The Virtual Institute online course on Economic Analysis of Non-Tariff Measures(NTMs), funded by the Government of Finland, was held September 3 - October 21. Ninety-seven academics, researchers and government officials from 44 countries successfully completed the course.

“The depth of the course in terms of fully explaining and illustrating concepts went beyond my expectations,” said Faith Melico Zimunya, of Botswana’s Ministry of Agricultural Development and Food Security.

All participants said they came away with the knowledge and skills needed to conduct policy-relevant research on the effects of their countries’ trade policy.

“I am confident in my ability to undertake research on the impact of NTMs. There are various NTMs applied in my country and thus I will put all my efforts to conduct research and forward to the relevant bodies,” said Cherkos Meaza, from the Ethiopian Ministry of Trade.

“We are doing trade policy analysis for our stakeholders," said Arjan Paulo Salvanera,of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies. “We previously just cited existing NTM studies, but now we can do our own economic assessment.”

Course graduates also said they felt better equipped to share their knowledge not only with their students, but also with colleagues, enhancing their institions’ capacity to prepare the government advisors and decision-makers of the future.

“I have introduced a course titled ‘Quantitative analysis of international trade’ and I am sure that now I can give my students a new perspective,” said Archana Srivastava, of India’s Birla Institute of Technology and Science. “My institute has really benefited with the course,” she added.

“The materials taught in this course can be used for teaching at a university level in the developing world,” said James Mukoki,lecturer at Ugandan  Vi core member, Makerere University Business School. “What I have learned will also help me come up with research topics for both myself and for my students.”

Mukoki was one of the many determined to apply their learning to their work.

Manal Musaad, of Sudan’s National Secretariat for WTO affairs, said he hopes he can conduct research, surveys and analyses on NTMs in his country “specially as we are an LDC seeking accession to the WTO.”

“I can study the impact of NTMs on the international trade of Palestine and study the efficiency of current policies," said Ali Jabbarin, of the Palestine Economic Policy Research Institute.

"In the East African Community, new NTMs keep coming up that are delaying the full implementation of the customs and common market protocols. I am now armed with the necessary knowledge to identify those that are most likely detrimental to trade and those that will be beneficial in the long run,” asserted Caroline Bernice Akishule Ntumwa, Head of External Sector Analysis at the Bank of Uganda.

Other planned reseach topics in the area include the impact of NTMs on: agro-based products in Bangladesh and SARC’sintraregional trade, by Sherajum Farin, of Vi’s think tank member, the Centre for Policy Dialogue; harmonization measures in SADC, by DRC Ministry of Finance’s Popol Mukoko; and Russian trade relations with other EAEU countries by Victor Ovsyannikov, of Vi affiliate member, the Moscow State Institute of International Relations.  Researchers in Benin, Botswana, Brazil, Cameroon, Ecuador, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Laos, Sri Lanka, Uruguay, Zambia and Zimbabwe also mentioned specific projects in the near future.

“The course helps us to recharge our batteries by strengthening our capacities to contribute to the development of our economy,” concluded Koffi Kafui Tchakah, of Vi core member, Togos’s University of Lomé. “As a teacher,this course allows me to give my students a strong background to occupy high places of responsibilities.Without this kind of Virtual Institute training, Africa will always remain in traditionalism and precariousness.”

“I am very thankful to the UNCTAD Vi team and the Government of Finland for providing financial assistance for this excellent knowledge transfer program,” remarked Vidur Ghimire, of Nepal’s Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies.