FAO Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia

Workshop in Ukraine discusses resolving contentious trade issues through WTO

Resolving contentious trade issues through the World Trade Organization (WTO) is the subject of a regional workshop taking place here today, organized by FAO in collaboration with Ukraine’s Ministry of Agrarian Policy and Food of Ukraine.

The event brings together representatives of ministries, producer associations and agribusiness as well as national and international trade experts. It is the second event on trade issues convened recently by FAO in Ukraine, following last week’s regional workshop in Odessa on the implications of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement.

Accession of countries to the WTO facilitates their more active engagement in global agrifood trade. This requires, however, compliance with unified trade rules and application of transparent instruments to regulate trade flows and ensure stability and transparency of trade.

“Disagreements sometimes arise concerning application of different types of trade measures, which can hinder the free flow of agrifood products across borders,” said FAO economist Ekaterina Krivonos. “It such cases, expertise on the available options for mediation and dispute settlement becomes critical.”

The purpose of the workshop is to enhance understanding and improve application of the various rules, procedures and mechanisms for mediation and settlement of trade disputes available at the WTO. It also aims to provide practical recommendations on how to organize the work within national governments in coordination with the private sector, and how to approach trading partners to overcome any difficulties arising in trade.

“Although Ukraine has been working with FAO only for 14 years, we achieved very effective and practical results,” said Elena Kovalova, Deputy Minister of Agrarian Policy and Food of Ukraine. “This seminar provides an opportunity to learn how to negotiate in the framework of WTO, and how to resolve disputes arising in the international trade process. Actually, for Ukraine, the agrarian sector and positioning in the world market are very important.”

“Today,” Kovalova continued, “in modern conditions, where the WTO is an international platform that allows for resolution trade disputes in a civilized and transparent way, such an event is extremely topical.”              

Trainers include staff from the WTO secretariat in Geneva and FAO headquarters in Rome, as well as seasoned Ukrainian trade experts. Training topics cover consultations and other out-of-court options for settling trade issues, including procedures related to sanitary and phytosanitary measures. 

Rolando Alcala of the WTO’s Agriculture and Commodities Division explained ways of addressing sanitary and phytosanitary trade concerns, and questions that an exporting country might ask when experiencing difficulties with a trading partner over those concerns.

The format is that of a case-study driven seminar, building on the experience of Ukraine, designed to illustrate the existing tools and best practices in pursuing trade objectives in bilateral and multilateral settings. The programme includes a practical exercise aimed at equipping the participants with knowledge based on hands-on application of different trade rules. 

In the words of Svetlana Zaitseva, FAO consultant and former head of the WTP department in Ukraine’s Ministry of Economic Development and Trade:  “What is required are strong national government teams that listen to the business community, and select the right strategy and instruments needed to effectively address a trade issue.”

7 June 2017, Kiev, Ukraine