A high-level event was held at the Foreign Trade University in Hanoi (FTU) on 6 May to launch its activities under the WTO Chairs Programme (WCP). FTU is one of 17 academic institutions selected by Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala in late 2021 to join the Chairs network.
The Chairholder of FTU, Professor Trinh Thi Thu, said her team’s upcoming work will focus on Viet Nam’s free trade agreements (FTAs) and its WTO commitments, with a view to assisting policymakers in the country and in the region, in particular ensuring that local businesses can benefit fully from these agreements.
Deputy Director-General Anabel González said the university’s activities under the WCP will ensure “trade reaches every section of society through meaningful opportunities which impact businesses of all sizes.” In reference to the WTO’s forthcoming 12th Ministerial Conference, she said: “In order to participate fully and effectively in these negotiations, it is crucial that members receive accurate data, customized information, and research on the realities of the issues faced by those affected most directly by trade measures — which is the chief focus of the project launched here today. As a former Minister of Foreign Trade, I am convinced that having access to such applied knowledge is a decisive factor in members pursuing their trade interests and also in finding consensus with other parties.”
Mr Luong Hoang Thai from Viet Nam’s Ministry of Industry and Trade congratulated FTU on being selected for the third phase of the Programme. He reaffirmed Viet Nam’s commitment to the multilateral trading system, emphasizing that “the WTO Chair (FTU) creates a strong foundation for Viet Nam to promote this commitment”.
Mr Nguyen Hoang Giang, Deputy Minister of Viet Nam’s Ministry of Science and Technology, and Mr Nguyen Khanh Ngoc, Deputy Minister at the Ministry of Justice, highlighted the important role of the Chairs Programme in implementing Viet Nam’s strategy of deepening trade ties in Southeast Asia.
Viet Nam’s Ambassador to the WTO, Le Thi Tuyet Mai, said she was confident that the Chair’s activities would strengthen the capabilities of academics, policymakers and others to assist in the implementation of free trade commitments by Viet Nam and contribute to enhancing the global multilateral trading system, with the WTO at its core. “In this regard, my team and I at the Permanent Mission of Viet Nam in Geneva are delighted to join hands in supporting FTU in providing advice on WTO-related issues and research for the implementation of the WCP’s objectives.”
Mr Mason Interlandi from the Permanent Mission of Australia to the WTO said: “For Australia, our work to support the Chair’s Programme and Viet Nam’s role in it is a natural extension of an already deep bilateral partnership and history of cooperation. We are committed to working with the WTO and other WTO members to support initiatives like the Chairs Programme, which are designed to build capacity and policy expertise. Policy expertise isn’t just housed within government. Indeed, it is in academia where often we find original, innovative ideas that prove to be truly transformative.”
Ms Hortense Nesseler from the Permanent Mission of France to the WTO said: “As the lead donor of the WCP, by supporting the Chairs programme, we hope that the work of the Chairs, experts in the field, will encourage the greatest number of people, businesses and political decision makers to think outside the box and facilitate within the WTO the endorsement by members of innovative positions that will lead us to concrete results.”
During the event, FTU signed several memoranda of understanding with the Viet Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Viet Nam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers, the World Trade Institute in Switzerland and the University of Wollongong.
Find out more about the WTO Chairs Programme here.