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Statement by U.S. Mission to the World Trade Organization Attaché Neil Beck at the WTO Aid for Trade Global Review

Statement by U.S. Mission to the World Trade Organization Attaché Neil Beck at the WTO Aid for Trade Global Review

World Trade Organization
Geneva, Switzerland
July 10, 2013 

*As Prepared for Delivery*

Let me begin today by thanking Director General Lamy and the WTO – especially the Development Directorate – for organizing yet another successful Global Review. To say that this is “well-attended” would be an understatement in light of the more than 1,300 confirmed registrations.

The past two and a half days have demonstrated without doubt that WTO Members – as well as the private sector and other organizations - remain deeply committed to the success of the Aid for Trade Initiative. The United States is pleased to see the positive results that Aid for Trade continues to produce to date, and we stand ready to continue to engage with Members – and the private sector – to ensure that the initiative remains effective and relevant.

The theme for this Fourth Global Review, “Connecting to Value Chains,” is especially timely. WTO Members face a growing reliance on these global value chains. Recent work in this area, notably that of the OECD, has helped us all better understand the numerous times that intermediate goods and services cross borders. This fact has also made us acutely aware of the costs associated with inefficient border procedures, tariff and non-tariff barriers and impediments to investment. The private sector participants this week clearly stated a need for predictability and a transparent regulatory environment resulting in reduced risk.

One of the challenges, particularly for developing countries, is how to reduce such costs and better integrate into global markets through global value chains – and how to ensure that more countries can contribute their “value added” to the global economy.

From our perspective, Aid for Trade helps address those challenges so that developing countries can leverage the opportunities presented by global value chains. The responses to the OECD/WTO Aid for Trade questionnaire indicate that partner countries themselves view participation in value chains as good for economic growth and social development. Thus, in addition to value chains, partner countries also identified priorities for development assistance needs that will help them better integrate into value chains, including trade facilitation and policies to reduce border inefficiencies and improve infrastructure and competitiveness. These priorities, together with domestic reforms, create a business climate that promotes trade and attracts investment.

There are a number of ongoing U.S. Aid for Trade efforts to assist developing countries with the wide variety of trade and complementary policies that can help countries better integrate into global value chains.

For example, as noted in USAID’s event yesterday, U.S. programs in West Africa include value chain work that is being done with the cashew and shea value chains. We've been able to catalyze the establishment of two associations - the African Cashew Alliance and the Global Shea Alliance - both of which represent the broad interests of producers, processors, exporters and other interested parties. They've been successful in establishing linkages to businesses in Europe and North America, including the related services elements necessary to get goods to market – such as logistics and financial services.

As another example, in both our Southern Africa and East Africa Trade hubs, there has been extensive focus on the fashion industry with the "Source Africa Textile & Apparel Trade Show" that just took place in April. The event showcased over 125 African Apparel suppliers, and worked to match these suppliers with regional and international buyers to establish new business partnerships and showcase the quality and workmanship of textile and apparel manufacturers in the region, and link these manufacturers with fashion supply chains. In addition to the USAID Southern Africa Trade Hub, partners included the American Apparel & Footwear Association as well as the African Cotton and Textile Industries Federation.

There has been considerable attention this week to the complementary role that private sector investment plays in development stategies. This is a concept that the United Dtates not only recognizes, but has taken steps to incorporate into our programs. And many of you are aware, last week President Obama announced "Trade Africa," which seeks to increase internal and regional trade within Africa, and to expand trade and economic ties between Africa, the United States, and other global markets. Trade Africa's intitial focus will be on the East African Community (EAC) and its five members states, and will explore a U.S.-EAC Investment Treaty, negotiate a Trade Facilitation Agreement, and work together on SPS and TBT issues. Trade Africa will also seek to form public-private partnerships with East African and U.S. industries and trade associations to stimulate greater regional and global trade, including to the United States under AGOA, and to develop African capacity in key value chains. Further, the iniative will establish a new U.S.-EAC Commercial Dialogue to bring the private sector together with policy makers and increase opportunities for trade and investment.

As we continue this discussion on the connection between aid for trade and global value chains, we look forward to further examining the wide array of trade policy efforts that can better asssist developing countries to better integrate not only into specific value chains, but also the multilateral trading system more broadly, generating the economic opportunities that can drive growth, employment, and development. The trade policies contained in the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement, for example, are proven mechanisms for lowering trade costs, making it easier for developing country and least developed country trades to access global markets. Trade facilitation has the potential to be the most important development outcome of the upcoming Bali Ministerial.

Looking forward, let me assure you that the United States will continue to lead efforts to assist developing countries to become better integrated into global trade. We continue to see value for development in the Aid for Trade Initiative and the WTO as a whole. We look forward to working together to ensure the continued success of the Aid for Trade Initiative, while not losing sight of our shared interests in promoting trade.

In closing, I would highlight a statement by our recently confirmed United States Trade Representative, Michael Froman, who noted, “To achieve sustainable development, we need trade, not just aid; investment, not just assistance.” It is through this lens that we will continue to view the future of aid for trade.