WTO news: what’s been happening in the WTO

9 May 2002

WTO/ADB to cooperate on trade-related technical assistance programmes for Asian and Pacific countries

World Trade Organization Deputy Director-General Paul-Henri Ravier and Asian Development Bank Vice-President Myoung-Ho Shin signed on 9 May 2002 a memorandum of understanding under which their institutions agreed to cooperate on joint technical assistance programmes for participants from the ADB's developing member governments.

The document was signed at the Asian Development Bank 35th Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors, in Shanghai, China, preceding an ADB seminar on the Doha Development Agenda negotiations and their implications for developing Asia.

To help member governments meet their multilateral trade challenges, the WTO and the ADB will step up joint efforts working with members to strengthen their participation in the multilateral trading system.

The importance of capacity building was highlighted in the Doha Ministerial Declaration, in which WTO Members sought to place the priorities and interests of developing countries and least developed countries at the heart of the WTO's work programme.

The memorandum of understanding serves as a model for regional development banks to support their borrowing member countries through technical assistance and capacity building programmes that will allow them to play a larger role in the Doha Development Agenda.

Under the memorandum, the WTO and the ADB will work to establish joint programmes to support, among other activities, regional and subregional workshops and meetings, training courses, distance learning courses and analysis of trade policy and multilateral negotiations issues.

The WTO and ADB will also consider cooperating on technical assistance programmes to strengthen Asian and Pacific countries' capacity in trade-related areas pertaining to the environment, competition, government procurement, investment and trade facilitation.

In recent years the WTO and the ADB have collaborated in numerous activities, including with the participation of WTO officials as lecturers in seminars and workshops organized by the ADB.

At the 10th of May Seminar, Mr. Ravier, in his presentation on the WTO strategic partnership with the ADB for trade-related technical assistance and capacity building services to developing countries, will highlight the fact that

“creative thinking will help create strategic partnerships to leverage more resources, to expand our joint activities and meet the technical assistance expectations of developing and least-developed countries highlighted in the Doha Ministerial Declaration”.

The importance of capacity building was prioritized in the Doha Development Agenda, on which WTO Members placed the interests of developing and least-developed countries at the heart of the WTO's work programme. Furthermore, Mr. Mike Moore, Director-General of the WTO, has convened a meeting with heads of regional banks, funds and other development organizations, in Geneva on 3 May 2002. He believes that regional banks and funds can play an important role in helping countries to meet the capacity building challenges of the Doha Development Agenda. The WTO is already working closely with a number of regional banks especially in the area of technical cooperation. This meeting was an opportunity for the WTO to further develop our cooperation with them in supporting countries to meet their WTO-related capacity building challenges and to discuss how our respective organizations can work more closely together. It was also an excellent opportunity for these regional banks to explain to WTO Members and heads of other regional organizations their important work in WTO-related capacity building and to discuss possible avenues for future cooperation.