Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Regional countries to benefit from capacity building

Caribbean countries stand to benefit from capacity building following the conclusion of a two-month course dealing with trade policy issues.

The course was organised by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in collaboration with the Shridath Ramphal Centre for International Trade Law Policy and Services at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill in Barbados.

Course Co-ordinator, Roberto Fiorentino (left), and
Phil Rourke who heads up the Shridath Ramphal
Centre at the UWI, Cave Hill in Barbados.
The entire class with the officials.
Co-ordinator of the course was Roberto Fiorentino, Counsellor at the WTO. Twenty-one persons pursued the course.

He said that participants came from the Caribbean and across Ministries and Departments that are actively engaged in trade policy matters.

It was an audience that included people working from the Ministry of Trade, Customs, Agriculture – a variety of areas.

The WTO official told Grenada Advocate that it is a course the WTO considers a generalist programme. Areas covered include Trade Theory, Market Access, Customs, Agricultural Trade, Trade in Services, Intellectual Property, Regional Integration and Dispute Settlement. There was also a trade negotiation simulation.

He said that apart from The Bahamas, all countries of the Caribbean are members of the WTO. “To operate in the system and to abide by the rules and the rights and obligations you get by being member of the WTO, government officials have the need to understand the rules,” Fiorentino said.

“Essentially the course is intended to provide training in capacity building to allow government to address issues at the WTO,” he explained.

“The course also covered the Doha Development Round negotiations and essentially the overall objectives, that is, to equip governments to be able to work better with the system,” he further explained.

The WTO official said also that without an understanding of the rules it will be very difficult to work with the WTO.

The official said some focus was placed on the so-called Small and Vulnerable Economies (SVEs) which embrace the Caribbean. According to him, a number of the sessions addressed what they called Special and Differential Treatment for countries such as small economies and how to better address those issues.

“[This is] an organisation that is trying to remove all kinds of obstacles but the point is showing governments how to operate within the rules,” he stated, noting that one should not forget the fact that developing countries account for about 80 per cent of the WTO membership.

He lauded the system, noting that it does give an opportunity to a small country to bring action against a big country within the WTO, the point of reference here being Antigua and Barbuda and the United States.

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