WTO Chairs Programme sees launch of trade capacity-building activities in Ecuador

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Trade capacity-building activities under the WTO Chairs Programme were launched at the Universidad Andina Simón Bolívar (UASB) in Quito, Ecuador, on 14 September. Opening the high-level event, WTO Deputy Director-General Anabel González said: “We are proud to have grown this global network of academic institutions to 36 Chairs, including eight institutions in Latin America. In joining the Programme, Ecuador brings new momentum and fresh perspectives to the most pressing trade issues facing the Latin American region.”

UASB joins a network of universities in Latin America covering Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Peru, and Mexico which are already working under the Chairs Programme to undertake research, training and outreach activities for the benefit of governmental policymakers and other stakeholders.

Attendees at the event in Quito included Daniel Legarda, Ecuador's Vice Minister of Foreign Trade of the Ministry of Production, Foreign Trade, Investments and Fisheries, and the Rector of UASB, Mr Montaño Galarza. 

Mr Legarda highlighted the important role UASB will play in raising awareness on WTO rules within Ecuador. This is particularly relevant as the country is currently negotiating four bilateral trade agreements with Mexico, China, South Korea and Costa Rica, he said.

Mr Galarza said that since joining the Chairs Programme, UASB has been actively involved in research projects focused on strengthening Ecuador's participation in trade at the regional level and globally. 

Mr Juan Carlos Castrillón, Undersecretary for Economic Affairs and International Cooperation at Ecuador's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Human Mobility, underscored Ecuador's active participation in the multilateral trading system, particularly during the WTO's 12th Ministerial Conference that took place in June 2022 and that culminated in a series of successful trade outcomes. 

Mr Castrillón added: "After an arduous selection process, we are pleased that such a prestigious institution as UASB is part of this programme which focuses on technical training in the field of world trade. The value, importance and usefulness of this Chair for the country is fundamental." 

Also speaking at the event was the Director-General of Austria's Ministry for Labour and Economic Affairs, Ms Cynthia Zimmermann. Austria is a leading donor of the Chairs Programme. "Collectively, the Chairs add multi-faceted science-based and empirical perspectives on the ground in different regions in the world", she said. "This generates synergies by allowing the Chairs to better grasp the nuances of the WTO system while allowing the WTO membership and the WTO Secretariat to draw on the applied research of the Chairs to complement and support their work in Geneva."

UASB will cooperate with the Permanent Mission of Ecuador in Geneva to implement the programme. José Valencia, Ecuador's WTO Ambassador, said: "The WTO Chair will certainly strengthen the knowledge of Ecuadorian analysts, officials, professors and students interested in the content and application of international trade rules in the public sector. The knowledge of the Chair will contribute to designing our country's trade policy in a consistent manner. This will of course be crucial for the Permanent Mission." 

Professor Peter Van den Bossche, Director of Studies at the World Trade Institute and member of the Academic Advisory Board of the WTO Chairs Programme, underscored the university's proficiency in conducting relevant courses on international trade law and policy, which will be expanded through the Chairs Programme. "I am confident that UASB will be able to make a very valuable contribution to the trade policy debate in Ecuador by conducting research on trade issues that are high on the government's agenda." 

The event concluded with a discussion on trade and multilateralism at times of conflict. Among the speakers were Professor Van den Bossche, UASB's Maria Elena Jara Vásquez and Professor René Urueña of Los Andes University, who leads the activities of the WTO Chairs Programme in Colombia, where a launch event will be held on 22 September 2022.