The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) on Monday in Geneva at the ongoing Global Review of Aid for Trade ceremony signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the World Trade Organization (WTO) to enhance Trade-Related Technical Assistance(TRTA) and capacity building for African countries.
This is contained a statement made available to PANA in Lagos jointly signed by the heads of the two organizations, the Director-General of WTO, Mr. Pascal Lamy and ECA Executive Secretary, Mr. Carlos Lopes.
The two parties underscored the importance of leveraging their comparative advantage in implementing the joint Agreement.
“Building capacity to trade is a ‘must’ step for Africa to more effectively participate in the global economy. ECA is uniquely placed to partner with the WTO in ensuring a more effective Aid for Trade for Africa”, the WTO Director-General was quoted as saying.
The two organizations agreed to manage a Trade-Related Technical Assistance (TRTA) programme for selected participants from African countries on a cost-sharing basis.
They also agreed that the technical assistance to be provided to Regional Economic Communities (RECs) shall be determined jointly by the Parties in consultation with relevant RECs, taking account of the priority needs of countries in specific regions of Africa, the Doha Development Agenda and its expected outcomes.
On his part the Executive Secretary of the ECA, Mr. Lopes, said that the evolving needs of African Countries for trade-related technical assistance and capacity-building required concerted efforts.
“Through this understanding, ECA and the WTO reaffirm their commitment to assist African countries in enhancing their participation in the multilateral trading system and their full participation in the Doha Development Agenda negotiations as reflected in the Doha Ministerial Declaration,” he added.
With regard to the global work programme on Aid for Trade, the two Institutions agreed to jointly focus on the monitoring and evaluation of the impact of Aid for Trade in Africa.
Although the regional economic communities are currently promoting closer integration in line with the African Union decision on “boosting intra-African trade” with the aim to move to a continental free trade area (CFTA) by 2017, there is a need to enhance their capacities to achieve this.
To enable African countries to effectively harness the opportunities that trade creates for growth, employment and poverty reduction there is a need to enhance the existing level of human and institutional capacity to enable the formulation and implementation of trade policies.
The statement said there was also the need to better mainstream trade in the national and regional development policies and strategies of African countries and assist them to improve their trade performance by strengthening their participation in global as well as regional trade.
Coupled with this, there has been a resurgence of interest in regional integration as a means to improve the competitiveness of African economies and integrate them into the multilateral trading system.
The agreement stipulates a number of core areas of support, including training workshops on trade policy at regional and sub-regional levels to devise or improve the processes for developing and implementing trade strategy and trade policy frameworks conducive to economic growth and poverty reduction.
The two institutions will also provide tailor-made technical assistance support to African countries, upon request, to support the formulation and follow up implementation of development-oriented trade policy and trade-related capacity-building