In his welcome remarks, WTO Deputy Director-General Yonov Frederick Agah said: “This is an important year for the WTO, marked by the appointment of our new Director-General, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. Reforms are under discussion among members. Negotiations and discussions are under way on issues ranging from fisheries subsidies to e-commerce, domestic regulation in services and investment facilitation for development. And we are on the road to the 12th Ministerial Conference.” He encouraged the interns to “observe, listen, learn, contribute, and network” and “make the most of your time during this challenging era for the WTO and the world.”

The interns have been selected from across the world, with an emphasis on Sub-Saharan Africa; LDCs; small, vulnerable economies (SVEs); countries with small missions in Geneva; acceding governments; and recently acceded WTO members. The internships will last for ten months.

Twenty interns are taking part in the 2021 French-Irish Mission Internship Programme, funded by France and Ireland. The programme seeks to build sustainable trade-related capacity in beneficiary countries by providing officials with an opportunity to participate in the WTO's work in Geneva. The interns work in their respective permanent missions in Geneva and can represent their countries at WTO meetings. Priority is given to missions of LDCs and SVEs.

France's WTO Permanent Representative, Jean-Marie Paugam, said: “Since 2009, France has been the main donor to the French-Irish Mission Internship Programme. We are pleased that positive results were reported in a February 2020 evaluation. France and the beneficiaries of the programme are certain of its importance in helping to build a multilateral trading system adapted to the needs of all members at all levels of development. France will continue to discuss with the WTO Secretariat the next phases for this trade-related capacity-building fund so that it continues to be of benefit to developing countries.”

Ireland's WTO Ambassador, Michael Gaffey, said: “I am delighted to welcome the 2021 cohort of interns. This year will be momentous with the start of the new Director-General's term and the Twelfth Ministerial Conference. I hope that all participants are able to make the most of their experience despite this challenging time and I wish them a very successful year.”

Sixteen interns are participating in the 2021 Netherlands Trainee Programme, which is funded by the government of the Netherlands. The programme aims to assist LDCs, low‑income countries and SVEs in the areas of trade policy related to economic and social development. By providing the interns with access to ongoing activities in the WTO Secretariat, the programme seeks to help them enhance their understanding and knowledge of the functioning of the WTO and the multilateral trading system.

The Netherlands' WTO Ambassador, Monique Van Daalen, said: “I warmly welcome the new interns to the WTO. With the upcoming MC12 and the newly appointed DG, this is an inspiring time to be at the WTO. I encourage all participants to enjoy this momentous period, to build up a network of contacts and to participate in the discussions on WTO reform.”

The ceremony was attended by WTO ambassadors and officials from the countries represented in the programmes.




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