More WTO/UNAM Students Graduate

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WINDHOEK A total of 24 representatives from 18 African countries completed a 12-week Regional Trade Policy course organized by the University of Namibia (UNAM) and the World Trade Organization (WTO). A broad variety of subjects was taught, amongst others international trade theory, WTO basic principles, market access, customs issues, agriculture, negotiating skills and dispute settlement. The programme was directed by an academic coordinator, a staff member of the Faculty of Law at UNAM. All subjects in the course were co-taught, meaning that there was one resource person from WTO and one from Africa, with preference to the southern African region, for each subject. All participants worked on a research paper. Minister of Trade and Industry, Immanuel Ngatjizeko, said at the diploma-awarding ceremony on Thursday night that the course provided negotiators in both multilateral and bilateral processes, with the opportunity to effectively participate and impact on the actual outcome of the negotiations. “We lack technical capacity in trade negotiations, and we, as governments, need to devise strategies for capacity retention in order to avoid the loss of human resources by governments. We must endeavour to reverse the trend of brain drain, which affects African countries negatively,” he said. Ngatjizeko called upon the graduates to plough back the knowledge and skills acquired at this course with a view to ensuring prosperity and development for the people of the continent. The minister indicated that the resumption of negotiations on the Doha work programme should be assumed as a matter of urgency on the basis of acknowledging the collective interests and responsibilities of all WTO members. It would be crucial, according to him, for developed countries to take the leadership and provide clear signs that they are willing to deliver on the development promises made at Doha. Hence, efforts to create a levelled international trade playing field by recognizing the weakness of developing countries through training and capacity-building was a welcome initiative. “This initiative would not only benefit Namibians, but the whole of the African continent by developing a regional centre of excellence on international trade issues,” he added. This was the second joint WTO/UNAM course for English-speaking African countries. The course was hosted at the Business School of UNAM. – Nampa