The eighth annual Virtual Institute study tour for Russian members, held April 20-24, brought 41 students and lecturers from five universities to Geneva for a programme on trade-related topics delivered by international experts.
In addition to four Vi member universities -- the State University Higher School of Economics, the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, the St. Petersburg’s State University and the State University of Economics and Finance – this year’s study tour included participants from the Russian Foreign Trade Academy.
The one-week training programme included 13 sessions on trade and development topics delivered by experts from UNCTAD’s divisions and Vi partner organizations, the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the International Trade Centre (ITC). The students also met with Russian representatives to discuss Russia’s participation in UNCTAD, the WTO and the UN Economic Commission for Europe.
“From this study tour, I gained a lot more information and experience than I expected, I learned about the issues that are going on at the UN and other organizations, which was very useful because you cannot get such practical experience elsewhere - I am very grateful for the opportunity to be part of it,“ said one of the students.
”All the lectures were interesting and were well organized,” said another. “I was very satisfied with the format of the study tour, as I am taking home an international experience.”
The first two days of the tour were dedicated to UNCTAD’s work on foreign direct investment, technology and innovation, the international financial system, industrial policies and corporate social responsibility. The students also took part in a guided visit of the Palais des Nations and the UNOG library.
Wednesday was spent at the WTO discussing the Bali package, regional trade agreements, trade in services and trade remedies. On Thursday the students visited ITC, where the group was introduced to the use of market research analysis tools Trade map, Market access map and Export Potential map.
Throughout the week the students took part in a simulation exercise on foreign direct investment, where they represented different ministries of a fictional country. In order to complete the exercise, the participants worked in small groups, building their interpersonal skills and applying their newly acquired knowledge. On the last day of the tour, the “ministries” presented their conclusions during a session led by UNCTAD’s Kalman Kalotay, of the Division on Investment and Enterprise, and Michael Lim, of the Division on Technology and Logistics, who designed and mentored the exercise.
“We received valuable advice from UNCTAD on how ministries work, and how to correctly present our opinion,” one student said.
According to the feedback received, the study tour largely exceeded students' expectations. They especially appreciated the opportunity to ask questions and have interactive discussions with the experts.
Several students also mentioned future plans to work in the public sector in their country, or in the international setting at one of the organizations in Geneva.
“I thank you again for this opportunity to participate in this course,” wrote one of the students. “It is indeed very interesting and useful, especially for those planning to work in this field of international economics.”