DDG Zhang calls for strengthened cooperation in Latin America through WTO Chairs Programme

DDG Zhang calls for strengthened cooperation in Latin America through WTO Chairs Programme
DDG Zhang calls for strengthened cooperation in Latin America through WTO Chairs Programme

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Speaking at the opening of a seminar titled “Negotiations, Economic Resilience and Commerce” held on 14-15 November at the Universidad Andina Simón Bolívar (UASB) in Quito, Ecuador, Deputy Director-General Xiangchen Zhang underlined the importance of trade capacity-building in Latin America through enhanced coordination within the WTO Chairs Programme (WCP). The event, attended by academics, government officials and trade experts from eight Latin American countries, covered a wide range of topics, including regional trade agreements, the WTO’s dispute settlement system, agricultural trade, food security, e-commerce and services trade.

DDG Zhang reiterated the unique role of the WCP in addressing the constraints faced by traditional technical assistance and training programmes. "The WTO Chairs Programme was established with the philosophy that "teaching fishing is more sustainable than giving fish". By partnering with universities and their network of domestic policymakers, selected academic Chairs and their institutions can do applied research on topics of interest to their countries, provide advice to their policy makers and trade negotiators, and train government officials and, more importantly, young people, who will be the world's leaders tomorrow."

Daniel Legarda, Vice-Minister of Foreign Trade of Ecuador, stressed the important linkages between national policies and international action in multilateral organizations. He expressed his gratitude to the WTO Chairs Programme for creating a valuable network that could support governments' efforts to feed into the multilateral decision-making process.

Juan Carlos Castrillón, Undersecretary for Economic Affairs and Cooperation at the Ministry of External Relations of Ecuador, underscored the importance of enhanced coordination in the region for addressing the multiple challenges the world is facing. "Ecuador advocates discussions on WTO reform as a positive force for recovery. In this regard, we consider that the work our WTO Chair does is an essential contribution to the system," he said.

Following UASB's introduction of its work programme under the WCP, Ambassador José Valencia, Permanent Representative of Ecuador to the WTO, highlighted the importance of the ongoing negotiations on sustainable development, agriculture and WTO reform.He said given its strong connections to universities across the Andean Community, UASB is well-placed to undertake research on these topics with a broader regional perspective.

Speaking on behalf of the Group of Latin American and Caribbean countries, Ambassador José Luis Cancela of the Permanent Mission of Uruguay to the WTO, highlighted the importance of data sharing in agriculture negotiations. "We are particularly interested in how the academic sector can contribute useful data gleaned from their research on the ground."

In a panel discussion, Francisco Rivadeneira, former Minister of Foreign Trade, exchanged views with Roberto Betancourt, former Ambassador of Ecuador to the WTO, and Isabel Albornoz, Director of Economic Integration and Bilateral Trade Relations at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Human Mobility, on Ecuador's priorities in the ongoing negotiations at the WTO.