Twenty-three students from UWI's vocational Masters program in International Trade Policy recently completed a three-week tour of Geneva-Based organisations, including UNCTAD, the WTO, the ITC, WIPO and the Agency for International Trade Information and Cooperation. The study tour is a compulsory element of their programme, and provides invaluable exposure to the institutions and issues of relevance to their future studies and careers.
The program's creator, Vi member coordinator Pamela Coke-Hamilton, believes the tour - now in its third year - should remain a seminal part of the students' training, as it is essential for their development as future trade professionals, officials or negotiators.
The tour comprised several elements, including hands-on training using trade-related databases and analytical tools, attendance at official WTO meetings, such as the Trade Policy Reviews and the General Council, and interactive workshops on UNCTAD's integrated treatment of trade, investment and finance. Students were also given the opportunity to discuss with Geneva-based policy makers and professionals from the European Commission, the Advisory Centre on WTO Law and Oxfam, as well as their representatives from Caribbean-region missions in Geneva.
The final interactive round table with Caribbean-region Ambassadors and policy makers produced a lively discussion, which was both insightful and inspiring. Discussing the region's capacity problems in international negotiations and the need for well trained trade professionals and researchers, the Barbados Ambassador, HE Trevor Clarke, commented: "We don't need generalised responses... we need established systems that collect information and establish processes to allow us to analyse problems... we need lawyers and economists to analyse information and to help us formulate strategies."
After nine months of classroom-based learning, the intention of the study tour is to expose students to the practical dimension of their training, and to provide them with opportunities to discuss trade and development issues with experts and professionals in the field. In summing up the tour, one student reflected: "throughout the study tour, I was able to see the practical side of trade and international relations. Continual support to developing countries by such a program is essential and definitely a good thing in fostering knowledge development"
A copy of the tour's program can be downloaded by clicking here.