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What future for the Global Aid for Trade Initiative? Towards a fairer assessment of its achievements and limitations


  • William Hynes

    () (Statistics and Development Finance Development Co-operation Directorate OECD and Institute for International Integration Studies (IIIS)ITrinity College Dublin)

  • Patrick Holden

    () (Politics and International Relations Group/ Sustainable Leadership Governance and Policy Research Centre School of Management, Plymouth University and Institute for International Integration Studies (IIIS))


The global Aid for Trade/AfT Initiative was inspired by the Doha Round of WTO negotiations. It involved specific aid commitments as well as a broad agreement on categories of AfT, and principles of delivery (outlined by a WTO Task Force in 2006). The WTO and the OECD were tasked with monitoring this form of aid and supporting the various donors and partners. As with any international development initiative, the limitations to the AfT Initiative are clear. Overall funding remains modest, the categories are very broad and the statistics are often queried. Yet recent efforts to dismiss the Initiative as a failure are overstated. The monitoring system was based on best-practice techniques of governance in a diverse non-hierarchical institutional environment, such as the international development community. This form of cooperation cannot be expected to overcome global political and economic asymmetries, but it can be effective in several respects. Starting from this realistic perspective, one notes several achievements. In particular, the Initiative has led to increased funding for AfT and kick-started a range of initiatives and technical advances. Also the monitoring process evolved and expanded to include, and give voice to, a range of new actors from the global community. Alternative proposals for operationalizing AfT, such as creating a multilateral fund, are not to be dismissed but it is incumbent on the proposers to outline this plan in more detail. While the future of the AfT initiative, in its current form, is uncertain, its achievements merit careful consideration.

Suggested Citation

  • William Hynes & Patrick Holden, 2012. "What future for the Global Aid for Trade Initiative? Towards a fairer assessment of its achievements and limitations," The Institute for International Integration Studies Discussion Paper Series iiisdp421, IIIS.
  • Handle: RePEc:iis:dispap:iiisdp421

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Sanjay Reddy & Antoine Heuty, 2008. "Global Development Goals: The Folly of Technocratic Pretensions," Development Policy Review, Overseas Development Institute, vol. 26(1), pages 5-28, January.
    2. Finnemore, Martha, 1996. "Norms, culture, and world politics: insights from sociology's institutionalism," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 50(02), pages 325-347, March.
    3. Sebastian Paulo & Helmut Reisen, 2010. "Eastern Donors and Western Soft Law: Towards a DAC Donor Peer Review of China and India?," Development Policy Review, Overseas Development Institute, vol. 28(5), pages 535-552, September.
    4. Goran Hyden, 2008. "After the Paris Declaration: Taking on the Issue of Power," Development Policy Review, Overseas Development Institute, vol. 26(3), pages 259-274, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Beata Udvari, 2016. "The Aid for Trade initiative and the export performance of the Iberian EU-countries," IWE Working Papers 225, Institute for World Economics - Centre for Economic and Regional Studies- Hungarian Academy of Sciences.

    More about this item


    Trade; Development; Global Governance; International Organisations; Aid for Trade;

    JEL classification:

    • D7 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making
    • F1 - International Economics - - Trade
    • F35 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Foreign Aid
    • O19 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - International Linkages to Development; Role of International Organizations

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