Future of Aid for Trade seminar organized by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the Permanent Mission of Finland together with the ICTSD (International Center for Trade and Sustainable Development) attracted plenty of attention in Geneva. A substantial number of interested parties had come to follow the event held in WTO’s premises on November 22nd and 23rd. The audience included representatives of international organizations, civil society and governments alike. Because of the positively surprising high attendance in the opening session some participants didn’t even manage to get a seat. The Finnish delegation was led by Ambassador and Permanent Representative Päivi Kairamo-Hella and Director General of the Department for External Economic Relations Matti Anttonen.
The objective of Aid for Trade is to improve the trading capacity of developing countries to enable them to effectively participate in and benefit from world trade. The idea of the seminar was to examine the status of the operations of Aid for Trade, its successes and challenges, and at the same time provide an opportunity to exchange views as the focus gradually shifts towards the WTO’s Aid for Trade review that will take place in July 2013. The seminar included discussions on the changes taken place in international trade and production over the past decades as well as the meaning of international and regional value chains. Several speakers emphasized the market openness as an important opportunity, from which the developing countries can, however, benefit only if their production capacity and the ability to get their products on the market is sufficient. One theme repeated in the discussions was the significance of the poverty reduction and improvement of working conditions.
Finland’s brand new Aid for Trade Action Plan was also presented in the seminar. The few advance copies delivered especially for this event vanished in the hands of eager participants in no time at all. In her introductory remarks Ambassador Kairamo-Hella pointed out the seminar audience to be in a privileged position, since the action plan was intended to be launched officially not until next week.
The goals of the event set in advance by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the Permanent Mission of Finland in Geneva were reached excellently. In addition to the large audience the success was accompanied by the participants’ satisfied comments concerning both the arrangements of the event and contents of the presentations.