WTO news: what’s been happening in the WTO

7 March 2002

Pledging Conference to provide sound financial basis for Doha Agenda

Trade Ministers and officials, high-ranking representatives from International Organizations and experts on finance and development will attend a Pledging Conference in Geneva on Monday 11 March 2002, organized by the WTO. The Conference is aimed at securing funds to enhance technical assistance and capacity-building to help developing countries participate more actively in the Doha Development Agenda.

“This Pledging Conference demonstrates the continuing momentum of the Doha Development Agenda,” said WTO Director-General Mike Moore, who will chair the conference. “And this is not only a fund-raising exercise, but also an opportunity for substantive policy dialogue among members. Ministers and eminent personalities will be able to develop their thoughts on specific aspects of trade-related technical assistance and capacity-building and, in particular, the challenge posed by the mandate of the Doha Declarations to provide a sound financial basis for WTO technical cooperation activities”.

Countries and Institutions are expected to pledge their contributions to the Doha Development Agenda Global Trust Fund, created by a decision of the WTO General Council in December 2001.

Participants will include Donald Johnston, Secretary-General, OECD; N.K. Biwott, Minister for Trade and Industry, Kenya; Louis Kasekende, Deputy Governor, Bank of Uganda; Jamel Eddine Zarrouk, Division Chief, Arab Monetary Fund. Top executives from the Asian Development Bank, the African Development Bank, the European Development Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank and the Islamic Development Bank, will also attend.

The Conference will open with a pre-recorded video message by Luis Ernesto Derbez, Secretary of the Economy of Mexico, the host country of the Fifth WTO Ministerial Conference to be held in 2003.

At the meeting, donor countries and organizations will announce how much money they plan to give to finance WTO technical assistance. The Doha Development Agenda Global Trust Fund initial target was set at CHF 15 million (US$10 million).

Once the funding is in place, the money will be assigned to develop and extend a number of different technical assistance programs being provided by the WTO in response to member government needs.


These include:

Geneva Weeks

Introduced in November 1999, these have now been mainstreamed by the WTO as twice yearly week-long events bringing together representatives of member countries which do not have the resources to maintain permanent missions in Geneva. They keep these members informed about what is going on in the WTO, and provide an opportunity for them to meet, exchange policy ideas and provide input on their countries' needs.

WTO Reference Centers

There are now more than 100 reference centers providing resource-constrained members with a direct Internet link to information and databases at the WTO. The WTO provides to Least-Developed Countries the computer equipment, Internet connection, and training for each center's operation. For other developing countries the focus is on providing training and information to their trade officials, which enables them to participate more effectively and actively in the work of the WTO.

Ministerial Conferences

Capacity-building in this area played a key role in contributing to the successful launch of the Doha Development Agenda by helping the African Group and the LDC (Least Developed Country) groups play a more active role than in previous Ministerial Conferences. The program aims at providing expertise on WTO matters through trade policy courses, seminars and workshops, to officials and negotiators of developing countries, enabling more effective participation at ministerial conferences.

“In the delivery of WTO Trade-Related Technical Assistance, although all developing countries are beneficiaries, the priority focus remains the LDCs, the non-resident countries, and the small and vulnerable economies,” said Mr Moore.

> Programme of the Pledging Conference