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Aid for Trade at a Glance 2019

Economic Diversification and Empowerment

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This edition analyses how trade can contribute to economic diversification and empowerment, with a focus on eliminating extreme poverty, particularly through the effective participation of women and youth. It shows how aid for trade can contribute to that objective by addressing supply-side capacity and trade-related infrastructure constraints, including for micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises notably in rural areas.

The analysis is based on the views of 133 respondents – 88 developing countries, 35 donors, 5 providers of South-South trade-related support and 5 regional organisations – who participated in the 2019 aid-for-trade monitoring and evaluation exercise. They share the view that economic diversification is a gateway for economic empowerment, but also that empowerment is essential for economic diversification particularly when it enables youth, women and micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises to engage in international trade.

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Empowering youth for sustainable trade

Youth economic empowerment is tied to the future of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). This chapter looks at the role of internationally competitive SMEs in providing jobs for young people and examines how improved youth skills and innovation promote the export capacity of SMEs. Firmlevel data show that access to finance is more of a challenge for youth-led firms than firms with older leaders. The chapter finds that Aid for Trade programmes which improve access to financial services for youth entrepreneurs, and improve the skills of young people, promote SME competitiveness for trade while helping young people find gainful employment.

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