TOP PACIFIC MINISTERS ATTEND MANILA TRADE CONFAB

News Release

Tonga Now Government of Tonga Nuku’alofa, Tonga September 19, 2007

Top global and regional trade officials along with key private sector representatives are gathering in Manila today and tomorrow (19 to 20 September) to discuss how to empower less developed economies and small states to benefit from global trade.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the World Trade Organization (WTO), in partnership with the Philippine Government, is hosting the two-day regional review meeting "Mobilizing Aid for Trade: Focus Asia and the Pacific."

More than two-dozen top finance and trade ministers from Asia and the Pacific along with participants from investment banks and corporations are expected to discuss ways and means to strengthen trade-related capacity and infrastructure in developing Asia and the Pacific.

ADB President Haruhiko Kuroda and WTO Director General Pascal Lamy kicks off the conference today.

This will be followed by plenary sessions and ministerial roundtables that will focus on issues such as why aid matters for trade and how public-private partnerships can help less developed economies and small states to benefit from globalization and regional integration.

The conference will also focus on how regional multilateral institutions like ADB can contribute to making "Aid for Trade" a viable, efficient and effective way to help its less developed members and small states benefit from increased trade, growth and stronger economic cooperation and integration.

The Manila conference will be second of the three regional meetings to be held this year in the context of the "Aid for Trade" Initiative launched in December 2005 at the WTO Ministerial Conference in Hong Kong. The other two conferences will focus on Latin America and Africa.

At the WTO Hong Kong Ministerial Conference, major donors pledged around $15 billion for the "Aid for Trade" Initiative.

Trade has the potential to spur growth and lift millions out of poverty. This is clearly underscored by the success of East Asian economies which achieved rapid growth by embracing outward-oriented development strategies and investing in infrastructure.

But many other Asia-Pacific economies (including the least developed countries and the small states) lack the capacity and access to infrastructure to reap the benefits of globalization.

This "Aid for Trade" conference aims to stimulate a dialogue among Asia-Pacific economies, particularly LDCs and small states, and donor countries on how to boost economic infrastructure; focus on productive capacity building and provide help in transition to adoption of more outward-oriented trade policies; boost capacity to formulate, negotiate and implement trade policy and related agreements.

The discussions and results from the three regional meetings in Lima, Peru; Manila, Philippines; and Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania will contribute to WTO’s "Aid for Trade" Review to be held in Geneva on 20 to 21 November 2007.

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