|Issue #25 - June 2010 - Welcome to the Vi quarterly newsletter|
New members for the Vi network
Cameroon joined the Virtual Institute in May, bringing to 32 the number of countries involved in our global academic network. Cameroon is also the ninth African nation -- along with Egypt, Kenya, Mauritius, Mozambique, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda -- to be represented in the Vi.
The Shanghai University of Finance and Economics in April became the second Vi university member from China, bringing the affiliate membership count to 22. The contact with SUFE was initiated by Anne Miroux, Director of UNCTAD's Division on Technology and Logistics. Membership discussions were then finalized during a visit to UNCTAD of a SUFE delegation led by the Chairman of the University Council, Ma Qinrong.
Established in 1917, SUFE offers Master's, MBA and PhD programmes with elements related to trade through various schools. Among them are the School of Economics, the School of Public Economics and Administration, the School of International Business Administration, the School of Law, the Institute of Finance and Economics Research, and the MBA School.
SUFE's research is supported by a highly qualified faculty, 67 percent of whom hold PhDs and publish in renowned international journals, as well as take part in government-funded research programmes.
Vi organizes study tours for students from Russia and the West Indies
From 12 to 16 April, 42 undergraduate, graduate and PhD students from the St. Petersburg State University, the Higher School of Economics, and the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO) took part in this tailor-made programme, the third organized by the Vi for its Russian members.
Hosted by UNCTAD, the World Trade Organization and the International Trade Centre (ITC), the study tour included lectures on the financial crisis, oil and gas, trade facilitation, trade in services, Russia's accession to the WTO, the dispute settlement mechanism, competition law and policies, Corporate Social Responsibility, trends in Foreign Direct Investment, enterprise development, intellectual property protection, and ITC's market research and analysis tools. Participants also had the opportunity of meeting with the Ambassador and other representatives of the Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation, and learned first-hand about the challenges facing their country in trade-related international negotiations.
The Vi study tour for the University of the West Indies (UWI), held May 17-28 for 21 students is now in its sixth year. The activity is a compulsory component of UWI's Master's Programme in International Trade Policy.
The theme of this year's study tour revolved around the impact of the global economic and financial crisis on the development perspectives of developing countries, and on the role that the UN can play in this context to foster the adoption of a new and more inclusive model of economic development by the international community. The tour also included lectures on climate change and trade, trends in Foreign Direct Investment and trade flows, competition policies, the WTO dispute settlement mechanism, intellectual property protection, and ITC's market research and analysis tools.
Participants also met with the Ambassadors of the Permanent Missions of Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago, as well as representatives from the Permanent Mission of Jamaica and of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).
Vi Latin American members complete Vi fellowships
Martin Olivera (pictured, right), of Uruguay's Universidad de la República, conducted research on the implications of a free trade agreement between Southeast Asia and South America March 15 to April 9. The fellowship allowed Olivera to work with econometric tools, refine his knowledge in this area, and to carry out a quantitative assessment of a potential trade agreement between ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and MERCOSUR (Southern Common Market). His research was mentored by UNCTAD's Alessandro Nicita and Marco Fugazza, and Prof. Marcelo Olarreaga of the University of Geneva.
Pedro Rossi, from Brazilian member, the University of Campinas (UNICAMP) devoted his four-week fellowship (April 19 - May 14) to analysis on "Trade finance and financial flows' impacts on exchange rates." This research, part of his PhD dissertation, also served as the basis for an article submitted to UNCTAD's Public Symposium, which this year addressed countries' responses to the financial crisis.
"I had perfect work conditions," Rossi said. "I discussed with UNCTAD staff specialized in my research area, and had access to databases and UNCTAD meetings where broad discussion on several issues were taking place."
Rossi's work was supported by UNCTAD experts Alfredo Calcagno and Katie Chen from the Division of Globalization and Development Strategies; Massimiliano La Marca from the Division for Africa, Least Developed Countries and Special Programmes; Adriano Timossi, from the Office of the Secretary General; and Vlasta Macku and Piergiuseppe Fortunato of the Virtual Institute.
Eduardo Carreño (pictured, left), the second Vi fellow from the University of Chile, conducted research on the role of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in the development of Sub-Saharan African countries May 17 to June 4. To this end, he undertook a large mapping of the use of ICTs in the public and private sector, and concentrated his work on e-procurement and e-commerce issues. UNCTAD experts, Torbjorn Fredriksson and Angel Gonzalez-Sanz from the Science, Technology and ICT Branch, further suggested that a focus on the use of mobile telephony for e-commerce in Africa could be useful, as this technology currently has the largest penetration in the region.
The work, which he intends to publish in the university's Institute of International Studies journal, will also be included in a seminar on international relations that he will deliver next term.
Orlando da Silva, of Vi affiliate member, Universidade Federal de Viçosa, conducted research on the effects of non-tariff measures on Brazilian exports of agricultural products May 17 to June 11.
The project questions the contradiction between the process of tariff reduction negotiated in multilateral fora, and the restrictions imposed by technical, sanitary and phytosanitary measures applied to trade in agricultural products. Given their impact on the Brazilian economy, the general objective of the study is to analyze their incidence on the exports of the main Brazilian agricultural export products.
Preliminary findings of his research show that the most affected products are those in which Brazil is more competitive (meat, soybeans and orange juice). In order to finalize his analysis, the international research conducted at UNCTAD will be complemented by interviews in the field with Brazilian stakeholders, in particular with trade negotiators focusing on agricultural products.
Maria Alejandra Calle Saldarriaga (pictured, right), a lawyer and Assistant Professor at EAFIT University in Colombia, is preparing a paper titled "The conservation of Colombian wildlife in trade and investment liberalization," as part of her PhD proposal. During her fellowship, she worked with Eduardo Escobedo and David Vivas Eugui, of the UNCTAD Division on International Trade in Goods and Services and Commodities.
She says biotrade is increasingly becoming a key issue in the trade liberalization process in Colombia, the world's fourth megadiversity country. As it pursues free trade agreements, most recently with the United States and the European Union, Colombia must strike a balance between economic opportunities and the need to sustainably utilize its flora and fauna assets.
"The fellowship at UNCTAD was the engine of my research," she said. "The information I was able to gather and the constant feedback of my mentor and other persons related to my research topic will allow me to write an academic paper and a Phd research proposal in the next few months."
Yadira Castillo, a research fellow who also teaches International Law at Vi Colombian affiliate member, Universidad de los Andes, worked on a dissertation whose topic is the "Responsibility of Multinational Extractive Corporations in Human Rights Violations in International Law."
Her paper seeks to illustrate the reasons, limits and possibilities of using the framework of Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs) to address the issue. It intends to make a proposal that articulates both voluntary compliance and hard law, and looks into the possibility of including a liability provision in the BITs that responds to changes taking place in the relationship between human rights and foreign investment.
UNCTAD experts guiding her research, Elisabeth Tuerk and Hamed El Kady, from UNCTAD's Division on Investment and Enterprise, suggested that further research may consider the viability of using instruments available at the national level to address this particular Corporate Social Responsibility issue.
Vi capacity building activities in Senegal
The first workshop, on the use of the WITS (World Integrated Trade Solution) software, was held May 4-6, and imparted by UNCTAD expert Samuel Munyaneza, of the Division on International Trade in Goods and Services and Commodities. The workshop included a demonstration on installing the software and on extracting data, as well as hands-on simulations on tariffs and rate change.
The second workshop, led by market analysis expert, Roberto Cordon, took place June 14-17. The training provided an overview of current trends in international trade, as well as hands-on training on ITC's market analysis database tools, Trade Map and Market Access Map.
"The workshop was well organized and the instructor was precise and available," said one of the participants. "The tools presented were very relevant and have increased our understanding of international trade."
The third seminar, given by Antoine Barbry, a negotiations expert formerly of UNCTAD, covered the theoretical and practical elements of preparing and conducting international trade negotiations.
Students plan to use their new skills in conducting research for their Master's and doctoral theses. Professors said they will incorporate the new knowledge into their current courses, and use content from the trade negotiations workshop in particular to initiate debates in the classroom.
Vi supports e-commerce course with IER videoconference
The presentation, the fourth hosted by MGIMO, began with an overview of UNCTAD's work on the information economy, and shed light on the impact of the world economic crisis on the sector. Lang also made a detailed analysis of the situation in the Russian Federation and the Commonwealth of Independent States.
“There is room for more countries to develop sizeable export-oriented services industries, and as the ICT sector in Russia is very dynamic, there is potential for Russia to position itself as a player on the ICT services market” he said.
HTW/DAAD/Vi project holds second workshop
The workshop, "Reforming the Global Financial Order - The Agenda for the Years to Come," held June 9-12, was attended by 30 participants from the German government, HTW Berlin, the Free University Berlin, the University of Chile, the University of Campinas (Brazil), the University of Jordan, Jawaharlal Nehru University (India), the Central University of Finance & Economics (China), the University of Mauritius, and Belarus State Economic University.
Sessions centred on topics related to the recent developments in international financial sector regulation, the management of capital flows and the problems of global imbalances. The background of the discussions was the debate set up by the "Stiglitz report."
WTO launches Chair programme in Switzerland, Spain and Chile
As announced in the December 2009 newsletter, the WTO chose nine Vi network universities to receive an endowment of CHF200,000 each to fund academic chairs on the international trading system for the next four years.
The programme's pre-launch activities included the April 15 inauguration of the Chair of the Center for Trade Policy Studies of the University of Chile. WTO's Director General, Pascal Lamy, participated in the event, whose objective was to present the programme within the university and to civil society.
Vi member selected for Russian university summer course
"I decided to apply ... because this year I have been carrying out research on economic development and foreign direct investment in economies in transition," writes Barbieri. "My particular interest ... was enhanced by my participation in the Vi meeting last year in Geneva, where I met and interacted with professors from Russia and Belarus, who introduced me to the specificities of the investment and business climate in post-Soviet countries.
"I think that the summer school will provide me with more insight, and therefore give me useful tools for continuing and improving my current research," he added.
Vi topic for Colombian university network
Vi activities in Latin America featured on the agenda of the meeting of the Colombian Network of International Relations (RCPI) in April. Gonzalez-Perez led the session attended by representatives from 28 Colombian universities. The meeting was held at Universidad del Rosario in Bogotá, a Vi affiliate member.
The Vi network currently counts with 13 members in Colombia, including core member, EAFIT.
New trade and development publications on their way to Vi member libraries
In addition to cutting-edge working and discussion papers on commodities, the package contains two recently published UNCTAD flagship reports: the Technology and Innovation Report 2010 and the Economic Development in Africa Report 2010. The practical UNCTAD Handbook of Statistics and Vi's first print publications, the Teaching Material on Regional Trade Agreements and the study on Capacity Building for Academia in Trade for Development, will also be included in the package.
Virtual Institute workshop on extractive industries - Update
The workshop has been designed to share the teaching modules on Mining and Economic Development and on Oil/Gas and Economic Development prepared by the Vi in cooperation with UNCTAD's Special Unit on Commodities.
The programme includes sessions addressing: oil/gas and mining production, exploration and trade, marketing and investments; management of natural resources and revenues; and policy, social and environmental issues. The workshop will conclude with a round table on linking research and policymaking.
The workshop will be led by the modules' authors. Other speakers include representatives from the Vi, the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa.
Distance learning course set for October - Call for applications
Thirty candidates selected among academics and policymakers will receive grants covering the EUR 1600 course fee. As scholarships are non-transferable, participants must commit to dedicate 12-15 hours per week in order to complete the required elements of the course.
Designed from an interdisciplinary and policy-oriented perspective, the six-module training aims to provide knowledge of the basic elements of international economic law in the form of a “must-have toolbox” for trade policy professionals.
Vi members to participate in UNCTAD transition economies course
Two Vi network academics, Maryana Gubina, from St. Petersburg State University, and Elena Kovshar, from Belarus State Economic University, have been selected to participate in the course.
Gubina sees the course as an opportunity to further her research on international economic trends and trade negotiations. She expects that meeting other experts from the region and from UNCTAD will enhance her knowledge and practical skills in trade policy formulation.
Kovshar, who lectures fourth-year students on the development of foreign economic policies, is keen to learn more about international economic issues so that she can then train future professionals in Belarus.
Twenty-four participants from 10 countries will take part in this three-week course that will discuss effective integration into the globalized economy and how to formulate economic policies that will guide this process.
For more information about the course, take a look at a feature story on the UNCTAD website which includes a video starring Dr. Supachai Panitchpakdi, Secretary-General of UNCTAD.
| >_TEACHING RESOURCES |
Updated Vi RTA teaching material now available in hard copy
The material was developed by the Virtual Institute in collaboration with the Division on International Trade in Goods and Services and Commodities.
The material provides a theoretical and practical overview of RTAs, a phenomenon involving both developed and developing countries, and generating a debate on the welfare gains for the southern trading partners in particular.
The five modules cover historical and current issues of regional integration for developing countries; RTAs in economic theory; correlation with the WTO legal framework; negotiating issues; and regional trade analysis using international databases.
The teaching package is addressed to teachers and researchers from the Vi network. Questions for discussion, practical exercises, case studies, and simulations contained in the material help deliver the substantive matter while encouraging students to actively participate in the learning process. The modules also aim to stimulate analytical thinking by raising pertinent questions for research.
The material is also available online exclusively for Vi university members.
New multimedia resources now online
The first resource (in Spanish), presented by UNCTAD's Alfredo Calcagno, is based on a videoconference organized for Vi core member, the University of Chile, on the latest Trade and Development Report. The presentation covers the origins of the global financial crisis, the reaction to the downturn of developed, developing and transition economies, and the impact of the crisis on international trade and countries’ indebtedness, with a special focus on Latin America. The package also contains a link to a similar presentation in English by Heiner Flassbeck, Director of UNCTAD's Division on Globalization and Development Strategies.
The second presentation takes a look at the impact of the financial crisis on Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). Based on the results of the latest World Investment Report, the two-part (English and Spanish) multimedia package was recorded during videoconferences with Vi members in Russia and Peru.
Ralf Krüger and Nicole Moussa, of UNCTAD's Division on Investment and Enterprise, examine FDI trends during and following the global financial crisis, analyzing the latest data on FDI inflows, policy changes and prospects to illustrate the effects on developing and transition economies.
Last, but not least, is the presentation on the transfer of technology by former UNCTAD colleague, Kathryn Stokes, currently of the United Nations Executive Office of the Secretary-General. This two-part multimedia resource gives a comprehensive view of the topic: measuring technological development; the international perspective on facilitating and regulating technology flows at the global level (in terms of markets, investment, intellectual property rights, as well as standards and regulations); and end-user and national perspectives. Stokes also looks at transfer of technology models and innovation systems, as well as policy implications at the national and international levels.
Study: Virtual Institute contributes to innovative capacity building in trade for development
Traditionally, capacity building technical assistance has often focused on short-term goals, prioritizing the objectives of the donor (often developed countries). Novel forms of capacity building have emerged emphasizing the sustainable programmes tailored to domestic and regional demands.
The study analyzes two initiatives, the Latin American Trade Network (LATN) and the Virtual Institute, whose projects have been contributing to reshaping the approach to building capacity in academic circles. Of relevance are the programmes' emphasis on localization of materials and home-grown agendas, as well as the efforts to involve a broader set of actors, such as representatives from civil society and business, and policymakers engaged in international trade negotiations.
The analysis shows that LATN and the Vi have been successful in accomplishing their goals of enhancing long-term capacities and improving knowledge in great part due to their commitment to provide services based on the needs of their memberships and target audiences.
Now available online in PDF format, hard copies will be sent to all Vi university members in July.
2010 Technology and Innovation Report
The agricultural sector is the basis of many African economies, being the largest source of employment and livelihoods. Its transformation can contribute to increased growth and sustainable development in the continent, says the report, "Enhancing Food Security in Africa through Science, Technology and Innovation."
As stagnant agricultural productivity has created a serious food security problem, the report emphasizes that supporting smallholders, who make up the majority of farmers in Africa, is critical.
Examples of the use of irrigation, harvesting, pesticides and biotechnologies illustrate the likely impacts of innovation on Africa's millions of smallholder farmers. The report also makes policy recommendations, such as the granting of micro-credits to enhance access to appropriate equipment and machinery.
UNCTAD's Economic Development in Africa Report 2010 - South-South Cooperation: Africa and the New Forms of Development Partnership
| Revealed factor intensity indices at the product level|
UNCTAD has constructed a new measure on the revealed factor-intensity indices (RFII) of exports based on physical capital, human capital, and natural resources embedded in traded goods. Historical series for the measure have been generated and collected in a new database released on June 2, 2010.
The new database contains: (i) a times series of the RFII at the most disaggregated level of product classification, in SITC 4- or 5-digit (for the years 1962-2003) and HS 6-digit (for 1988-2003); and (ii) data on factor endowment, by countries. Data is available in both STATA and Excel formats.
The RFII, together with data on factor-endowment of a country, can be used to analyze the degree of export sophistication of a country, and as an analytical instrument to inform key policy decisions regarding a country’s export promotion and diversification patterns.
FLACSO WTO Chair Award - Call for papers
The award seeks to recognize and reward creative, pro-active and soundly argued analysis. The top contribution will receive US 1,000; one "Special Mention" paper will receive US 500. Deadline for submission is November 1.
Tip for your librarians!
Free access to World Bank databases - http://data.worldbank.org/data-catalog
WTO Services Profiles Database - http://stat.wto.org/ServiceProfile/WSDBServicePFHome.aspx
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