The Hong Kong Ministerial Declaration created a new WTO aid-for-trade work programme to complement the conclusion of the Doha Development Round. WTO had, in that regard, been mandated to monitor and evaluate aid-for-trade so as to create more incentives through greater transparency in honouring commitments, meeting needs, improving effectiveness and reinforcing mutual accountability. With the onset of the implementation phase of that initiative, the full involvement of the United Nations system was required.

CEB supported the need to further the objectives of the aid-for-trade initiative and noted that the reduction of trade barriers alone was not sufficient to put developing countries on the path to sustainable growth. The need to increase resources for trade capacity-building in developing countries in order to help them benefit from improved market access was an essential aspect of a successful trade regime.

Monitoring of the aid-for-trade work programme would take place on three levels: global monitoring, donor monitoring and self-evaluation, and recipient country monitoring based on in-country assessments. The World Bank and the regional development banks would take the lead on regional reviews through preparatory meetings intended to enable all stakeholders to focus on real needs and challenges on the ground, prioritize needs and deliver business plans. Those would culminate in an annual aid-for-trade event, the first of which was scheduled for 2007. The initiative was not about creating new mechanisms, but rather about enabling WTO to work with others on implementing a work programme.

The central role of CEB members would be to help developing countries identify priorities, mainstream trade and national strategies and work on developing regional approaches, which were key factors to ensuring success. The challenge to the system was to maximize the positive aspects, while at the same time dealing with the negative impacts of trade liberalization. Aid-for-trade was seen as an essential complement to a successful Doha Round, i.e., helping countries deal with supply-side constraints while fully exploiting their trade potential. Raising awareness of trade issues among resident coordinators at the country level was seen as a very important issue to ensure that measures supporting countries in the development of capacity for trade featured appropriately in country programmes.

CEB noted that while there was no legal link between the aid-for-trade initiative and multilateral trade negotiations, there was an obvious political link. Aid-for-trade would take place irrespective of the status of negotiations; however, it could only complement and not substitute for progress on tariffs and subsidies. There was a need for policy coordination within the system in respect of industry, agriculture and services, and given the wide expression of support for the process, the Board decided that consideration should be given to the establishment of a cluster dealing with trade and productive capacity to help CEB make a useful and coherent contribution to the process.