DDG Zhang welcomes launch of new phase of WTO Chairs Programme

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Deputy Director-General Xiangchen Zhang has welcomed 17 academic institutions to the new phase of the WTO Chairs Programme. Speaking at an event on 9 December on behalf of Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, DDG Zhang said he is confident that the network “will continue to grow organically and on an ongoing basis” with the selection of more institutions and the development of new projects.
The 17 new participants are from Cameroon, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Egypt, India, Lesotho, Nepal, Pakistan, Peru, Rwanda, Chinese Taipei, Tanzania, Uzbekistan and Viet Nam. They were selected via a rigorous selection process. The WTO Chairs Programme (WCP) currently consists of 36 universities and is funded by the governments of the Netherlands and France.
DDG Zhang said: “Since taking office, the DG has fully embraced the WCP and given her support for expanding the Programme through more frequent admissions on a rolling basis. Newcomers will benefit from the transfer of know-how from more experienced chair holders, and the uninterrupted activity by the WCP network will ensure that research is delivered to policymakers on a more frequent, specialized, customized and sustained level. The DG and I will continue to provide our full support to all the Chair Holders, the WCP Network and the Academic Advisory Board throughout this new phase of the WCP.”
The Chair of the LDC Group, Ambassador Ahmad Makaila of Chad, said: “The WTO Chairs Programme offers the opportunity to raise awareness of international trade policy among our universities, academic and research institutes, as well as our societies, and to develop bridges with policy makers and officials in charge of trade policy formulation and implementation.”
Ambassador Oudot de Dainville of France said: “By supporting the WCP, we encourage the exchange of arguments informed by the intellectual rigour of the research generated. It is such an exchange that can allow convergence towards a common understanding and a multilateral trading system conducive to what a 19th century French economist, Frédéric Bastiat, one of the pioneers of liberalism, called ‘'the harmony of interests’.”
The Chair of the Committee for Trade and Development, Ambassador Mujtaba Piracha of Pakistan, said: “The expanded network of the new Chair Holders — which has almost doubled — creates a critical mass for creating synergies and stronger network visibility globally. There is added potential for cross-fertilization and sharing from the expanded pool of diverse expertise and specializing in distinct issues and disciplines in order to provide members with high-quality, evidence-based advice to take fully informed policy decisions.”
The WCP Academic Advisory Board members welcomed the new members. In addition, several chairs highlighted the unique opportunities provided by the WCP network. The new members of the Programme expressed their appreciation for being selected to join the WCP. They outlined their plans for working with the WTO to develop their expertise in a wide range of disciplines — including law, economics, finance, international relations, political science and business management — and for carrying out trade-related research and projects in the future. 
The WTO Chairs Programme aims to support trade-related academic activities by universities and research institutions in developing and least-developed countries. Fourteen institutions were selected as WTO Chairs for a four-year term in 2009. An additional seven institutions were selected for Phase 2 of the Programme in 2014. Phase 3 of the programme started with a selection process in December 2020, which resulted in 17 institutions being chosen to join the network of WCP Chairs. This further diversifies the Programme's representation across the globe, with the network now comprising 36 universities.