The centre is a repository of information related to WTO and international trade

Information: Economic affairs minister Lekey Dorji launched a World Trade Organisation (WTO) reference centre for trade-related information at the Department of Trade of the Ministry of Economic Affairs in Thimphu yesterday.

The reference centre will serve as a repository of information related to the WTO and international trade.

The main objective of the reference centre programme is to enable government officials, private sector, academic institutions and the general public in the beneficiary countries to access and utilise trade-related information and resources. For instance, a trader can access information regarding trading conditions and tariffs in another country from the centre.

Counsellor with Regional Trade Policy Courses and TA Outreach Unit, Institute for Training and Technical Cooperation, WTO, Gerardo T Thielen, said the establishment of the centre provides Bhutan with a big opportunity to research  trade matters. He and the secretary of the working party on Accession of Bhutan (to WTO), Juneyoung Lee, from the WTO Secretariat were also present at the launch.

“The research centre is a rich platform for users to access information on trade conditions and other trade related research purposes,” Gerardo T Thielen said.

The reference centre programme is a WTO flagship technical assistance extended to the developing countries. The WTO also donates equipment required for the operation of the reference centres to Least Developed Countries through its budgetary support.

He said the establishment of the reference centre was timely as it coincides with the ongoing discussion in Bhutan regarding its possible accession to the WTO. “The launching of the reference centre is not directly or specifically related to Bhutan’s WTO accession,” he said. But he added it is timely as there is internal discussion going on with respect to WTO.

Bhutan is an observer member in the WTO.

The programme is also expected to raise awareness and disseminate information on WTO matters among national stakeholders in the beneficiary countries.

The WTO in collaboration with the beneficiary countries establishes reference centres, and also provides training to reference centre managers and relevant officials in the beneficiary countries on the use of its databases, document search facilities and IT resources.

The department is also conducting trainings for relevant agencies on the use of the reference centre databases from September from 14 to 15.

MB Subba