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    Supplying the Aid Procurement Market


    © International Trade Centre, International Trade Forum - Issue 4/2001

    Every day in some far-flung corner of the world affected by conflict or disaster or benefiting from development assistance programmes, international aid agencies distribute supplies including food, shelter and medicines. The images of these efforts have become well known. Less known is the fact that trade in humanitarian aid and development assistance is big business, estimated to be worth some US$50 billion a year worldwide. Today, the supply and distribution of aid products is dominated by suppliers in industrialized countries. However, due to changing trends and the opening or "untying" of aid procurement, this unique market offers huge potential for developing country enterprises to become new suppliers to aid agencies.

    In this issue of Forum, we examine this industry in aid by analysing how the market works and by highlighting emerging trends. Our goal is to increase developing countries' participation in development aid procurement by raising awareness, identifying opportunities and building skills. Our articles focus on trends emerging within the market with details on the largest aid agencies involved; offer an overview of ITC training on the subject; provide insight on the steps needed to become a supplier to international agencies and also demonstrate the involvement of various partners in opening up this market.

    Two of the most important developments affecting aid procurement are the increase in untied aid funds and the emergence of the Internet as a business-to-business tool for suppliers and buyers. E-procurement opportunities are profiled as opening new ways for developing country suppliers to gain a foothold in the market. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the United Kingdom-based charity, ActionAid, offer perspective and explain recent developments in untying international aid. Other partners explain their activities and success in this market.

    ITC research into trade in Africa revealed there were certain items that international aid agencies procure worldwide that are locally available and could be made more easily accessible. The challenge is to use this information to promote trade and change attitudes about developing country industry. In our view, achieving poverty alleviation, good governance and other sustainable development goals are closely connected with the willingness to invest and trade with developing countries. International aid agencies have an opportunity to lead the way. As one African supplier told us, "give us trade not aid".

    Sandra Woods, Acting Editor
    Jean Milligan, Contributing Editor