UN chief urges continued aid for trade support
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged the donor community to keep up aid for trade commitments despite pressure on state budgets.
"As we all know, this is a time of economic uncertainty," he told officials attending a two-day review conference on the WTO's aid for trade process.
"Budgets are tight. But difficult fiscal conditions are no excuse for letting up on our efforts; they underscore the need for collective action," Ban said.
Launched in December 2005 at a WTO ministerial conference, the aid for trade process aims to help developing countries build infrastructure to take full advantage of a successful world trade liberalisation deal.
Aid for trade encompasses grants and loans to build roads, ports and telecommunications, among others, as well as technical assistance in helping countries develop trade strategies or negotiate more effectively.
Ban said that assistance for trade was a key component of the UN's poverty reduction goals, and said it could be used to improve food security, citing a recent decision by the G20 to remove food export restrictions for humanitarian relief.
In 2009, aid for trade commitments reached $40 billion (28.4 billion euros), up just 2.0 percent from the figure for 2008, slowing significantly from the 28-percent jump recorded in 2008 against 2007.
WTO deputy director general Valentine Rugwabiza said prior to this week's review conference that 2010 commitments had appeared to have "reached some kind of plateau" and called on emerging economies to fill the gap.
China said it was giving $400,000 (283,000 euros) to help the world's poorest countries join the WTO or participate in the trade body's activities.
The United States, meanwhile said it would contribute $1.2 million to help developing countries participate effectively in the WTO.
© 2011 AFP