World Trade Organization on Capacity Building Challenges in the JVI Region

June 22, 2017

Many countries in the JVI region have joined the WTO in recent years as new members with a view to benefit from international trade and the rules of the WTO multilateral trading system. They have conducted major structural reforms and liberalized their economies in order to enhance their competitiveness on world markets. Such reforms are very challenging and require a permanent attention by the policy makers. At the same time, the global economy is facing new protectionist pressures, creating uncertainty in trade and reducing the economic growth and trade perspectives. Protectionism needs to be resisted and markets need be kept open, which is a key challenge. The WTO members need to pursue their efforts to liberalize trade in a coherent and coordinated fashion, for which a continued co-operation between all stakeholders is a main condition.

The role of international institutions in addressing capacity building challenges

International institutions, including the WTO, play an important role in tackling these issues and contributing to capacity building in their member countries and beyond. From this perspective, the JVI has played a critical role since its inception a quarter of a century ago. It continues to bring these institutions and stakeholders from the countries together to provide policy-oriented training on a broad range of topics particularly relevant for the countries of Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe, the Caucasus, and Central Asia. The support provided aims to further enhance participants’ understanding of rules and the synergies that exist between trade, macroeconomic and financial issues and foster dialogue among the international institutions and their member countries.

WTO Training at the JVI reflecting the JVI target countries’ needs

The human and institutional capacity building have always been at the core of the WTO’s work. Our main objective is to enhance members' knowledge and understanding of the WTO rules and agreements and provide them with the tools facilitating their fuller integration into the multilateral trading system. Trade is increasingly recognized as a vehicle for economic growth and development and members need to get the means to better participate in trade. To facilitate these efforts, the WTO has a long history of cooperation with the JVI. We organize on average 4 stand-alone training courses a year, covering mostly trade policy and macroeconomic theory and practice and contribute to various other JVI courses with the JVI's partner institutions. The specific topics of the training have evolved over time adjusting to the needs of the JVI target countries. The courses present the legal, economic and institutional foundations and provisions of specific WTO Agreements and rules, explore how WTO Agreements affect trade-related economic policies, and discuss the WTO’s role in resolving trade disputes.

Maarten Smeets, World Trade Organization

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