The WTO Umbrella Grant Project on New Issues is devoted to strengthening the capacity of developing and least developed country (LDC) delegations in Geneva and in capitals, as they determine their level of engagement, strategy, and approach to the WTO Joint Statement Initiatives (JSI) launched in December 2017.
These JSIs involve the subjects of investment facilitation, electronic commerce, and micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs). All three of these initiatives are being developed by groups of WTO Members, with the investment facilitation and e-commerce JSIs now involving negotiations.
Our work under this project included partnerships with IISD, BKP Economic Advisors, and InterAnalysis at the University of Sussex. The grant is funded by the United Kingdom's Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) under the Trade and Investment Advocacy Fund (TAF2+).
We have worked to advance the knowledge base on what these JSIs cover, their history, and where they stand now through a series of "briefs", presented at events with delegates from WTO missions in Geneva and in capital. We have unpacked key issues on how these JSIs interact with other legal and policy frameworks, with our research devoted to topics identified by developing countries and LDCs as being of particular interest.
We have also held regional and national workshops, holding these virtually in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, where we bring together government officials and experts to explore these issues in further depth and understand what they mean at the regional and national levels.
The UK's FCDO has established the Trade and Investment Advocacy Fund to provide demand-driven support to trade policymakers and negotiators in eligible countries, communities and organisations.
TAF2+ assistance provides: (i) Impartial information, analysis and advice on the technical and legal aspects of trade negotiations, and on formulating negotiating positions; (ii) Training, capacity building and internships for relevant officials and organisations; (iii) Limited logistical support to participate in negotiations and key policy meetings.
TAF2+ is managed on behalf of FCDO by a dedicated Fund Manager (FM): CowaterSogema and Saana Consulting. Views expressed in the project's publication and events are the authors' own and do not necessarily reflect HM Government’s official positions or those of TAF2+.