WTO news: what’s been happening in the WTO

11 March 2002

Governments pledge CHF 30 million to Doha Development Agenda Global Trust Fund

World Trade Organization Member Governments today pledged CHF 30 million, doubling the target set for a new Global Trust Fund that will boost technical assistance and help developing countries to build capacity and participate fully in the Doha Development Agenda, said WTO Director-General Mike Moore today (March 11).

The successful result was “yet another solid step forward” for the Doha Development Agenda, said Mr Moore during the Doha Development Agenda Global Trust Fund (DDAGTF) Pledging Conference in Geneva, which was attended by senior trade officials, high-ranking representatives from International Organizations and experts on finance and development.

“This is a remarkable outcome and will help ensure that the world’s most vulnerable countries have a more effective voice in the new Trade Round,” said Mr Moore. “We are on schedule and ahead of target, as promised at Doha. Donors have kept their word. We have secured a high level of commitment to helping us meet our mandate of increasing the level of WTO Trade-Related Technical Assistance”. Mr Moore added that he believed the result indicated donors recognized the hard work the WTO had done to increase transparency and accountability in its auditing and performance-evaluation mechanisms for its programs.

Mr Moore noted that one of the key features of the new trade round launched last November, was that for the first time, developing countries had put conditionality on the developed, by demanding capacity-building and technical assistance in order to fully take part. The Pledging Conference was convened in accordance with the December 2001 decision by the WTO General Council to establish a sound and predictable basis for funding WTO Trade-Related Technical Assistance (TRTA). In that decision, the General Council set a target amount of core funding totalling CHF 15 million. Some governments also agreed to provide significant support in kind, including organizing their own training courses for trade officials.

Although developing countries world-wide will benefit from DDAGTF-financed programs, the primary focus will be the least developed countries, and countries without representatives in Geneva, said Mr Moore. “We have consulted fully with all of our members, and especially the developing countries, in order to effectively respond to their needs”.

The successful launch of the Global Trust Fund also highlighted the increasing acceptance amongst the multilateral institutions of the need for greater coherence in providing resources to developing countries, said Mr Moore. “The Doha Development Agenda established an extensive and unprecedented agenda for trade and development, including for TRTA, which far exceeds the delivery capacity of any one organization," he said. “This Pledging Conference has given us a unique opportunity to initiate an urgent and necessary policy dialogue on several issues at the core of technical cooperation and capacity-building. Central to current discussions on this is the urgent necessity for coordination and coherence amongst agencies and between agencies and the bilateral donor community”.

Mr Moore said that there were clear limits to what the WTO could and could not do in implementing the Doha Development Agenda. “It’s not for us to tell countries and companies to make T-shirts or shoes, build airports or seaports. Our core business in this context is helping countries build the capacity for them to successfully conclude the new round”.

There are seven levels to the architecture that the WTO conceives for addressing the mandates for technical cooperation and capacity building. These are:

  • To negotiate and design effective inter-agency groups, focused on issues and activities, for the coordinated delivery of TRTA.
  • The Integrated Framework for Trade-Related Assistance. The unique aspect of the last meeting of Agency Heads was the unanimous undertaking to support developing and least-developed countries in the new round of trade negotiations and the negotiations of the Doha Development Agenda, on the basis of complementary expertise of the agencies.
  • The creation of a Doha/Trade-Related Technical Assistance Database, which maintains a country file that is continuously updated, recording the assistance being receiving from different multilateral and bilateral donors.
  • Effective coordinated delivery of TRTA by the WTO and bilateral donors in the Development Assistance Committee of the OECD.
  • Building a strategic partnership with the Regional Banks, Institutions and Commissions. The MOU signed last month with the Inter-American Development Bank provides a model for this sort of cooperation.
  • The WTO Secretariat-wide Annual Technical Assistance Plan, which, in coordination with some agencies, responds to the short term TRTA needs of the beneficiary members. The Plan is a significant step forward in delivering on the Doha mandates. It contains a total of 514 activities. Implementation has effectively begun, and will now be accelerated.
  • New oversight mechanisms to evaluate performance and delivery of programmes.

“Success breeds success, which creates confidence,” said Mr Moore. “We have a new negotiating structure in place, chairpersons appointed to key committees, meetings scheduled for the year for help resource-constrained countries plan their activities, a new venue and a host minister who is deeply engaged. Our new budget announced after Doha greatly increased our ability to deliver in promised areas. This very successful Pledging Conference adds to that momentum”.

He added: “We doubled our training capacity before this conference and our team is now engaged in creative initiatives in distance education and using new technology to tutor students. More work will be done in this area and announced soon. We are seeking out and negotiating with new partners to ensure in-depth training accelerates, and is built into our drive to build capacity for developing countries to participate in negotiations, advance their interests, conclude agreements and implement them”.