Empowerment of women
Empowering women through trade—South Pacific
The economic empowerment of women—especially through their involvement in trade— creates opportunities for increased income and jobs, as well as independence. Australia’s partnership with the International Trade Centre will help increase the economic benefits that business-women in the Pacific region derive from their participation in trade. For example, in Papua New Guinea, craftswomen using bilum are being assisted to form cooperatives and market their products internationally. In Samoa, support is being provided to business-women to better access government-procurement processes, and in Vanuatu, women farmers and their communities are being linked to the tourism value-chain on Espiritu Santo Island, the fastest growing cruise-ship destination in Vanuatu.
Connecting women-led businesses to global value chains—Indian Ocean Rim Association Countries
Women business enterprises perform better – growing at more than double the rate of all other firms – and their earnings are proven to drive poverty reduction, with women having a higher propensity to use their income and increased bargaining power to improve family welfare. Despite this, women-owned businesses continue to face significant challenges in accessing international markets. Australia, in partnership with the International Trade Centre and Austrade’s Women in Global Business initiative, will assist export-ready women-owned small businesses to build their export competitiveness, including by linking them to buyers and trade promotion organisations. The initiative will be delivered in Indian Ocean Rim Association countries.
Trade facilitation and integration
Facilitating trade—WTO Agreement on Trade Facilitation
In recognition of the significant potential benefits of reducing red tape barriers to international trade, WTO Members concluded the Agreement on Trade Facilitation (ATF) at the Ninth Ministerial Conference on 7 December 2013 in Bali. The ATF was negotiated with the needs of developing countries in mind. It has a phased implementation process and provisions for donor countries to support developing countries meet the commitments. Australia is contributing to the World Bank Group’s Trade Facilitation Support Program, which is designed to assist developing countries undertake at-the-border reforms, such as improving their customs procedures. Additionally, Australia has provided support to the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement Facility to assist developing and least developed countries to implement the Agreement.
Mainstreaming trade in national development strategies—Enhanced Integrated Framework
Australia is one of 23 donors to the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF). The EIF helps least developed countries build their capacity to trade, including by identifying and addressing major constraints to trade, formulating and implementing trade policies and strategies, and mainstreaming trade into their national development plans. Cambodia, for example, prepared a Trade Integration Strategy (2014–2018) and established the Cambodia Export Diversification and Expansion Program (CEDEP) with EIF support. CEDEP has directly facilitated US$30.5 million of rice exports in 2013, and is helping handicraft businesses of mainly women weavers find export markets for their silk products. As a result, some of these businesses have increased their sales by 40 per cent.
Connectivity in the Mekong—Burma, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam
Australia is contributing to the detailed design, construction and supervision of the Cao Lanh Bridge in Vietnam as part of a major new road network in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam. This will improve road access, reduce travel time, and remove the bottleneck caused by slow ferry operations. Australia is also providing support to help Cambodia, Laos, Burma and Vietnam become more integrated through improved cross-border management and transit procedures, including mutual recognition of transport licensing. Addressing policy and regulatory barriers to trade can help unlock the economic benefits of hard infrastructure projects, such as the Cao Lanh Bridge.
Integration into the global trading system—Laos
Australia worked with the World Bank and other donors to help Lao PDR undertake the necessary trade reforms to join and benefit from WTO membership. As part of the reforms, Laos reduced the clearance times for goods by non-customs agencies by 42 per cent (from 5 days in 2009 to 2.9 days in 2012). Building on these results, Lao also reduced the number of days to clear customs for imports by 69 per cent from 10.6 days in 2013 to 3.3 days in 2015. Export clearance times came down by 25 per cent from 7.5 days in 2013 to 5.6 days in 2015. In February 2013, Lao PDR became the 158th member of the WTO. Australia’s assistance to Laos for this achievement was recognised, with our Geneva WTO Mission receiving Lao PDR’s Friendship Medal in 2014.
Infrastructure and finance
Financing for infrastructure—The Philippines
In partnership with the Asian Development Bank, International Finance Corporation and World Bank, Australia is assisting the Philippines’ Public Private Partnerships (PPP) Centre to develop a pipeline of well-prepared infrastructure projects that would be attractive to private sector investors. The PPP Centre serves as the central coordinating and monitoring agency for all PPP projects in the Philippines. It is also helping to create a better regulatory and institutional framework for PPPs. The Centre has so far awarded nine projects worth approximately US$3 billion. In April 2015, The Economist Intelligence Unit recognised the Philippines as the most improved country in Asia-Pacific for PPP readiness.1
Improving investment climate—working with the World Bank
In order for economies in the Indo-Pacific to grow, new private sector investments are necessary. Investment can play an instrumental role in increasing productivity, creating jobs, transfer know-how, as well as achieving environmental goals. Globally, there is high level support to do more on reforms to enable and encourage investments, including recently at an OECD Ministerial summit.2 Australia has partnered with the World Bank Group to help developing countries improve their policies and regulations to attract, retain and extend foreign direct investments. Through the Support Program on Investment Policy and Related Areas (SPIRA), Australia and the Trade and Competitiveness Global Practice of the World Bank Group, will help developing countries address legal, regulatory, and administrative impediments to investments. SPIRA will also help steer global discussions on investment policy through better dialogue with investors and businesses, as well as peer-to-peer learning and preparation of policy tool kits and flagship reports. Experience suggests that there may be a correlation between the level of foreign direct investment in-flows of a country, and the level of increase in its trade.
Enhancing access to trade finance—working with the Asian Development Bank
Sometimes, even when a budding entrepreneur in a developing country has a product to offer international markets, exporting can be problematic for a wide range of reasons, including a lack of appropriate finance. To help address such market gaps, Australia is providing additional resources into the ADB’s Trade Finance Program (TFP). The TFP will help strengthen inter- bank relationships, including by improving prudential and governance practices of banks in developing countries, helping banks make available trade finance products, and co-insuring (with private banks) trade transactions. Australia’s support will see the TFP extended to include more banks in Asia (Bangladesh, Cambodia, Myanmar and Vietnam), and for the first time banks in Pacific countries.3 The TFP has supported over US$4 billion in trade and more than 2,000 transactions per year. It has become a flagship of the ADB, and has won the Global Trade Review magazine’s award for “Best Development Bank in Trade”.
Banking opportunities for the poor—South Pacific
As the Pacific is one of the least banked regions in the world, Australia is supporting the Pacific Financial Inclusion Program.4 The Program helps develop the capacity of financial service providers and regulatory bodies in the Pacific to deliver new products and invest in technology- linked delivery channels. As a result, more than 550,000 people in Fiji, PNG, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Samoa are now able to store and transfer money using their mobile phones.
Agriculture and services
Australia Indonesia Partnership for Rural Economic Development
This program aims to increase inclusive economic growth in five provinces in eastern Indonesia by influencing how agricultural markets work for the poor. The program is designed to help reduce the number of Indonesians living in poverty, address constraints to rural income growth and improve agricultural productivity. The program is facilitating private sector-led investment in better agricultural practices, while also supporting the Australian Government's aid for trade and women's economic empowerment priorities. Private sector partners have worked on more than 50 activities with the program since 2013. The program aims to increase the incomes of 300,000 smallholder farm households by 30 per cent by 2018.
Fostering the services sector
Australia has partnered with the Institute for International Trade (University of Adelaide) and International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD) to help developing countries and least developed countries undertake domestic reforms that improve the services sector’s contribution to their economies. These training initiatives are also helping developing countries build their capacity for services trade negotiations.
Health and disability
Addressing non-communicable diseases
Aid for trade can contribute to achieving health objectives. Australia, through the McCabe Centre for Law and Cancer, is helping to train government health and legal professionals from developing countries to better understand the impact of international trade laws on the implementation of domestic regulations necessary to address non-communicable diseases (NCDs).5 The training program is helping developing countries implement commitments under the 2011 United Nations Political Declaration on the Prevention and Control of NCDs, World Health Organization’s Global action plan for the prevention and control of NCDs 2013–2020, and the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.
Bringing books to the disadvantaged—Bangladesh
Australia and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) are working together to navigate global copyright rules to help developing countries access education material for use by the visually impaired. Through this assistance, a local
non-government organisation in Bangladesh, Young Power Social Action (YPSA), converted 160 educational books, including text-books, into formats that visually impaired students can access, such as digital talking books. At the London Book Fair 2015, YPSA won the inaugural Accessible Books Consortium International Excellence Award for Accessible Publishing. In Bangladesh, an estimated 4 million people are visually impaired.