A large-scale TAF2+ grant has been initiated to the LDC Group at the WTO, comprising a programme of technical assistance, capacity building, and logistical support to strengthen the Group’s engagement in priority WTO negotiations.
Following on from the short-term TAF2+ assistance to the LDC Group provided in relation to the 11th WTO Ministerial Conference (MC11) in 2017, this project, delivered by BKP Economic Advisors and Summit Alliances International (SAI), will provide long-term support to ensure continuity for overcoming capacity and resource-related constraints and strengthening coordination for a large group of small delegations at the WTO.
The launch of the grant comes at a time when the LDC Group is gearing up for the 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12) taking place in June 2020, and working to develop common positions for strong LDC engagement in focus areas on the WTO agenda.
As an early activity under the project, a retreat was organised at the Ambassador and technical expert-level in Montreux, Switzerland from 1-2 March 2019 in order to address several themes of special concern for the Group in the approach to MC12, reviewing the state of play of discussions and supporting the identification of key interests (see here WTO news coverage). The retreat opened with a high-level panel that featured Roberto Azevêdo, WTO Director General; Mukhisa Kituyi, UNCTAD Secretary General; and Arancha Gonzalez, Executive Director of the International Trade Centre, and was chaired by the LDC Group Coordinator at the time, the Central African Republic represented by Ambassador Leopold Samba. The outcomes of the retreat helped to feed into the definition of the Group’s 2019 work programme and the prioritisation of focus issues.
The TAF2+ grant provides an analysis of the impacts of issues under negotiation in the WTO on LDC interests; offers support to drafting and advancing LDC Group proposals, both in terms of ongoing LDC proposals in WTO regular committees and new planned LDC Group proposals or submissions in 2019; and ensures that delegates are able to keep abreast of proposals across different WTO committees and councils, particularly evaluating and tracking the impact of new differentiation proposals on LDCs. In May, a special LDC Group brainstorming meeting was delivered on WTO Appellate Body Reform, including an analysis of the proposals on the table.
Another focus for the project involves further building resource collaboration with the WTO, and work to date has already contributed, through close consultations with the WTO Secretariat and the LDC Group fisheries focal point, to the establishment in May 2019 of a WTO Trust Fund for the participation of LDC capital-based fisheries officials in the Rules Negotiating Group clusters at the WTO.
In April, the TAF2+ Fund Management Team held an inception-stage meeting in Geneva with the delegation of Chad in their capacity as the current Group Coordinator, who signalled active engagement by LDC Group delegations in Geneva and reported that the project had gotten off to a strong start.
Looking ahead, from 14-15 June, the LDC Group will organise a workshop jointly with the WTO Secretariat on the implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement, aimed at examining notifications obligations and sharing experiences.