The Virtual Institute organized a professional development workshop on the economic analysis of non-tariff measures (NTMs) for 24 Tanzanian researchers(*) June 1-4 in Dar-es-Salaam.
Funded by the Tanzania One UN Fund and hosted by Vi affiliate member, the Open University of Tanzania (OUT), the workshop was the first capacity-building activity based on newly developed Vi teaching resources on NTMs.
“The training was practical and covered issues of interest to developing countries,” reports Mesia Ilomo, of Vi core member, the University of Dar-es-Salaam (UDSM). “We had a good number of relevant participants from academic institutions, as well as government institutions.”
The workshop was delivered by trade analysis expert, Marco Fugazza, of UNCTAD’s Division on International Trade in Goods and Services, and Commodities. The training provided participants with the empirical tools needed to assess the impact of NTMs on trade, with the goal of enabling them to contribute to the design of trade-supporting policies in their countries.
Training began with an introduction to the empirics of trade, particularly the gravity approach to the determinants of bilateral commerce. Participants then looked at the empirical strategies that can be implemented to identify the impact of NTMs on trade at the product and firm levels.
“I expected to learn the theoretical and practical parts of NTMs and the way they are quantified, and this was the case,” said Godwin Myovella, of the University of Dodoma.
“I have got knowledge on new models, and learned that an increasing number of trade experts are working in this field,” added a participant from OUT. “It was interesting to learn that apart from looking at NTMs as an impediment to trade, there are some experts working on NTMs’ trade enhancing effects,” added Joel Monella, of the Centre for Foreign Relations.
As the pedagogical approach used in the workshop emphasized data manipulation and the use of econometric tools, in particular the Stata software, participants practiced their new knowledge through hands-on exercises based on datasets from current literature.
“We analyzed massive data relating to NTMs, especially for developing countries, Tanzania inclusive,” said a participant from OUT. “It was interesting to learn the techniques on panel data and Stata software,” added another.
According to post-workshop evaluations, participants gained skills and knowledge that they could immediately apply to their work as lecturers, researchers and government advisors.
“I will help my students understand the relevance of NTMs, as some NTMs tend to have positive impact on trade, for instance,” said an OUT lecturer.
“The workshop provided me with current knowledge which may be incorporated in international economics courses in general, and on NTMs in particular,” Myovella said. “I am going to use the estimation techniques both in the areas of NTMs and other trade areas, especially on trade flows between Tanzania and its trading partners.”
“I have gained a new topic for my research: ‘assessment of the effects of NTMs on export performance of Tanzanian firms,’” affirmed OUT’s Vicent Stanslaus.
“The ability to quantify NTMs will enable me to present facts which will lead to appropriate policy recommendations as the real impact of NTMs will be evaluated,” said Agape Ishabakaki, of UDSM. “The facts and figures presented in the workshop materials are useful in setting trade policies as well as defensive and offensive positions in trade negotiations,” added a researcher from OUT.
(*)The event was attended by lecturers/researchers from Vi core member, the University of Dar es Salaam, Vi affiliate member, the Open University of Tanzania, and Vi think tank member, the East African Research Capacity Development Foundation. Other participants included academics from the University of Dodoma, Zanzibar University, and the Centre for Foreign Relations, and researchers from the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives, the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries Development; and the National Bureau of Statistics, as well as from the private sector.