International Trade Technical Assistance and Capacity Building

2005 Occasional Paper
By Deere, Carolyn

Developing countries require assistance, and should be assisted, to maximise the potential gains of their participation in the multilateral trading system. Since the launch of the Doha Round, there has been a sizeable increase in both developed country commitments to trade-related technical assistance and capacity building (TACB) and in debates about the appropriate purpose and nature of that assistance. Here, two trends are worth noting. First, a series of complaints about the effectiveness of assistance have emerged, ranging from concerns about donor-driven assistance, biased objectives and inadequate needs assessments to poor donor coordination and evaluation, fluctuating resources, poor conceptualisation, weak support for local institutions, and inadequate linkages to broader development strategies. Second, there has been a revitalisation of interest in trade-related TACB for activities related to the development of trade capacity (i.e., activities aimed at building supply-side capacity, supporting economic transition, adjustment and diversification, improving competitiveness, meeting technical standards, increasing access to trade finance, infrastructure development, and trade promotion in specific productive sectors).