28 statisticians from developing economies benefited from the course on trade in services statistics organized by WTO; UNCTAD participated as a resource partner agency.
28 representatives of national statistics offices, central banks and ministries of trade from 23 developing countries participated at the Thematic Course on Trade in Services Statistics with emphasis on Africa, organized by WTO in Geneva, from 6 to 10 November 2017. The statisticians benefited from knowledge sharing and hands-on statistical training rendered by resource persons from WTO, Banque de France, Banca d'Italia, UNCTAD, OECD, Paris21, and ITC.
Prior to the Geneva session, the participants were required to complete the e-learning course on trade in services statistics, jointly developed by UNCTAD, WTO and UNSD, and administered by the UNCTAD's Train-for-Trade Program. Through e-learning, the trainees acquired the prerequisite knowledge enabling them to focus on more advanced and detailed issues - identified as particularly difficult for African countries - that were the core of the face-to-face phase of the training in Geneva.
After the welcoming remarks, a snapshot of developing economies' involvement in international trade in services and their statistics was provided. Resource persons delivered interactive presentations on various related topics, such as data dissemination on international trade in services, prerequisites for the balance-of-payments surveys, the foreign affiliates statistics' recommendations, as well as category-specific presentations on manufacturing services, construction, transport, and travel, among others.
The participants shared their countries' case studies. The need for political support, more advocacy for statistics, and improved institutional arrangements was often emphasized, if the countries were to regularly compile and publish the statistics that their trade analysts and negotiators ask for.
The high-level closing session focused on technical assistance and capacity building in trade in services statistics, with emphasis on Africa. Steve MacFeely (Head of the Development Statistics Branch, UNCTAD) outlined the needs identified and future work in the area, which should focus not only on trade data, but also on building more solid prerequisites for economic statistics in general. UNCTAD's e-learning tools and the UNCTAD-UEMOA trade in services statistics project represent two widely recognized efforts in this regard.
International organisations reiterated their commitment to work jointly and to accompany countries in their quest to enhance statistical systems, and the usage and understanding of trade in services data. At the closing, Andreas Maurer (Head of the International Trade Statistics, WTO) Barbara d'Andrea (Senior Statistician, WTO), and Mark Assaf (Head of the Train-for-Trade, UNCTAD) awarded the course accomplishment certificates to the participants.