Launched in 2016, the WTO Young Professionals Programme is part of the WTO Secretariat's efforts to increase diversity and broaden the representation of the membership. The programme puts a special focus on WTO members that are not currently represented at the professional level in the WTO Secretariat.

The 2020 group included professionals from Albania, Bahrain, Cuba, Dominica, Fiji, Guyana, Israel, Lesotho, Mali, Mozambique, North Macedonia and Singapore.

The past year was unprecedented due to COVID-19, DDG Agah noted, with the pandemic forcing both WTO members and Secretariat staff to adapt to the current reality. “We all had to learn to work remotely and continue to serve our members,” he noted.

Despite this, the 2020 Young Professionals were still able to secure first-hand access to the activities taking place in the Secretariat. They were also able to witness key 2020 events such as the commemorations marking the 25th anniversary of the WTO and World Cotton Day, DDG Agah noted.

“The knowledge you have developed — as well as the contacts you make — can help you seize new professional opportunities,” he declared. “No matter where you are, I hope you will share this knowledge, put it to good use, and help your governments engage in the WTO.”

Speaking on behalf of the group, Maryam Aldoseri from Bahrain noted that this year's Young Professionals faced unique challenges and circumstances due to COVID-19 and admitted that the “ride was bumpy at times”. Nevertheless, the 2020 experience “has been an extremely transformative year” for all participants.

“Not only have we developed skills and expertise in the field of international trade policy, but we have also learned how integral trade is to global economic growth and progress — especially in light of the global pandemic and the path towards a stable global economic recovery,” she said.

The virtual event was attended by ambassadors and representatives of permanent missions from the Young Professionals' home countries as well as the directors and supervisors in the WTO divisions where they worked.    

In their own words — reflections on their experience

“As an open, actively curious and collaborative institutional economist, I was enchanted by the quality of the WTO work on services trade and investment. I was also inspired by the professionalism and friendliness of WTO colleagues in my division and beyond throughout this “red carpet” programme. Their entrusting of crucial projects intellectually exposed me to substantial trade concepts and policy approaches, sharpening my analytical, communication and diplomatic skills — absolutely essential in the professional world of international organizations where I intend to deploy them.” — Panagiotis Barkas (Albania)

“The broad experience and practical knowledge I have gained during my tenure here is invaluable and will serve me for many years to come. I look forward to applying the knowledge I have acquired at the Secretariat to my future career in international trade policy.” — Maryam Aldoseri (Bahrain)

“The YPP has strengthened my critical thinking in exploring the links between WTO disciplines and countries' trade policies. Working at the Institute for Training and Technical Cooperation has encouraged my desire to continue working in technical assistance so that everyone can enjoy the benefits of strong and equitable growth.” — Armando Enrique Pelaez (Cuba)

“The YP programme has been eye opening and engaging, COVID-19 notwithstanding. The year in Geneva has allowed me to explore the role of trade in international relations and geopolitics, exposed me to the trade issues of greatest urgency and interest to developing countries, and further clarified my long-term professional goals.” —  Roberta Allport (Dominica)

“The YPP has equipped me to put theoretical knowledge into practice. I hope that the future will provide me with the opportunity to utilize what I have learned in the context of the Pacific Oceania, and to play my small role in the region's development.” — Khushbu Rai (Fiji)

“My year as a Young Professional at the WTO can be summed up into two words — adaptability and resilience, skills greatly needed in my professional career. In the face of the many challenges presented this year, I have learned the importance of being able to adapt and work with others for the greater good of the team. This experience will remain etched in my memory.” — Romain Williams (Guyana)

“I had an amazing experience at the WTO this year thanks to the superb expertise and professionalism of my team members, which continuously empowered and inspired me.” — Bassam Peter Khazin (Israel)

“Working at the WTO has been a wonderful and enriching experience. I've acquired knowledge on various aspects of international trade in agriculture.  Going forward, I hope to help my country to gain market share in global trade.” — Thabo Joshua Moea (Lesotho)

“Being a Young Professional at the WTO in 2020 has taught me much about resilience, adaptability, flexibility and the importance of teamwork. I have greatly enjoyed my time at the Secretariat, and I will undoubtedly apply the lessons I have learned here in both my professional career and my personal life. It was an honour to be selected for the WTO's Young Professionals Programme and I will always cherish this experience.” — Nana Mariam Maiga (Mali)

“Being a WTO Young Professional this year was an experience like no other, as I leaned the importance of flexibility and management of expectations. These are skills I will take with me for future endeavours.” — Kérshia Cavele (Mozambique)

“The YPP has enabled me to immerse myself in the Legal Affairs Division's core work and grasp the importance of the WTO dispute settlement system. Working alongside exceptional professionals, in an incredibly supportive environment, has allowed me to build upon my knowledge of substantive and procedural matters, as well as to create valuable relationships along the way.” — Aleksandra Gjorgieska (North Macedonia)

“I am extremely grateful for this invaluable opportunity to observe first-hand the finer details of international trade and multilateralism, especially hailing from a small city state like Singapore where trade is the lifeblood of our economy, by interacting with delegates and working alongside secretariat colleagues on issues related to the global pandemic. The technical skills I honed over the past year will provide a solid platform for me to continue my professional development with an Economics PhD and will help me contribute to research supporting the rules-based multilateral trading system that has improved millions of lives over the 25-year history of the WTO.” — Mun How Mong (Singapore)




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