Aid for Trade Initiative for the Arab States (AfTIAS) Program

It is well known that trade can be a powerful engine for economic growth and poverty reduction, but harnessing its power is difficult for many developing countries. This is particularly true for the Arab Region, where there is often a lack of capacity, in terms of information, policies, procedures, institutions, and the required infrastructure to integrate and compete effectively in regional and global markets. To address these capacity constraints, the Arab Group to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Geneva requested the IsDB Group to develop an Aid for Trade (AfT) initiative for the Arab Region.

Based on inputs from an extensive consultation process initiated by ITFC since 2010, the Aid for Trade Initiative (AfTIAS) Programme was developed and launched since 2013 by ITFC, on behalf of the IsDB Group and in cooperation with five UN Agencies (ILO, ITC, UNCTAD, UNDP and UNIDO) in addition to the League of Arab States (LAS) , the Permanent Missions of Arab Countries in Geneva, the Arab Regional Organizations as well as stakeholders from within and outside the region.

Coordinating Agency and program owner on behalf of the Islamic Development (IsDB) Group and the Program donors

The ITFC has been commissioned by the AfTIAS Programme Board to manage, as from 1st January 2015 the implementation of the AfTIAS programme.

Program’s  Budget & Donors contributions

AfTIAS programme is a partnership between eight donors:

Contributions $ Million
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) 3.0
State of Kuwait 2.0
Kingdom of Sweden 1.5
Arab Republic of Egypt 0.5
Islamic Development (IsSB) 1.0
International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC) 1.0
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) 1.0
Industrial Training Council (ITC) / Egypt 0.5
Total 10.5

Overall Result

AfTIAS is a multi-donor, multi-country and multi-agency programme, aiming to “foster Arab trade through enhancing enterprise competitiveness and facilitating trade”. More specifically, AfTIAS objectives are:

  • Enhance regional competitiveness through Trade policy reform and Trade Support institution (TSIs)  efficiency;
  • Strengthen trade supply side and value chain integration; and
  • Strengthen regional and sub-regional organizations’ capacity to foster trade integration

Target Countries

22 Arab countries members of the LAS are targeted by the initiative:

Six LCDs Nine Middle Income Countries Six Higher Income Countries
Comoros Egypt Baharian
Djibouti Tunisia Kuwait
Mouritania Morocco Oman
Somalia Jordan (Agadir Agreement Countries) Quatar
Sudan Algeria Saudi Arabia
Yemen Lebanon United Arab Emirates (EAU)

Expected Outcomes and Outputs

Outcome 1: Enhance regional competitiveness through Trade policy reform and Trade Support Insitution (TSIs) efficiency:
  • Output 1: TSIs more efficient in promoting regional trade.
  • Output 2: Regional Quality Infrastructure Strategy adopted.
  • Output 3: Regional business environment improved through reduction of regional barriers to trade.
Outcome 2: Strengthen trade supply side and value chain integration
  • Output 4: Strengthened production and trading capacity of SMES in priority export sectors
  • Output 5: Value chains integration among Arab countries
  • Output 6: Skills development strategies integrated into sectoral policies
Outcome 3: Strengthened regional and sub-regional organizations’ capacity, to foster trade integration
  • Output 7: Intra-Arab trade development strategy developed and endorsed
  • Output 8: Strengthened capacities of LAS, GCC, ATU and AMU to implement PAFTA.

Expected Impact: Strengthening the capacity of Arab States and their regional integration organizations, to implement the Arab Common Market by 2020 and fulfil the conditions to intensify intra-Arab trade”.

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