An innovative trade initiative which is expanding opportunities for business, employment and prosperity in African, Caribbean and Pacific countries will “scale up” its impact over the next two years.
The Hub and Spokes programme is a joint initiative of the European Union, ACP Group Secretariat, Commonwealth Secretariat and Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie. Under the programme, trade advisers are placed in ministries and regional organisations to help them develop and implement trade policies.
Forty of the programme’s main stakeholders including 16 trade advisers took part at a workshop in Bridgetown, Barbados, between 22 and 23 May, to mark the next phase of the programme, which will take it to February 2019.
Neven Mimica, EU Commissioner for Development and International Cooperation, said, “Since more than a decade, the Hubs and Spokes programme has successfully helped developing countries and regions identify their trade interests and conduct their trade policies.
“At a time when trade is recognised as a significant driver for economic development, it is essential to scale up the impact of the programme.”
Six regional advisers – the hubs – and 16 national advisers – the spokes – are deployed by the Commonwealth Secretariat under the programme, which began in 2004. The Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF) has also deployed 4 hubs and 16 spokes in Africa, resulting in a total of 10 hubs and 32 spokes deployed under the programme.
“The trade advisers have helped to supplement our trade capacity,” said Virginia Paul of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), one of the regional bodies being supported by Hub and Spokes.
“We benefit from a regional and national trade adviser who provide technical advice to the commission on policy matters, the Economic Partnership Agreement with Canada, as well as our regional integration agenda. The programme has had a wide reach over time with an adviser also in St Vincent and the Grenadines.”
Jean Bertrand Azapmo, a trade adviser who is beginning a secondment with the African Union Commission after a stint supporting the government of the Federated States of Micronesia, said he is looking forward to supporting trade policy development across the continent.
“Now that I’m with the AUC what will be most interesting for me is to participate in the ongoing negotiations, charter the path towards Agenda 2063, and work with the private sector to maximise the benefit under the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA).”
Teddy Soobramanien, Head of the Programme and Economic Adviser at the Commonwealth Secretariat said, “The very structure of the Hub and Spokes programme with its network of advisers is conducive to the cross-fertilisation of ideas, sharing of experiences and knowledge across Africa, the Caribbean and Pacific.
“This highly successful knowledge sharing workshop proved once again that the programme is critically important in supporting capacity constrained ACP countries and regions on trade policies, implementation of trade agreements, trade negotiations and, above all, making trade work for the benefit of the people.
“The workshop, held back to back with the programme steering committee meeting, saw a high level of participation and representation from beneficiaries, partners and other stakeholders. As the programme moves into a consolidation phase which will last till February 2019, partners and beneficiaries will work together to consolidate the results achieved, transfer ownership to beneficiaries and ensure the sustainability of the programme beyond 2019.”
To read blogs written by the Hub and Spokes trade advisers, please visit thecommonwealth.org/hubandspokes
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