Secretary-General Says Aid for Trade, at Time of Profound Uncertainty, Growing Need, Is Promising, Possibly Life-Changing Initiative

6 July 2009

Secretary-General Says Aid for Trade, at Time of Profound Uncertainty, Growing Need, Is Promising, Possibly Life-Changing Initiative

6 July 2009
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York





Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks at the World Trade Organization Second Global Review on Aid for Trade, in Geneva on 6 July:

It is a great pleasure to join you for this important gathering on the Aid for Trade Initiative.

This review comes at a critical moment for trade and development.

The global financial and economic crisis has had a severe impact on demand.  It is now widely predicted that global trade will decline by 10 per cent this year.  Unless the direction of the crisis is reversed soon, it will further unravel the progress that developing countries have made over the past two decades in reducing poverty.

Trade has long had tremendous potential as an engine of sustained economic growth and development.  Today, trade can and must be part of our efforts to stimulate a recovery.

That is why last month’s United Nations Conference on the World Financial and Economic Crisis and Its Impact on Development urged countries to meet existing pledges on aid for trade.

And that is why the United Nations has repeatedly stressed Aid for Trade as a crucial component in improving trade competitiveness of developing country producers and exporters.

Trade openness alone is not sufficient.  Countries must first have a competitive production base in order to export.  They must have the necessary infrastructure and legal and policy frameworks.  Knowledge also plays a key role in enabling countries to take advantage of international rules and opportunities.

With these steps, as well as reforms in the global trading regime, trade can achieve a great deal.

The Aid for Trade Initiative has made good progress in the three years since its launch.  The April G-20 Summit pledge of $250 billion for trade financing could lead to a significant increase in the $25 billion that Aid for Trade received in 2007.

I am also pleased that a number of donor countries and agencies are steering aid towards policies and strategies that will bring practical content to the Initiative.  I urge other development partners to do the same.

However, many developing countries have not benefited even though they receive traditional trade-related technical assistance from the World Trade Organization, the United Nations system and other partners.  To them, Aid for Trade remains a concept rather then a practical reality.

This Second Global Review will highlight successful case studies that should help you find ways to increase Aid for Trade without subtracting from the volume of official development assistance and without creating new debts.  I encourage you to find ways to make Aid for Trade more predictable and easier to access, especially for the poorest countries.  Of course, beneficiary countries must also do their part.

The United Nations has a great deal of expertise in the fields of trade and development.  We are well positioned to provide capacity-building, advisory services and analysis to support Aid for Trade.  At this time of profound uncertainty and growing need, we look forward to working with you on this promising, indeed possibly life-changing initiative.  Thank you for your support.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.