29 Nov 2013

WTI steps up cooperation with Vietnam

Pierre Sauvé with MOIT course participants

World Trade Institute (WTI) faculty members have been paying regular visits to Hanoi under an academic cooperation project with the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO).

There they have been delivering a series of short training courses for officials from Vietnam's Ministry of Industry and Trade (MOIT) and other key stakeholder agencies.

The latest of these courses, training over three days on the latest developments in services trade, was delivered at MOIT on 26-28 November by Pierre Sauvé, the WTI's Director of External Programmes and Academic Partnerships.

“The training addressed new issues arising in the various preferential trade agreements (PTAs) in services in which Vietnam currently takes part and featured a negotiating simulation exercise aimed at deepening knowledge on both the substantive and procedural aspects of conducting services negotiations," said Sauvé.

Under the SECO-sponsored programme, WTI lecturers have also been involved with several research studies by faculty members of Vietnam’s Foreign Trade University (FTU).

At a public conference for government officials and export business representatives at the end of November, one such study on implementation of the sanitary (SPS) and technical barriers to trade (TBT) agreements in Vietnam - was presented and discussed.

The research team had conducted more than 300 company interviews and compared results with market access problems faced by similar operators in Malaysia and Thailand. The support provided by these governments to their operators is seen as showing a way for Vietnam as a new WTO member to better use the instruments under the multilateral trading system for developing country operators facing SPS and TBT barriers in big markets like the US, EU and Japan.

Dr. Christian Häberli, Senior Research Fellow at the WTI, had accompanied this intensive four year project. He was particularly pleased with the iterative process between government and business coming about as a result of this field research which will now be published in the Global Trade and Customs Journal in February 2014.

The four-year WTI-Seco programme for the Vietnamese government also comprises training courses at the WTO mission in Geneva, as well as weekly modules at the WTI in Bern for visiting scholars, PhD and Master’s students.