A partnership with academia

Building knowledge for trade and development


altA small delegation from Vi's newest Chinese affiliate member, the Shanghai Institute of Foreign Trade (SIFT), visited UNCTAD on July 7, as part of a study tour of Geneva-based international organizations arranged by SIFT's WTO Chair in cooperation with the Permanent Mission of China to the WTO.

The five students and their teacher joined UNCTAD expert and former Vi staff member, Joseph Clements, for an overview of the work of UNCTAD and the WTO. The presentation included the historical background of both organizations and the differences in their mandates, functioning and perspectives on trade.

"Economic conditions change, new areas for research emerge, new economic issues become urgent," Clements said, as he explained the changing nature of UNCTAD's mandate. While in the 60s UNCTAD's work focused on commodity prices and aspects of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), he said, today UNCTAD's mandate has broadened to cover new topics in trade and development, such as climate change, migration and food security.

Clements then engaged the students in a discussion about what they thought were China's most pressing challenges. Answers from the students --  undergraduates in international trade, economics, finance, international marketing, and exhibition and conference management programmes -- ranged from education, to an aging population, to the financial system.

The 10-day study tour included training at the WTO, and visits to the International Trade Centre, the World Intellectual Property Organization, the World Bank and the missions of China, the European Union and Switzerland.