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Aid for Trade meeting to discuss plan to boost intra-Africa trade

The Fourth Global Review of Aid for Trade is due to be held from 8-10 July 2013 in Geneva, Switzerland, bringing together key stakeholders worldwide, to monitor and discuss Aid for Trade (AfT) practices from the perspective of joining and adding value within the network of production chains, the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) said here Friday.

In addition, the meeting will debate the development benefits of participation to global and regional value chains, notably in the context of the African Union (AU) Action Plan to boost intra-African trade, and of the ongoing deliberations about the post-2015 development agenda.

“As Africa represents the second largest recipient of Aid for Trade and has attached paramount importance to its transformation agenda, a lot is at stake for the continent,” the UNECA said.

In preparation for the meeting, UNECA, in collaboration with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the AU Commission (AUC), has conducted a survey on how Aid for Trade can best contribute to boost intra-African trade.

The survey targeted member states, regional economic communities as well as donors, and aimed at supporting the AU Action Plan on boosting intra-Africa trade.

According to UNECA, responses to questionnaires have highlighted the long-standing need to step up trade facilitation efforts, radically improve infrastructural provision, and accelerate the development of Africa’s productive capacities, all of which represent key national and regional priorities.

In addition, the survey revealed the critical role of clearly defined regional integration strategies and associated policy priorities, as tools to enhance the development impact of Aid for Trade.

Respondents also emphasised the importance of ensuring political will at all levels, establishing appropriate oversight mechanisms, and enhancing institutional capacities to address the difficulties encountered in developing bankable Aid for Trade projects.

The survey report, which also contains an updated analysis of Aid for Trade flows to the region, will be discussed at the Fourth Global Review, and will inform the debate on how the aid initiative can be best harnessed to help African producers connecting and moving up regional and global value chains.

Meanwhile, ECA is leading the Development Account (DA) Project, made up of five UN regional commissions, to strengthen the capacity of selected developing countries to formulate bankable Aid for Trade interventions and strengthen the associated monitoring and evaluation systems.

Each regional economic commission (UNECA, ECLAC, ESCWA, ESCAP, and ECE) is pursuing these aims at a regional level through a regional workshop, an expert group meeting and technical capacity activities. It is expected that an inter-regional forum will take place to share experiences and lessons learnt.

In the African region, the DA project focuses on supporting the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) by improving the capacities of African countries to tap into Aid for Trade resources, thereby contributing to covering infrastructural financing gaps.

UNECA selected five out of the 51 PIDA priority projects to serve as pioneers, and will work closely with concerned stakeholders to enhance their capacity in managing trade infrastructure projects, and mobilising resources through Aid for Trade.

The African Institute for Economic Development and Planning and the African Trade Policy Centre will jointly lead and conduct a follow-up training workshop for selected PIDA project focal points from 25-27 June, 2013, in Lusaka, Zambia


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