As the World Trade Organization-WTO embarks on shaping new agreements to govern international trade, stakeholders in trade engaged in a national seminar on the WTO agreements on agriculture.
The seminar which is a collaborative effort of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries, Rural Transformation, Industry and Bureau of Standards and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International Trade and Commerce got on the way on Tuesday, May 8, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Conference Room.
The aim of the seminar was to enable participants to improve their understanding of the WTO agriculture agreement.In addressing the opening ceremony, Director of Trade in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Okolo John- Patrick, said the training is of vital importance, as a major proportion of world trade in agriculture products are subject to WTO rules.
She noted that it is also important for them to understand the framework and trading environment in which they operate. John-Patrick said the training comes at an opportune time, as they seek to enhance production and increase trade to take advantage of the openness of markets with the opening of the Argyle International Airport.Representative of the WTO, Ulla Kask noted that among other topics they will be discussing multi-lateral rules on agriculture which she deemed as an important topic for all WTO members and particularly small island states like St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG), that rely heavily on trade.
She expressed satisfaction at the number of participants in attendance. “The presence of your Minister and your Permanent Secretary witnesses the importance your government places on the issue.”
Kask noted that the discussion is timely, given the risk of protection in certain parts of the world and the looming trade war and other events that can potentially affect trade flows around the world.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Raymond Ryan said enhancing the knowledge base to support the ministry’s initiatives on trade is critical. He said the Ministry of Agriculture welcomes and expresses gratitude to the WTO and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for creating an opportunity for the officers to enhance their knowledge on the principles of the WTO and agricultural trade related matters.
Minister of Agriculture Saboto Caesar said the WTO is conducting the training at an opportune time, when they are closing the Banana Accompanying Measures Project, which is a consequence of the erosion of preferences in the Banana Industry.
He asked the participants to understand the seriousness of the Banana case and to take careful reading of its analysis of results and findings.
“We are here to discuss the establishment of a fairer trading system that will increase market access and improve the livelihoods of farmers around the world.” The agriculture minister urged the participants to participate meaningfully in the discussion.
Some 40 officers participated in the national seminar which ended on Thursday, May 10.