November 14, 2023
The Gambia presented its new “Green Recovery-Focused National Development Plan” for 2023-2027, which aims to accelerate green and social developments to promote economic growth and resilience to future crises.
Bhutan presented its National Export Strategy, which seeks to address constraints to exports. Bhutan is an observer government currently negotiating its accession to the WTO and poised next month to graduate from LDC status.
Members praised the Gambia and Bhutan for integrating trade into their national strategies, welcomed the support provided by the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF) to develop these strategies, and emphasized their own assistance to enhance both countries’ participation in trade.
Reports by international financial institutions
Four international financial institutions updated the Committee on current projects. The African Development Bank said that USD 1.5 billion has been disbursed under the “African Emergency Food Production Facility” to boost production of cereals and grains in Africa, thus contributing to promoting food security.
Summarizing the results of the 2023 “Trade Finance Gaps, Growth and Jobs Survey”, the Asian Development Bank noted that access to adequate financing, logistics and digital technology tools are essential to strengthen the resilience of supply chains.
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development highlighted current projects relating to food security, trade facilitation and digitalization. Since the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, over EUR 766 million has been allocated in support of imports of agricultural machinery and fertilisers, among other crucial goods, it said.
Presenting its 2023 co-publication with the WTO titled “Trade in Services for Development”, the World Bank stressed that services trade remains the most dynamic component of world trade, accounting for 50 per cent of the world’s workforce in 2021. Digitally delivered services have grown at the fastest pace, well ahead of the growth of trade in goods. Services trade represents an opportunity for developing economies to improve their development prospects, it said. More information can be found here.
Aid for Trade activities
China underscored the financial support it provides to over 50 countries in infrastructure capacity-building and shared insights from the Dialogue on Plastics Pollution happening among a number of WTO members. Vanuatu emphasized the need for Aid-for-Trade stakeholders to take into consideration the unique challenges faced by small Pacific islands due to climate change and global economic pressures.
The United Nations Conference on Trade and DevelopmentUNCTAD) noted that a record USD 54.5 million in technical cooperation assistance was provided in 2022 for initiatives such as the “E-Trade Readiness assessments”, the “Trade, Gender and Development Programme” and the “Bio-Trade Initiative”.
The United Nations Industrial Development Organization noted that GBP 65 million has been allocated through its “Accelerate-to-Demonstrate” Facility to accelerate the commercialization of clean energy technologies in developing economies.
WTO members’ trade policy reviews
With regards to members’ recent trade policy reviews, Jordan reported that its Trade Facilitation Portal is providing traders with access to procedures for improving compliance and alignment with WTO rules. Fiji noted that its 2021 Investment Act has led to the elimination of registration and screening requirements that restricted foreign investment flows.
The European Union said it has mobilized EUR 300 billion of investments for the period 2021-2027 through the Global Gateway initiative, a new strategy to bridge differences in terms of investments across the world. Cameroon, Chad and Congo highlighted the heavy toll that the COVID-19 pandemic has taken on their economies and spoke about aligning Aid for Trade support with regional objectives.
Other trade- and development-related projects
The EIF noted the recent approval of projects to support LDCs involved in a WTO accession process and to help LDCs better engage in trade negotiations in the run-up to the WTO’s 13th Ministerial Conference. The EIF also reported how it has helped LDCs to better integrate into the global trading system at a time of multiple global crises, as outlined in its 2022 Annual Report.
The Standards and Trade Development Facility announced that it will start evaluating how the environment, biodiversity and climate change objectives have been integrated in sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) capacity-building projects.
The WTO’s Trade Facilitation Assistance Facility gave an update on progress in members’ implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement. A total of 156 WTO members have ratified the Agreement, representing 95.1 per cent of the total WTO membership.
The Pacific Island Forum Secretariat discussed the Pacific Aid for Trade Strategy, which seeks to ensure that regional trade policy priorities are properly resourced. The International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation noted that USD 7.5 million has been provided to support technical assistance projects in nine countries and five regional institutions as part of Phase 2 of the Aid for Trade Initiative for the Arab States Program.
The International Trade Centre (ITC) underscored how its Market Analysis Tools Portal — a global database on trade statistics, tariff data and rules of origin — is helping small businesses to further their participation in trade, helping over 2 million users in over 200 economies expand into new markets. The Global Trade Helpdesk consolidates data from the Market Analysis Tools Portal platform to create a one-stop-shop data portal designed to simplify market research and identify new digital channels to support e-commerce.
The United States pointed to the critical role played by national enquiry point offices in SPS and technical barriers to trade (TBT) notifications transparency.
Speaking about the monitoring and evaluation exercise launched by WTO members on October 9, the WTO Secretariat noted that the deadline for submitting the questionnaires regarding developing economies’ financing needs will be extended. The monitoring and evaluation exercise will underpin the next Aid for Trade Global Review, to be held in mid-2024.
The World Trade Organization (WTO) deals with the global rules of trade between nations. Its main function is to ensure that trade flows as smoothly, predictably and freely as possible.