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The Online Course on Negotiating Regional Trade Agreements for Trade in Times of Crisis and Pandemic has been developed by the ESCAP Trade, Investment and Innovation Division. The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed countries’ reliance on ad-hoc unilateral measures in response to crisis. Overall, countries showed little coordination despite the existence of a large number of trade agreements. The hundreds of regional trade agreements (RTAs) appear to provide little or no guidance on handling trade in times of pandemic or crisis. In order to fill this gap, ESCAP together with partner organizations launched a global Initiative on Model Provisions for Trade in Times of Crisis and Pandemic in Regional and other Trade Agreements (IMP) in May 2020. Following a global Policy Hackathon to generate ideas on how to tackle this issue, a comprehensive Handbook on Provisions and Options for Trade in Times of Crisis and Pandemic has been developed.

This course is based on the Handbook, aimed at building capacity of trade negotiators and related stakeholders. Specifically, this course is designed to (1) enhance the understanding of the need for improving trade agreements to ensure better response to pandemics and other crises; (2) provide a range of options of provisions that can be used in future trade agreements; and (3) get feedback from negotiators and policy analysts, which can be integrated in future iterations of the course and the Handbook.

The course is divided into ten modules as follows:

  1. Introduction (Handbook Chapter Introduction)
  2. The COVID-19 Pandemic and Countries’ Response (Handbook Chapter I)
  3. Treatment of essential goods and services (Handbook Chapter II)
  4. Trade facilitation (Handbook Chapter III)
  5. SPS and TBT measures (Handbook Chapter IV)
  6. Intellectual property rights (Handbook Chapter V)
  7. Digital trade (Handbook Chapter VI)
  8. Transparency (Handbook Chapter VII)
  9. Development (Handbook Chapter VIII)
  10. Build forward better (Handbook Chapter IX)

For guidance on how to study this course, you may refer to the Study Guide. Upon studying the course materials and passing the quizzes, participants will get an official course certificate. Before taking this course, you are encouraged to compete the Online Course on Negotiation of Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreements.

For other e-learning courses on trade policy, negotiation and facilitation, please click here

*Acknowledgement: The materials have been developed by Katrin Kuhlmann, Visiting Professor of Law, Georgetown University Law Centre and President and Founder, New Markets Lab, who is also the lead author of the Handbook. Her areas of research and expertise include international economic law, law and development, regional trade agreements and comparative economic law.  She is also a member of the Trade Advisory Committee on Africa at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR).  In addition to practicing trade and corporate law at two international law firms, she spent six years as a trade negotiator with the USTR’s Office, where she focused on WTO accession negotiations, regional trade, non-tariff measures, intellectual property rights, and agricultural issues. She holds a J.D. from Harvard Law School and a BA in Economics from Creighton University.
**Disclaimer: The designations employed and the presentation of the material in the online course do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Secretariat of the United Nations concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries. The United Nations bears no responsibility for the availability or functionality of URLs. Opinion, figures and estimates set forth in this online course should not necessarily be considered as reflecting the views or carrying the endorsement of the United Nations. Mention of firm names and commercial products does not imply the endorsement of the United Nations.