Fourteen journalists from Africa, Asia and the Caribbean are currently participating in an International Trade Policy Seminar organized by the World Trade Organisation (WTO), in Geneva, Switzerland.
The one-week seminar which started from December 10, 2018 and ends on December 14, was organized to improve participants’ understanding of the WTO’s framework and the negotiation processes between the 164-member countries.
The seminar also serves as an opportunity for the journalists to get easy access to experts at the WTO and representatives of Geneva-based diplomatic missions.
The event will further provide participants the rare opportunity of directly engaging the diplomatic representatives at the WTO to gain a deeper understanding of the multilateral trade negotiations.
Speakers include representatives from the International Labour Organization (ILO), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), and the International Trade Centre (ITC).
The past few days have seen participants schooled on the MC 11, the WTO Trade Facilitation agreement (TFA), Trade in Agriculture, How to find trade related statistics, and Regional Trade Agreements among others.
In his opening remarks, Keith Rockwell, Spokesperson and Director of Information and External Relations of the WTO, said all the G20 leaders have agreed that the strengthening of the WTO is very important.
“From how WTO determines whether a country is a developing country, how a country decides to use its national security exemptions to how we make decisions (are all areas that need to be strengthened).”
“We have 164 members and deciding by consensus is proving to be very difficult; we have had very little success in achieving a multilateral agreement.”
He also touched on the Dispute Settlement System as the most severe of the challenges that the organisation is facing.
“560 plus disputes have been brought here (WTO) only this year (2018) and the rate of compliance per ruling is over 90 per cent.”
However, some member countries have presented reforming proposals to the WTO to enhance its operations and remedy the challenges.
Proposals for reforms included improving transparency through enhanced notifications by members about their trade law and practices and reforming the Dispute Settlement Body System.
Participants are from Ghana, China, Antigua, Jordan, Singapore, Kazakhstan and Philippines.
The rest are from Nigeria, Tanzania, Indonesia, South Africa and Rwanda.
By Pamela Ofori- Boateng/Business World Ghana