A partnership with academia

Building knowledge for trade and development

Vi Quarterly Newsletter


Issue #24 - March 2010 - Welcome to the Vi quarterly newsletter



St. Petersburg affiliate

New Russian university brings affiliate member count to 21
St. Petersburg State University of Economics and Finance (StPSUEF) has become the fourth Russian university -- along with the State University Higher School of Economics, the Moscow State Institute of International Relations and the St. Petersburg State University -- to join the Virtual Institute network.

With an enrolment of 13,000 students, StPSUEF is one of the leading universities in the Russian Federation, teaching a variety of undergraduate and graduate programmes through its 13 faculties and 48 departments, institutes and scientific centers. 

The Director of StPSUEF's Centre for Energy Policy Research and Training, Olga Garanina, a former Vi workshop participant, will serve as member coordinator.


Sao Paulo University

Vi hosts study tours for students from Spain, Switzerland and Tanzania
The Virtual Institute in February organized three study tours for 83 Master's students from the University of Barcelona (UB), the University of Bern and the University of Dar-es-Salaam.

The programme for the 30 students from the International Law and Economics (MILE) programme of the World Trade Institute in Berne, held February 23, included a lecture on the lessons learned from the recent financial crisis given by Heiner Flassbeck, of the Division on Globalization and Development Strategies, and an introduction to the work of UNCTAD on International Investment Agreements presented by Hamed El-Kady, of the Division on Investment and Enterprise (DIAE).

The 35 students from UB's International Economic Law and Policy (IELPO) programme participated in presentations on the latest Information Economy Report given by Rémi Lang, of the Division on Technology and Logistics, and a briefing on recent trends in FDI flows by Masataka Fujita, of DIAE.

The study tour organized for 18 students of the professional Masters program in International Trade from the University of Dar-es-Salaam was held February 15-26 and offered a tailored program covering a course on the economics of commodities production and trade presented by the UNCTAD Special Unit on Commodities. Other sessions covering international trade, finance, investment and regional matters of relevance to Africa were presented by experts from UNCTAD, the World Trade Organization and the International Trade Centre. Lucas Saronga, Minister Plenipotentiary at the Permanent Mission of Tanzania in Geneva, also made the time to discuss with the students the role of the mission in trade negotiations in Geneva.

"The sessions … gave us the opportunity to interact with Geneva-based professionals, and to meet our representatives from the Tanzania mission in Geneva, exposing us to the practical dimension of the training, and providing us with opportunities to discuss trade and development issues with experts and professionals in the field," writes study tour participant, Felix Tinkasimile.


Fellows from Latin America Government of Spain


Fellows from Ethiopia and UgandaGovernment of Finland

Vi members complete Vi fellowships
Lecturers and researchers from Vi member universities in Argentina, Colombia, Ethiopia and Uganda this trimester completed four- and six-week research fellowships at UNCTAD.

Sebastián Cutrona (top, left), of Universidad Nacional de Córdoba (UNC) in Argentina, examined the potential of oil and gas to act as a driving force for regional integration in Latin America. During his fellowship he was able to broaden the scope of his research beyond the Latin American region, and to work with experts Rachid Amui, of UNCTAD's Special Unit on Commodities, Piergiuseppe Fortunato, of the Virtual Institute, and Giacomo Luciani, Director of  the Gulf Research Center.

Pablo Moreno (top, right), of Universidad de la Sabana in Colombia worked with UNCTAD's  Alfredo Calcagno and Jörg Mayer, of the Division on Globalization and Development Strategies, and with Leonela Santana, of the Division on International Trade in Goods and Services and Commodities (DITC). His project analyzes the Colombian financial market in light of recent financial developments, with a particular focus on commodity exchanges.

Cutrona and Moreno bring up to nine the number of fellows sponsored by the Government of Spain since last year, when the Vi hosted lecturers André Biancareli (Brazil), Marcelo Saguier and Juliana Peixoto (Argentina), Jorge Ochoa and Sascha Furst (Colombia), Felipe Muñoz (Chile) and Marcel Vaillant (Uruguay).

Martha Belete Hailu (pictured, right), of core Vi member, Addis Ababa University (AAU), worked with DITC's Luisa Rodríguez on the impact of trade liberalization on food security in Ethiopia. Her six-week Vi fellowship, the first for an Ethiopian member, was sponsored by the Government of Finland. Her first draft, which she has already presented at a faculty colloquium, looks into the consequences of Ethiopia’s joining the WTO with regard to its trade policy instruments and food security strategy, identifying challenges and options the country may have at the time of accession.

Finally, Francis Ejones, Lecturer at the Makerere University Business School (MUBS) in Uganda, spent six weeks working with DITC's Marco Fugazza to increase his knowledge of econometric tools and methods February 15 - March 26. The fellowship also allowed him to complete a Vi mentored research project entitled "Mergers and Acquisitions in Uganda’s Banking Sector: Performance, Impact and Challenges."

Ejones and Hailu are the latest fellows sponsored by the Government of Finland to enhance capacities of academics in least developed countries.



Analytical tools workshop in PeruGovernment of Spain

Analytical tools topic of Peruvian workshop
The Virtual Institute, with support from the government of Spain, organized a national workshop on trade data analysis tools for 25 participants from eight Peruvian academic institutions January 25-29. The workshop was hosted by Vi university member, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú (PUCP).

Led by Marco Fugazza, of UNCTAD's Division on International Trade in Goods and Services and Commodities, the workshop covered the STATA statistical analysis software, the World Integrated Trade Solution database tool, and the gravity model. The workshop also included discussions of trade topics such as regional trade agreements and the WTO.

"There was a good balance between theory and practice, using STATA to work with gravity models," said PUCP Vi member coordinator, Alan Fairlie." It was also very interesting to analyze commercial data for Peru and the Andean Community."


•	Peru videoconference discusses WIR

Peru videoconference discusses UNCTAD flagship report
The Virtual Institute on February 10 organized a videoconference to share with the Universidad Pontificia Católica del Perú the findings of the UNCTAD World Investment Report 2009. Approximately 40 participants attended the presentation led by Nicole Moussa, of UNCTAD's Division on Investment and Enterprise.

Elmer Schialer, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Peruvian mission in Geneva, also contributed to the discussion, highlighting that Peru remained a recipient of Foreign Direct Investment with positive growth rates in spite of a year of economic crisis.

Belarus State Economic University

Linking research and policymaking in Belarus
Virtual Institute member coordinator, Alena Petrushkevich, and her team at Belarus State Economic University, continue to make inroads in assisting policymakers to design the Foreign Direct Investment policy of the country.

Their most recent contribution, an analysis of Belarus’ investment climate based on the results of an annual poll of foreign investors, was presented February 19 to a Standing Committee of the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Belarus. The survey and analysis, commissioned by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs last March, was developed by a team led by Petrushkevich and Galina Shmarlovskaya, Chair of the Department of World Economics.



St. Petersbug State University

Russian member offers scholarship for summer programme
Virtual Institute affiliate member, St. Petersburg State University, is offering one partial scholarship for a student of a Vi university to participate in its three-week (July 4-21) summer course on Russian business. The program, to be conducted in English, aims to provide advanced knowledge and expertise on the contemporary Russian business environment and the latest strategies and practices necessary to successfully "do business" in the country. 

The scholarship covers half of the €1,290 cost of the course, which includes dormitory accommodation and planned cultural activities. Deadline for applications is April 30.



DDAD/HTW Project

German Vi-DAAD project extended, lecture series held at Vi universities
The academic exchange project involving 10 Vi member universities and led by the University of Applied Sciences (HTW-Berlin) has been granted further funding by the German Academic Exchange (DAAD). The four-year extension (2010-2013) will provide €90,000 annually to fund fellowships, workshops and South-South and North-South lecture series.

The first series of lectures, by HTW professors Sebastian Dullien and Jan Priewe took place at Vi member universities in Brazil, South Africa and Uganda (the latter with co-funding from the Vi) in March. The project will also host two junior fellows from Tanzania and four seniors from Belarus, Chile, India and Jordan at HTW this year.

The first workshop of the year, on financial reforms in the context of the Stiglitz-commission report from 2009, is scheduled for June 9-11. A second workshop will take place in the fall.


Universidad Sergio Arboleda

Colombian affiliate member hosts WTO course
Vi member, Universidad Sergio Arboleda in Bogota, is hosting for the second consecutive year, the three-month World Trade Organization's Regional Trade Policy Course for Latin America. Presented by more than 40 experts from WTO and regional organizations, the current edition (February 8 - April 30) counts with the participation of 25 government officials representing 16 countries in the region.

The course is divided into three modules: commercial policy from a regional perspective, the multilateral trade system and the Doha Development Programme and the WTO: From theory to practice.


Fellows from Tanzania and Argentina

Jordanian member reports on recent conference
Virtual Institute member, the University of Jordan (UOJ), held an international conference on Economic Regulation and Competition Policy for Development: Practices and Challenges, January 27-28. The conference came as a result of joint efforts between UOJ, the College of Europe and the European Commission, and as part of an EC cooperation agreement with the university which has already resulted in the introduction of a Master's Program in Regulation and Competition, the first in its field in the region.

The conference provided valuable opportunities for participants to exchange views on timely economic issues ranging from economic regulation, competition policy, regulation in finance, accounting, public utilities, WTO regulation, economic reform, financial crises and market failures.


Vi logo

Results are in from membership survey
On February 4, 2010, the Vi requested its approximately 1600 registered website users to complete a four-part online survey in order to gauge the usefulness of its palette of virtual services. At the end of the survey period, a total of 85 users -- 62 associate members and 23 university members -- from 46 countries fully or partially completed the survey.

Responses from the survey indicate that virtual services are well-liked and well-utilized by the Vi's target audience. However, although 65 percent of the respondents are satisfied with the quality and quantity of services, or consider other services more important, some say that services should be strengthened. Unfortunately, the descriptive data provided was insufficient to determine exactly how and where improvements should be focused.


UNCTAD Public Symposium

Call for papers: UNCTAD Second Public Symposium
The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development invites Vi members to contribute their expertise on "The global economic crisis and development - the way forward," as part of the organization's public symposium to be held May 10-11 in Geneva. Deadline for contributions is April 30.

All substantive contributions will be made available on the UNCTAD website. Those of publishable quality will be published into a compendium to be disseminated to a wider audience including networks of civil society organizations, private sector, parliamentarians, member States and academia. All submitting authors will be acknowledged.




Government of Norway

Virtual Institute workshop on extractive industries
The Virtual Institute invites applications from academics and policymakers from English-speaking Africa to participate in a workshop on the Teaching, Research and Policy Design of Natural Resources and Economic Development, to be held in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, July 12-16.

Sponsored by the Government of Norway and organized in cooperation with the Norwegian Oil for Development Initiative, UNCTAD's Special Unit on Commodities and the University of Dar-es-Salaam, the workshop is based on new Vi teaching materials on harnessing mining and oil and gas for development.

UNCTAD will cover costs of travel and accommodation for participants from Least Developed Countries; others may participate in the workshop at their own expense. Subject matter experts may apply for funding from the Vi to contribute as resource persons.

Applications and supporting documents must be received no later than May 21.


UNCTAD Course on Key International Economic Issues UNCTAD accepting applications for transition economies course
Virtual Institute members from transition-economy countries may apply until May 14 to attend the next edition of UNCTAD's Course on Key Issues on the International Economic Agenda to be held in Baku, Azerbaijan, July 19 - August 6.

The course addresses the issue of economic development and how various external and internal factors can contribute to the attainment of national development goals. Resource persons from UNCTAD in cooperation with the UN Economic Commission for Europe and national experts from the host country will guide participants in examining trade and development topics such as the international financial system, trade, investment, technology, entrepreneurship and trade support services.

Candidates must be endorsed by their governments through their permanent mission in Geneva. In the case of academics, it is recommended that the application be accompanied by a nomination letter from their university.

Vi video resources

Three new multimedia resources now online
In addition to audiovisual presentations dealing with investor-state dispute settlement and the UNCTAD non-tariff measures database, the Vi recently published "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of the Financial Crisis," a multimedia teaching package accompanied by discussion questions and an online forum.

The latter resource, presented by UNCTAD's Heiner Flassbeck, Director of the Division on Globalization and Development Strategies, takes a look at the good: banks begin to recover as governments inject liquidity into the system; the bad: the bailout also encourages hedgers to use banks as casinos; the ugly: the bubbles that "burst" the financial system last time have resurfaced. Are we headed for a new financial crisis? 

The Vi would like to encourage you to use this resource in your classroom and to send feedback about the additional pedagogical elements we have added. The forum is exclusively for the use of registered users, so if you would like your students to exchange their ideas online, ask them to create an account on the website through the following link: http://vi.unctad.org/component/comprofiler/registers.

Information Economy Report 2009

Trade and Environment Review 2009/2010
The Trade and Environment Review 2009/2010 (TER 2009/2010), the third in a series published by UNCTAD, emphasizes the window of opportunity for developing countries to embark on a path of resilient and "cleaner" growth that is more economically efficient, socially equitable and sustainable over the long term.

The report outlines three promising "poles of clean growth" that are particularly relevant to low-income and least developed countries: improving energy efficiency, enhancing sustainable agricultural methods, and stimulating the use of renewable energies for rural electrification. The shift towards these strategies would steer economies towards more environmentally friendly development, generating positive spillover effects in other sectors and eventually leading to profitable gains.

In the process of greening the economy, the key policy challenge is to leverage better incentives for private investment and to initiate cumulative technological changes, thereby supporting economic diversification and creating dynamic income opportunities.


?	World Economic Outlook 2010
The Biofuels Market: Current Situation and Alternative Scenarios
The global credit crisis, a glut of capacity and lower oil prices are threatening the viability of the main biofuel sectors: biodiesel, next-generation fuels derived from feedstock and, to a lesser extent, ethanol. According to many experts, the “biofuels revolution” that once promised to free-up the world economy from dependence on fossil fuels is already fizzling out.

The final outcome, however, will depend on the policies that governments will implement in the near future. The UNCTAD report presents alternative decision paths governments may consider, and provides insights on the global repercussions of various scenarios. Each chapter analyzes mechanisms and issues that need to be addressed when designing and implementing sound biofuels strategies: the role and implications of biofuels blending targets; the establishment of carbon dioxide credits as an incentive for the development of a global biofuels market; the commercial viability of second generation biofuel technology; and trade opportunities for developing countries, including intellectual property rights implications.

International Trade Centre WTO Tariff Analysis online - http://tariffanalysis.wto.org/
The Tariff Analysis online facility allows access to the WTO's Integrated Data Base (IDB) and Consolidated Tariff Schedules (CTS) database. These databases contain information on two sets of customs tariffs: (i) the legally bound commitments on customs duty rates, which act as ceilings on the tariffs that member governments can set (known as “bound rates”), and (ii) the rates that governments actually charge on imports, which can be lower and have a direct impact on trade flows (known as “applied rates”).

The tariffs are available at the level of “tariff line” (eight or more digits of the Harmonized System codes). Furthermore, Tariff Analysis Online allows a number of additional options for looking up and analyzing data, including tariffs, tariff quotas, and imports and countries’ commitments on agricultural subsidies. The results can be viewed on screen or downloaded and printed.

Award for Vi member

Good news for Vi member
Virtual Institute member Laura da Costa Ferré, of Universidad de la República in Uruguay (UdelaR), received an excellent score on her thesis, "Diagonal Cumulation of Rules of Origin in South America," successfully completing her Master of Laws in International Economic Law and Policy (IELPO) at the University of Barcelona (UB). Her participation in IELPO was co-sponsored by the Vi.

Da Costa Ferré's excellent research skills were also rewarded at the Global Development Network (GDN) annual conference held in Prague last month, where her research proposal, co-written with UdelaR colleague, Dayna Zaclicever, won the Japanese Award for Outstanding Research on Development.


Roubina Juwaheer, Azad Parahoo

New Vi coordinator for Mauritius
Roubina Juwaheer (pictured, left) has taken over coordination of Vi activities at the University of Mauritius from founding Vi member Sher Kalam Azad Parahoo.

Juwaheer, Dean of UoM's Faculty of Law and Management, made the acquaintance of many network members during the last Vi meeting held in Geneva in May, 2009. She holds a PhD from the University of Mauritius, and an MBA from the University of Delhi, India.


Fleur Claessens, Nora Circosta

Changes at the Vi team
Fleur Claessens (pictured, left), who joined the Virtual Institute October 2008, recently completed her PhD degree and is now pursuing professional projects in Spain and Mexico.
Taking over for Fleur is Nora Circosta, who has a Master's degree in Political Science from the University of Perugia, Italy. Nora brings experience in capacity building and communications, having worked at Germany's InWEnt - Capacity Building International, the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy in Berlin, and the European Left in Brussels.

The Virtual Institute welcomes any feedback, both positive and critical, about the Vi Newsletter. Is it clear? Are the links helpful? Do they work? Equally, if there is any aspect of UNCTAD's work that you would like to see reported in the newsletter, please make suggestions and we will try to cover it. We would also welcome any news items from member universities about their current activities. Send all comments and document requests to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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