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AfDB, ECA, WTO and World Bank Organize Conference on Aid for Trade in Dar es Salaam
Tunis, 21 September 2007 – "Mobilizing Aid for Trade: Focus on Africa", is the central theme of a high–level conference scheduled to take place on October 1-2, 2007, in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, under the auspices of the African Development Bank (AfDB), the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), and the World Trade Organization (WTO) in cooperation with the World Bank.
President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete of Tanzania, the host, Mozambique’s former President, Joaquim Chissano and former UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, have been invited to the conference, which will bring together finance and trade ministers, senior donor representatives, regional institutions and key private sector actors to discuss trade-related challenges in the region, and set out priorities for future action.
The gathering will be addressed by the AfDB President, Donald Kaberuka, the Executive Secretary of the ECA, Abdoulie Janneh, the Director-General of the WTO, Pascal Lamy, World Bank President, Robert Zoellick and AU Commission President, Alpha Oumar Konare.
They will highlight the African dimension of Aid for Trade and encourage governments, donors and the private sector to address specific challenges for Africa, prioritize Aid for Trade needs, and move towards shared solutions to trade-related challenges. The conference is expected to help raise awareness of the importance of trade for growth in developing countries, encourage information exchange about best practices and facilitate collective action to maximize the benefits of Aid for Trade.
In a joint Op-Ed released ahead of the conference, Kaberuka and Lamy underscored the huge challenge facing the continent in this domain noting that in spite of the fact that African trade has risen nearly five times in twenty years and exports have shot up to an average of 15% annually since 2000, the continent's share of world trade still lags far behind. "In 1950, Africa's share was 10%, but today her share hovers at less than 3%. With exports of goods and services having grown 20 fold to more than $14 trillion since 1950, a return to market share of 10% would mean a vast expansion of resources. But this will not come without effort and money," they said.
"The cost of telephone connectivity in Africa is higher than anywhere else. African freight costs as a percentage of total import value are 13% compared to 8.8% for developing countries elsewhere and 5.2% for industrial countries. In Kenya, the average cost to import one container is nearly $2,500 or five times more than the cost in Singapore. The operating costs per kilometre of using two axle trucks in Tanzania are two and half times the costs in Indonesia or Pakistan," they emphasized.
Participants will, over two days, take a hard look at these set backs and brainstorm a range of trade and aid issues as they relate to Africa within the context of globalization.
The agenda of the conference includes a ministerial dialogue on "Why Aid for Trade Matters for Africa", followed by three break-out sessions on Mobilizing aid for Trade in West Africa Central Africa, East and Southern Africa and North Africa, respectively.
Other discussions will focus on the "Investment Climate Facility for Africa" initiated by the AfDB and partners, "Development Dimensions of Aid for Trade", "Leveraging Africa's Regional Development Banks" and a concluding "Open Dialogue" on a roadmap for action.
The sessions will be preceded on 30 September by an AfDB-WTO workshop on the role of sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) capacity building in promoting the integration of developing countries into world trade, within the framework of the Standards and Trade Development Facility (STDF).
The OECD will also organize a technical-level Practitioners Forum in the afternoon of 2 October – in parallel with the main ministerial event - to address key operational aspects of the WTO Aid for Trade initiative. The forum will provide an opportunity to learn about the WTO monitoring framework on aid for trade to help shape the role and content of recipients' questionnaires and reports and to establish regional dialogue on the most recurrent trade capacity implementation challenges in the region.
The Dar es Salaam conference is the last of three regional meetings held this year within the context of the "Aid for Trade" initiative launched in December 2005 at the WTO Ministerial Conference in Hong Kong. The other two conferences were held from September 13-14 in Lima, Peru, for Latin America and in Manila, Philippines, for Asia and the Pacific region from September 19-20. The outcomes of the three regional meetings will be factored into WTO’s Aid for Trade Review to be held in Geneva on 20-21 November 2007.