420 – Evaluation of Technical Assistance for Trade Policy and Regulations – Better Ways of Trading

Aid for Trade (AfT) is defined as technical and financial assistance that helps developing countries, in particular least developed countries (LDCs), to overcome trade capacity and infrastructural constraints, in order to enhance their integration into the global trading system and the world economy.

This evaluation looks at one specific area of AfT: technical assistance (TA) for trade policy and regulations (TP&R). The aim of TA for TP&R is to help developing countries build the capacity to formulate trade policy, participate in trade negotiations, implement agreements, build the required institutions, and create the regulatory framework to facilitate trade.

This evaluation assesses whether the Netherlands’ funding of TA for TP&R in the period 2007-2016 has reached its objectives and enhanced the integration of developing countries into the world trading system and the world economy. It looks at all of the steps in the process, from policy formulation to results.

The evaluators distinguished three Dutch policy priorities in this small but important type of development assistance: (i) trade policy and negotiating capacity; (ii) trade facilitation; and (iii) standards.

Part of the evaluation of these three categories looks at the execution of the programmes and answers the question: were things done right? Another part assesses the likelihood that the TA affected trade. This part answers the question: did the Netherlands finance the right things?

Whereas the answer to the first question is generally positive, the second question leads to answers of a different nature. The evaluation assesses the likely effect on trade of improved trade policy and negotiating capacity as positive, but difficult to determine. It assesses the effect of trade facilitation on trade as positive under certain conditions. However, the evaluation could not find a significant effect on trade of the vast majority of the TA for standards.