African representatives at the just concluded World Trade Organization Aid for Trade conference in Geneva said they are pleased with outcome.
Executive secretary of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Mohamed Ibn Chambas, who attended the conference, said trade can be a strong instrument for economic growth and fighting poverty in Africa.
"Aid for Trade is an initiative that was launched by WTO in 2005 to specifically address what is it that can be done to enhance the participation of developing countries in global trade on a win-win basis because it is evident that trade can be a very strong vehicle for generating growth and for fighting poverty," he said.
Yet Chambas said Africa's participation in global trade continues to be woefully low at around two percent.
He said the Aid for Trade conference proposed new ideas to addressing the constraints on Africa's participation in global trade.
"Specific initiatives were designed at addressing infrastructural constraints, telecoms, energy, roads, ports facilities that could be improved to enhance the competitiveness of African countries," Chambas said.
Chambas said Africa must do its part to encourage Aid for Trade, including the fight against corruption.
"There's no question that trade governance and good governance are equally important because where corruption is not tackled, it is an added cost to trade and that reduces the competitiveness of African countries in global trade," Chambas said
He said the current global economic downturn has had an impact on global trade. Because of that, Chambas said it was important for developing countries to not reduce their assistance for trade.
"We are very pleased that one of the outcomes from this conference is not only that each of the major developed countries has pledged to maintain their commitment that indeed they have even pledged new funding so that we can use trade as a means of overcoming the current slowdown," Chambas said.
Chambas said African representatives were happy with the outcome of the Aid for Trade conference in Geneva. Chambas said there will be a specific West Africa review conference this October to enhance Aid for Trade in the sub-region.