The Australian Government today announces further support to help developing countries maximise the benefits of trade, recognising its importance in driving economic growth, reducing global poverty, and advancing gender equality.

Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Simon Birmingham said Australia would expand its cooperation with two key partnerships of the World Trade Organization - the Enhanced Integrated Framework and the Standards and Trade Development Facility.

“Helping developing countries to operate across borders and access new markets builds long-term stability and prosperity across the world,” Minister Birmingham said.

“These vital partnerships will assist developing countries, particularly in our region to build their capacity to trade in areas such as workforce skills development, connecting farmers to overseas buyers and helping women entrepreneurs to export.

“Australia continues to support developing countries to improve their capacity to trade as a way to reduce poverty, lift living standards and enhance economic development.”

Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne also announced a US$3 million extension to Australia’s partnership with the Better Work programme. Better Work brings together factory owners, workers, brands and governments to improve working conditions and reduce gender discrimination in garment factories.

The joint initiative with the International Labour Organization and International Finance Corporation will support over 2.2 million workers, of which 75 per cent are women, in more than 1,300 factories across Bangladesh, Cambodia, Indonesia and Vietnam.

“Better Work has a strong focus on developing safer working conditions and closing the gender pay gap throughout the female-dominated industry,” Minister Payne said.

“The programme also demonstrates how higher quality jobs have flow-on benefits for communities, with Better Work factory workers reporting that their increased wages have resulted in improved health and education outcomes for their children.”

In addition, the Australian Government will support Better Work and CARE Australia to deliver a regional workshop on preventing sexual harassment in garment factories in Cambodia later this year.

Australia will also open the first round for its E‑commerce Aid for Trade Fund this month, with an initial focus on the ASEAN region. The Fund will help developing countries maximise the benefits of digital trade.

Australia’s new commitments, announced at the World Trade Organization’s Global Review of Aid for Trade in Geneva this week, total over $8 million.

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