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Doors to WTO reference centre open

Doors to WTO reference centre open


A much needed facility, which will allow persons to obtain important trade information was opened in St Vincent and the Grenadines recently.

For three days, members of the public and private sector benefitted from a training workshop, which was geared at preparing them to work with and use the new World Trade Organization (WTO) Reference Centre,{{more}} which is located in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade, Commerce and Information Technology.

At the opening ceremony on Tuesday, representative from the WTO Janet Chakarian-Renouf told participants that the WTO Reference Centre programme started 14 years ago, when least developed countries were provided with computer hardware and software to access WTO information.

The WTO representative said the reference centre has the basic objective of enabling government officials, private sector and the academic community an opportunity to obtain trade related information resources on the WTO website, as well as to facilitate the use of an e-learning programme developed by the organization.

“Our objective to be with you for the next few days is to guide you through the use of the reference centre to make sure that all the equipment that we will pay for is actually there and to make sure it’s all up and working,” Chakarian-Renouf said on Tuesday.

Director of Trade Cuthbert Knights delivered remarks on behalf of Camillo Gonsalves, the minister with responsibility for foreign trade, who was unable to be present at the opening.

Knights stated that the 21st century has defined the milestones of information and communication technology, which have introduced new dynamics in international trade.

“The changes brought by ICT present marked opportunities for micro, small and medium sized enterprises, as well as international corporations. The role of access to timely and accurate information cannot be overemphasized. However … private sector operators in some developing countries and least developed countries are unable to plug into critical information on products, markets, technical barriers to trade etc, and the reasons behind these are multifaceted,” the director of Trade said.

In his address, Knights highlighted the importance of the reference room as trade information is crucial and essential to guiding business decisions.

“As we noted, our reference centre will be housed right here in this ministry. The RC will require dedicated staffing and the staff will be trained on the access and use of data and act as a focal point for the WTO secretariat,” he said.

“Countries such as St Vincent and the Grenadines can use RCs as inquiry points, where we can fill notification requirements on the various agreements of the WTO.”

Knights, who also revealed that the room was fully funded by the WTO, concluded that the reference centre will allow users to analyze trade information on product, sector, country, regional and continental levels.(BK)