Since 2002, IDEAS Centre has accumulated substantial experience in dealing with WTO accession. The Centre currently assists Lebanon (since 2002, on hold since 2011) and Serbia (since 2005) in their accession process and has provided accession-related support to Lao PDR (2006-2013), Montenegro (2005-2012) and Vietnam (2002-2007) until their accession to the WTO as well as Liberia (2012) and Tajikistan (2005-2011). The Centre is currently implementing post-accession projects in Lao PDR and has done so too for Montenegro following the completion of their accession process (2012-2014).
Competencies and typical activities
Thanks to its experience, the Centre can explain the accession process (stages, milestone, organisation of negotiations, requirements, etc.) to the beneficiary country and discuss with the Government its concerns and constraints in this context. This will help identify the country’s needs in terms of process, organization, timing and assistance.
IDEAS Centre is able to perform all kinds of assistance activities related to the accession process, either independently or with the help of outside experts. The major activities displayed below are indicative and implemented depending on the needs and priorities of the beneficiary.
- Assistance in providing answers to questions of WTO Members at the Working Party meeting;
- Assistance in producing the offers in services and goods;
- Assistance in preparing the documentation required by the Working Party on various sectors (agriculture and domestic support, customs valuation, TRIPS, SPS, TBT, subsidies, STEs, etc.);
- Providing policy and negotiating advice on economic and trade reforms needed in the country to achieve compliance with WTO agreements;
- Producing analytical papers on the issues which block negotiations aimed at presenting the government the background behind requests of the members;
- Comparing offers as well as commitment language with the negotiated results achieved by similar recently acceded countries;
- Organising seminars to address key issues which block the negotiating process. Seminars are used as an input in the coaching of officials and providing the policy advice on how to address the issues;
- Providing comments to draft submissions to the WTO and on WTO-related legislation. Explaining the comments and reactions of WTO members to the documents.
- Preparing the participation at the Working Party meetings: gathering views of Members of the Working Party before and after the meeting, assistance in preparing the bilateral negotiations and the multilateral meeting. Strategy sessions are being held with clients before and after each important meeting.
- Assisting the permanent mission in Geneva to execute its work in liaising between the capital and WTO (members and the secretariat). Assistance in establishing the mission (if required).
- Organising four-month traineeship programme at IDEAS Centre for more advanced trade officials. The training program consists of attending WTO meetings and coaching component. The trainee is able to continue performing duties performed at the ministry. The Traineeship is often planned to coincide with the Working Party meetings, so that the trainee can be fully involved into planning and organising the meeting from the Geneva perspective.
- Providing opportunity to the officials from the negotiating team to take part in English courses in order to increase their understanding of WTO meetings and questions posed by members.
- Involving the private sector, academia, media and parliamentarians as separate project components into the accession related assistance. Involvement and support of key stakeholders in the accession country is essential ingredient for making sure that the process receives enough backing and that negotiators could claim ownership over the process. Depending on the need different components are elaborated and executed with local partners (parliament, chamber of commerce, sectoral industry associations, media, academia, etc.).
- Awareness raising seminars with key stakeholders are executed to prepare them for the effects of trade liberalisation.
- Specific high level seminars for politicians and media are being developed to explain the meaning and impact of WTO membership.