Technical assistance and capacity building

Technical assistance and training for developing countries

More than 2/3 of the WTO members are developing countries. The WTO understands that some of these countries face disadvantages that may impede their effective participation in international trade. These can include lack of human, institutional or infrastructural capacity, among other things. The membership of the WTO realises that without support to developing countries to overcome these disadvantages, the final objectives of the organization cannot be achieved. For this reason, building trade capacity is also being recognized as an essential element of the Doha Development Agenda of the WTO. Therefore, the WTO developed several tools to provide technical assistance and training to developing countries. 


Technical assistance and training by WTO Secretariat in all areas

About 300 technical assistance activities are organized by the WTO Secretariat every year which helps to train over 14,000 government officials. Main beneficiaries of this trade capacity building are government officials from developing, least developed and economies in transition. Observers (including countries which are negotiating accession such as Azerbaijan) can benefit from such technical assistance.


The annual number of participants in WTO training activities has increased more than fivefold over the past 20 years. Most WTO Divisions are involved in the delivery of the training courses and their activities are coordinated by the Institute for Training and Technical Cooperation. The training activities include lectures, presentations and roundtables, meetings with experts and attendance at WTO meetings.  The courses cover Advanced Trade Policy Courses, regional Intermediate Trade Policy Courses, regional seminars, workshops and events on specific topics. The following picture shows all the elements of the technical assistance programme of the WTO:


(Source: WTO Technical Assistance Brochure)


Standards and Trade Development Facility

The Standards and Trade Development Facility ("STDF") is a global partnership that helps developing countries to gain and maintain market access by addressing sanitary and phytosanitary ("SPS") issues, and promoting food safety, animal and plant health. It provides support and funding for development and implementation of projects that promote compliance with international SPS requirements. STDF projects help public and private sector stakeholders in developing countries improve food safety, animal and plant health to facilitate safe trade and sustainable economic growth. The STDF brings together leading trade, health and agriculture experts to address SPS matters, shares available knowledge, tools and good practice, promotes innovative and cross-cutting approaches to SPS capacity building. The STDF has delivered safe trade solutions in key SPS areas through more than 85 projects across the globe since 2004. A project for the State Phytosanitary Control Service of Azerbaijan has been partly funded by the STDF.


Integrated Framework

The Integrated Framework ("IF") is a six-agency programme operated by the International Monetary Fund ("IMF"), the International Trade Centre ("ITC"), the United Nations Conference for Trade and Development ("UNCTAD"), the United Nations Development Programme ("UNDP"), the World Bank and the WTO. It is chaired by the WTO. This programme provides trade-related technical assistance and capacity building to least-developed countries ("LDCs") and aims to integrate them into the global economy. It diagnoses trade needs of the countries and prepares and implements an action plan to fulfil countries’ potential. 


36 LDCs benefit from the IF and 8 other LDCs are in preparatory phase to access to the IF process. Total contributions to the IF trust fund are equal to USD 50 million and total allocations from the fund to USD 27 million. 47% of these allocations have been used towards diagnostic activities and 53% for implementing priority actions. Approximately USD 1 million is spent per beneficiary country. 


Aid for Trade

Aid for Trade initiative led by the WTO has brought the technical assistance to developing countries to a new level. It was launched in 2005 and more than USD 300 billion has been spent for Aid for Trade programs and projects since that time. 


Aid for Trade is a broad concept and includes technical assistance, infrastructure, productive capacity and adjustment assistance to developing and in particular least-developed members. It brings existing assistance mechanisms to work together more effectively. WTO’s special role in the Initiative is that it ensures the understanding by development agencies and donors of the trade needs of WTO Members correctly and provide effective solutions.