A partnership with academia

Building knowledge for trade and development


altThe first edition of the online course on non-tariff measures (NTMs), developed in cooperation between the Vi and UNCTAD's Division on International Trade in Goods and Services, and Commodities concluded October 19, awarding 60 participants the UNCTAD Non-Tariff Measures Data Collector Certificate. The graduates, coming from academic institutions and governments in 43 countries, will become part of the UNCTAD NTM Data Collector Roster.

Post-course evaluation questionnaires confirm that the course both increased participants' knowledge of NTMs and helped them better appreciate the NTM-related policy issues facing their countries.

"After the shift in trade policy instruments from tariffs to NTMs, this course is very relevant. It has immensely enhanced my understanding of policy implications of these measures", wrote one of the participants. "From both the readings and multimedia lectures, I now have more insight into problems that our exporters are facing when they export to other countries. The course is therefore very relevant for my teaching of international trade and finance at the university", completed another.

"I was a complete novice and I now I have a good grasp of NTMs and the difficulties surrounding their classification." "I immensely enjoyed the course. It has been thought-provoking from the start until the end. It sort of changed my way of thinking with regard to the subject matter," added their fellow students.

The participants particularly appreciated the comprehensive nature of the course. In the words of one of them: "The modules come together to tell an important story. This course has provided me with a comprehensive background to the work I am currently doing on standards."

According to the evaluations received, the participants not only feel that they are well equipped to undertake work on NTMs, but also have the intention to pursue concrete research, teaching and data collection projects in their countries.

The research issues proposed concern regional studies (on East Africa, West Africa, and MERCOSUR), and national case studies (on Costa Rica, Lesotho, Cameroon, Ghana, and trade between Russia and the United States). At times, the focus is on specific sectors, such as agriculture, the food industry, the textile industry or medicines.

"I intend writing at least two papers, present them in the Departmental seminar for inputs and submit them to a conference organized by EcoMod in Boston in 2015," stated one of the participants, while another one intends to "specifically use my knowledge on NTMs in my research on the ASEAN Economic Community, particularly the business implications of NTMs in AEC 2015." Finally, another participant wishes to evaluate the structure of NTMs in Brazil and to assess and quantify the impact of NTMs on the country.

NTMs are considered a topic that needs to be better covered in university teaching and policymaker training in participants' countries, in particular in courses on international trade, trade theory and policy, and international economic relations.

As one of the participants put it: "With the resources and tutorials l received from the course instructors, l am planning to start a small project on collecting NTMs and sharing my findings with my students. This, l believe, will add a practical component to my teaching." According to another graduate, "(the course) will greatly assist me to explain to my international trade students what non-tariff measures really are and how they affect our export potential as a country."

Another participant is planning to use part of the course material in a presentation in the context of the WTO course for Latin American Integration Association (ALADI) member countries.

The participants coming from government ministries and agencies, or regional organizations felt that the course would support them in NTM data collection and the advice they are asked to provide in the discharge of their functions.

"This course will help me in the collection, classification and tabulation of NTMs, as we have to report regularly to our WTO mission regarding these trade policy measures, for onward submission to the WTO Secretariat," said one of the course participants. Another one added: "As a member of national committees on trade I am now better placed to give sound advice/guidance when discussing issues related to non-tariff measures. For instance, the knowledge gained in this course has already helped me in a workshop that we had last week on the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement."

"Part of my job includes provision of research and trade information to SMEs and this course will assist me greatly in doing this job. It will also assist in the evaluation of similar work done by consultants," concluded another graduate.

The participantscompleted the course with a great motivation to work on NTM-related matters and continue learning more on the topic in the future. As echoed by one of them: "The course has created in me an urge to learn more on NTMs and apply the knowledge of NTM data collection practically."

"It was my first Vi e-learning course and it was very successful. The combination of reading material, multimedia lectures and tests was excellent to absorb and understand the contents properly. I look forward to other Vi courses," wrote one of the participants, while a fellow student concluded that: "The course was very welcome and I would recommend any interested person to take the next edition."