The role of Aid for Trade in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals: the EIF's contribution
Doha, 20 October 2015. The Executive Director of the Executive Secretariat for the EIF, Ratnakar Adhikari, spoke today in the opening plenary of the World Export Development Forum (WEDF), a flagship event of the International Trade Centre (ITC). The panel focused, among others, on how Aid for Trade (AfT) can help unlock the potential of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agenda.
During the lively discussion, Adhikari and others welcomed the recent adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Adhikari noted, "The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is a commitment by the Global Community to achieve sustainable development, which is not only environmentally and socially sustainable, but a development path driven through sustainable and often trade-linked economic activity in the LDCs." He elaborated further on how the SDGs reflect the strong desire of countries to generate home grown development, based on a strong economy and effective integration into multilateral and regional trading systems.
WEDF 2015, themed "Sustainable trade: Innovate, invest, internationalize", has a key focus on opening new trade and investment opportunities to encourage sustainable growth. It is being held in Doha and was organized by ITC in partnership with the Qatar Development Bank.
Speaking about the SDGs, Adhikari noted: "The new Agenda acknowledges the key role that trade including the support provided through Aid for Trade will play in poverty reduction and more generally in development. In Goal 8a of the SDGs, I am pleased that the EIF has been specifically highlighted as a key mechanism to channel resources to the LDCs".
Adhikari further noted that two of the key principles of the EIF, resource mobilization for LDCs and the development of pro-poor and gender sensitive development strategies, were highlighted at the start of the SDGs.
He emphasized SDGs Goal 8, on promoting inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all and AfT's focus in achieving this goal. "The goal includes key areas such as economic diversification, value addition, innovation and sustainable tourism. For all of these goals to be realized the contribution of AfT is vital, which has been duly recognized in Paragraph 8a".
"Trade is an effective enabler, and is a means of implementation of the SDGs." Adhikari said, suggesting that firms engaged in international trade are more productive and create better jobs. He emphasized how AfT provided the platform and opportunity to take on an integrated approach in areas such as: trade-related infrastructure; building productive capacity; trade development; trade policies and regulations; trade-related adjustment; and other trade-related needs.
Adhikari stressed that all EIF projects contribute to ending poverty, as called for in Goal 1, but they also contribute to other goals and indicators relating to the SDGs, which include food security, environmental sustainability, gender equality and enhancing technological capabilities of the LDCs.
On the topic of how AfT providers could effectively partner with businesses to leverage the SDGs agenda, Adhikari recommended developing a virtuous cycle of aid, trade and investment; enhancing the public private partnership model; as well as increasing the role of the private sector in AfT. "We at the EIF are committed to make a major leap forward in engaging private sector not only as demandeurs of reforms but also as implementors of projects and contributors of resources as we move towards the Phase Two of the EIF", he mentioned.
He also called upon development partners to invest in LDCs to ensure that LDCs are able to meet the SDG targets, emphasizing that the LDCs were ready to move forward, to develop, to produce and to trade. In this respect, he also highlighted that the EIF programme would work towards fulfilling its commitment to help LDCs to use trade as a vehicle for economic growth and poverty reduction, calling on traditional and emerging donors to pledge their support for the next phase of the EIF (2016-2022) at the Pledging Conference which will be held in Nairobi at the outset of the Tenth WTO Ministerial Conference.
In conclusion, Adhikari emphasized the SDGs moto that no one should be left behind and said: "To achieve this objective, the process should be made as inclusive as possible – underpinned, for example, by strong focus on poverty reduction, women's empowerment, environmental sustainability, unleashing the potential of small businesses and linking farmers and artisans to international/regional markets".
Notes to editors:
The World Export Development Forum (WEDF) is a unique global platform to support trade-led development through high-level plenaries, workshops and facilitated business-to-business meetings. A flagship event of the International Trade Centre, WEDF gathers over 500 senior policymakers, business leaders, heads of national trade support institutions, and international agency officials to address trade competitiveness topics and to establish new partnerships.
The EIF is a multi-donor trust fund, which provides financial and technical support to build trade capacity in all 48 LDCs. The EIF is the only global AfT programme exclusively designed for the LDCs and is, therefore, uniquely placed to assist countries to develop sustainable trade strategies, which have a positive impact on people's lives through the promotion of private sector development and job and income opportunities.