Factsheet on trade related technical assistance


Technical assistance is primarily geared towards government officials from developing countries, least-developed countries, economies in transition and countries in the process of joining the WTO.  The audience can also include representatives from civil society, journalists, academia and the private sector.

 Types of activity

The WTO organizes nearly 300 technical assistance activities every year, and trains over 14,000 government officialsMost WTO divisions are involved with the delivery of the courses.  The training activities include lectures, presentations, roundtables, meetings with experts, simulation exercises and attendance at WTO meetings.  The courses include two-month Advanced Trade Policy Courses (ATPCs) held in Geneva, regional Intermediate Trade Policy Courses, regional seminars, workshops and training events on specific topics.  WTO members are invited to submit written requests for national technical assistance to the Secretariat, based on their individual needs.

The TA activities provide different levels of training Around two-thirds of activities are held at the national level and one-third at the regional level. The vast majority of activities address specific WTO agreements, such as the General Agreement on Services, the Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures, and the Technical Barriers to Trade Agreement, and deal with a range of trade issues, such as market access, customs valuation, rules of origin, intellectual property, development and trade facilitation.

Geographical coverage

A key objective is to maintain a geographical balance in the delivery of activities but special attention is given to Africa, which benefits from over one-third of activities annually. Nearly 15 per cent of the WTO's technical assistance is geared towards Asia and the Pacific, while other activities are divided between Latin America, Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Arab countries and the Middle East, and the Caribbean.

Priority is given to least-developed countries (LDCs), which are associated with over 45 per cent of all technical assistance delivered, including national activities held in LDCs, regional seminars, workshops and training activities to which LDCs are invited. Some products are specifically or largely geared towards LDCs, e.g. the three-week Introduction Courses for LDCs, "Geneva Weeks" for WTO members who do not have permanent missions in Geneva, the Reference Centres Programme, and the Netherlands Trainee Programme (NTP).  LDCs receive priority attention in the selection process for Geneva-based training courses. 


The implementation costs for the two-year TA Plan are around CHF 18 million. Some CHF 4.5 million is financed from the WTO's regular budget and CHF 14 million is provided from outside this budget. Contributions from WTO members have declined in recent years owing to the ongoing impact of the recent global financial crisis. One of the key challenges for the WTO is to increase the stability of financing  for technical assistance activities as well as to ensure the timely receipt of contributions.


The WTO collaborates with a large number of international organizations and other bodies to deliver technical assistance activities. For example, the WTO participates in events organized by, or in cooperation with, other agencies  and in trade-related conferences, symposia and high-level meetings. The WTO also makes use of the services of external consultants who participate in the delivery of regional and national activities and who undertake research. Also, university professors and researchers often participate as lecturers.

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