The purpose of the Trade.Com programme was to improve the capacity of ACP countries and regional organisations to design and implement their own trade strategies and effectively participate in international trade negotiations. The Trade.Com programme was managed by a Brussels-based project management unit and implemented over 200 trade-related technical assistance projects throughout the ACP region. The implementation period was 2003-2012 and the budget €60 million. The programme successfully combined two complementary approaches. Firstly, it provided a flexible demand-driven facility that allowed ACP countries to rapidly mobilize specialized expertise in the domain of trade policy formulation as well as in the negotiation and implementation of regional trade agreements. Secondly, roughly a third of the budget (€21.4 million) was used to contribute to the Hub & Spokes programme. The Hub & Spokes programme, managed by the Commonwealth Secretariat and the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie, established a permanent network of regional (“hubs”) and national (“spokes”) trade policy advisors within the ACP region. While the Commonwealth Secretariat was in charge of the Pacific, the Caribbean and Eastern & Southern Africa, the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie was responsible for Central and Western Africa. Regional trade advisors were deployed at the Secretariats of the six ACP Regional Economic Communities as well as at the African Union Commission. National trade advisors were deployed at selected national trade ministries (some also as backups at REC Secretariats). The overall success of the Trade.Com programme can be linked to the complementarities between the ad-hoc support provided by the PMU and the long-term capacity building provided under the Hub & Spokes component.
Multilateral Trading System Programme (MTS)
While the Trade.Com programme was geared more towards supporting ACP countries in regional trade negotiations, the MTS programme, implemented between 2008 and 2012, has been supporting the integration of ACP countries into the multilateral trading system (WTO accession, implementation of WTO agreements etc.). Similarly to the Trade.Com programme, the MTS programme has also been managed by a project management unit and it has also been based on two components: a total of €10 million was used to provide ad-hoc support to WTO-related projects and a total of €6 million was used to contribute to the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF) via a contribution agreement with UNOPS, the EIF trust fund manager.
At the end of 2012, an additional amount of €50 million has been earmarked for ACP-wide trade-related technical assistance. This amount should be allocated for continuation of the Hub & Spokes programme (Hub & Spokes II) and for a new trade capacity building programme that will follow-up on the ending programmes Trade.Com and MTS.