SANEM Hosts Regional Workshop on “WTO and Post-Bali Work Program for Asia”

SANEM successfully completed hosting the two-day long “Regional Workshop” on “WTO and Post-Bali Work Program for Asia” on 5th and 6th May, 2014 at the Ruposhi Bangla Hotel in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The workshop was organized in collaboration with the Commonwealth Secretariat, Bangladesh Foreign Trade Institute (BFTI), African EXIM Bank and Center for WTO Studies, New Delhi.

DSC_0367The inaugural session started with a welcome address by Dr. Selim Raihan (Executive Director, SANEM, Dhaka). His speech was followed by the welcome remarks from Prof. Abhijit Das (Head, Center for WTO Studies, New Delhi) and Dr. Md. Mozibur Rahman (CEO, BFTI, Dhaka). Dr. M. A. Razzaque (Adviser and Head, Economic Affairs Division) delivered his statement on behalf of the Commonwealth Secretariat on this occasion.

There were nine technical sessions on specific agendas that included presentations from experts and also spurred lively open-house discussions at the end of each session. The first technical session was on “Key issues in negotiations on industrial tariffs”, chaired by Dr. Saman Kelegama (Executive Director, IPS, Colombo). The first presenter of the session and also of the day was Prof. Mustafizur Rahman (Executive Director, CPD) who presented on “NAMA issues: Development Implications for LDCs and low income countries in Asia”. Next in line was Prof. Abhijit Das with his presentation on “NAMA issues: Recent Developments”. The second technical session of the day was on “Key issues in Agriculture negotiations”, chaired by Dr. Rashmi Banga (Economist, UNCTAD, Geneva). The presenters of this session were Mr. Pushpa Sharma (Research Director, SAWTEE, Kathmundu) and Dr. M. Asaduzzaman (Professional Fellow, BIDS, Dhaka). Both of them spoke on “Issues for LDCs and low income countries in Asia”. The third and fourth sessions also addressed agricultural issues. The third session was chaired by Mr. Pushpa Sharma in which Dr. Georgios Mermigkas (Trade & Food Security Officer, FAO, Geneva) presented on “Implications of Bali Decision on Public Stockholding for food security purposes”. The fourth session was chaired by Dr. Md. Mozibur Rahman. Dr. Rashmi Banga delivered a presentation titled “Green Box Support: Development Implications”. The last session of the day regarding “Key Issues in negotiations on Services”, chaired by Dr. Selim Raihan, consisted of two presentations by Dr. Saman Kelegama and Dr. Nazneen Ahmed (Senior Research Fellow, BIDS, Dhaka) on “Services Negotiations: Current state of play and implications for developing countries”.

DSC_0374The second day of the workshop started with a special session, addressed by Mr. Amitava Chakrabarti (Director General, WTO cell and Secretary, Ministry of Commerce, Government of Bangladesh) on “WTO Trade Negotiations and post-Bali Agenda: Issue of importance for LDCs and low income countries”, and it was chaired by Dr. Selim Raihan. It was followed by the first technical session of the day and sixth of the workshop, namely “Key issues in trade facilitation”, chaired by Prof. Mustafizur Rahman. The presenters were Mr. Jeff Procak (Regional Cooperation, Specialist in the Public Management, ADB, Manila), Dr. Mostofa Abid Khan (Director, BFTI, Dhaka) and Dr. M. A. Razzaque from Commonwealth Secretariat. They discussed on “Trade Facilitation Agreement: Implications for LDCs and low income countries in Asia”. After the morning tea break it was time for the seventh technical session on implementation issues of the Bali package on which Prof. Abhijit Das presented on “Single Undertaking: Implications and Options” followed by another one by Dr. Mostofa Abid Khan. Both of them focused specifically on LDCs and low income countries in Asia. This session was chaired by Dr. Coung Minh Nguyen (Senior Economist, ADB, Manila). After lunch, the eighth technical session on development issues, chaired by Dr. M.A. Razzaque started with the presentation of Dr. Selim Raihan, titled, “Other Development Issues for LDCs: DFQF”. Another two panelists in that session were Mr. Manzur Ahmed (Advisor, FBCCI) and Mr. Shaquib Quoreshi (Secretary, MCCI, Dhaka). After this, Dr. Saman Kelegama chaired a session on country interventions on post Bali agenda where distinguished representatives from each participating country in the workshop expressed their achievements so far, expectations and suggestions from their individual country perspectives.

DSC_0644Finally, as the day strolled into afternoon, the workshop came to the brink of its conclusion with a last session chaired by Mr. H.E. Pan Sorasak (Secretary of State, Ministry of Commerce, Cambodia) and deliberations by Dr. Rashmi Banga and Dr. M. A. Razzaque. Dr. Banga presented a first draft of the summary of the workshop and called on for comments from all the participants. The workshop ended with sharing of ideas and perceptions, expectations and recommendations from the distinguished academics, researchers and practitioners.