Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Maxine McClean 

A Government Minister has deemed “aid for trade” to be vital for the economies of  developing countries, but conversely has warned that it must never be interpreted to mean “aid in lieu of trade” since this could lead to the destruction of economies.

Speaking  at the opening of  an Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Aid for Trade Policy Dialogue in Barbados recently, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Maxine McClean  said the staging of the forum was critical “given the  many issues confronting developing countries” as they sought to realise growth and development of their economies.

Citing volatile food and energy prices, an unprecedented financial crisis in international markets and a deepening world recession, Senator McClean contended: “It is widely recognised that both aid and trade have the potential to create sustained and robust economic growth.  However, I must hasten to add that aid for trade must never be interpreted to mean aid in lieu of trade; this concept if implemented has the propensity to destroy economies.”

Instead, the Foreign Affairs Minister told delegates the notion of trade must be kept “firmly before us”.

“Trade extends beyond mere economics of demand and supply. It is a means to an end in itself. Trade has the potential to lift an economy out of poverty. It is for this
reason that aid for trade is vital. It is necessary if we are to increase the productive capacity of our people and improve their standard of living,” she observed.

“Amongst the developing countries, it is clear that aid for trade’ cannot be a component of a carrot and horse policy. We will not submit to this being used as a conditionality to force developing countries to agree to any negotiating positions inconsistent with our developing needs,” she added.

Although trade-related assistance had been around for some time, few bilateral donors had explicit trade objectives incorporated into their aid programmes and fewer programmes were aimed at engaging the poor directly in trade related activities, declared the Minister.

“If this assistance is to achieve its stated objectives,” said Senator McClean, “it must be placed in a pragmatic and concrete legal and institutional framework.” 

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