The European Union (EU) needs a new and enhanced strategy on Aid for Trade (AfD) because supporting trade is essential in promoting development in the world’s least developed regions and countries, underlines MEP Iuliu Winkler (RMDSZ, EPP), Vice-Chair of the European Parliament’s Committee on International Trade (INTA).
The European Parliament hosted on Thursday a Joint Hearing of INTA and the Committee on Development (DEVE) on the “The Revision of the EU Strategy on Aid for Trade”, co-chaired by Iuliu Winkler and MEP Paavo Väyrynen, Vice-Chair of DEVE.
“It is enough to look at Africa, where, according to data presented yesterday by the European Commission, an annual 18 million new jobs will be needed over the next two decades to cope with the region´s demographic explosion. Currently, the yearly count of new jobs being created there does not exceed 3 million. In this context, Aid for Trade could become a key element in the EU migration strategy, as well. Tens of millions of people will leave their homes in the years to come either for economic reasons, or because of armed conflicts, natural disasters or climate change. Strategies supporting local development in less developed regions and countries must be part of the overall European Agenda on Migration”, said Iuliu Winkler in the INTA-DEVE Joint Hearing.
The RMDSZ MEP spoke about the fact that we are living in a rapidly changing world, and the transformations that appear are also manifested in the field of international trade. The debate saw an analysis of the remarkable development of e-commerce, opening up new opportunities for SMEs, start-ups, and young entrepreneurs wherever they may be, as well as about the fact that those in less developed regions are disadvantaged due to the lack of connectivity and dysfunctionality of their states and administrations.
The EU 2018 budget is foreseen to increase the funding for Aid for Trade, however, in the opinion of MEPs, the quality of the projects that are implemented with the help of this funding is very important in order to maximize the related beneficial effects. One of the conclusions of the debate was that, in the given context, it is necessary to promote public-private partnerships, but also to harmonize trade policies with investment policies. The EU also has to support projects aimed at developing transport and communications infrastructure in underdeveloped regions, thus aiming for greater efficiency in development policies.
Launched in 2005 by the World Trade Organization, the Aid for Trade Initiative has helped to allocate $ 300 billion so far, to fund programs and projects in the world’s least developed countries and regions.