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    ITC Helps Pakistan Prepare for Agriculture and Services Talks


    © International Trade Centre, International Trade Forum - Issue 3/2005

    Photo: ITC/S. Syed Ambassador Gusmardi Bustami of Indonesia (second left) addressed participants of the workshop on agriculture, as did Swiss Deputy Permanent Representative Didier Chambovey (second right) and ITC staff.

    Pakistani officials took part in training and networking events, organized by ITC, to help them in the ongoing Doha round of trade negotiations.

    ITC organized two seminars in June 2005 to prepare Pakistani trade officials to take part in the talks on agriculture and services at the World Trade Organization (WTO). These events are part of a larger "Trade-Related Technical Assistance Programme" to build trade capacity and make Pakistan more competitive in the global marketplace. The European Community, ITC, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the Government of Pakistan fund the programme.

    Access to inside information

    Trade officials from Pakistan attended a five-day seminar at ITC (Geneva, June 2005) to supplement their information resources on agriculture talks. The seminar set out to resume the negotiating positions of developing countries' and other trade groupings, and major players from among industrialized countries. Advisers were also on hand to provide in-depth analysis of trade agenda options for developing countries.

     "We all know what the Agreement on Agriculture is about - but this seminar gives us the inside information," said one participant.

    Discussions covered the efforts under way to eliminate trade-distorting measures such as domestic support and export subsidies. They also focused attention on market access, the third pillar of current trade talks.

    Participants had the opportunity to take stock of current mechanisms, instruments and provisions covering intellectual property, biodiversity and the protection of plant species. A special session was dedicated to the complexities of technical barriers to trade (TBT) and sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures, which can restrict trade when countries apply them unilaterally.

    Speakers included Geneva-based permanent representatives to WTO and other national and regional trade officials, executives from developing country advisory and lobby groups, as well as experts from the Food and Agriculture Organization, the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development, the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants, the South Centre, WIPO and ITC.

    Perfecting negotiating strategies for services

    At the next event, Pakistani trade officials came to ITC to brush up negotiating strategies for the upcoming discussions on the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). Pakistan is one of a small group of countries that submitted initial offers by the target date of 31 May 2005 set by WTO.

    Participants in the services event were exposed to real WTO negotiations during their training. On the first day, they attended a WTO council session to gain first-hand experience of ongoing negotiations.

    Over the next three days, seminar participants had the opportunity to hear current and historical perspectives of negotiations, including the experiences of the European Union, Hong Kong (China) and the United Arab Emirates. Ambassador Alejandro Jara, Chairman of the WTO Council on Trade in Services, gave them an up-to-date summary of the state of play. WTO secretariat officials briefed them on the structure of GATS, key concepts, the rule-making agenda (domestic regulation, emergency safeguards, government procurement and subsidies) and important aspects within GATS negotiations of main service sectors. Later, they had sessions with ITC on tools and advisory services available to serve their country best in WTO talks on services.

    For more information, contact Eugenia Nuñez, ITC Programme Manager for Pakistan, at nunez@intracen.org