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Small States and the Multilateral Trading System

Overcoming Barriers to Participation

image of Small States and the Multilateral Trading System

Developing countries, including as small states and least developed countries (LDCs), continue to face significant challenges within the global trading system. Action is required to allow them to overcome disadvantages and achieve sustainable levels of income from trade.

This study provides a fresh perspective on how measures can be taken to enhance the participation of small states, many of which are Commonwealth countries, in the multilateral trading system. It contributes to the ongoing general debate about reforming the World Trade Organization and global trade governance.

 

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Building Trade Capacity of Small States: Strategic Approaches to Aid for Trade

Having emerged from the World Trade Organization (WTO)’s 2005 Hong Kong Ministerial Conference, the Aid for Trade (AfT) initiative is set to mark its tenth anniversary. It continues to attract huge attention in global trade policy discourse, particularly in the context of supporting trading capacity of developing countries. The financial and technical assistance provided under AfT aims to tackle developing countries’ supply-side constraints so that they are able to effectively participate in global trade. It is this underlying but specific trade purpose that distinguishes AfT from the rest of traditional overseas development assistance (ODA). Although the term ‘Aid for Trade’ is relatively new in multilateral trade-policy discourse, aid flows serving similar intended purposes have long existed and have been regularly reported by donors. The trade dimensions as highlighted in AfT received renewed focus under the Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations, as many developing countries realised that their lack of supply-side capacity prevented them from effectively participating in and benefiting from the expansion of global trade and investment activities.

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