Trade Policy Development > World Trade Organization (WTO)

General WTO-related technical assistance and training

This area covers activities geared towards government officials with a broad overall WTO responsibility and a general knowledge of the multilateral trading system, and who are therefore neither specialists nor technicians. This also includes officials who have recently assumed responsibilities with regard to the WTO, and have not had much exposure to the theory and practice of WTO rules and regulations, and for whom this is an opportunity to exchange information and share experiences. The main purpose is to initiate officials into the rules of the WTO and/or to raise the general level of knowledge. Basic training aims to ensure that participants will have:

  • Developed a good understanding of all aspects of the WTO, including the Agreements (transfer of knowledge);
  • Improved their analytical and negotiating skills (improvement of skills);
  • Learned to use effectively the relevant information and documentation on trade-related issues (autonomy);
  • Strengthened their capacity to work in teams and in an international environment (teamwork);
  • Established and/or strengthened a network of contacts with each other and the trainers/experts (network);
  • Built institutional partnerships at the regional level for capacity building activities;
  • Fostered networks among institutions of higher learning and their academics.

Specialized and advanced training and technical assistance

National and/or regional seminars and workshops, as well as specialized courses, that can be held in Geneva or in the field, address specific topics and issues, and are geared towards the initiated and specialists/technicians. The criteria for participation are clearly indicated in the letter of invitation, and a selection process may be conducted. This category includes other products which are specific in nature, including technical missions and workshops, as well as tailor-made programmes for experts and visiting delegations in Geneva, and advice provided by the Secretariat in specific fields. In terms of objectives, it is expected that at the end of the courses the participants will have:

  • Strengthened their theoretical understanding of the WTO-related topic(s) specifically addressed in the course (transfer of knowledge);
  • Strengthened their topic-related skills (improvement of skills);
  • Strengthened their confidence to actively engage in topic-related WTO work (confidence);
  • Strengthened their capacity to work in teams and in an international environment (teamwork);
  • Established and/or strengthened a network of contacts with each other and the trainers/experts (network);
  • Commenced the establishment of mechanisms to include trade in their development goals (mainstreaming).

National Technical Assistance (TA) activities

The national TA activities will contribute to building sustainable trade-related national capacities, resulting in the improved knowledge and skills of participants in areas defined by the beneficiary country concerned. Furthermore, each national TA activity will be guided by its own specific objectives in addressing the needs of the participants.

The national activities focus on specific issues at the national level that, in terms of priority needs and depth of treatment, cannot be adequately covered in the regional seminars and in the Trade Policy Courses (TPCs). Occasionally, national seminars are of a broad and general nature. National seminars and technical workshops are conducted as a complement to the TPCs and regional seminars. The national demand would thus mainly be a function of what cannot be dealt with efficiently in the other training and assistance provided, including through regional seminars and, ipso facto, cannot always be anticipated. In order to better target the trade-related technical assistance (TRTA), beneficiaries would need to base their requests on a needs identification to be conducted by the beneficiary, possibly with the support of the WTO Secretariat. In addition, it would help if countries were in a position to indicate what assistance is already provided bilaterally (e.g., by donors) or multilaterally (e.g., by other agencies), so that overlap can be avoided and the WTO can provide its expertise.

Technical assistance within the Trade Policy Review Mechanism (TPRM) framework

The TPRM is a valuable forum for achieving transparency in, and understanding of, the trade policies and practices of members. TPRs of developing and LDC members have increasingly performed a technical assistance function and have been useful in increasing understanding of the trade policy structure in place and its relationship with the WTO agreements, playing an important part in "capacity building and mainstreaming".

The main objectives of the reviews are:

  • Improved understanding in these countries of the WTO agreements;
  • Better compliance and integration in the multilateral trading system (MTS);
  • Enhanced interaction between government agencies.

Assisting beneficiaries in conducting needs assessments

It is generally recognized that the WTO’s TRTA can more effectively contribute to building lasting capacity if it is planned and designed on the basis of a thorough assessment of the members’ needs. Following the discussions in the CTD and in the informal consultations process, guidelines for needs assessment are prepared by the Secretariat to be used by beneficiaries in conducting their own needs assessment for TRTA. Beneficiaries will regularly be reminded of the value of the needs assessment process, thus providing a sound analytical basis in the delivery of TRTA. The objective of these guidelines is that member countries use them in the process of identifying their needs, bearing in mind that this task is the prime responsibility of the beneficiary country. The design of these proposed guidelines is based on the pilot needs assessments that were conducted through desk studies by the Secretariat. The guidelines are not prescriptive in any way, and countries are encouraged to adapt the approach to their own conditions. The Secretariat can assist beneficiaries in undertaking their needs assessment by providing data and information of direct relevance.

Academic support for training and capacity building

Academic cooperation activities by the WTO seek to contribute to developing and consolidating the capacity of academic institutions in developing and least-developed countries to offer and deliver academic courses and training programmes, as well as conducting research on trade-policy and WTO-related matters, with a view to enhancing the contribution of these institutions to the formulation and implementation of trade policy, as well as to the participation of their respective countries in the multilateral trading system.

In implementing academic cooperation activities, the WTO Secretariat seeks to build lasting relationships with institutions from developing countries and to contribute to the increase of national capacities to train government officials on WTO matters. The WTO also aims at involving partner universities in the delivery of its Technical Assistance and Training Plan. The WTO academic cooperation activities programme includes teaching, training and research activities in developing countries, supported through several inter-linked programmes which encompass different modalities of support actions on the part of the WTO. Academic cooperation and support activities encompass:

  • The WTO Chairs Programme (WCP), supporting research, teaching and outreach activities;
  • Training government officials through partnerships with academic institutions from developing countries, through regional trade policy courses (RTPCs) and subsequent "Consolidation Activities";
  • Regional and national workshops for academics on WTO matters in cooperation with universities;
  • Document dissemination programme for universities;
  • Support programme for doctoral studies;
  • Programme for visiting academics;
  • Research collaboration.

Support training and technical assistance facilities

The Secretariat has developed a number of products and technical assistance facilities that are aimed at providing general and specific support to delegations and beneficiaries, both in the field and in Geneva. In the field, this can include providing infrastructure support, through the reference centres, which facilitates access to WTO-related information, as well as training materials in different formats, including in print or electronically. Geneva-based support includes the Geneva Week, introduction days, the WTO’s trainee programmes and internships, assisting Geneva-based delegations, and briefing sessions, as well as assistance provided in conducting needs assessment.

Advanced training programme for senior government officials

It is proposed to organize, in each region, a one-week advanced training programme designed for senior capital-based officials and decision-makers. The main objective of the advanced course is to inform national decision-makers about the key issues in the DDA and strengthen their knowledge-base in order to put them in a better position to fully participate in the negotiations. These programmes address the key issues in the negotiations, so as to inform beneficiaries of the state of play and/or outcome of negotiations and possible national implications. It is intended that these programmes will be conducted in close collaboration with partner institutions in the various regions. Costs will be covered by trust funds.

Intensive course on trade negotiations skills

This training provides instruction in pre-negotiation planning, effective negotiation strategies and tactics, and the management of the negotiation process that leads to a win-win outcome for all parties. These activities take different approaches, ranging from theoretical comprehension of previous and present negotiations, and enhancement of skills and techniques, to simulations, case studies, and use of data extracted from existing databases. The target group for the intensive course are officials with a good knowledge of the WTO agreements and who will serve as their government negotiators in regional or international trade negotiations. Costs will be covered by trust funds.