WTO DDG Agah welcomes fifth cohort of WTO young professionals

Deputy Director-General Frederick Yonov Agah 6 welcomed the new cohort of young professionals to the WTO at a virtual welcoming ceremony on 3 February. Now in its fifth year, the Young Professionals Programme provides a unique opportunity for qualified individuals to spend a year at the WTO in order to enhance their knowledge and skills related to the WTO and international trade issues.

Launched in 2016, the Young Professionals Programme underlines the WTO’s efforts to increase diversity and broaden the representation of its membership. Participants come from developing and least developed countries — especially from WTO members that are under-represented at the professional level in the WTO Secretariat.

This year the group includes 14 professionals from: Bangladesh, Belize, Dominican Republic, Eswatini, Guatemala, Georgia, Indonesia, Malawi, Mauritania, Namibia, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Chinese Taipei, and Thailand. They were selected from more than 2400 candidates following a competitive selection process.

In his welcoming remarks, DDG Agah underlined the unprecedented political challenges the WTO is currently facing and the important decisions to be taken this year as members look forward to the appointment of a new Director-General and agreeing on the date of the 12th Ministerial Conference. He encouraged the young professionals to be “vigilant and constructive” and to make the most of their time at the WTO during this challenging period for the organization and the world.

“WTO members are discussing reforms that will respond to changes in the way business is done across borders. Alongside multilateral negotiations on fisheries subsidies which would help sustain marine fish stocks, groups of members are looking at issues such as e-commerce, domestic regulation in services, investment facilitation for development, women’s economic empowerment and the relationship between trade and the different facets of environmental sustainability,” he said.

The event was attended by the WTO ambassadors and representatives from the home member of origin of the young professionals and by directors and supervisors of the WTO host divisions.

Speaking on behalf of the young professionals, Ting-Wei Chiang of Chinese Taipei said: “We will immerse ourselves in understanding the mode of functioning of the multilateral trading system and taking every opportunity to learn from world class experts within and outside the WTO. By engaging in the central work of the organization, we hope to make a valuable contribution to the evolution of the multilateral trading system while further enhancing our practical skills and knowledge in the field of international trade.”

Since their arrival on January 6, 2021, the new cohorts have benefited from a tailored, intensive and enriched two-week virtual induction programme. This novel training provided the young professionals with a valuable horizontal perspective of the work of the WTO. Over 25 Secretariat staff members were involved in this training which updated the young professionals on recent developments and the overall state of play in the WTO. 

In their own words

Mohammed Abu Saleh

“Being from a South Asian country, I view my engagement with the WTO as an opportunity to take my academic understanding of trade and development into the real world of trade policy making and governance. By strengthening my knowledge over the coming year, I aspire to  become a well-rounded lawyer contributing to an effective WTO multilateral trading system that safeguards the interest of all members amid global trade challenges and the COVID-19 pandemic.” — Mohammed Abu Saleh (Bangladesh)

Olabanji Ogunjobi

“As a young professional, I am grateful for the opportunity to work in the WTO Secretariat. I hope my time at the WTO will help me to enhance my knowledge on how developing and least developed countries can better integrate into the multilateral trading system and achieve sustainable economic development.” — Olabanji Ogunjobi (Belize)

Carmina Baez

“The Young Professionals Programme constitutes an extraordinary opportunity to be immersed in discussions shaping the multilateral trading system. Throughout this journey, I expect to gain a greater understanding of the international trading system with a special focus on agriculture and SPS measures.” — Carmina Baez (Dominican Republic)

Mkhosi Bandile Mdluli

I hope to deepen my understanding of the work of the WTO and the global multilateral trading system, particularly as to how the least-developed and developing countries can take full advantage of the system and enhance economic development. I know that there is no better place to learn from experts in the field of trade and development, develop my professional capabilities, and build a strong foundation for my career.” — Mkhosi Bandile Mdluli (Eswatini)

Nana Ramazashvili

Being a Young Professional at the WTO provides an outstanding opportunity to gain a better understanding of how international economic relations are shaped. This  gives me the chance to work with experts who use their know-how to contribute to the further development of international trade. I aspire to enhance my knowledge about trade, both from the theoretical and practical perspectives. I believe that a year spent in the Market Access Division will definitely broaden my expertise in the area of international trade.” — Nana Ramazashvili (Georgia)

Sergio Martinez Cotto

As an international economist, I am thrilled to be joining the WTO Economic Research and Statistics Division under the Young Professionals Programme. By working on the World Trade Report 2021, I hope to further enhance my economic analysis skills and help WTO colleagues make the case for the crucial role that trade will play in building global resilience, cooperation and prosperity in the years ahead.” — Sergio Martinez Cotto (Guatemala)

Oscar Fernando

I am very excited to learn about how the multilateral trading system works in practice and to enhance my knowledge and understanding of the WTO. I hope that my time in the WTO Secretariat will open many doors and allow me to witness history being made.” — Oscar Fernando (Indonesia)

Sangwani Mkandawire

“Drawing from the vast experience and knowledge of trade experts within the WTO, I aspire to become a well-rounded trade policy expert by the end of the WTO Young Professionals Programme. I intend to use the opportunity to learn as much as possible about both international trade and the WTO as an intergovernmental organization, and to enhance my technical  skills.” — Sangwani Mkandawire (Malawi

Aichetou Ba

“Coming from a region where agriculture represents a substantial share of GDP, I feel highly privileged to be part of the Agriculture and Commodities Division of the WTO. The COVID-19 pandemic has confirmed the importance of trade and the interdependence of countries in terms of access to various products and services, including food products. Taking advantage of this great opportunity, I aim to learn more about the work of the division and of the WTO while gaining a better understanding of various trade mechanisms.” — Aichetou Ba (Mauritania)

Monika Shifotoka

“Being part of the Young Professionals Programme is an amazing opportunity and I hope to gain insight into the organization as well as deeper understanding of the WTO mandate and its daily activities. Moreover, I would like to develop my professional career through learning about media coordination and effective communication in an international organization.” — Monika Shifotoka (Namibia)

Marisol Dar Ali

“As a Young Professional in the WTO, I am stepping for the first time into the international arena, where I would like to get close to the ongoing negotiations that support the multilateral trade system, taking into account the needs of developing and least-developed countries. Furthermore, I wish to learn from the many experts at the WTO on how to address today’s trade challenges in a digitalized and continuously evolving world.” — Marisol Dar Ali (Nicaragua)

Olaronke Famuyiwa

“I believe my time at the WTO as a Young Professional will broaden my knowledge of the organization and international trade law, and  will allow me to witness the evolution of international trade issues. Also, as an international trade lawyer from a developing country, I hope to better understand the reasons for the under-utilisation of international trade law by developing and least developed countries.  I hope that at the end of the Programme, I will be fully equipped to contribute to the solutions to address this problem.” — Olaronke Famuyiwa  (Nigeria)

Ting-Wei Chiang

By actively engaging in the WTO’s work and learning from world-class experts, I hope to gain a thorough understanding of the international intellectual property system, including its practices, negotiations and interactions with trade, and enhance my knowledge and analytical skills in order to contribute to the development and diffusion of innovation.” — Ting-Wei Chiang (Chinese Taipei)

Chuwankorn Sasanabanchakul

“I intend to use this opportunity to gain valuable insights into the role of the WTO and its substantive work in supporting a multilateral trading system based on fairness and reciprocity. Moreover, I believe that working closely with experts in this multicultural environment will allow me to pursue my passion for international trade law and contribute to improving the global trading environment for all.” — Chuwankorn Sasanabanchakul (Thailand)