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Regional Perspectives on Aid for Trade

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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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Strategies for mainstreaming regional aid for trade

This chapter studies the insights gained from the case stories undertaken for the Global Review of Aid for Trade 2011, the three case studies undertaken for this study (and included in Chapters 4-6), stakeholders consultations, and expert group meetings in order to delineate “best practices” in designing, mainstreaming and implementing regional aid for trade. While there is a good deal of regional diversity at the sub-regional level, a number of common threads emerge, including that regional aid for trade has, in fact, been to date effective in all regions and continues to have great potential for using efficiently development assistance resources, but that it is underfunded and faces a variety of obstacles that need to be overcome, from a stronger stress on ownership to inclusion of the private sector in regional aid for trade initiatives.

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