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Regional Perspectives on Aid for Trade

image of Regional Perspectives on Aid for Trade

Deepening economic integration via regional co-operation has emerged as a key priority in the reform strategies of most developing economies over the past decade. This is evidenced by the explosive growth in bilateral and regional trading agreements in which they now participate. Regional aid for trade can help developing countries spur regional economic integration, enhance competitiveness, and plug into regional production networks.

Based on a rich set of experiences regarding regional aid for trade projects and programmes, the study finds that regional aid for trade offers great potential as a catalyst for growth, development and poverty reduction. The study recommends greater emphasis on regional aid for trade as a means of improving regional economic integration and development prospects. While regional aid for trade faces many practical implementation challenges, experience has shown that associated problems are not insurmountable but do require thorough planning, careful project formulation, and prioritization on the part of policy makers.

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Case study of the Economic Community of West African States

Regionally-focused aid for trade has emerged as a means by which developing countries can overcome productive capacity and infrastructural constraints, promote regional integration, and increase both regional and global trade. This chapter provides the ECOWAS perspective on regional aid for trade (AFT). Stakeholder consultations reveal the importance of regional AFT projects for enhancing regional integration and expanding trade. However, regional AFT projects are difficult to mainstream into national plans due to issues related to implementation, ownership and aligning national, regional and donor goals. Lessons learnt are that AFT is not a sectoral issue but rather is cross-cutting. Mainstreaming is important; it is a process and not an event. National budgetary processes must continually capture multi-country and regional AFT projects. There is the need for a regional body to co-ordinate regional AFT and co-ordinate donors so as to maximise the benefits from regional AFT.

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