A partnership with academia

Building knowledge for trade and development


altFor a second year is a row, a group of students from Chinese Vi affiliate university member, Shanghai Institute of Foreign Trade (SIFT), visited UNCTAD July 4, to learn about the organization's history and its perspective on development.

A group of 10 students majoring in a variety of international economics/trade and business topics, accompanied by SIFT lecturer,Yu Lei,  met with the Chief of UNCTAD's Technical Cooperation Service, Manuela Tortora, to get acquainted with UNCTAD. The visit took place in the framework of a nine-day study tour of international entities, including the World Trade Organization, World Intellectual Property Organization, International Trade Centre and the World Economic Forum, and permanent missions in Geneva.


Tortora explained the origins of UNCTAD, which was created in 1964 to address the situation of the Group 77 (G77),  a growing number of developing countries acceding to independence, later joined by China.

"UNCTAD is the only entity of the UN system that has a mandate to look at developing country concerns", she said.

Consequently, UNCTAD has been thinking about policies that would create a positive link between trade and development. These thoughts have initially been inspired by the work of its first Secretary-General, Argentinian economist, Raúl Prebisch. His concepts, including, the role of the government in fostering development and the importance of productive capacities for development, still remain valid. The same is true for the idea of interdependence, which has since further gained in importance due to the increasing globalization of the world economy.

UNCTAD meets regularly every four years to discuss major issues on the international economic agenda, and. its 13th conference in April 2012 (Doha, Qatar) focused on financial globalization

”The main ideas about development at the current juncture of the world economy which were voiced during the conference,” Tortora stressed, highlighting the need for government intervention in regulating markets; the need to address structural weaknesses even in developed countries; the need for a state able to take good decisions (technically well-equipped civil service); and the need to address global problems through a multilateral system.

During the discussion, the students turned to national topics of interest, including environmental aspects of trade between developed and developing countries and the place of China in the world economy.

"You have taken us out of the framework of the Chinese borders," commented a student of international economics/trade, while his colleague, studying international business, added that "It is an important call for future leaders to understand that a global perspective is important for China."