Creating favourable framework conditions for trade
Developing countries need a favourable framework in place if they are to gain from international trade. Developing countries will be better equipped to defend their interests in international trade talks if they are familiar with international rules and have good negotiation skills. They also have to apply international conventions effectively at the country level, for which they need competent technical institutions.
International trade in goods and services is subject to a complex set of rules and regulations. Since the mid-20th century, national laws and regulations are increasingly aligned with the rules of the multilateral trading system. The World Trade Organisation (WTO) in Geneva has monitored observance of the various trade agreements since 1995. Meanwhile, more and more bilateral and regional agreements have come into effect to govern trade flows. Moreover, the range of topics subject to international trade rules has expanded in recent years. Apart from tariff reductions, negotiations also cover how to deal with technical regulations and the opening up of service markets. Other topics of growing significance include the protection of intellectual property rights, cutting bureaucracy in customs formalities, as well as social and environmental aspects.
Creating a favourable framework in developing countries calls for dynamic interaction among a wide range of actors. SECO concentrates on the following closely related domains:
Learning the rules
SECO supports training programmes to build knowledge in international trade law and in trade policy. Participants come from the relevant authorities and the private sector in partner countries. Partnerships between local universities and leading international training institutions have proven successful. These help to build and cement the required skills within local institutions.
Negotiating favourable agreements…
SECO helps developing countries negotiate more successfully. It gives them the skills they need to pursue their interests effectively in international trade talks. For example, SECO offers customised consulting to support WTO candidate countries in the accession process.
…and implementing them effectively
However favourable an agreement may be, it is only of use if applied effectively. Developing countries need well-functioning institutions, such as their customs administration, conformity assessment and metrology bodies, standardisation bodies or intellectual property office. SECO helps partner countries to apply agreements efficiently and facilitate trade.