The 2023 edition of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Young Professionals Programme (YPP) reached its inspiring conclusion, as WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala extended her heartfelt congratulations and best wishes to the 17 talented individuals who participated in this year's cohort. The farewell ceremony, a celebratory event held to mark the official closure of the program, saw the emerging professionals bid adieu to a transformative year of learning and growth.
The annual WTO Young Professionals Programme is a prestigious initiative designed to nurture young talents from developing and least-developed WTO member nations. It provides them with the opportunity to enhance their knowledge, skills, and experience in trade-related matters while gaining invaluable insights into the workings of the WTO.
This year's intake of 17 young professionals was assigned to various divisions within the WTO Secretariat, granting them a firsthand view of nearly every facet of the organization's operations. Over the course of the past 12 months, they collaborated with experienced staff members on critical tasks, including aiding WTO member countries in implementing the outcomes of the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference (MC12) and preparing for the upcoming 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13), scheduled for February 2024.
In expressing her gratitude and well-wishes to the departing young professionals, DG Okonjo-Iweala acknowledged the immense value they brought to the WTO Secretariat. Their unique perspectives and experiences, hailing from 17 underrepresented member countries, have greatly enriched the organization's endeavors. She voiced her confidence that, much like their predecessors, these young professionals would put their acquired expertise and knowledge to good use, whether in supporting their governments' engagement at the WTO, facilitating private sector involvement in global trade, or collaborating with civil society organizations.
Tinotenda Mataire from Zimbabwe, speaking on behalf of the 2023 WTO Young Professionals, eloquently captured the sentiment shared by the cohort: "We leave here not just with a certificate, but with an enriched understanding, a broadened worldview and a heart full of memories. This journey does not end here; it merely pivots to a new path, one that we walk with pride, purpose and the spirit of the WTO within us."
The farewell ceremony drew attendance from ambassadors and delegates representing WTO member countries, who gathered to celebrate the achievements of these exceptional young professionals.
Selected from a competitive pool of over 3,500 applicants based on merit, the 2023 YPP participants hailed from diverse nations, including Barbados, Côte d'Ivoire, Guatemala, Guyana, Jamaica, Kenya, Moldova, Nepal, Nigeria, Panama, Saint Lucia, Singapore, South Africa, Chinese Taipei, Togo, Ukraine, and Zimbabwe.
The YPP is a pivotal part of the WTO Secretariat's ongoing commitment to bolstering diversity and broadening member representation within the organization. It places a special emphasis on WTO member countries that are currently underrepresented at the professional level within the Secretariat. Since its launch in 2016, the program has been funded through members' voluntary contributions to the WTO Global Trust Fund.
The young professionals themselves shared their reflections on the program and its impact on their careers:
- Shauna Andrea Ramdyhan (Guyana) detailed how her experience in the Information and External Relations Division expanded her insight into communication strategies deployed by international organizations.
- Kimonique Powell (Jamaica) expressed her gratitude for the opportunity to delve deeper into the world of trade and politics while hosting the WTO's podcast, "Let's Talk Trade."
- Magdaline Morijoi (Kenya) discussed her notable contributions within the Development Division and her plans to apply her newfound knowledge in her work at the Ministry of Investments, Trade, and Industry in Kenya.
- Daniela Tibuleac (Moldova) highlighted her pivotal experience in the Market Access Division, where she gained in-depth knowledge of import licensing procedures.
- Shraddha Gautam (Nepal) emphasized her involvement in the WTO's technical assistance efforts and the valuable learning experiences she gained.
- Frances Omotese Uhomoibhi (Nigeria) shared her involvement in various WTO initiatives and the opportunity to learn from experienced professionals.
- Gabriela de Obarrio (Panama) underlined the comprehensive learning experience she gained and her commitment to contributing to international trade.
- Joan Lim (Singapore) detailed her deep expertise in trade and environment issues and her excitement about her future career in trade.
- Lungelo Prince Cele (South Africa) highlighted the value of connections established with global trade experts and their impact on his future career.
- Jessica Wang (Chinese Taipei) expressed her enthusiasm for applying her experience to contribute to more open and inclusive international trade.
- Léleng Kebalo (Togo) discussed her involvement in trade policy reviews and her deepened understanding of the multilateral trading system.
- Olesia Kryvetska (Ukraine) expressed her gratitude for her time at the WTO and her commitment to the program's improvement.
The International Trade Council commends the 2023 WTO Young Professionals for their dedication, expertise, and enthusiasm in contributing to the global trade landscape. As these talented individuals embark on their respective career paths, they carry with them the spirit of international cooperation and the determination to make a positive impact on the world of trade. The Council looks forward to witnessing their future accomplishments and contributions to the field of international trade.