In a report on recent trade-related technical assistance activities and training, the WTO Secretariat said that despite the pandemic, most of the qualitative objectives for the programmes have been met in 2020. The importance of courses offering a choice between physical and online presence was highlighted in the context of the COVID-19 crisis.
WTO Deputy Director-General Yonov Frederick Agah, who oversees development matters in the WTO, stressed the importance of the WTO's technical assistance programme for developing countries and LDCs. “The technical assistance provided by the WTO plays an essential part in facilitating the better integration of the beneficiaries into the multilateral trading system,” he said.
The Secretariat announced new tools to help manage members' requests for such activities, including a new simplified procedure for requesting national activities online.
Comments from WTO members included a request for feedback from the beneficiary governments, in particular where the technical assistance activities were providing the most benefits.
Also discussed were two reports prepared by the WTO Secretariat: the 2019 Annual Report on the WTO's technical assistance activities and a plan for monitoring and evaluating these activities. Declining participation of beneficiaries in online courses, particularly by LDC beneficiaries, was reported in 2019 due to infrastructure constraints.
The assistance and training activities are funded through a mix of members' regular and voluntary contributions to the WTO budget. They are aimed at helping developing countries build their trade capacity so that they can better understand WTO agreements and decisions and participate more effectively both in multilateral trade negotiations and in global trade.