Ireland’s development co-operation programme recognises that international trade can play a major role in the promotion of economic development and the alleviation of poverty. The World Trade Organisation-led Aid for Trade initiative seeks to mobilise resources to address the trade-related constraints identified by developing and least developed countries.
Aid for Trade programmes are designed to help developing countries to improve their competitiveness, expand and diversify their trade, attract foreign direct investment, create employment, and ensure women, youth and small and medium-size enterprises have opportunities to engage in trade. There is evidence that every €1 invested in aid for trade creates €8 in extra trade for all developing countries, and €20 for least developed countries. This is particularly important in the current context, as developing countries struggle to cope with and recover from the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.
My Department continues to monitor the engagement by the EU and others on aid for trade. The biennial joint OECD-WTO ‘Aid for Trade at a Glance’ publication, last published in 2019, provides a comprehensive analysis of current trends and developments.
Ireland was represented at the 7th Global Review of Aid for Trade which was held in July 2019 in Geneva. This Review demonstrated a continued need for and commitment to the WTO’s Aid for Trade initiative at a time of growing global trade tensions and uncertainty. The theme ‘Supporting Economic Diversification and Empowerment’ led to special consideration of the digital divide, sustainable approaches and women’s and youth economic empowerment.
The EU adopted an updated EU Aid for Trade Strategy, Achieving Prosperity through Trade and Investment, in December 2017 and Ireland participates in the ongoing implementation and monitoring of this. The third EU Aid for Trade Progress Report was published earlier this year.
I am pleased that since 2000, Ireland has provided support for a number of international organisations involved in Aid for Trade initiatives. These include technical assistance programmes of the WTO; the International Trade Centre (ITC); the Advisory Centre for WTO Law; and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Port Management Programme. Our funding to these organisations amounted to €1.8m in 2020. In addition, support is provided for a number of private sector initiatives across the countries that we engage in through our development cooperation programme, for example the African Agri-Food Development Programme.