altThe first Vi activity organized for recently admitted Ghanian core member, the University of Cape Coast (UCC), provided 19 lecturers and graduate students with new skills for conducting policy-relevant research on trade.

Funded by the government of Finland, and delivered by Vi economist, Cristian Ugarte, the workshop took place May 20-23 at UCC.

Highlighting the benefits of using the Stata software package to process data and estimate the impact of trade policy, Ugarte introduced the “nuts and bolts” of the data analysis and statistical tool using trade theory and models, and engaging participants in practical applications.

“All my expectations have been met because the course dealt with data management, there were a lot of hands-on exercises for the participants, sources of trade data were discussed, as well as how to initiate and implement policy-relevant trade research,” commented one of the participants.

In addition to the theory and practice of the gravity model and its application in analyzing issues related to bilateral, multilateral and regional trade agreements, the four-day econometric workshop included an introduction to the use of household data and the analysis of various channels through which external shocks might affect household welfare in developing countries.

“Both the theoretical insights and the hands-on exercise on the gravity approach were completely new,” said one of the trainees. “The aspect related to the distributional impact of price changes was the most interesting for me because of my personal future research interests.”

According to evaluation questionnaires, the workshop enhanced all participants’ knowledge and skills in trade empirics and Stata. Respondents also said that they intended to use the knowledge and skills from the workshop in their future teaching, research and work with policymakers.

“The introduction to Stata and its main functionalities will be passed on to my students undertaking project work at the undergraduate and postgraduate level,” said one of the participating lecturers.

“I intend to research the welfare benefits of AGOA (African Growth and Opportunity Act) in Ghana and l will be making use of the nonparametric estimation technique,” added another academic. “Since this work will involve the use of household data and a lot of data management, l will be employing all the knowledge l have gained from this workshop.”

“There are plans under way to assess the fiscal implications of the Interim Economic Partnership Agreements by the government of Ghana, through collaboration with the Ministry of Trade and Industry,” added another participant. “Insights acquired from this workshop will be helpful in our deliberations.”

“I will always ensure that the issues I will investigate will have policy relevance,” added yet another.

“Participants were delighted to learn about the gravity model and parametric and non-parametric estimation techniques and their application to trade and household welfare issues,” reports UCC Vi member coordinator, Camara Obeng, a graduate of the Vi online course on Trade and Poverty held last year. “Participants benefitted immensely from the innovative teaching technique employed by the resource person (Ugarte), that is, blending theory with hands-on exercises.”

UCC’s Faculty of Social Sciences dean, S. B. Kendie, who took part in the opening of the workshop, said he hoped to see the trainees themselves conduct similar workshops in the future.