Targets to develop a transparent and non- discriminatory trading and financial system that addresses the special needs of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) are described in Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 8.
The Doha ‘Development' Round of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), initiated at the Doha Ministerial Conference in November 2001, placed development issues and the interests of developing countries at the heartof the WTO's work. In particular, the Doha Ministerial Declaration together with the WTO Agriculture Agreement made commitments to comprehensive negotiations onagriculture to improve market access for LDCs and reduce subsidies, in addition to increased emphasis on trade-related aid. The 2005 Hong Kong Ministerial Declaration emphasized the central importance of this development dimension with a recommitment to making it a meaningful reality. Specific measures on cotton were taken, and the Aid for Trade Initiative was launched, designed to help developing countries build supply-side capacity in order to expand trade.
Support for the objectives and outcome of the Doha Development Agenda represents the mainstay of commitments made by successive G8 summits, such as the Gleneagles Communiqué, the St Petersburg statement on Trade, and the Heiligendamm G8 Trade Declaration. Similarly, the European Consensus on Development and subsequent EU Strategy for Africa reflect the Doha objectives, and build on previous commitments made in the Cairo Plan of Action and the Cotonou Agreement to deepen the link between trade and development. EU commitments have also been made in context of Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA) such as detailed in the EU Contribution to the Review of the MDGs at the UN 2005 High Level Event, and again in the Africa-EU Partnership.
The Doha text also forms the basis of much of the current thinking on trade-related aid - commitments to targeted, sustainably financed technical assistance and capacity building - that has received increasing emphasis. The Kananaskis Africa Action Plan, Gleneagles Communiqué and Heiligendamm Summit Declaration on Growth and Responsibility in Africa all commit to building technical capacity, including trade facilitation measures, as well as supporting regional integration. In the same year as the Gleneagles summit, the European Commission pledged to increase trade-related aid from €800 to €1 billion a year between 2007-2013, elaborated in its EU Aid for Trade Strategy.
Africa has made successive commitments such as the NEPAD Founding Statement and subsequent AU declarations to mainstream trade into national development strategies; promote African exports, diversity production and enhance competitiveness. Statements on trade have often been linked to activities to promote regional integration and inter-regional agricultural trade, such as the 2004 Sirte Declaration on the Challenges of Implementing Integrated and Sustainable Development on Agriculture and Water in Africa and the 2006 Abuja Africa Fertilizer Summit.