Advisory Board reviews recent achievements of Chairs Programme and new challenges

Monday, June 20, 2016

The Advisory Board of the WTO’s Chairs Programme met at the WTO’s Headquarters on 20 June 2016 to discuss the achievements of Phase II of the programme and the challenges that lie ahead. The Board was told that an external evaluation of the WTO Secretariat’s trade-capacity building programmes, including the Chairs Programme, is currently under way.
The Board focused on the work undertaken by the academic institutions in Phase II of the Programme. It discussed how to ensure the sustainability of the programme and how to further enhance output. In addressing these questions, particular attention was given to the role that Board members could play in support of the Chairs' activities. Other topics discussed included how to further increase the policy relevance of the Chairs' work and whether common themes could be suggested for research pursued by the Chairs at the national or regional level. A number of specific suggestions and recommendations were made.
The WTO Secretariat briefed the Board on the activities and events organized by the WTO with the participation of the Phase II Chairs. These included the "Trade and Poverty Forum" co-organized with the World Bank (May 2016), the Global Trade Analysis Project (GTAP) Annual Conference (June 2016), the Public Forum (October 2015), and the Fifth Aid for Trade Global Review (July 2015).
The Secretariat briefed the Board on the forthcoming publication on trade costs and inclusive growth, prepared under the auspices of the Chairs Programme and a direct result of the Aid for Trade side event organized in 2015. The Board was informed that the publication would be presented at a side event at the next Annual Conference in November, with the participation of Geneva-based policy makers and academics.
Also, the Board initiated a discussion on the longer-term strategy for the Chairs Programme and more specifically on the extension of the programme into a Phase III. The Board encouraged the WTO Secretariat to pursue an extension of the programme and further deepening of relations with the Chairs in Phases I and II. The extension would depend on the outcome of the external evaluation and on how many more Chairs the Secretariat could absorb into the Programme.
The next Annual Conference of the Chairs Programme is scheduled for November 2016. It will provide a comprehensive global assessment of the progress made by the Chairs and assess the way forward.