Digital Reboot: The Case for a Newly Invigorated Aid for Digital Trade Initiative


Simon Lacey


Aid for Trade (AfT), first launched in 2005, has come a long way over the last fifteen years and has undeniably made an important contribution to overcoming the many constraints holding developing countries back from greater participation in international trade, and thus from reaping many of its benefits. This paper first examines which AfT initiatives have sought to enable greater participation by developing countries in digital trade specifically, while also seeking to distil some of the more valuable lessons learned in this process. By way of four case studies, it examines some recent successes of Digital AfT initiatives, including one that addresses connectivity infrastructure gaps and another that involves efforts to raise digital skills in order to support entrepreneurship in the e-commerce sector. The paper concludes by first advocating for the adoption of a greater focus on the digital dimension in the conceptualisation and implementation of AfT initiatives – proposing the launch of a new Aid for Digital Trade agenda in order to update the original AfT approach – and then outlining a number of specific ways in which this could and should happen.

ITWP 2021/10 cover



9 August 2021

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