A partnership with academia

Building knowledge for trade and development



altDoubling the number of participants from last year, 37 students of the Master's in International Trade at Colombian affiliate member, Universidad Sergio Arboleda, visited UNCTAD October 27. Their one-day training programme included presentations on the findings of the latest Trade and Development Report (TDR), the World Investment Report (WIR) and UNCTAD’s work on the promotion of entrepreneurship.

Alex Izurieta, of UNCTAD's Division on Globalization and Development Strategies, started the day’s discussions with a presentation of this year’s TDR.

According to the report, the global financial cycle is still mainly driven by developed countries’ policy decisions. “Greater policy ambitions of developing countries can be met with industrial policies aimed at structural transformation, supported by macroeconomic policies,” Izurieta began.

“However, the stability of capital flows requires managing the capital account and these measures should be considered as standard instruments available to policymakers,” he continued.

In order to control tax avoidance and transfer pricing, the report suggests a UN-led multilateral framework, which would include an international convention against tax evasion and an extended international application of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative.

The second session of the day was delivered by Nicole Moussa, of UNCTAD's Division on Investment and Enterprise. She began her presentation of the WIR with an outline of current trends in global and regional FDI flows.

WIR findings indicate that global FDI flows grew by 9 per cent in 2013, with developing countries further increasing their share in global FDI inflows to 54 per cent.

“FDI flows to Latin America and the Caribbean increased for the fourth consecutive year. The inflows to Colombia, mainly in the production of electricity and the banking sector, increased by 8 per cent,” Moussa stated.

“FDI and trade are increasingly inter-connected: more FDI brings more trade. Governments have to adapt to the internationalization strategies of companies and try to integrate into  global production networks,” she continued.

As an example of a gainful linkage to global value chains (GVCs) in Latin America, she cited the automotive industries in Brazil and Mexico. These countries however differ in their ways of linking to GVCs: Brazil mainly produces vehicles for the domestic market and Mexico exports the majority of end-products to the United States.

The final lecture, delivered by Cristina Martinez, also of the Division on Investment and Enterprise, focused on the six main areas covered by UNCTAD’s Entrepreneurship Policy Framework and the organization's capacity-building programme Empretec.

“Impact assessments of Empretec confirm that investing in entrepreneurship development leads to job creation. For example, in Brazil, entrepreneurs who benefitted from the Empretec workshop generated jobs, leading to an average employment growth of 16 per cent per year,” Martinez said.

As the global youth unemployment rate is projected to rise to 12.8 per cent in 2018, programmes such as Empretec are vital in assisting promising entrepreneurs to build innovative and globally competitive small and medium-sized enterprises.

After each presentation, the students actively engaged in discussions. Among the topics raised were protectionism, labour conditions, quality of regional GVCs, and examples of young entrepreneurs in Colombia. The day concluded with a guided tour of the United Nations.