Policy Coherence for development….Trade – [Part II]
Guest blog by Michael McManus
In part I of this post on PCD and Trade, we looked at Irish Trade Policy and how it effects developing countries. Recognising that Irish trade policy is decided at WTO and EU level, we focussed in particular on WTO Agreements, the General System of Preferences and Economic Partnership Agreements. Today we look at aid for trade, and outline a few suggestions for how Development NGOs can become more effective in this area.
Aid for trade
Aid for trade involves financial and other support to developing countries to build their capacity to benefit from global trade and deal more effectively with the WTO system and agreements.
Current EU aid for trade has reached €2billion annually with half coming from the Commission and half from member states. Ireland has committed to the EU Aid for Trade Strategy.
A number of coherence issues exist regarding Aid for Trade:
– OECD 2009 Peer Review found that Ireland could do more to support trade initiatives in priority countries;
– Fears exist in developing countries that Aid for Trade funding may lead to a reduction in funding for social service related poverty reduction programmes;
– Aid for Trade may encourage trade liberalization in developing countries which can lead to a reduction in tax revenues through tariff reductions and displacement of local products in domestic markets.
What this means for Irish development NGOs (the pearls of wisdom)
The complex nature of the subject, fears for the domestic economy, the global nature of negotiations and the influence of business lobbies mean achieving progress is very difficult. So difficult, in fact, that many development NGOs might feel it’s not worth their while.
However, progress is not impossible. Here are a few examples of how NGOs can work on policy coherence in the area of trade:
– conduct evidence based research on the impacts of trade incoherence in the global south;
– focus on one particular trade issue which is especially relevant to Ireland or your organisation;
– know your subject matter inside-out
– regular contact with TDs, the relevant government ministries (Foreign Affairs, Enterprise, Agriculture etc), Permanent Representations and MEPs, from a myriad of development actors can pay off;
– contribute to wider lobbying processes through alliances and networks at Irish and European level.
NOTE: A deeper analysis of some of the above mentioned issues is available in the book Policy Coherence for Development – The state of play in Ireland
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