WTO Deputy Director-General Yonov Frederick Agah, who chaired the virtual closing ceremony on 14 December, said: “I would like to commend the interns for their active engagement in the work of the WTO despite the challenges arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. The internship programmes have provided government officials with an opportunity to be involved in the WTO's work in Geneva and to contribute to building sustainable trade-related capacity in their home countries.”

Interns are selected from across the world, with an emphasis on sub-Saharan Africa, LDCs, small, vulnerable economies (SVEs), countries with small missions in Geneva, as well as acceding and recently acceded WTO members. To date, over 480 officials have taken part in the programmes, representing 95 countries.

The Netherlands Trainee Programme (NTP), funded by the government of the Netherlands, aims to assist LDCs, low‑income countries and SVEs in the areas of trade policy related to economic and social development. A total of 16 government officials worked in various divisions of the WTO Secretariat  in 2020. More than 200 public officials from developing countries have taken part in the programme over the past 15 years.

The Netherlands' Ambassador to the WTO, Monique T.G Van Daalen, said: “I warmly congratulate this year's trainees for concluding the programme despite these challenging times. We hope that their deepened understanding of the rules-based trading system and multilateral cooperation will enable them to assist their respective countries in better integrating into the multilateral trading system and fully benefitting from WTO membership.”

The objective of the internship programme sponsored by France and Ireland (FIMIP) is similar to the aims of the NTP, but interns work in their respective permanent missions in Geneva and have the opportunity to represent their countries at WTO meetings. Priority is given to missions of LDCs and SVEs. This year's programme involved 19 government officials.

France's Permanent Representative to the WTO, Jean-Marie Paugam, said: “France is committed to helping developing countries strengthen their trade-related capacities so that they may benefit from multilateral trade rules and trade negotiations. France has been the programme's main donor over the last 10 years, contributing over EUR 8 million and helping to finance the participation of more than 200 FIMIP trainees. In the future, we would like to ensure parity in the FIMIP selection process, enhance the FIMIP network and deepen the programme's focus on sustainable development. We would also like to develop synergies with other technical assistance programmes such as the Chairs programme.”

Ireland’s Ambassador to the WTO, Michael Gaffey, said: “On behalf of the government of Ireland, I want to congratulate all of the participants for completing this year’s programme under such challenging circumstances.  I hope that the expertise gained in various trade-related areas will help them carry out their respective functions in their home countries to the highest standards.”

Interns from the Regional Coordinator Internship (RCI) Programme are chosen by a WTO member that coordinates a regional group in the WTO. Funded by the WTO DDA Global Trust Fund, the programme allows the beneficiaries to work directly with the permanent mission in charge of the regional coordination. Six interns participated in this year's programme.

Participants in the programme

Moazzam Ali Haider, Section Officer at Pakistan's Ministry of Commerce, said: “By working closely with the WTO Secretariat's trade experts, I was able to improve my knowledge and understanding of how the multilateral trading system functions. I intend to use my new skills and expertise to assist my country in strengthening its participation in trade negotiations so as to foster economic growth in Pakistan.”

Riphath Agbobli, member of the Public Procurement Control Unit of Benin's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Co-operation, said: “My participation in several WTO meetings has fundamentally strengthened my understanding of the WTO's various functions, including negotiations. I intend to use my newly acquired expertise to help my government fulfil its WTO obligations and commitments, notably related to notifications and transparency.”

Binita Lhadon Ghalley, from Bhutan's Ministry of Economic Affairs, said: “This course helped me broaden my knowledge and understanding of the functions of the WTO and the multilateral trading system in general. Working in the Enhanced Integrated Framework Secretariat and in the LDC Unit of the Development Division was very useful, given the relevance of this work to my country. This experience will enable me to contribute positively to my country’s preparation for graduation from LDC status and its integration into the global trading system.”




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