A group of 37 students and teachers from two Virtual Institute Chinese university members received training on topics related to trade and development during a Vi study tour held October 5-9. It was the sixth annual study tour for core member, the University of International Business and Economics, and the first for affiliate member, the Central University of Finance and Economics.
The programme included fourteen sessions on global trade issues with a focus on China’s recent developments delivered by experts from UNCTAD, the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the International Trade Centre (ITC).
UNCTAD experts delivered presentations on current trends and challenges in the world economy, foreign direct investment, science and technology, trade facilitation, the 2030 agenda for sustainable development and climate change.
"Before the presentation on climate change I had no idea how many efforts China and other countries are putting into environmental protection," said one of the students. "Now I have some basic understanding of the topic and my perspective is not as narrow as it used to be."
WTO experts covered current multilateral trade negotiations, trade remedies, and China’s disputes cases, and latest trade policy review. ITC delivered hands-on training on non-tariff measures and research tools, Market Access Map and Trade Map.
"We have learned a lot about trade-related topics and now know the functions of the UNCTAD, WTO and ITC. This is really helpful for our future careers," a student said. "As a student who majored in investment, I didn’t know so much about international trade and development, but through this study tour I have broadened my horizons," added another.
An integral part of the study tour is a simulation exercise, where the students take on the role of different ministries and a national investment promotion agency considering policy on foreign direct investment.
On the last day of the tour, student groups present their positions, developed using what they have learned during the week. The aim of the exercise is to strengthen their skills and give them an idea of what it is like to work in the public sector.
"I think the whole tour was very informative and I learned a lot from it, the most interesting part were the discussions, which gave me many good ideas and also improved the level of my English," said one of the participants.
The study tour also gave the students an opportunity to meet with national representatives at the Permanent Mission to discuss the day-to-day work of the mission and ask country-specific questions related to UNCTAD and WTO.
The students really enjoyed the visit and appreciated the time with the Chinese officials. As one of them put it, "I really liked the meeting because now I know more about diplomatic practice and how the officials work for the benefit of our country. I am encouraged by their experience."
The feedback received in evaluation questionnaires shows that the tour largely exceeded students' expectations in terms of its learning outcome. In addition, some of them expressed their interest to one day come back to Geneva for work opportunities.