Aid for trade (13 july 2022)


Aid for trade (AfT) is a relatively recent concept. It was born in the early 2000s in order to bring about the full integration of low- and middle-income countries into international trade.

It constitutes an integral part of development assistance through, in particular, technical assistance for trade policy and regulations, support to trade-related infrastructures and productive capacity development.

In 2009, France drew up a strategy specifically dedicated to aid for trade; it is now outdated. Although relevant when it was designed, it was unable to guide French interventions adequately: in fact, France’s AfT is of most benefit to middle-income countries rather than LDCs and its priority countries and it focuses above all on one objective (support for infrastructure) to the detriment of others (such as technical assistance). At the national level, it is inadequately articulated with other strategies likely to have an effect on its aims (economic diplomacy, corporate social responsibility) as well as at the local level with other donors, although ever greater efforts to achieve coherence are manifest at multilateral and European levels. However, France’s AfT interventions have produced convincing results and work, not only towards the goal of commercial performance, but also in favor of other objectives and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. Nevertheless, coordination and monitoring of the AfT strategy remains perfectible at all levels: international and European, national and local (where there is no systemic monitoring of AfT). Not only is this strategy largely unknown to French players, this strategy requires an update, particularly in view of new issues which have emerged since 2009. The evaluation suggests four strategic recommendations: (i) strengthen France’s AfT intervention doctrine by detailing expected results and ensuring better consideration of emerging issues and the need for policy coherence; (ii) optimize the implementation of French AfT (especially the complementarity of intervention channels); (iii) strengthen the steering and monitoring of AfT at the international and European levels by central administrations and within the French local network; (vi) enhance efforts pertaining to French AfT in the areas of communication and visibility.