Dr. Supachai Panitchpakdi, UNCTAD's Secretary-General, met with Dr. Vladimir Shimov, Rector of the Belarus State Economic University (BSEU), during his visit to Belarus on 17 July 2007, to discuss mutual cooperation.
Since BSEU's joining the UNCTAD Virtual Institute in May 2007, both parties have launched several initiatives to support trade-related academic programmes at the BSEU, initiatives that have benefited from strong support by the Permanent Mission of Belarus in Geneva.
The Vi shared with BSEU all its teaching materials and shipped nearly 70 UNCTAD publications to Minsk to enrich the university library. Two BSEU lecturers are currently attending a regional training course organized by UNCTAD's investment division on International Investment Agreements and state-investor dispute settlement. The objective is to assist the university to strengthen its Masters programme on International Investment.
The visit by Dr. Supachai was the culmination of previous efforts as well as a forward-looking endeavour. Its objective was on the one hand to take stock of what has been achieved and on the other hand to discuss areas of desirable future support and cooperation. In addition to the assistance from UNCTAD in developing a Masters programme in International Economic Cooperation, two other areas of cooperation were debated.
The first one was the organization of a regional course on Key International Economic Issues for policy-makers and academics from transition countries in Minsk next year and the ways in which the university could be associated with this event. The second one then related to a possible organization, in cooperation with the BSEU, of a regional professional development workshop for transition country universities and research institutes on the Economics of Commodity Production and Trade. The workshop would be based on a teaching material developed jointly by the Virtual Institute and UNCTAD's Commodities Branch that is currently being translated into Russian.
The importance of UNCTAD's support to tertiary education on trade through the Virtual Institute was also highlighted in Dr. Supachai's meetings with the Prime Minister, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of Economy of the Republic of Belarus. The Belarusian counterparts stressed that up-to-date knowledge and skills on trade issues were particularly required for the country's negotiations of the WTO accession and the integration of the country into the world economy.
To provide a framework for future interaction, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the Republic of Belarus, UNCTAD and the UNDP office in Belarus specifically listing the Virtual Institute and the regional course on Key International Economic Issues as priority areas for cooperation.