$12 billion aid pledged for trade

GENEVA (Kyodo) Japan has pledged to provide $12 billion through 2011 to help developing countries take advantage of world trade and facilitate their economic growth.

Shintaro Ito, state secretary for foreign affairs, made the pledge Monday during a World Trade Organization conference on the Aid for Trade process.

Aid for Trade, launched at a WTO ministerial conference in 2005, is designed to help poor nations, particularly the least developed countries, build trade-related infrastructure including ports and roads and train citizens in trade-related matters to take full advantage of global trade liberalization.

In a similar contribution to Aid for Trade, Japan disbursed $10 billion over the last three years.

With these contributions, Japan is following a policy of placing greater emphasis on the provision of trade-related assistance at a time when the size of the overall budget for official development assistance continues to shrink.

Ito also told the conference that Japan intends to provide technical assistance to 40,000 people from developing countries through 2011.