22 December 2004

Closure of the Regional Trade Policy Course for French-speaking Africa in Rabat, Morocco  

The Regional Trade Policy Course for French-Speaking Africa, organized in partnership with Mohammed V - Souissi University in Rabat, Morocco, came to an end on 10 December 2004. It had officially been launched on 20 September.

The closing ceremony was attended by Professor Abdelhamid El Iraki, Vice President of Research - Cooperation - Partnership at Mohammed V - Souissi University, and Mr Mustapha Mechaouri, Minister of Foreign Trade of the Kingdom of Morocco. Also present were a number of important dignataries, not only from Mohammed V - Souissi University, but also from the Ministry of National Education, Higher Education, Staff Training and Scientific Research and from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

H.E. M Mustapha Mechaouri, Minister of Foreign Trade, recalling all that had been done to ensure that the course was a total success, thanked all of the Members of the WTO Secretariat and of Mohammed V - Souissi University, the regional representatives, and the course participants, whom he congratulated for their efficient participation and their professional and intellectual curiosity, as well as all of the donor countries for their contribution to the WTO's special technical assistance fund. He concluded by addressing the following words to participants: "We feel certain that the course you have attended and the work you have done under the supervision of the university representatives will enable you to pursue the best trade interests of our countries at the multilateral level".

Mr Paul Rolian, Director of the WTO Institute for Training and Technical Cooporation, said in his closing statement that the course owed its success largely to the excellent cooperation and to the spirit of partnership displayed throughout by Mohammed V - Souissi University. He also congratulated the participants for all of their efforts and urged them to put what they had learned to the best possible use within their ministries.

Mr El Iraki then recalled the formula that had been adopted for the presentation of the course modules, which involved joint delivery by experts from the WTO Secretariat (26) and an equal number of specialists from the French-speaking African region, including 3 Moroccans. Thanks to the regional academic resources from institutions of higher education or research institutes, it was possible to give the course an added dimension in which regional realities and concerns were reflected. He also stressed the fact that participants had been able to take part in professional visits to the various Moroccan Ministries and institutions.

Mr Adamou Aba Bagnan of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and African Integration of Benin made a brief statement on behalf of the participants, stressing the excellent work of all involved, and sincerely thanked the WTO as well as Morocco for supporting the project. The bonds of friendship that had developed over those 12 weeks, added to the increased familiarity with WTO matters, had made the experience worthwhile from every point of view.

The course was attended by 23 officials from French-speaking African countries. During the 12 weeks, they were able to become acquainted with the rules of the WTO and how the organization operates. They acquired and deepened their knowledge of trade policy, and will now be better equipped to help build up the capacity of their governments to articulate and defend their national interests.

The next regional trade policy course, for the Caribbean, will begin next January in Kingston, Jamaica.