The ninth Vi study tour for students of the Master's programme in International Trade Policy of core member, the University of the West Indies (UWI), gathered 18 students from six countries(*) in Geneva May 13-24, for a two-week training programme covering international trade issues of relevance to the Caribbean region.
The programme was designed to build on the knowledge students acquired during their graduate studies, and expose them to the topics and working environment of trade-related international organizations.
“I was very satisfied with the study tour because I was able to experience and actively participate in the education process,” commented one of the students. “I was able to observe, question and discuss various principles of international trade, therefore leading to more active learning.”
During the first week, students were introduced to UNCTAD, and spent most of their time with its experts discussing the organization's work in the CARICOM region and in the areas of small island developing states; the debt crisis; international investment policies and sustainable development; technology and innovation; transport and trade facilitation; food security and international trade; SMEs, linkages and globalization; and competition policy.
The study tour was also an opportunity for students to learn about other international organizations and NGOs working on the linkages of trade with human development, employment, health, migration, creative industries, climate change or intellectual property. Experts from the World Trade Organization (WTO), the United Nations Development Programme, the World Health Organization, the International Labour Organization, the International Organization for Migration, the World Intellectual Property Organization, CUTS (Consumer Unity & Trust Society) International Geneva, and the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development, contributed their knowledge and experience to these sessions.
“The study tour was an excellent exposure to the pros and cons of the multilateral world of trade and its correlation to labour, environment and health,” said one participant. “Trade is dynamic and has implications on multiple disciplines and thus one must be knowledgeable on a plethora of issues,” added another.
Students also participated in hands-on sessions on the use of the International Trade Centre’s market analysis tools - Trade Map, Market Access Map and Investment Map. The session at the WTO, along with a roundtable discussion with representatives from the permanent missions of their countries in Geneva, provided the group with up-to-date information on the status of international trade negotiations and the challenges and experiences of the Caribbean countries involved. The roundtable also covered the participation of Caribbean countries in various groups representing small and vulnerable economies, Least Developed Countries and African, Caribbean, and Pacific Group of States.
“I absolutely recognize the challenges that Caribbean islands missions face in the course of carrying out their duties in Geneva,” commented one student.
“The representation of the Caribbean at the various international organizations is magnificent. We have some of the best personnel in the necessary and key areas. Hence, the region can only go forward in terms of regional integration for it to succeed,” concluded another.
(*) Barbados, Belize, Guyana, Haiti, St. Lucia, and Trinidad & Tobago.