DFID support to trade in Southern Africa is based firmly in the wider ‘Aid for Trade’ policy. The Aid for Trade initiative was launched at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Ministerial Conference in Hong Kong in 2005. The Ministerial Statement affirmed that Aid for Trade should aim to help developing countries, particularly least developed countries (LDCs), to build the supply-side capacity and trade-related infrastructure that they need to assist them to implement and benefit from WTO Agreements and more broadly to expand their trade.
In October 2007, the EU adopted a joint strategy aiming to help developing countries to integrate better into the rules-based world trading system and to use trade more effectively in promoting the overarching objective of poverty reduction. In this strategy, EU member states committed to significantly increase their combined spending on trade-related assistance (trade policy and regulation support and trade capacity-building) to €2 billion (£1.8 billion) per year by 2010.
Previously, the UK government (November 2005) had pledged to increase its trade-related assistance to £100 million by 2010. A second UK commitment (September 2006) pledged to increase total support for Aid for Trade by 50% to £750 million a year by 2010. By 2009, these commitments had been met. Aid for Trade rose from $690 million (£375 million) a year (average 2002-05) to $1.9 billion (£1.2 billion) a year and actual disbursements rose from $389 million (£216 million) a year to $1.3 billion (£820 million) a year.
This review assesses the effectiveness of DFID’s trade development work in Southern Africa. Overall we awarded a red score and made four recommendations. We found serious deficiencies in one of the programmes we reviewed, which was subsequently closed down by the Secretary of State.