24 March 2005

The WTO and the Netherlands launch new trainee programme for LDCs

The WTO and the Kingdom of the Netherlands launched today (24 March 2005) a new Trainee Programme for LDCs and other low income, and small and vulnerable, economies. The objective is to give the officials from such countries the opportunity to learn, while working for the WTO, about trade and development related matters and to develop their knowledge of trade policy. After up to 10 months of WTO internship, the trainees will go back to their ministries and contribute to the strengthening of their countries' institutional capacity.

In the course of a brief signing ceremony, Ambassador de Jong of the Netherlands and Director-General Supachai Panitchpakdi expressed their common conviction that the new programme would be instrumental in bolstering the capacity of beneficiary countries to participate in the ongoing and intensifying negotiations under the Doha Development Agenda.

After warmly welcoming the generous contribution from the Netherlands, which has been a staunch supporter of the WTO's technical assistance programme, Dr Supachai expressed his confidence that direct WTO work experience would be an innovative way of building sustainable capacity for effective participation in the multilateral trading system.

The Dutch Government is contributing a total of 2 million euros over four years for the financing of the internship programme. This is in addition to the existing Dutch contribution to the WTO Global Trust Fund for technical assistance.

The aim of the Trainee Programme, which is scheduled to start on 1 April 2005, is to assist in the economic and social development of the countries concerned, in areas related to trade policy, by providing officials from beneficiary countries an opportunity to work on specific topics under the direction of staff members of the organization. Particular attention will be given to African countries. It is expected that up to 20 trainees may participate in the programme each year.