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Remarks by Ambassador Michael Punke at the Closing Session of the WTO Third Global Review of Aid for Trade

Remarks by Ambassador Michael Punke
Deputy United States Trade Representative 

Closing Session of the WTO Third Global Review of Aid for Trade
Geneva, Switzerland
July 19, 2011

** As Prepared for Delivery **

“Thank you and Good afternoon. Let me begin by thanking Chairman Maruping, Director-General Lamy and Deputy Director-General Rugwabiza for their leadership and commitment to the Aid for Trade initiative. I would also like to congratulate the WTO for organizing another successful and well-attended Global Review.

“The United States, like the WTO and the other participants at this Global Review, remains committed to the success of the initiative. We are pleased to see the positive results that Aid for Trade has produced to date, and we stand ready to continue to engage with Members to define the next phase of the initiative.

“Aid for Trade is an important complement to trade liberalization. We recognize that market opening needs to be combined with efforts to tackle endemic supply-side constraints in developing countries, and in particular LDCs, to ensure they can take advantage of the market access opportunities open to them. That recognition that is at the heart of the Aid for Trade initiative.

“In many ways, the Aid-for-Trade initiative has done what it was supposed to do – putting the spotlight on the importance of trade-related assistance and providing impetus for beneficiary countries to prioritize trade in their development plans and donors to scale up their assistance. As we all heard over the course of the last two days, the OECD reports that aid for trade commitments in 2009 were up 60% from the 2002-2005 baseline.

“Consistent with that theme, the U.S response to the call of Aid for Trade has been robust. The United States has contributed over $11 billion in trade-related assistance since 2001. Just yesterday U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Kirk announced a contribution of $1.2 million to the WTO’s Trade-Related Technical Assistance program, representing the ongoing U.S. commitment to ensuring that developing countries can participate effectively in the global trading system.

“There is certainly still work to be done, but we should celebrate the accomplishments of the initiative. And, we feel strongly that this Global Review will help to keep the momentum of the initiative going.

“We also wholeheartedly support the Global Review’s focus on measuring results of Aid for Trade. This attention to monitoring what works and what doesn’t is critical for donor and beneficiary countries’ joint efforts to improve the effectiveness of trade-related assistance.

“We applaud the WTO and OECD for their intensive work in designing and implementing the Aid for Trade survey and the call for case stories that provided much of the input for this year’s Global Review. That effort, producing over 270 case stories, was undoubtedly a mammoth exercise, but the work has paid off. The Aid for Trade community is now equipped with valuable insights into the state of the initiative and these case stories can help Members define their Aid for Trade priorities going forward.

“Many of you heard Eric Postel, Assistant Administrator of USAID, discuss that agency’s increased focus on measuring results and evaluating assistance programs. USAID’s extensive evaluation in 2010 of U.S. trade-related assistance is contributing to the global knowledge platform of aid effectiveness.

“These complementary efforts will provide valuable lessons learned that can be incorporated into the design of future assistance programs, and we welcome sharing ideas and experiences in that regard.

“We also welcome the increased focus on the role of the private sector in Aid for Trade. Public-private partnerships are of increasing importance in the delivery of trade-related assistance. We look forward to deepening our engagement with the private sector in Aid for Trade and applaud the leadership of the World Bank and the WTO in providing impetus for that enhanced engagement.

“Another theme we heard a lot about in the last two days is the role that country ownership plays in the success of trade-related assistance and the need of partner countries to mainstream trade as part of national development strategies. The Global Review is a helpful event for bringing together the trade and development worlds to facilitate this discussion, but these discussions cannot happen only in Geneva. We encourage our partner countries to continue this dialogue in-capital with their governments, with the private sector, and with donors in-country to ensure that trade is identified as a national development priority.

“I’ll also take this opportunity to reiterate the importance of the trade component of Aid for Trade. It is critical that we continue to be mindful of the role that increased trade openness plays in development. Only by achieving integration by all developing countries into a rules-based, open, and non-discriminatory multilateral trading system embodied in the WTO can we facilitate the creation of the meaningful new economic opportunities required to advance development and help alleviate poverty.

“I look forward to working with all of you to further the success of the Aid for Trade initiative, while not losing sight of our shared interests in promoting trade.

I had intended to confine my remarks today to the topic of this global review — namely, Aid for Trade. Yesterday, though, there was some broader discussion of our ongoing Doha negotiations. This discussion calls for a brief response.

“Over the past two and half years, the United States has played the leading role in seeking an ambitious outcome in Doha, including numerous initiatives to find creative solutions within the confines of the current framework. This leadership has included, when appropriate, flexibility in our negotiating positions, though frankly, if Doha could be completed by virtue of throwing a pile of concessions on the table, we would have had a deal many many years ago.

“Fixing Doha, of course, is more complicated than that. Our goal has been not just any deal — but a good deal. In particular, we have insisted that a Doha agreement must reflect the realities of the global economy in which we live. Wishing this complexity away with empty exhortations — or calls for unilateral concessions — will not result in success. Rather, all major players must be willing to grapple directly with the challenges we face.

“The United States, as always, stands ready. Over the upcoming weeks and months, we will be at the forefront of determining whether any variant of the current Doha framework can result in a successful outcome.

“Back to the important topic at hand. And, with regard to Aid for Trade, I’d like to conclude today with a quote from President Obama: ‘We know that countries are more likely to prosper when they encourage entrepreneurship; when they invest in their infrastructure; and when they expand trade and welcome investment. So we will partner with countries . . . to create business environments that attract investment, not scare it away. We’ll work to break down barriers to regional trade and urge nations to open their markets to developing countries.’ (Delivered At the Millennium Development Goals Summit at the UN Headquarters, New York, September 22, 2010.)

“We look forward to working with all of you to effectuate this vision. Thank you.”