In a significant step towards enhancing Africa's role in global trade, the World Trade Organization (WTO) has launched a comprehensive regional course. This initiative, primarily focused on deepening the understanding of WTO agreements within the African trade policy context, marks a notable advancement in integrating the continent more effectively into the global trading system.
Held at the prestigious University of Lomé, the program invites participants to explore the intricacies of the multilateral trading system. This exploration is facilitated by an esteemed panel of experts from the WTO, regional bodies, and an academic team, fostering a rich learning environment.
In a recent development, WTO Deputy Director-General Xiangchen Zhang, through a video message during the inauguration, underscored the dual objective of the program: to enhance understanding and to ponder upon the modernization of the multilateral trading system. Zhang highlighted “WTO Reform” as a key area of focus, which will be thoroughly discussed over the eight-week course.
The timing of this program is crucial, aligning with the run-up to the 13th WTO Ministerial Conference. According to Zhang, member discussions are currently centered on improving the operational dynamics of the Organization. He stressed the necessity for the system to evolve into a more responsive and flexible entity while retaining its core aim of leveraging international trade for elevating living standards and promoting sustainable development.
Adding to the conversation, Togo's Minister of Trade, Handicrafts, and Local Consumption, Madame Kayi Mivedor-Sambiani, pointed out Africa's marginal participation in international trade, accounting for merely 2% of global exchanges. She emphasized the urgent need for Africa to bolster its integration and enhance its production and transformation capacities, as well as skills development. Mivedor-Sambiani hailed the WTO’s technical assistance and capacity-building programs as pivotal for the continent's trade elevation.
Mivedor-Sambiani also encouraged the participants to maximize their learning experience. She urged them to apply their new insights and skills effectively in their home countries, contributing significantly to Africa's global trade participation and achieving tangible outcomes in the upcoming Ministerial Conference.
This training initiative by the WTO, aligning with broader goals of international trade inclusivity and sustainability, is a promising step towards reshaping Africa's global trade footprint. The International Trade Council views this as a pivotal development in empowering the continent on the world economic stage.