I would like to begin by thanking Ambassador Chad Blackman of Barbados, Chair of the Committee on Trade and Development, and Michael Roberts as well as the entire Aid for Trade Division in the WTO Secretariat, for organizing the Seventh Review of Aid for Trade.
The United States is an active partner in Aid for Trade discussions in the WTO. We are also the largest single-country provider of trade capacity building assistance in the world. This assistance — in FY 2017 amounting to US$1.1 billion also referred to as “aid for trade” — helps developing countries become more self-reliant and take part in the global trading system in order to harness trade as an engine of growth and development.
This year’s theme, “Economic Diversification and Empowerment,” brought to light some of the challenges, as well as the aspirations, of Members who seek to reap the benefits of international trade. This week’s Global Review provided real-time examples of how Aid for Trade helps developing countries improve their competitiveness, expand and diversify their trade, attract foreign direct investment, and create jobs.
Improvements in trade facilitation are a prime example and the “At a Glance Report” dedicates an entire chapter on this very important agreement. For over two decades, the United States has been a proud supporter of capacity building for trade facilitation. We have demonstrated our commitment to the Trade Facilitation Agreement through robust bilateral and regional programs, and the creation of the Partnership for Trade Facilitation during the negotiation, which was essential in creating the innovative public-private partnership, the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation, to support robust implementation of the agreement.
On Wednesday, the United States was pleased to host an event entitled, “Trade Capacity Building in Zambia: A case study in Country Ownership and Donor Coordination.” This case study highlighted the collaboration between the Government of Zambia and donors to implement the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement. Representatives from USAID, the World Bank and the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation underscored the importance of shared ownership of the development process. They also discussed how significant progress can be made when countries demonstrate a high level of political will and prioritize reforms.
I would like to pause for one moment and speak to developing country WTO Members about a critically important and fast-approaching deadline under the Trade Facilitation Agreement. August 22 is the final deadline for developing country Members to utilize the flexibilities provided for in Section II and to notify your definitive dates for Category C commitments. I urge all developing country Members, who have not yet done so, to do so as quickly as possible.
The United States was also pleased to participate in the Second Forum on WTO Accessions entitled, “Assistance and Capacity Building for Economic Transformation and Sustainable Peacebuilding.” In this session, we shared our experience in supporting the accessions of the two most recent countries to join the WTO — Afghanistan and Liberia.
The United States is a strong advocate of the WTO accession process. We are convinced that the accession process makes important, long-term contributions to sustainable development for Members at every stage of development, including LDCs. Countries that have the opportunity to accede under Article XII, by virtue of the reform process they undertake, become stronger and more resilient.
Equally as important as the technical assistance provided during the accession process, is the United States commitment to walk side by side with newly acceded partners as they begin to integrate into the multilateral trading system. In both Afghanistan and Liberia, USAID continues to support these governments in fulfilling their trade commitments as a WTO Member and adhering to WTO rules.
I would like to close by reiterating that the United States supports Aid for Trade. We believe in self-reliance and the benefits that can accrue to WTO Members when global trade rules, as negotiated by Members, are fully implemented.