WTO news: what’s been happening in the WTO

17 December 2001

First edition of the Commonwealth Secretariat WTO's Familiarization Programme

This Programme which started on 3 December and ended on 14 December 2001 is the first of its kind. It has been designed for participants in the 18th WTO Trade Policy Course from Commonwealth countries with no representation in Geneva.

Following the 11 weeks spent in that Course, they are staying for two extra weeks to attend the Commonwealth Secretariat Programme. The participants from Fiji, Namibia, Papua New Guinea, Sierra Leone and Solomon Islands are thus the first beneficiaries of the Programme. Mr. Vinod Rege, Advisor on WTO issues of the London-based Commonwealth Secretariat, was responsible for organizing and guiding the training under the Programme.

The Programme consists of intensive briefings sessions in those subject areas of special interest identified earlier on by the participants. Officials from various organizations are taking part in these sessions, mainly UNCTAD, AITIC and the London-based Commonwealth Secretariat, as well as Geneva Ambassadors and delegates. Each participant is required to write a briefing paper for their government on a particular subject currently on the WTO agenda.

Mr. Richard Gold, Director, Export and Industrial Development Division of the Commonwealth Secretariat, and H.E. Mr. Ransford Smith, Ambassador of Jamaica and Chairman of the Group of Commonwealth Developing Countries, held a ceremony to which they invited Ambassadors, delegates, representatives from IGOs and members of the WTO Secretariat. The ceremony was followed by a small reception. A joint Commonwealth Secretariat / WTO Training Institute certificate was presented to the participants jointly by Mr. Gold and WTO Deputy Director-General Paul-Henri Ravier, on behalf of WTO Director-General Mike Moore.

The participants have shown great interest in the programme which has been put together for them. Being tailored specifically to their wishes, the programme appears to meet their expectations. The Commonwealth Secretariat expressed its interest in having it renewed at the end of the 19th WTO Trade Policy Course, which will take place from 14 January to 5 April 2002.

This Programme has been organized jointly by the Commonwealth Secretariat and the WTO Training Institute.