The majority of the CIS countries have been actively pursuing WTO accession after becoming independent states. Six CIS countries (Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Ukraine and Tajikistan) and Georgia are now members. The accession of Russia in August 2012, the biggest market in the region, may also act as a catalyst for the WTO accession among the remaining countries in the region. The accession to WTO by itself does not guarantee more effective participation in global agricultural trade or benefits to consumers or agricultural producers. The appropriate mainstreaming of trade policy into the overall agricultural development strategy can help to maximize the benefits of trade expansion and minimize the possible negative effects on producers engaged in less competitive sectors, but it requires an informed and weighted approach in the post-accession period, both by the authorities and the private sector. Understanding and applying the provisions of the WTO Agreement on Agriculture, the SPS Agreement and other WTO accords is the first step towards the implementation. But taking advantage of the opportunities that WTO membership provides also requires updating regulatory frameworks where necessary and adopting accompanying measures to improve the overall competitiveness of the agricultural sector.
By the end of the course, participants will be better able to:
- Evaluate the WTO agreements related to agriculture and food security and country-specific accession commitments affecting these areas;
- Assess the challenges and opportunities that the WTO membership poses for their country’s agricultural sector;
- Identify both the areas where adjustments in agricultural policy and regulatory frameworks are needed to comply with the accession commitments in agriculture, and possible actions that can help take greater advantage of WTO membership to develop the agricultural sector and improve food security.
The course is composed of four modules:
- Module 1. Rules and agreements for agricultural trade in the WTO
- Module 2. The Agreement on the application of sanitary and phytosanitary measures (SPS Agreement)
- Module 3. WTO and the CIS countries: Accession and implementation issues in agriculture
- Module 4. Implications of WTO membership for agricultural policy and food security
The course will be conducted in Russian over a period of five weeks via the e-learning platform developed by the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR, http://www.learnatunitar.org). This pedagogical tool will help participants meet the course’s learning objectives through a self-paced study routine with optional and required readings, exercises, discussion forums and assessment quizzes. The course will be facilitated and mentored by an international expert who has a wealth of practical experience to ensure that real-world examples which facilitate learning are integrated into the coursework.
This course is designed to assist representatives from Ministries of Agriculture as well as other government ministries and officials directly involved in the formulation and implementation of agricultural policies and programs in the CIS countries, including national food safety and phytosanitary authorities. Private sector participants such as representatives from producer associations and agro-industry will also benefit from the course. Researchers and students with interest in agricultural policy and trade analysis are also encouraged to participate. Priority will be given to policy makers and practitioners who impact agricultural trade, and professionals who are able to convey information and provide technical advice to their constituencies (trainers, professional staff of producer organizations, extension officers etc.).
This course is offered free of charge as part of training activities under FAO project “Facilitating the understanding and adoption of WTO principles and commitments in agriculture in the CIS countries”, which is part of the Agrarian Structures Initiative (ASI) for Europe and Central Asia. Limited slots are available and will be subject to a selection process conducted by FAO, taking into account in particular, the geographical distribution and gender balance.
In the preparation of this course FAO draws from its extensive experience with providing guidance, capacity building and technical advice to its member countries on agricultural trade policy and multilateral trade negotiations, as well its normative work on the SPS issues.
A certificate of completion will be issued to participants who successfully complete all course-related assignments and assessments.