WTO news: what’s been happening in the WTO

WTO NEWS: 2001 NEWS ITEMS

1 May  2001
World Trade Organization non-governmental donor-supported trust fund

Annex 2
On 15 December 2000, the General Council of the World Trade Organization (WTO) approved guidelines governing the acceptance and uses of voluntary contributions from non-governmental donors. These guidelines, contained in document WT/L/386 (Annex 1)

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press releases
news archives
Mike Moore's speeches
Renato Ruggiero's speeches, 1995-99

> WTO's development-related projects now open to private contributions
> annex1: Voluntary contributions, gifts or donations from non-governmental donors



Under the guidelines, the resources of the trust fund into which donations are channeled are generally expected to be applied to activities associated with the WTO Programme for Technical Assistance and other WTO-sponsored capacity building and training activities normally designed to assist governmental officials and other groups in developing countries. Non-governmental donors are encouraged to make donations to the trust fund at large and very specific earmarking (beyond the general activities referred to above) is strongly discouraged by the WTO.

Many activities to be supported by this trust fund are designed to make it possible for developing country officials to participate in WTO-sponsored activities both at WTO headquarters and outside of Geneva. Some examples of activities that could draw financing from the trust fund are described below.

  • Support of WTO Reference Centers in Developing Countries and LDCs: For several years, WTO, supported by voluntary contributions, has worked to establish computer workstations located in LDCs and certain developing countries, linked to the WTO over the internet and supplemented by CD-ROM training modules and reference materials. Apart from the supply of the computer and the costs of the initial setup in situ, there are hardware and software maintenance costs associated with this highly successful program. It could also be desirable in some instances to defray the high cost of internet service providers. With more adequate resources, the electronically-oriented reference centers could be further extended to cover WTO Members most in need.

  • WTO-Sponsored Capacity-Building and Training Activities: The WTO is involved with a wide range of technical assistance and training activities designed to build developing and least-developed countries' capacities to implement their obligations under the multilateral trading system and take full advantage of the opportunities that come with WTO membership. Unfortunately, the resources now available to the WTO through the regular budget and voluntary contributions from governments enable us to meet only a fraction of the demand for training. For example, today we are in a position to offer each of our developing country members only one trainee slot every other year. Non-government voluntary contributions could help WTO to significantly expand these important educational activities.

  • WTO-Related University-based Education and Training Programmes on WTO and Multilateral Trade Law and Policy: Today, most university-based expertise in WTO law and policy is found in North American and European universities. In order to expand the opportunities for university students in other parts of the world to study WTO law and trade policy, it has been suggested that WTO could work with selected universities to establish accredited programs and "chairs" in trade-related topics. A certain amount of funding would be required to permit course development and purchase and distribution of supporting books, electronic media and other materials.

  • Topical Symposia and Seminars: From time-to-time, seminars and symposia are organized by WTO (in cooperation with other institutions) to permit exchanges of views with experts on topics of current interest to WTO Member governments and representatives of civil society. The costs of such seminars and symposia, including travel costs of participants, normally cannot be borne by the WTO budget and therefore must normally be financed out of voluntary contributions. Some examples of topics which have been the subject of symposia and seminars in recent years include: trade and development, trade and environment, electronic commerce, and competition policy. In 2001, seminars are planned on trade facilitation and market access negotiating techniques.

  • Facilitation of Participation by Non-Resident Members and Least Developed Countries: Many WTO Members do not have the resources to support a permanent presence in Geneva and, as such, tend to have great difficulty understanding the work of the organization, participating in consultations and decision-making, and taking advantage of their rights in WTO. The Secretariat has explored ways to support LDC participation in key WTO meetings, including our regular "Geneva Week" programme for non-resident delegations. Facilitating basic participation in WTO activities by WTO's less fortunate Members and trade journalists from these countries is an activity which may be financed through the trust fund.