altThe first Vi workshop of the year brought together 16 researchers from two South African member universities around the topic of trade policy analysis. Led by Vi economist, Cristian Ugarte, the training took place April 22-25 at North-West University (NWU), Potchefstroom.

The workshop, requested and funded by NWU based on the suggestion of Vi member coordinator, Wilma Viviers, a participant of the Vi/WTO/ITC workshop on trade and trade policy analysis held in 2011, also opened its doors to researchers at South African core member, the University of Pretoria (UP).

Aimed at enhancing the knowledge and skills of participating academics in the use of the Stata statistical software package for trade analysis, the programme introduced the audience to Stata and its functionalities, explained the theory and practice of gravity models, and reviewed possible uses of these tools in analyzing issues related to bilateral trade, multilateral and regional trade agreements, and the relationship between trade and migration.

All participants indicated that the workshop fully met or exceededtheir expectations, and that it enhanced their knowledge and skills in trade empirics and Stata.

“I had high expectations of learning more about gravity models and these were definitely met,” commented one participant. “I now have a basic knowledge about panel data and Stata. I will be able to use Stata on my own,” added another. 

They also said they gained additional ideas and data sources to integrate into their classes on the gravity model, and provided concrete examples of how they intend to use this new knowledge in their future research and work for policymakers.

“This is definitely going to have the biggest impact on my research effort,” said UP’s Vi member coordinator, André Jordaan. “If I can continue with Stata after the knowledge I gained at the workshop, it will assist me in making the research process more effective.”

“The last day's session on migration and trade flows spurred new ideas for research,” said another participant.

The training was also an opportunity to  bring together academics from both universities,  who already plan to work together on a project applying what was learned.

“(We) also had fruitful discussions on the complementarity and differences of the gravity model and the DSM (Decision Support Model), as two possible methodologies to identify export opportunities for South Africa,” Viviers reports. “Follow-up research on both those methodologies is planned (with Jordaan).”