Support to Negotiations on Trade and Sustainable Development

The Project at A Glance

The WTO remains one of the primary platforms for setting international rules governing trade. As the scope of discussions continues to evolve in Geneva, it is imperative for countries, including the Philippines, to be familiar with emerging trade issues that go beyond the areas of traditional FTAs and the WTO.

International Economics (IEC), provided capacity building and technical advice to Philippine officials to craft and develop more sustainable and emerging trade-related issues/provisions in FTAs. Project was implemented under the Canadian Trade and Investment Facility for Development (CTIF) funded by Global Affairs Canada.

What We Found

Negotiations on trade agreements became increasingly complex in the last decades with the addition of new emerging issues. While the Philippines kept pace with WTO programs on emerging and non-traditional areas, provisions on emerging issues under bilateral trade agreements are still rarely found in many of Philippines’ FTAs.

International Economics has provided advice to the Philippines’ officers of Department for Trade and Industry – Bureau of International Trade Relations (DTI-BITR) to strengthen the understanding of new and emerging trade provisions, together with possible impacts emerging from incorporating those areas in the Philippines’ future FTAs – which will, in turn, help the Philippines’ trade negotiators in formulating strategies and policy options for future engagements.

The participants that assisted the workshop engaged in a fluent discussion with the trainers. However, there was a clear difference in the level of knowledge among the different participants. Therefore, future capacity building could be provided at aggregated levels of knowledge, whereby a more basic level training is also provided for some of the participants who were not familiar with the trade-related terminology, while more in-depth trainings are provided for participants with a certain level of knowledge. A good model is to provide training at (i) an introductory level for new officials, (ii) a more in-depth training with deep dive discussions and simulated sessions/exercises, and (iii) a training-of-the-trainer (TOT) course to ensure institutional memory and sustainability of capacity building. The trainees of the TOT programme could then become the trainers of introductory courses that can be held internally by the beneficiary.

Our Strategy and Impact

Given the evolving nature and scope of trade agreements, it was important for countries like the Philippines to gain insights and views of experts and policymakers on these new and emerging areas and see how they would interplay in crafting trade policies, including making commitments in FTAs.

Our Team first started with developing a Training Needs Assessment (TNA) to consecutively design a capacity-building toolkit. The capacity-building packages were prepared with the aim of fostering practical trade knowledge and understanding of trade issues being discussed under the WTO, bilateral, and regional frameworks. The team delivered the capacity-building sessions, using a combination of in-person and hybrid approaches.

Additionally, our Team developed simple and practical text provisions on the new and emerging areas within the WTO in close cooperation and collaboration with relevant stakeholders.

Our Core Solutions

With the rapid proliferation of trade agreements worldwide, there are new market and investment opportunities for countries to explore. At International Economics Consulting, based on our extensive experience in international trade, we assist our clients by providing a detailed analysis of the key impacts of new trade agreements on their operations and competitiveness through an assessment of tariff, and non-tariff barriers, provisions on rules of origin, customs efficiency, the effectiveness of transport networks, and sustainability provisions, among others.

We can help assess the opportunities in different markets, determine the feasibility and viability of projects, and benchmark the wider ecosystem to support business growth. We also support clients in navigating the policy landscape regarding international trade by establishing robust monitoring and evaluation framework through sophisticated real-time dashboards and reporting systems to ensure the best outcomes.

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