The Vi offered students of the Master's programme in International Trade Policy of core Vi member, the University of the West Indies (UWI), a training programme on trade and development topics May 17-27. The 12th organized by the Vi for UWI, the study tour brought eight students to Geneva for sessions delivered by experts from UNCTAD and other Vi partner organizations.

The first week’s programme focused on UNCTAD’s core work on trade policy issues. Experts led discussions on foreign direct investment (FDI); competition policy; technology and innovation; transfer of technology, trade facilitation; climate change and the 2030 Development Agenda.

Michael Lim, of the Division on Technology and Logistics (DTL) stressed the importance of linking science, and technology capabilities with innovation, rather than focusing solely on research and development. He added that Caribbean country universities should consider emphasizing this area in their curricula.

The lecture on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by Rolf Traeger, of the Division on Africa, Least Developed Countries and Special Programmes, sparked active discussion with the students.

“The SDGs seek to address some of the shortcomings of the Millennium Development Goals, but we have to keep in mind the importance of external factors,” Traeger said. “The international context post-2015 is less favourable to development than in the early 2000s.

“The overall economic growth is weak, which means that achieving the SDGs becomes much more difficult, and this is why well-designed and implemented national development strategies become crucial.”

The study tour also gave students the opportunity of visiting other organizations, including the World Trade Organization, the International Trade Centre (ITC), the World Health Organization, the International Organization for Migration, the Advisory Centre on WTO Law, International Telecommunication Union, CUTS International (Consumer Unity & Trust Society) and the Commonwealth Small States Office

"The study tour was everything I expected it to be: well organized, informative and interactive,” commented one of the students. “It was indeed an honor to be able to visit all the institutions we study so much about."

“It was clear from listening to all the presenters how passionate and determined they are in their respective fields,” added another.

During the visit to ITC, students were introduced to ITC’s work on non-tariff measures and market research tools, Trade Map and Market Access Map.

Throughout the tour, the students worked in pairs on a simulation exercise on FDI; where they took on the roles of ministries in a fictional country, and presented arguments and investment advice to the president. This way, the students were able to apply the knowledge they had acquired to a real-life situation. The simulation was designed and mentored by Lim and Kalman Kalotay, of the Division on Investment and Enterprise.

"The simulation exercise was practical,” said one student. “It allowed me to understand the depth of policymaking as a government official. I will explore this area in the future."

The students also met with Geneva-based country delegates, who described the challenges and experiences of Caribbean states in Geneva. Ambassadors from Haiti and Panama participated in the discussion as well as country representatives from the Bahamas, Barbados Trinidad and Tobago, and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS). The roundtable was chaired by Jamaica’s Deputy Permanent Representative, Cherryl Gordon.

Two of the students, Denise Swan Genevieve Oliverie, were able to extend their stay in Geneva, having obtained internships at ITC and the Mission of Panama.