Eighty-three academics and government officials from 47 countries successfully completed the third edition of the Virtual Institute online course on Non-Tariff Measures (NTMs) and Data Collection, held July 10 to August 27. Developed by the Vi and the Trade Analysis Branch (TAB) of UNCTAD's Division on International Trade in Goods and Services and Commodities, this year's delivery was funded by the Government of Finland.
According to the evaluation questionnaire, all respondents found that the knowledge acquired during the online course enhanced their knowledge of non-tariff measures, and helped them understand the policy issues that their countries face in international trade. They also felt prepared to collect, classify and/or analyze NTMs in their countries.
"I had an idea about non-tariff measures, but I did not know that the stakes were as great for the developing countries, in this case for my country, Chad," said Nendobe Dobah Sabin, currently a PhD candidate at Vi Senegalese core member, Cheikh Anta Diop University.
"Being a customs officer, these topics have greatly broadened my understanding of the forms NTMs take, as well as how they can be classified," said Vitumbiko Tembo, of the Malawi Revenue Authority. "I am now able to identify NTMs from various pieces of regulations like the Customs and Excise Act and various government directives which I administer in the daily conduct of my duties."
Participants also said that they envisaged a direct impact of the knowledge gained from the course on their work or studies, and cited specific applications.
Durairaj Kumarasamy, of India's Research and Information System for Developing Countries, and Murari P. Upadhya, of the Nepal-India Regional Trade and Transport Project, for example, plan to use their new skills to develop surveys and databases as they assess the impact of NTMs on trade between ASEAN and India, and analyzing NTMs affecting major Nepalese exports. Musaad Manal, of the Office of the Sudan Chief Negotiator for WTO Accession and Enhanced Integrated Framework Coordinator, said the course has helped him clearly determine how to present his country's trade regime, including existing NTMs, in accession documents.
"All the parts of the course were very important to me," said Chibvalo Zombe, of Vi university member, Zambia's Copperbelt University. "I am a lecturer and researcher, so this material will help undertake research in international trade, particularly on non-tariff measures. Furthermore, I look forward to incorporating this component into our international trade course."
Relebohile Sehapi, lecturer at the National University of Lesotho, intends to research "how least developed countries cannot, or struggle, to derive benefits in international trade agreements due to supply side constraints and non-tariff measures." Several university lecturers planned to incorporate course concepts in classes dealing with agricultural economics, international business and marketing, among others.
According to the feedback received, participants enjoyed their learning experience and found the pedagogical elements of the course effective in facilitating their learning, with multimedia lectures and readings ranked highest. Tutoring by TAB's Chi Le Ngo, as well as exchanges with other participants in the online forum, also garnered great appreciation.
"The design of the online course is excellent. The lecturers and tutors did an excellent work to carry everybody along," said Emmanuel Nwosu, of Vi core member, the University of Nigeria. "I especially enjoyed the multimedia component of the lectures."
"The course is one of the most important, educative, informative, focused and professional online courses I have ever participated in," said Maxwell Apenkro, Senior Commercial Officer at Ghana's Ministry Of Trade and Industry. "The questions and responses from other participants and resource persons added to the flavor, interest and understanding of the course. The course is fantastically designed."