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European Union offers big new trade aid boost

European Union offers big new trade aid boost

On 13 December, the European Union announced further substantial commitments to providing Trade-Related Assistance (TRA) to developing countries. Last night, the EU Council of Ministers, comprising the twentyfive EU Member States, committed to provide 1 billion euros a year in TRA from 2010. This is a substantial increase from the 400 million per year currently provided by European Member States.

It matches the 1 billion euros per year from 2007 pledged by the European Commission at the Gleneagles summit this year. It means that total EU Trade- Related Assistance will rise to 2 billion euros per year from 2010.

Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson, who has made a substantial new TRA package a key part of the EU’s Development Package for the WTO’s Hong Kong Ministerial Meeting said: “Europe did not come to Hong Kong empty-handed on Aid for Trade.” In fact, the European Union as a whole now provides more TRA than the rest of the world combined.

These packages do not include existing funding for African infrastructure – roads, energy and water. The European Commission alone provides about 800 million euros a year through its African infrastructure funds. The funds announced today are additional to this support. EU Member States also provide separate funding for infrastructure.

TRA is used to help states build the capacity to take advantage of market access opportunities. It provides funds to help improve administrative procedures and help producers develop the capacity to meet health and safety standards for export. TRA cannot substitute for the benefits of market opening, but it is essential in order to help the poorest countries realise concrete benefits from new market access.

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