The Netherlands Trainee Programme

On 24 March 2005, the Netherlands and the WTO signed an arrangement concerning the Netherlands Trainee Programme, which WTO will be responsible for implementing.

See also:
> Press release: The WTO and the Netherlands launch new trainee programme for LDCs

The aim of the Trainee Programme is to assist in the economic and social development of least developed countries (LDCs), low income countries and comparable poor small and vulnerable economies in areas related to trade policy and to provide essentially junior public officials with the opportunity to learn about matters dealt with within the WTO, under the direction of staff members of the WTO. Particular attention will be given to African countries. It is expected that up to 20 trainees will be accommodated per year.


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Main Objectives 

The main objective of the Programme is to generate tangible and measurable results and thus leave a lasting trace, including through:

  • building sustainable capacity in beneficiary countries, by providing officials with an opportunity to directly participate in WTO's work in Geneva;
  • providing exposure to ongoing activities in the Secretariat, which will assist officials in enhancing their understanding of the functioning of the WTO and the Multilateral Trading System (MTS), and providing relevant policy advice to the governments;
  • facilitating the implementation of Member's commitments in the WTO; and,
  • contributing to the achievement of the goals of the Doha Development Agenda (DDA), and more specifically, those set out in the Decision of the General Council in August 2004 (the "July package").


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Terms and Conditions 

The official will spend a total period of up to ten months with the WTO and will be expected to complete a specific and well defined task in that period in conformity with the objectives of the Programme. This task will need to have specific relevance for the beneficiary country in terms of capacity building and/or in the ongoing negotiations and will be defined prior to the beginning of the traineeship. By way of illustration, these tasks can include:

  • undertaking a "needs assessment" for identifying priorities for technical assistance and training, based on the guidelines established in the Summer of 2004 to that effect;
  • contributing to the attainment of the "July Package", e.g. tabling an initial or improved offer in services;
  • fulfilling outstanding notification obligations and assisting in the implementation of commitments for new, recently acceded, Members;
  • assisting acceding countries in their process of accession;
  • assisting in the preparation of Trade Policy Reviews (TPRs);
  • undertaking other tasks which would contribute to a better and fuller participation of the beneficiary country in the MTS; and,
  • assisting WTO Divisions in specific tasks, with the exception of dispute settlement proceedings.
  • The Trainees shall not be assigned to regular staff posts and shall be considered as supplementary staff within the Organization.

The Trainees shall be subject, for the duration of their assignment, to the Staff Regulations and Rules applicable to the Organization, including "The Standards of Conduct", as set out in the letters of appointment issued by the Organization.

The Trainees shall be subject to the authority of the Director-General of the Organization, and shall be responsible to him/her in the exercise of their duties.

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Selection and Nomination 

The selection of the candidates will be conducted by the Secretariat, following nominations to be received from beneficiaries, which are to be addressed along with a detailed CV to the Director of the Institute for Training and Technical Co-operation of the WTO, Geneva. The qualifications of the officials will be carefully examined in the selection process in light of the tasks to be accomplished. This process may entail interviews with them to further discuss the tasks and objectives and to get a fuller appreciation of the level of knowledge on the WTO in light of the objectives to be achieved. The selection criteria that are applied for Trade Policy Courses will also serve as a reference tool. The candidates can emerge from different processes.

  • Officials can emerge directly from the Geneva-based Trade Policy Courses (TPCs) and/or Regional TPCs, as well as from the Short TPCs, if a suitable candidate is identified during the course, the course is completed successfully and an interest in the programme is expressed. The initiative to propose participation in the Netherlands Trainee Programme can come either from the Secretariat or from the trainee that participates in the TPC, STPC, RTPC. In such cases, the authorities of the official would be duly informed.
  • Governments can submit names of candidates in writing, following a letter of invitation to be issued by the Secretariat. The submission would need to contain information on the suitability of the candidate as well as on the specific tasks that he/she is expected to accomplish including the objective(s) of the traineeship. Candidates should have successfully completed a WTO trade policy course and/or attended other WTO short trade policy courses, workshops and training activities and possess at least three years of professional working experience in WTO related issues. Candidates have a relevant academic degree and have good drafting skills.
  • The Secretariat can select trainees who have contacted the Secretariat to that effect directly and who meet the general suitability requirements and conditions for performing specific tasks. Here again the authorities of the official would be duly informed.


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Having been accepted by the Organization and having accepted an appointment, the Trainees will receive a monthly lump sum (CHF 5,000) and the Letter of Appointment will include appropriate information concerning the traineeship and the conditions of work. Trainees shall be appointed for a period of up to ten months. The conditions of service imply that there is no expectation of renewal or extension of the traineeship, or conversion into another form of WTO contract. Trainees would be working full time like staff members and carry out tasks and duties assigned to them by the WTO. Trainees may be required to travel to perform their tasks and undertake part of their assignment in capital (e.g. for conducting their country's needs assessment, or its TPR). The Trainee shall be subject to supervision by a senior staff member of the Organization. For contracts longer than one month, the supervisor may authorize time off not exceeding two and a half days per month. However, untaken annual leave will not be compensated at the time of separation from service.

In light of the considerable amount of interest already expressed in the programme, it would be preferable that enquiries be addressed to the Secretariat through their governments.


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