On 21 May 2021, the World Trade Organization (WTO) announced that 26 government officials from 16 Members and observers were attending the WTO’s first online Regional Trade Policy Course for English-speaking African countries taking place which started on 17 May and runs to 20 August 2021. The objective is to extend participants’ expertise on the multilateral trading system and the work of the WTO.
The WTO members and observers represented are Botswana, Egypt, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, The Gambia, Uganda and Zambia.
In his opening address to the participants, the Training Section Head of the WTO's Institute for Training and Technical Cooperation (ITTC) said on behalf of the ITTC Director, Bridget Chilala: “I am very pleased to see that despite these challenging times, you have chosen to participate in this course and increase your knowledge of international trade and the work of the WTO. This affirms your commitment to the multilateral trading system. … This course takes place at a critical moment for global trade. … You picked an opportune time to learn more about the WTO, what it stands for, and to explore together the challenges and opportunities that the multilateral trading system and WTO agreements provide.”
Organized by the ITTC and the University of Mauritius, the course is specifically designed for government officials from WTO members and observers working on trade-related issues who have completed an introductory WTO training course. It seeks to ensure that trade-related technical assistance continues to be made available despite the COVID-19 pandemic and replicates most of the training components offered by face-to-face regional trade policy courses. It is the first online regional trade policy course organised by the WTO with a partner institution.
The curriculum covers the WTO agreements, the organisation's functions, rules and procedures and trade policy issues related to the African region. The course will consist of self-learning, interactive case studies and exercises and webinars by WTO experts and trade-policy academics and practitioners from the region.
The course will also include several round tables addressing contemporary multilateral and regional trade issues.
A WTO report exploring how African countries can leverage the multilateral trading system to take greater advantage of international markets and promote economic transformation was recently launched.
The publication, entitled “Strengthening Africa’s capacity to trade”, is available on request.
Story by: Riaan de Lange