Aid for Trade seeks to engage the private sector, improve the business environment, upgrade labour skills and create conditions for better regional integration to support the economic development of low-income countries. In the last five years, Aid for Trade to Africa has increased significantly as donors, including the World Bank, the USA, Japan and the European Union, have championed its role in building economic growth and self-reliance.
On 3 October , 2014, The Institute for International Trade (University of Adelaide, Australia) and the South African Institute for International Affairs (SAIIA) held a one-day workshop on Aid for Trade priorities for Africa and the role of the private sector at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. Keynote speakers included Dr Stephen Karingi from the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, Sabrina Varma from the World Trade Organisation and Jabulani Mthethwa, Trade Policy Expert from the South Africa Development Community (SADC). The workshop was attended by representatives of the Australian Government, the private sector, and participants of the 2014 Trade Policy and Negotiations Australia Awards Fellowship course. The workshop was sponsored by the Australian Government.
The Australian Government has recently committed to increasing the focus on Aid for Trade within its aid budget, with 20% of funding committed to Aid for Trade-related initiatives. Jamie Isbister, Minister Counsellor for Development Cooperation in Africa,explained that “countries like South Korea and Singapore provide clear evidence that private sector-led development works well, as long as there is clear government direction and regulation to ensure that the benefits are evenly spread. Aid for Trade provides a valuable source of funds for African nations to harness private and public sector expertise to overcome some major barriers to trade and investment. This workshop intends to provide informed direction on key priorities for maximising the impact of Aid for Trade across Africa.”
The workshop focused on understanding the trade-related development challenges and priorities for Africa, with an emphasis on the role of the private sector in the design and implementation of Aid for Trade programs. An outcome of the vibrant debate and discussion throughout the day was a list of the key recommendations for both donor governments and trade partners to drive effective trade partnerships and sustainable outcomes. Jim Redden, Course Director of the Australia Awards Trade Policy and Negotiations Fellowship course, will be developing this into a report to be distributed to donor governments, regional trade bodies and Australia Awards Alumni.
The Australia Awards – Africa program will continue to support the development of Africa’s Trade capacity through a number of channels, including the Trade Policy and Negotiations Fellowship program. Applications for the 2015 round are now open. Applications for Fellowship courses close on 16 January 2015. More details can be found on the Australia Awards website: www.australiaawardsafrica.org.