|Issue #32 - March 2012 - Welcome to the Vi quarterly newsletter|
| Vi welcomes six new think tanks and one new university to the network|
Research centres from Bangladesh, Belgium, Brazil, Canada and Slovenia, as well as one more university from Russia, joined the Vi during the first trimester of 2012, expanding the membership to 73 institutions from 39 countries.
| The first Vi think tank member from a transition economy, Slovenia's Centre for International Cooperation and Development (Center za Mednarodno Sodelovanje in Razvoj - CMSR) joined the network in January. An independent non-profit research and advisory institution working in the field of international economic relations established by the Republic of Slovenia and the Slovene Export and Development Bank, CMSR's work touches upon three areas: research and analysis; facilitation of economic relations with Slovenia; and implementation of part of the country's bilateral development assistance activities.|
Darja Zlogar, researcher at CMSR, will act as Vi member coordinator. Her background is in international economics and business and, at CMSR, she works on analyses of political and economic developments in various countries and their economic cooperation with Slovenia. She is also responsible for the revision and update of the CMSR's Country Risk Assessment Methodology and for monitoring the developments within the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, with emphasis on the Clean Development Mechanism.
| Opening the flood gates in February, was the European Policy Centre (EPC), an independent, non-profit European think tank based in Brussels. Specialized in European integration, EPC's aim is to promote a balanced dialogue between its constituencies, which span all aspects of economic and social life. Among the main areas of research undertaken by EPC are: European integration; European politics and institutions; European political economy; EU external economic relations; European migration and diversity; and EU foreign policy, including work on development issues from an EU perspective.|
EPC's Director of Studies, Josef Janning, will coordinate Vi activities for the centre. He is a political scientist who has written numerous publications, articles, comments and reviews on European and international affairs, East-West and Mediterranean issues, security policy, transatlantic relations and global affairs. Previously, he headed research groups on applied policy research and on European affairs at various German universities.
| Next to join was the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, a German think tank founded in 1914, and specialized in research, education and policy advice on global economic affairs. An independent foundation member of the Leibniz Association, and affiliated with the Christian-Albrechts-University of Kiel, the institute has established a network of international research fellows who contribute to its research and teaching activities.|
Its research is structured around three main programmes: international economy and international economic policy (including international trade, Foreign Direct Investment, poverty reduction, and migration); economic policies for sustainable development; and macroeconomic activity and policy. In the area of education, Kiel offers a 10-month Advanced Studies Programme in International Economic Policy Research and the annual "Kiel Institute Summer School on Economic Policy," as well as education for PhD students, and an internship programme.
Vi member coordinator, Harmen Lehment, holds a PhD in economics, and is the Head of Education, Publications and Scientific Outreach, as well as the Director of the Advanced Studies Programme and the Managing Editor of the Review of World Economics. His research interests include international economics, macroeconomics and labour markets.
| The third think tank to join in February was the North-South Institute (NSI), the oldest independent policy research institute in Canada specializing in international development. Its mission is to produce research that will guide policymakers in their search for more effective aid and development policies to reduce poverty and global inequalities and create a more prosperous and stable global community.|
NSI's research focuses on four thematic areas: (a) Governance and equitable growth; (b) Global flows and decent work; (c) Fragile and conflict-affected states; and (d) Governance of natural resources. These areas cover trade and development issues such as regional trade integration, multilateral trade negotiations and governance, North-South free trade agreements, trade and poverty, trade and gender, and foreign direct investment policies. NSI's publications include the Canadian Development Report - a flagship annual publication containing analysis and topical essays on international development and providing insights into Canada's relations with developing countries.
Pablo Heidrich, Senior Researcher at NSI will coordinate NSI's cooperation with the Virtual Institute. He holds a PhD in political economy and public policy, and leads NSI's work on trade and investment flows and decent work. His research interests include trade and development, natural resources and development, FDI in extractive industries, and agriculture and trade. Supporting Heidrich are colleagues, Kate Higgins and Daniel Poon.
Fourth on the February count-down is the Bangladesh Enterprise Institute (BEI), a non-profit, non-political research center focusing on the sustainable growth of private enterprises. BEI is the second Vi think tank member from Bangladesh, along with the Centre for Policy Dialogue, which joined in December, 2011.
BEI's seeks to promote the creation of an enabling environment in Bangladesh where private enterprises can deliver sustained economic growth and contribute to the prosperity of the population. Its research focuses on topics of specific relevance to the business sector, including: investment climate; corporate governance and corporate social responsibility; e-governance and e-commerce; competition policy; trade facilitation; SME development; India-Bangladesh relations; and regional integration. BEI also offers training and awareness-raising activities for civil service, media and the private sector in the areas of governance, accountability and transparency; corporate governance; and the multilateral system, among others.
Vi member coordinator, Director of Research Shahab Enam Khan, has an MA in International Political Economy, and his research interests include trade facilitation, South Asian cooperation and democratic institutions. Also supporting Vi activities is his colleague, Sabaah Rab.
Crowning the month was the membership of the Brazilian Center for Analysis and Planning (CEBRAP), the eighth think tank to join the Vi network. Founded in 1969, CEBRAP conducts inter-disciplinary research in the field of social sciences, bringing together sociologists, political scientists, economists, anthropologists, demographers, lawyers and historians to analyze the Brazilian reality.
CEBRAP's areas of research include: economic development; urban and regional studies; science, technology and innovation; labour studies; law and development; inequality; and public policies. The centre also implements projects on the protection of intellectual and cultural rights to traditional knowledge and on law and the new developmental state, among others.
Vera Schattan Coelho, Director of Research at CEBRAP, will coordinate CEBRAP's cooperation with the Virtual Institute. She holds a PhD in social sciences and is responsible for CEBRAP's programme on citizenship and development. CEBRAP's President, Paula Montero, as well as Alexandre Barbosa and Carlos Torres-Freire will also support Vi activities.
"I thank you for inviting us to take part in the Virtual Institute," Coelho writes. "We are very honored to be part of this global collaborative network. CEBRAP has a special interest in fostering its global connections. Being a member of the Virtual Institute will certainly contribute to enlarge our networks and enhance opportunities to conduct collaborative research and training."
And to wrap up the first trimester of the year, the Vi welcomed a fifth Russian university member in March: St. Petersburg's North-West Institute, a guest participant in several Vi activities for Russian members during the past couple of years.
NWI offers undergraduate, graduate and post-graduate programmes, as well as continuing education in international economics, customs operations, international relations, international finance, and public administration. Its research focus is on the integration of Russia into the Eurasian Economic Community. Recent research output in this area include papers on innovation policies and on FDI in the framework of Eurasian integration. The Institute also published articles on the world financial and economic crisis.
Elena Zhiryaeva has been appointed Vi member coordinator for NWI. Holder of a PhD, she is responsible for courses in international economics, international trade activities and trade policy. In her recent research, she focused on the analysis of conditions for international trade activities in special economic zones and the problematique of transport costs in international trade and the possibility for regions to subsidize them. Her colleague, Tatiana Maksiyanova, will also support Vi activities at the university.
Norway-funded Vi project for LDCs successfully completed
In the first stage (provision of relevant information) the Vi developed, in cooperation with UNCTAD's Special Unit on Commodities, two teaching modules: "Mining and economic development" and "Oil, gas and economic development." The materials were integrated into the second stage of the project, a professional development workshop (Tanzania, July 2010), which brought together 24 African academics from oil-, gas- and mineral-rich countries with the goal of strengthening their knowledge of the linkages between natural resources and economic growth and related policies, as well as their analytical skills in this area. In order to encourage them to undertake policy-oriented research, the workshop concluded with a round table on linking research with policymaking, which discussed practical steps to facilitate cooperation with policymakers and increase the uptake of the research.
In the third stage, three researchers, from universities in Guinea, Mali and Togo applied the knowledge from the workshop to the development of research projects of relevance to their countries. In cooperation with policymakers, and with mentoring from a subject-matter expert, the researchers wrote papers examining the impact of the extraction of minerals (bauxite in Guinea, gold in Mali and phosphates in Togo) on the economic development in their countries.
In addition to its "deliverables," the project had an impact in the area of teaching, as workshop participants used the Vi teaching modules to strengthen their courses and academic programmes on commodity production and trade, mineral resources management, and economic development, among others. And in the area of policy-oriented research, participants wrote papers, or used the materials in their consultancy work with government officials.
Brazilian researcher completes Vi fellowship
The objective was to see if there has been a trend of outsourcing R&D in the car industry from developed countries to emerging economies, in particular Brazil, and whether this trend can be documented quantitatively. According to his findings, available data on Brazil show a trend of relocation of R&D in the car industry since 2000, but the trend is more difficult to prove on a systematic basis for the 1990s, where the data was rudimentary, mainly coming from company surveys.
"The Virtual Institute allowed me to get access to the key automobile FDI data obtained by UNCTAD," writes Carvalho. "I also had the opportunity to gain access, through the libraries of UNCTAD and the UN, to the databases and information of UNIDO, the International Labour Organization (ILO), and the International Trade Centre (ITC), among others. In fact, the libraries of UNCTAD and the UN gave me the possibility to access to publications and information from other relevant sources, like the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the World Trade Organization and the Economist Intelligence Unit. Furthermore, I also had the opportunity to establish useful contacts with researchers from UNCTAD, UNIDO, ILO, and ITC."
He also received support from Astrit Sulstarova, of UNCTAD’s Division on Investment and Enterprise, who specializes in data on foreign direct investment, as well as from Alfredo Calcagno, Alfredo Saad Filho and Antonio Carlos Macedo e Silva, of the Division on Globalization and Development Strategies. Claudio Scaratti (UNIDO), Luigi M. Lannutti (ITC), and David Seligson (ILO), were also at hand to help him with his research project.
Carvalho intends to publish the outcome of his fellowship as a paper, and hopes to extend the research towards other BRIC countries and Mexico, to produce a comparative analysis of the phenomenon.
Euro-zone crisis topic of first 2012 Vi videoconference
"Although the 2007-2008 crisis did not originate in Europe, this is currently the region that presents the most relevant and worrying problems of the international economy," Calcagno said during the videoconference held March 20.
Policies to cope with this situation currently follow neo-liberal prescriptions. According to them, countries should conduct structural reforms to increase the flexibility of their labour markets, reduce fiscal deficit and enhance the countries' competitiveness. This kind of adjustment is asymmetric, focusing solely on the countries with deficits. However, UNCTAD believes that adjustment in the euro-zone has to rely more on economic stimulus in surplus countries.
Vi hosts Spanish study visit
Hamed El-Kady, from UNCTAD's Division on Investment and Enterprise, led the first session, introducing them to the complex world of international investment rules, a maze of more than 2800 bilateral investment agreements, over 300 economic cooperation agreements with investment provisions, and regional integration agreements containing investment chapters.
The group, from 11 countries in Europe, Latin America, Africa and Asia, included three participants from Vi member universities in China, Ethiopia and Kenya, who received scholarships from UB. Additionally, the Vi, with funding from the Government of Finland, cosponsored the studies of the Ethiopian participant.
Vi teaching materials enrich Colombian courses
"International integration is one of the courses that are fully delivered in English," she writes. "Due to its nature, and because it is taught in English, we can take advantage of the teaching materials developed by the UNCTAD Virtual Institute. The way countries interact in regional and multilateral settings can create a favorable environment for the development of international business. The Regional Trade Agreements teaching material published by the Vi gives us the opportunity to reach this goal, as it fully covers the subject. It discusses the historical and theoretical aspects of international integration, offers a practical way to approaching the current negotiations, and gives an overview of Regional Integration Agreements."
Rozas also includes Vi multimedia teaching resources in her classes, she said. "Pierguiseppe Fortunato’s multimedia material, 'The Rise of the South: New Paths to Development,' is a serious piece of research which explains the issue in a simple way, so our students can understand South-South trade and intra-industry trade as some of the most important recent trade phenomena.
"Vi materials help us enrich the resources that we use for teaching and strengthen the international experience of our students. When they leave the classroom, they are prepared to check the official UNCTAD and WTO documentation and understand its language and context. A clear evidence of this is the active participation of our students in the activities of the annual study tour organized by the Vi in Geneva. Universidad del Norte encourages students to take advantage of this academic experience in order to strengthen their classroom knowledge. In the past three years, 17 of our students have attended and we expect this to continue in the future."
Mozambique finds lecturers for Master's programme through Vi call
The fourth edition of this bilingual (Portuguese-English) programme, scheduled for February-November 2012, was looking for lecturers who could teach a wide range of international legal and economic issues: international economics; economic policy; trade policy; international financial markets; international trade law; regulations and markets; trade in agriculture; trade in goods; GATS (General Agreement on Trade in Services) and TRIPS (Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights); regional integration; trade remedies; dispute settlement; and research methods.
After a competitive selection, the university chose three lecturers from Vi member universities to teach in their Master's programme. One of the selected lecturers was Orlando da Silva, Vi member coordinator at Brazilian affiliate, Federal University of Viçosa, and former Vi fellow. Da Silva delivered a course on economic policy February 6-11. The course, taught in Portuguese, covered topics such as economic systems, governance, supply and demand responses, structural adjustment, trade and economic development, with an emphasis on developing countries.
"As the students were non-economists (all of them were lawyers), I had to go through basic concepts," writes da Silva. "They participated during the discussions and the results of the tests showed that they studied the subjects. Looks like they have enjoyed it and I also found this experience very interesting."
The university seems to agree. Da Silva will return to Maputo in August to teach the course on trade in goods, and plans to use the teaching materials developed by the Vi in preparation for the course.
UNCTAD launches “Thinking Development” blog on Vi site
UNCTAD economists propose to let you know just what that is, and hope you will do the same.
University and think tank members may post their own blogs (guidelines for authors). All members may comment on the blog posts.
Read the letter from the editor for more information.
Russian students model G20 negotiations
A first in Russia, the idea for the "Students' G20" materialized two years after the model simulation of UNCTAD XII, and on the basis of the more than 20-year experience of UN Modeling. More than 60 students participated in the conference, under the motto “Our world, our ideas, our future!”
Vi Colombia affiliate hosts fourth edition of WTO regional course
According to the university, "the decision to host the course at Universidad Sergio Arboleda will benefit both the university and the country. The university will get an opportunity to further strengthen its institutional capacity on trade issues and reinforce its leading role in this area at the national and regional level. The involvement in the course has already contributed to the university's undergraduate programmes, such as those related to finance and to international trade, as well as its graduate programme in international trade, which is being delivered in cooperation with Georgetown University.
"For Colombia, the decision of the WTO comes as recognition of its place as a forum for member states to discuss their trade issues, and highlights Bogota's role as exporter of education and training services."
UNCTAD holds 13th session in Doha
"Our Conference will be taking place at a sensitive time for the global economy," said Supachai Panitchpakdi, Secretary-General of UNCTAD. "We are currently at a crossroads and must reflect on the path we wish to take in the future. UNCTAD XIII is the first major UN ministerial conference on trade and development since the fallout from the economic crisis and, as such, provides us with a good opportunity for such reflection. There are still many issues that remain unresolved in the global economy, and we hope that UNCTAD XIII can provide some answers."
Various proceedings of the UNCTAD XIII Conference will be available live and on-demand at the United Nations Webcast portal.
Online course on trade and poverty coming up - Reminder!
The course is scheduled to begin in the fall, and though many will be able to participate, only a few -- 10 -- will receive grants to develop analyses leading to evidence-based national policies addressing poverty. Priority will be given to projects addressing their countries' top poverty reduction agenda priorities, and which have been designed with the support of national policymakers. The selected researchers will benefit from e-mentoring by subject-matter experts, and participate in two workshops to be held in Geneva.
The course is part of the Vi's new trade and poverty project funded by the UN Development Account and the Government of Finland.
Caribbean Conference on Trade Policy, Innovation Governance and Small State Competitiveness
An activity of the university's World Trade Organization Chair, the conference will take place June 11-13.
UNCTAD invites applications for transition countries regional course
The course will draw on UNCTAD’s analytical work and the lessons learned from its technical cooperation activities, with input from the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), as well as national experts. Although the course is primarily aimed at government officials, academics can also be considered.
The course will be given in English, with simultaneous interpretation into Russian. UNCTAD will cover local costs for all participants. Funding of travel is available for participants from lower-income countries.
| >_TEACHING RESOURCES |
Two new multimedia teaching resources now online
The second, Trade and Employment: From Myths to Facts, takes a look at a recently launched publication by the International Labour Organization and the European Commission that looks at the impact of trade reform on employment while tackling important issues such as gender equity and the informal economy.
World Economic Situation and Prospects (WESP)
This year's report focuses on the impact of the serious economic slowdown of developed countries since mid-2011. High unemployment and low wage increases in the US, coupled with sovereign-debt crises in Europe, are seen as the main problems which could lead to another recession in 2012-2013.
Prospects for developing countries look better: developing countries and economies in transition have kept up global demand, thanks to the robust growth rates of China and India in particular. And although low-income and the least developed countries have experienced a mild slowdown, the report forecasts a slight upturn for the next couple of years.
The report presents various policy options, including more job creation, investment in infrastructure, efficient and sustainable energy supply, and stronger safety nets.
Trade and Employment: From Myths to Facts
In addition to providing guidance on the design of tools for determining the impact of trade reform on employment, the book assesses new evidence, and proposes policy measures to assist government officials in optimizing gains and offsetting drawbacks of trade liberalization for employment.
The long-term "optimal" real exchange rate and the currency overvaluation trend in open emerging economies: The case of Brazil
The econometric models for the Brazilian economy in the 1999–2011 period show that, among the structural factors, the GDP per capita and the terms of trade had the closest correlation with the long-term trend of the RER in Brazil. As to the short-term economic policies, the short-term interest rate differential and the stock of international reserves had the highest degree of correlation with the long-term trend of the RER.
Based on these findings, the paper concludes that: (a) the Brazilian currency was persistently overvalued throughout almost all of the period under analysis; and (b) the long-term "optimal" real exchange rate was reached in 2004, while in April 2011, the real overvaluation of the Brazilian currency in relation to the long-term "optimal" level was around 80 percent. A mix of policy instruments should therefore have been used in order to reverse the overvaluation trend of the Brazilian RER, including a target for reaching the "optimal" real exchange rate in the medium and the long-run.
The scope for foreign exchange market interventions
The paper advocates a strategy of managed floating which can reconcile three objectives that are usually not considered reconcilable - an autonomous monetary policy, control over the exchange rate and free capital movements. If a central bank targets an exchange rate level based on the interest rate difference between two currencies, it can at the same time set its policy rate autonomously. By eliminating the interest rate differences between countries, such targeting also eliminates the incentives for carry trade and is hence compatible with capital mobility.
This approach can be used unilaterally by national central banks to prevent carry trade, but also multilaterally or bilaterally, as shown by successful examples of the European Monetary System (EMS) and the exchange rate policy of Slovenia before its EMS membership.
The synchronized and long-lasting structural change on commodity markets: Evidence from high frequency data
This research adds to the growing empirical evidence supporting the idea that the financialization of commodity markets has an impact on the price determination process. Indeed, the recent price movements of commodities are insufficiently justified on the basis of fundamental shifts in supply and demand. Overall, this suggests that, as commodity markets become financialized, they are more prone to external destabilizing effects. In addition, their tendency to deviate from their fundamentals exposes them to sudden and sharp corrections.
New UNCTAD indicators to analyze countries' trade performance
The new indicators include: merchandise and services trade balance indicators (compare countries' overall trade performance irrespective of the size of their economies); merchandise and services trade openness indicators (measure the importance of trade for the country's economy; expressed as a percentage share of trade in the country's GDP); and merchandise trade complementarity indicator (helps evaluate the suitability/desirability of a trade agreement between two economies).
ITC's Standards Map - http://www.standardsmap.org
ITC's site provides information on 75 voluntary standards related to more than 60 economic sectors (agricultural and manufactured products, forestry and fishing, biomass, mining, and services) operating in more than 200 countries. Users can access comprehensive information on the standards' coverage and scope, on assistance and support provided, on environmental, social, economic, ethical, traceability and quality requirements, implementation mechanisms, compliance policies and audit processes. The site also allows for a comparative analysis of the standards' requirements and their potential costs and benefits.
Standards Map is freely accessible to all users in the developing world.
| WTO Information Centre - http://www.wto.org/english/news_e/infocenter_e.htm|
The website of the WTO Information Centre provides a quick overview of WTO activities over the past week and a preview of events in the weeks to come. It includes links to recent news items, as well as official WTO documents. Each month, a particular trade topic will be "in the spotlight." The centre also provides links to short briefing notes with background information on a variety of trade topics ranging from accession, agriculture, services, market access for industrial goods, to regional trade agreements, dispute settlement or Aid for Trade.
WTI offers tuition discount on summer courses - First come, first served!
This year's summer academy in Berne will take place July 9 to August 10, and will offer five one-week sessions on investment dispute settlement; trade remedies; international trade, competition and government procurement; trade costs and trade facilitation; and preferential trade agreements.
The Hong Kong summer academy will focus on intellectual property and will run July 9-20. Two one-week sessions will be offered: "The Law and Economics of Intellectual Property Rights Protection," and "Understanding today's and tomorrow's IP challenges."
WTO 2012 Essay Award for Young Economists - Deadline: June 1
The essay contest is open to young economists holders of a PhD, or engaged in the completion of a PhD degree and, if over 30 years of age, being no more than two years past a PhD defence.
The winning essay will be published in the WTO Working Paper Series.
Red Latinoamericana de Derecho Económico Internacional (DEI) seeks venue for conference - Deadline July 30
The first meeting took place in Colombia September 8-9, 2011. Deadline for proposals is July 30.
ILO training centre accepting applications for course on trade, FDI and labour markets - Deadline April 22
New Vi coordinators in Russia and Colombia
New Vi intern
She has a Bachelor's degree in Political Sciences from the University of Geneva, and plans to begin her Master's studies in Sociology at the University of Lausanne in September. Micaela, sent to us by another fantastic Vi intern, Caroline Duriaux, whom you met at our last member meeting, will stay with our programme until the end of April.
Previous issues are available online.
ALSO, if you haven't already, please have a look at our website and familiarize yourself with its structure and content.
| The UNCTAD Virtual Institute on Trade and Development is a capacity-building and knowledge-sharing programme designed to strengthen the capacities of academic institutions in developing countries and countries with economies in transition to teach and research trade issues.|
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