SADC Director of Trade, Industry, Finance & Investment (TIFI) Ms. Boitumelo Gofhamodimo, inaugurated a World Trade Organization Reference Centre at SADC Secretariat, Gaborone, on April 4, 2013. The establishment of the Centre follows an official request made to the WTO during the previous year to open a reference centre at the Secretariat.
The Centre, located on the 3rd Floor in room 18 will serve as a channel through which SADC Secretariat will receive information, technical and training assistance to improve the capacity of its staff on WTO issues. It will also provide the SADC Secretariat, government agencies, academic, research and training institutions, businesses and other stakeholders with a dedicated physical location where any relevant information on the WTO can be accessed via the WTO Internet site, on CD-ROMs, in print, as well as in electronic format.
The WTO Secretariat was represented by Mr. Willie Chatsika - Counsellor, Institute for Training & Technical Cooperation. In his remarks Mr. Chatsika pointed out that the establishment of the Centre was a “clear demonstration of WTO readiness to build capacity of RECs and Member countries, and the importance attached to accurate and evidence-based trade data and information”. He emphasized the importance of disseminating information in an efficient manner within the SADC Secretariat and to all stakeholders involved with trade policy.
The Director –TIFI, in receiving the donation of equipment’s from WTO Secretariat urged the SADC staff and other users to make good use of the Reference Centre and encouraged them to use it not only as information Centre, but also as learning Centre. She also pointed out that the Reference Centre will contribute significantly in supporting the work of SADC and in building the necessary in house trade-related skills and capacities. Efforts will also be made by SADC Secretariat to establish regular contact with WTO Reference Centres established within the SADC region, upgrading them and the establishment of new ones in Member States where such facilities are not in place.
Prior to the establishment of the Reference Centre, a two-day training activity was held from April 4-5, 2013. The objective was to enable SADC Secretariat Staff members to obtain trade-related information resources on the WTO Internet site, in electronic versions on CD-ROMs developed by the WTO, as well as trade-related publications, and to facilitate access to and use of eLearning programs of the WTO. Training on accessing WTO information resources, including tariff profiles, notification processes, commitments of WTO Members, and reports of WTO bodies, was provided to the staff. Training on WTO official tariffs and statistics databases was also provided.