The 11th Virtual Institute study tour for students of the Master's programme in International Trade Policy of core member, the University of the West Indies, took place May 11-22. Eighteen students from seven countries(*) participated in 24 sessions on trade and development topics delivered by experts from UNCTAD and other international organizations based in Geneva.
UNCTAD experts introduced the students to the organization's work, and held discussions on foreign direct investment (FDI); competition policy; technology and innovation; trade facilitation; and food security.
The students also learned about other organizations working on the links between trade and health, migration and intellectual property during sessions at 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. Also part of the tour was a meeting with regional ambassadors in Geneva, and a simulation exercise on FDI.
"The study tour exposed us to a variety of international organizations that were highlighted during the theoretical component of our studies, and gave us the opportunity to have robust discussions with experts and meet fellow Caribbean citizens excelling in the international arena," said one of the students.
By the end of the first week, the students were able to show what they had learned by participating in the simulation exercise, where students were divided into groups representing four ministries (the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, the Ministry of Industry and Enterprise Development and the Ministry of Agriculture, Fishing and Marine Resources) of Sumeria, a fictitious country that had been contacted by a transnational company willing to invest in Bluefin tuna farming in the seas off the coast of the country.The simulation was designed and mentored by UNCTAD’s Michael Lim, of the Division on Technology and Logistics, and Kalman Kalotay, of the Division on Investment and Enterprise, who played, respectively, the role of the president of Sumeria and his special advisor.
"The simulation enhanced my ability to think on my feet and reiterated the importance of proper research and effective communication," said one student. "I appreciated the realistic format and strict time limits."
The second week of the programme included most of the visits to the organizations outside of the Palais des Nations, such as a visit to the International Trade Centre, where the students were introduced to Trade Map, a tool for trade flow analysis, and to Market Access Map, an interactive tool to help improve transparency in international trade and market access.
The students also participated in a roundtable with regional Ambassadors and country delegates in Geneva, chaired by Ambassador Wayne McCook of Jamaica. Ambassadors from the Bahamas, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago also participated in the discussion, together with country delegates from Barbados, Haiti, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).
“This session was a defining one. Hearing from the Caribbean delegation about their work and seeing their passion was motivating,” said one of the students. "In my opinion, the study tour was excellent. It covered many issues concerning international trade which provided me with a better understanding of topics covered during classes."
(*)Barbados, Belize, Jamaica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago