The European Union has presented to the World Trade Organization (WTO) the trade facilitation projects it has financed between 2006 and 2008. The review shows that the EU has spent EUR 1.01 billion on 95 projects related to capacity building and technical assistance. The projects have helped simplify import and export procedures, boosting the ability of developing countries to benefit from trade and open global markets. The projects are part of an overall commitment to Aid for Trade by the European Union worth more than EUR 7 billion every year.

EU Trade Commissioner Catherine Ashton said: "Developing countries cannot take full advantage of the benefits of open and fair trade if their exports fall at the first hurdle. Trade facilitation is vital for developing countries' growth prospects."

In addition to the commitments by the European Commission, the submission to the WTO contains examples of Trade Facilitation related projects around the world supported by fourteen EC Member States (Finland, Germany, Poland, Czech Republic, Latvia, Sweden, Slovenia, Lithuania, UK, Belgium, Netherlands, Spain, Ireland and France). The EU is the only WTO member to submit such a review.

Funds have supported projects in Asia (21%), Africa (18%), Latin America and the Caribbean (18%), Middle East (4%), Oceania (2%) as well as non-EU Europe (including the Balkans and Commonwealth of Independent States: 37%)

Examples of successful projects are:

The EU provided €50 million for trade facilitation measures in Tunisia, notably by increasing efficiency of services, reducing costs and delays for business through enhancement of logistics and procedures of ports and customs.
The EU supported trade development in Chad by providing €2 million to strengthen institutional capacities and enhancing the trade environment, including a strong Trade Facilitation and capacity building component.
The EU funded a programme in Paraguay with €6 million to build up the capacity of Paraguayan Customs for putting in place simplified customs procedures in order to promote economic integration at the regional and international level.

Trade Facilitation is the simplification of import, export and customs red tape, in order to cut time and costs for business. Trade Facilitation is part of the Doha Round of negotiations and a priority for businesses around the world. Trade facilitation funding is provided as part of a broader commitment to "Aid for Trade" (AFT). Total EU funding for AFT is over EUR 7 billion per year. Within this, the EU has pledged EUR 2 billion per year for targeted "Trade Related Assistance" (TRA) by 2010, with EUR 1.98 billion already being provided in 2007. Trade Related Assistance targets specifically trade policy and regulatory hurdles, while wider Aid for Trade also funds trade related infrastructure, building productive capacity and budget adjustment.


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