value export markets - all of which impact negatively on the competitiveness of developing country exports and undermine the potential benefits of increased imports.
Trade-related development assistance- known as Aid for Trade (AfT) - targets these “supply-side” constraints. It can include help in building new infrastructure, improving ports or customs facilities and assistance in helping factories meet European health and safety standards for imports. It also strengthens countries’ capacity to negotiate and implement trade agreements to reap the most benefit from increasing trading opportunities.
A strong EU commitment to Aid for Trade
The EU is the leading global advocate and the world's biggest source of aid for trade. The EU and EU Member States adopted a joint Aid for Trade Strategy on 15 October 2007 that aims at supporting all developing countries, particularly the Least Developed Countries, to better integrate into the world trading system and to use trade more effectively in promoting the overarching objective of eradicating poverty in the context of sustainable development. The strategy embraces the full AfT agenda, as identified by the 2006 WTO AfT Taskforce (Box 1).
The combined annual Aid for Trade from the EU budget and those of the EU Member States
reached €10.5 billion in 2009 (of which €3.3 billion from the EU budget), maintaining the all-time high registered the year before. A substantial increase was reported for the subset of EU Trade Related Assistance, for which the collective amount was nearly €3 billion, well above the target the EU had set for itself at the Hong Kong WTO Ministerial to spend (as from 2010) € 2 billion per year on Trade Related Assistance. The European Commission has put together a collection of case stories to illustrate the kind of activities supported by the EU budget.
As part of the EU joint Aid for Trade Strategy, the European Commission produces an annual monitoring report on EU Aid for Trade, in order to assess progress in implementing the commitments taken on by the EU and its Member States as regards sustaining high volume and increasing results and effectiveness. The monitoring report on AfT for 2011 demonstrates that both the EU and the Member States are substantially advancing in implementing the EU AfT Strategy. The results point to a strengthening of EU engagement in AfT, both in terms of volume commitments as well as on enhancing the impact of AfT delivery on the ground.
The Enhanced Integrated Framework for the LDCs
The EU is a strong supporter and active participant to the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF), a multi-donor programme housed in the WTO Secretariat supporting LDCs to be more active players in the global trading system by helping them tackle supply-side constraints to trade. The programme is currently helping 47 LDCs worldwide, supported by a multi-donor trust fund, the EIF Trust Fund, with contributions from 23 donors including the EU and several EU Member States. The European Commission has pledged €10million to EIF Trust Fund and provides support on the ground by taking the role of a 'facilitator' in several Least Developed Countries (read more about the EIF)
EU Aid for Trade in practice
Aid for Trade is a part of overall EU Official Development Assistance, and financed via the EU development instruments under the regular EU budget, as well as via the European Development Fund (EDF). The Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) region is among the main beneficiaries of EU Aid for Trade (see more information about Aid for Trade programme for the benefit of the ACP). Of particular relevance in the context of the WTO negotiations, the ACP benefit from a specific EU-financed programme to enhance their capacity to participate in the multilateral trading system.
While EU development assistance is funded from different instruments and budget chapters (see box 2), broadly similar principles and procedures apply to turn a financial allocation into a development programme on the ground. Notably, EU assistance including Aid for Trade, is distributed through multi-annual country and regional strategies and programmes jointly prepared by the European External Action Service, EuropeAid and partner countries or regions. This results in an agreed country and regional strategy papers, which includes a multi-annual national/regional indicative programs highlighting a limited number of focal areas for funding, of which Aid for Trade could be one.
These response strategies are defined in line with EU development policy priorities – as outlined in the European Consensus on Development and other documents – such as alleviating poverty, promoting sustainable development, increasing aid effectiveness and achieving the UN’s Millennium Development Goals. Every effort is also made to ensure that the strategies are coherent with other relevant EU policy areas, including in the area of trade. The EU also supports our partner countries in achieving better coherence between their trade and development policies. In that regard we wish to see, more as a rule, trade policy becoming an integral part of partner countries' development strategies.
The EU is also committed to the principle of ‘ownership’, i.e. that partner countries are in the lead in the process of developing the cooperation strategies and programmes which benefit them. In that respect, the EU acknowledges not only the responsibility of the government but also the essential oversight role of democratically-elected representatives, as well as the active participation of civil society representatives in the policy dialogue phase on programming.
The WTO Aid for Trade Initiative and its AfT categories
Trade-Related Assistance (TRA)
Wider Aid for Trade agenda: TRA plus further categories:
EU Official Development Aid instruments and allocations (including to Aid for Trade) over the current programming period (2007/08-2013)