Australia will provide additional assistance to help the world's poorest countries benefit from global trade.
The $16 million package of initiatives will help least developed countries (LDCs) to modernise customs procedures, improve infrastructure, and increase producers' competitiveness.
Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd and Trade Minister Craig Emerson announced the contribution as the World Trade Organization's Eighth Ministerial Conference got underway in Geneva, Switzerland.
Dr Emerson, who is taking part in the conference, said Australia's commitment to LDCs would help them play an active role in, and benefit from, the global trading system.
"This assistance to very poor countries reflects our view that trade is the best pathway to poverty-alleviation," Dr Emerson said.
He said the program to help LDCs included a pledge by Australia, made by Prime Minister Julia Gillard in October, to provide those countries with access for all products into Australian markets free of tariffs and quotas.
Mr Rudd added: "Promoting economic growth in these countries has a real effect on Australia, as 14 of the world's 48 poorest countries are in the Asia-Pacific region."
"It is unacceptable that 880 million people in these countries still live in poverty, with poor access to basic services and economic opportunities."
Australia's new package of multilateral trade-related assistance will support the WTO's Global Trust Fund to train developing countries to negotiate and implement trade agreements, and to participate effectively in the multilateral trading system. In addition, this is the first time Australia is contributing to the International Trade Centre, which assists small businesses in developing countries connect to export markets.
Australian aid support for trade facilitation was articulated in the major aid policy statement "An Effective Aid Program for Australia", released in July this year. For more information on Australia's aid for trade initiatives see http://www.ausaid.gov.au.
- Minister Emerson's Office: (02) 6277 7420
- DFAT Media Liaison: (02) 6261 1555