WTO CHAIRS PROGRAMME
The WTO Chairs Programme (WCP) aims to support and promote trade-related academic activities by universities and research institutions in developing and least-developed countries. A total of 19 universities remain part of the network of WTO Chairs, while the selection of a new cohort of Chairs for the next four-year term is still ongoing.
DDG Zhang cited the value and significance of the WCP Chairs' activities and of the latest projects in particular, noting the importance of the programme in supplying developing and least-developing countries with training, research, and policy advice on various WTO-related matters. This kind of support and outreach is crucial, particularly in the run up to the WTO's 12th Ministerial Conference later this year, he added.
A call for project proposals was issued earlier this year to the existing network of WTO Chairs. Following this call, fourteen proposals were submitted by the Chairs, including three joint proposals. Eleven of these proposals were selected on a competitive basis and grants awarded from the Dutch and French funds to fifteen Chairs in Asia, Africa, and the Americas.
The projects selected are aimed at improving developing and least developing countries' understanding of key issues relating to the WTO and trending topics in global trade, such as regional value chains and export diversification; sustainable economic recovery; trade, environment and the circular economy; e-commerce and digital trade; micro, small and medium-sized enterprises; and inclusive trade, including gender issues. Many of the projects will take the perspective of addressing these topics in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and the post-pandemic environment.
During a virtual launch event, the Chairs presented the selected research and outreach projects and discussed the synergies between the Chairs’ research work and various WTO activities and flagship publications.