15 December 2005

The Secretariats of the WTO and UNIDO hold side-event at Hong Kong Ministerial

On the occasion of the WTO 6th Ministerial Meeting in Hong Kong, WTO and UNIDO held a side-event on 15 December 2005 on the implementation of the Joint Cooperation Agreement between WTO and UNIDO and on the UNIDO Cotton Initiative for Africa.

The side-event brought together representatives of WTO and UNIDO members attending the Ministerial Meeting, as well as representatives of the two Secretariats. Representatives of other international organizations having an interest in these topics also participated. The side-event was chaired by Ambassador Samuel Amehou (Benin). Panelists included representatives from the WTO and UNIDO Secretariats and the African Cotton Association.

On the WTO/UNIDO Joint Cooperation Agreement, opening statements were made by representatives of the two Secretariats. In a statement on behalf of Deputy Director-General Valentine Rugwabiza of WTO, the importance that WTO attached to coherence in trade capacity building initiatives and partnerships was confirmed, and it was stressed that these joint cooperation activities fit well within the broader overall objectives of the Doha negotiations. It had become increasingly apparent that it was not enough to look only at the trade-related aspects in building the capacities of developing countries, but supply-side constraints needed to be addressed as well.

UNIDO's statement reaffirmed its commitment to the Joint Cooperation Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the WTO, as well as the commitment of UNIDO's new Director-General to trade capacity building as one of the fundamental objectives of UNIDO. Commitments made by UNIDO in trade capacity building now totalled US$ 55 million for TRTACB in 2005, as compared to less than US$ 8 million of 2002. The project documents for beneficiary countries were presented. The main priority actions to be taken included: strengthening supply side capacities, and more specifically tackling barriers to trade (by strengthening standardization, certification and accreditation). Moreover, initiatives to provide marketing and technical information, necessary to facilitate access to markets, were included. UNIDO would undertake a major fund mobilization effort with donors in order to finance the projects.

The side-event also focused on the contributions by UNIDO to the implementation of the WTO Mandate on the development assistance aspects of cotton. Presentations were made by the WTO and by UNIDO. The WTO statement reviewed the Director-General's Second Periodic Report to the WTO Membership on the Development Assistance Aspects of Cotton, which has been circulated at the Ministerial Conference. UNIDO presented its New Cotton Initiative for Africa.

Participants seized the opportunity to express their support for the efforts of the two organizations in the implementation of the cooperation agreement and of the UNIDO Cotton Initiative, both focused on the supply-side challenges confronting developing countries. Many expressed an interest in being included in the programmes of the two Secretariats in the next stage.