Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed was the advice delivered to the 32 participants of the Mekong Institutes (MI) regional training program; Enhancing Utilization of ASEAN FTA, Trade Negotiation and Trade Policy Development, by H.E Mr. Tony Lynch, New Zealand Ambassador to Thailand, during the official opening ceremony on Monday 23 July 2012.

H.E Mr. Lynch, a highly experienced trade negotiator with a wealth of experience in international FTA negotiations, noted the importance of external trade to continued economic growth, the absolute necessity for GMS officials to realize the two-way reality of such agreements, and the need for a holistic approach to the negotiation process with an emphasis on better communication between industry heads, regulators and policy makers. 

The training program, sponsored by the New Zealand Aid Programme (NZAP), echoes the ambassadors advice, providing 32 personnel intimately involved in export, trade negotiations and trade policy creation in the six GMS countries, the opportunity to gain the knowledge, skills and understanding needed to properly utilize the advantages provided by AEC 2015 and other regional FTAs. 

The program gives senior-to-mid-level officials from ministries of commerce, industry associations, chambers of commerce and industry, and importers and exporters from the six GMS countries the chance to work and learn together. This will assist in facilitating a deeper and more comprehensive understanding of regional perspectives and the development of personal relationships and networks which will provide the basis for successful trade negotiations. 

MI Director, Dr. Suchat Katima emphasized the focus on cooperation and integration calling it, a workshop in working together. The program, he stated, will provide participants with the unique opportunity to connect and work together on the same side of the negotiating table rather than at opposing ends. 

You can make a difference concluded H.E Lynch, highlighting the importance of the workshop and the need for greater attention to the development of the regions human resources and capacity in the field of FTAs, trade negotiations and trade policy development. People make a difference, he continued, negotiators change the situation.

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