The government of the UK, a leading Commonwealth member, has pledged US$21.3 million to 51 of the world’s poorest countries at the World Trade Organisation’s Ministerial Conference on December 11, 2017
The government of the UK, a leading Commonwealth member, has pledged US$21.3 million to 51 of the world’s poorest countries at the World Trade Organisation’s Ministerial Conference on December 11, 2017.
The funds will help least developed countries (LDCs) to develop the skills, tools and economic capacity needed to compete in new markets for goods and services.
This financial support will be channelled through the Enhanced Integrated Framework, an innovative global trade programme, in a show of support for the use of trade as a solution towards development.
The Framework works with partners, including the WTO, and resources to support LDCs to reduce poverty and promote inclusive growth and sustainable development through trade.
It is funded by 24 donor countries and has invested over $200 million in LDC trade since 2008.
As a result, 51 countries have seen growth in services such as tourism and information technology, as well in the production of spices, honey, mangoes and textiles.
In 2016 alone, EIF supported 189 micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises in LDCs globally.
EIF aims to secure a further $160 mission to assist 47 LDCs and 4 recently-graduated countries in reaching export goals.
WTO’s Director-General Roberto Azevêdo commended the work of the EIF in helping LDCs to improve production and job opportunities in its partner countries, which are all in Africa, Asia and the Pacific.
At the conference, trade officials from some of the world’s poorest nations called for more support in connecting lesser developed economies to export markets, in the face of a $93 billion trade deficit due largely to a fall in commodity prices.
In 2016, the trade gap stood at $92.9 billion, a nine-fold increase since 2005, and a share in the global market for LDCs fell by 6%, largely a result of falling prices for fuel and mining products.
Minister of Commerce at the Royal Government of Cambodia, Pan Sorasak, said that LDCs accounted for 13% of the global population but accounted for less than 1% of global trade and called for investment in sustainable development to improve the lives of the world’s most vulnerable and poorest citizens.
EIF Executive Director Ratnakar Adhikari said that the financial commitments made at the conference would help LDCs prepare for shifts in the global economic system, such as the growing trend in e-commerce.
Greg Hands, Minister of State for Trade Policy at the UK's Department for International Trade, said: “Trade and economic development is clearly the most effective way for countries to create investment and jobs.
“I’m delighted that the UK’s generous support to the Enhanced Integrated Framework will help the world’s poorest countries trade out of poverty.”
WTO Director-General Azevedo said: “The EIF does vital work and has made a real impact on the ground [but] there is still a huge amount to be done.
“We are particularly grateful for the UK's commitment at this time.
“We see it as recognition that EIF and the countries it partners with are indeed on the right path.”