The tenth annual Virtual Institute study tour for students of the Master's programme in International Trade Policy of core member, the University of the West Indies, gathered 12 students from six countries(*) in Geneva May 12-23, for a two-week training programme covering international trade issues of relevance to the Caribbean region.
The two-week programme included 24 sessions on trade and development topics delivered by experts from UNCTAD and other international organizations. UNCTAD experts introduced the students to the organization's work, and held discussions on foreign direct investment; competition policy; global value chains; technology and innovation; transport and trade facilitation; and food security and international trade.
The study tour was also an opportunity for students to learn about other organizations working on the linkages of trade with health, migration, creative industries, climate change and intellectual property. Experts from the World Trade Organization, the World Health Organization, the International Organization for Migration, the World Intellectual Property Organization, the Advisory Centre on WTO Law and the Commonwealth Small States Office, contributed their knowledge and experience to these sessions.
"Discussions were engaging and the topics covered were very relevant," said one of the students. "It was very educational and the presenters helped to bring trade to life," said another.
The programme included a visit to the International Trade Centre, where the students learned about the use of market research and analysis tools with practical exercises. Also part of the tour was a meeting with regional Ambassadors in Geneva and a simulation exercise.
The roundtable with regional ambassadors and country delegates was chaired by Ricardo James, Chargé d'affaires at the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS). Ambassadors from Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and the Bahamas participated in the discussion, together with country delegates from Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, the Bahamas, Haiti and the OECS.
“The highlight was the meeting with the ambassadors and other country delegates. This was specially related to the current issues that have been being negotiated and the position of CARICOM economies,” said one of the students.
Another highlight of the tour came on the last day, when students were able to show what they had learned during the two weeks by participating in a simulation exercise on foreign direct investment. The students were divided into groups representing four different ministries (the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Science and Technology, the Ministry of Industry and Enterprise Development and the Ministry of Environmental Protection) of Sumeria, a fictitious country that had been contacted by a transnational company willing to invest in the country under certain conditions.
"This exercise was very relevant and gave us a more practical insight," said one student. "Trade issues are not only multifaceted but require cooperation with multiple stakeholders, countries and organizations."
(*)Antigua, Barbados, Trinidad, St. Vincent, Belize and Jamaica