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The false promise of Aid for Trade

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  • Mark Langan
  • James Scott

Abstract

Abstract Aid for Trade (AfT) has gained prominence as an innovative form of donor support in the era of the ‘post’-Washington Consensus. Institutions such as the World Trade Organization (WTO), the US Agency for International Development (USAID), the European Commission, and the UK Department for International Development (DfID) have heralded AfT concessions as a means of creating a level economic playing field between industrialised nations and countries in the global South. Specifically, AfT mechanisms have been praised as a means of aligning trade liberalisation deals (whether in the Doha Round or within bilaterals) to poverty reduction objectives. Donor AfT assistance to low-income states’ trade capacity – including support to government ministries, private sector development, and local infrastructure – are understood to construct a more balanced global trade system conducive to the needs of ‘the poor’. This article, however, through critical analysis of AfT discourse within the ‘moral economies’ of multilateral WTO and bilateral EU-ACP (African, Caribbean and Pacific) negotiations, points to the strategic purposes of donor language in rationalising asymmetric North- South trade systems. Moreover, it questions the ‘development’ credentials of AfT assistance, given its disbursement to strategically significant middle-income states in relation to Western overseas interventions, private sector activities that have dubious consequences for supposed beneficiaries, and the tying of AfT disbursements to the implementation of inappropriate policies.

Suggested Citation

  • Mark Langan & James Scott, 2011. "The false promise of Aid for Trade," Brooks World Poverty Institute Working Paper Series 16011, BWPI, The University of Manchester.
  • Handle: RePEc:bwp:bwppap:16011
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    File URL: http://hummedia.manchester.ac.uk/institutes/gdi/publications/workingpapers/bwpi/bwpi-wp-16011.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Oecd, 2010. "Trading Out of Poverty: How Aid for Trade Can Help," OECD Journal on Development, OECD Publishing, vol. 10(2), pages 7-41.
    2. James Scott & Rorden Wilkinson, 2010. "What have the poorest countries to gain from the Doha Development Agenda (DDA)?," Brooks World Poverty Institute Working Paper Series 13210, BWPI, The University of Manchester.
    3. Calì, Massimiliano & te Velde, Dirk Willem, 2011. "Does Aid for Trade Really Improve Trade Performance?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 39(5), pages 725-740, May.
    4. Wolfe, Robert, 2009. "The special safeguard fiasco in the WTO: the perils of inadequate analysis and negotiation," World Trade Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 8(04), pages 517-544, October.
    5. repec:cup:apsrev:v:88:y:1994:i:03:p:653-667_09 is not listed on IDEAS
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    Cited by:

    1. Frederick Mayer & William Milberg, 2013. "Aid for Trade in a world of global value chains: chain power, the distribution of rents and implications for the form of aid," Brooks World Poverty Institute Working Paper Series ctg-2013-34, BWPI, The University of Manchester.
    2. Temesgen Worku & Juan P. Mendoza & Jacco L. Wielhouwer, 2016. "Tariff evasion in sub-Saharan Africa: the influence of corruption in importing and exporting countries," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 23(4), pages 741-761, August.
    3. James Scott, 2012. "Squeezing the state: tariff revenue, state capacity and the WTO’s Doha Round," Brooks World Poverty Institute Working Paper Series 16912, BWPI, The University of Manchester.

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