In the context of its assistance to countries acceding to the WTO, UNCTAD had defined - in collaboration with the Sao Tomé authorities - a list of activities that would provide vital help to the country in the early stages of its accession process.
This national workshop officially launched this assistance. It targeted a wide audience including officials from all the institutions dealing with international trade issues (Ministry of Commerce, of Economy and Finance, of Tourism, of Telecommunications, Central Bank etc.) as well as representatives of the business community and the civil society.
The workshop examined the main provisions of the WTO agreements from a development-oriented perspective (Agreement on agriculture, on Non-Agricultural Market Access, on services and on Intellectual Property). It also highlighted the importance of a national consultative process prior to engaging in multilateral negotiations, and it finally reviewed negotiating skills and techniques.
This overview of the main issues at stake for an acceding country provided useful information to the participants who were not all specialists of WTO-related issues. In addition, it fuelled lively debates among local stakeholders, essential in the process of defining the national negotiating strategy.
Future technical assistance activities in the field of WTO accession were also discussed with local authorities.