A partnership with academia

Building knowledge for trade and development


altThe Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) has granted CHF5 million to an academic cooperation project led by Vi member, the World Trade Institute of the University of Bern, involving universities in South Africa, Peru and Vietnam.

The four-year project will create regional knowledge hubs and competence centres in the field of international trade regulation at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, and at Vi university members, the Foreign Trade University in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, and Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú in Lima.

This project in SECO’s priority countries Peru, South Africa and Vietnam, aims to complement efforts underway in each of the regions’ partner institutions to build and strengthen trade-related research and training capacities. This involves academic training and joint research activities in trade policy, law and economics. In addition to funding from SECO, the project will benefit from in-kind contributions from the three developing country universities.

A central aim of the project is to create a sustainable and academically productive cooperation network that will address one of the main obstacles to sound trade policy formulation by training future generations of experts – students, young and more established academic researchers, and policy officials - called upon to assume leadership roles in trade policy formulation within governmental, civil society, business and academic circles.

The official launch of the activities took place in Peru on October 26, and on November 17 in Vietnam.

The project’s direct beneficiaries comprise the faculty, research staff and graduate students of the partner institutions. Several stakeholders in governmental, business and civil society circles in participating countries/regions stand to derive benefits from the activities foreseen under the project, either as direct participants in the teaching and knowledge dissemination activities deriving from the proposed cooperation, or as potential clients/users of joint research activities and the strengthening of partner institutions’ policy research capacities. The project will also provide continued annual scholarships for 10 students from Swiss cooperation countries to participate in WTI's Master in International Law and Economics Program.

Selection of the three partner institutions was based upon a critical assessment of the potential to develop long-term capacities. Upon completion of the project, the institutions will form part of WTI’s international network.