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Trade (Africa)

Volume 450: debated on Monday 16 October 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps are being taken by his Department to facilitate African trade. (92934)

Last month the Chancellor and I announced that we expect UK spending on aid for trade, including economic infrastructure, to increase to $750 million by 2010. A major proportion of this will flow to Africa, including funding for transport, energy, ports and communications, as well as capacity building for trade policy and trade facilitation.

DFID supports efforts to improve regional integration—key to facilitating African trade—at both pan-African (support to African Union—New Partnership for Africa’s Development and African Development Bank) and sub-regional levels. For example in southern Africa, DFID supports a regional trade facilitation programme and is also initiating two new programmes to facilitate trade: one to implement one stop border posts to make cross border trade easier, and a Regional Standards Programme to increase capacity of the region to produce goods of export quality. DFID is also developing an extensive programme to improve the state of transport infrastructure in southern Africa, to reduce transport costs and improve the logistics of moving freight across long distances.

DFID also provides support at national level. For example, DFID assists Lesotho’s labour-intensive garment sector to retain and build its market share in a time of global upheaval. DFID also funds large-scale programmes to help countries like Mozambique, Tanzania, Malawi and Rwanda reform their customs and facilitate trade.

DFID also supports regular meetings of the Boksburg Group, an informal group of experts, government officials and business representatives of developing countries coming together to discuss how best to achieve trade facilitation reform, including in the negotiations in the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

Finally, we continue to work hard towards an ambitious global, multilateral trade deal that will bring maximum benefits for Africa.