In an effort to make its recent book "Trade policies, household welfare and poverty alleviation: Case studies from the Virtual Institute academic network" better known to academic and policymaking audiences in Latin America, the Virtual Institute organized regional launches of the publication in Lima (Perú) and Alajuela (Costa Rica) early November.
The book is the outcome of a three-year capacity building project which trained developing country researchers on the analysis of the impact of trade on household welfare and then coached them in the development of case studies on trade and poverty in their countries. The project generated 11 studies, including four written by researchers from Latin American countries - two from Argentina, and one from Cost Rica and Peru each. All the studies are available at http://vi.unctad.org/tap.
The studies presented at the launches looked into: the impact of wheat export restrictions on urban households in Argentina (by Paula Calvo, of Universidad de San Andrés); the welfare effects of the tariff reduction for yellow corn in Peru (by Cecilia Matta Jara and Ana Vera Ganoza, of the Ministry of Trade and Tourism); the impact of trade liberalization of environmental products on welfare, trade, and the environment in Argentina (by María Priscila Ramos, of Universidad Argentina de la Empresa); and the welfare effects of a change in the trade policy regime for rice in Costa Rica (by Carlos Umaña, of Academia de Centroamérica).
The aim of the launches was threefold: to present the work and conclusions of the researchers trained by the project to their national or regional audiences, to increase the awareness about the local research capacities which are available in developing countries, and to draw attention to the importance of applied economic research.
During the launch in Lima on November 7, organized in cooperation with Vi member Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, the Vice Minister of Foreign Trade, Edgar Vásquez Vela, highlighted the importance of the research funded by the project, and valued the Vi approach to capacity building for policy-oriented research. As the Vi seeks to create synergies and enhance collaboration between policymakers and researchers, in his view, this project has clearly helped in strengthening such a relationship in Peru.
The second launch took place on November 10 in Alajuela, Costa Rica, and was hosted by the INCAE Business School. During his speech at the event, Alberto Trejos, former Minister of Foreign Trade of Costa Rica, stressed the need to produce high-quality and relevant research along the lines of the Vi compendium in order to properly assess the benefits of trade and its impact on poverty. Since the Vi study on Costa Rica was related to a key staple for Costa Rican households, rice, the launch attracted a wide audience of participants from academia, research institutions and government institutions.
The launch in Peru, including the presentation of the four Latin American studies by their authors, was transmitted online by Vi core university member, the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru (PUCP). The videos are available at: http://educast.pucp.edu.pe/video/4312/presentacion_de_libro__trade_policies_household_welfare_and_poverty_alleviation_case_studies_from_the_virtual_institute_academic_network_parte_01.
We would like to thank our friends and colleagues at PUCP, Alan Fairlie and Oriana Suárez, and at the INCAE Business School, Víctor Umaña, whose support was essential in the preparation of the launches, and who created a solid basis for future collaboration and research in the area of trade and development in the region.