|Issue #35 - December 2012 - Welcome to the Vi quarterly newsletter|
Thank you for all your support and cooperation throughout the past year.
16th Colombian member expands Vi affiliate network to 32
The Vi's counterpart at the university, the Faculty of International Business, offers a one-year post-graduate programme in export management, comprising courses on international trade theory, international economic and political environment for business operations, international logistics, international finance, and electronic commerce. The university publishes its research in the journal "Lebret," which recently featured an analysis of the export process to the US of the apparel industry in the Santander region.
Vi trade and poverty online course resounding success
"We had 102 participants from 56 countries around the world and one third of them were women," reports course tutor, Vi's Cristian Ugarte. "We are proud to announce that 77 participants from 45 developing and transition countries obtained a final grade of 60 or better, which was the passing mark for the course."
"Post-course evaluation questionnaires brought the Vi team much positive feedback," added Vi Chief, Vlasta Macku. "While all participants said the course met their expectations to various extents, many of our students literally raved about it."
Isaac Shinyekwa, of Uganda's Economic Policy Research Centre, for example, said he was "'blown apart' by the technology and level of order and organization."
All participants also said that the course enhanced their knowledge of data sources, tools, methods and policy-relevant research questions on trade and poverty, one of the top objectives of the training.
"What I really appreciate is that I learned more about policy relevance," said Christian Otchia, of the University of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. "Before attending this course, I was giving priority to how complicated my methodology should be. But now, I have learnt that it is all about policy relevance."
The majority of the 70 questionnaire respondents said that after completing the course they felt competent to undertake policy-relevant research on trade and poverty (either independently or in cooperation with a more experienced researcher) and/or teach their students about the tools and methods used in the econometric analysis of trade and poverty. As such, the course generated a storm of research ideas, and some participants said that they had already started to integrate or would integrate materials from the course in their university teaching at the undergraduate, graduate and PhD levels.
"After completing my course, I am eager to do policy research on trade and poverty, such as on the impact of exchange rates, trade facilitation measures and transport infrastructure, because our country, Myanmar, is just opening the doors, changing a lot and needing the right policies to get growth and reduce poverty," said Thida Kyu, of Myanmar's Yangon Institute of Economics.
"I included the trade and poverty topic into my International Trade Theory and Policy class taught to Master's degree students at the Belarus State Economic University," said Yulia Vashkevich. "I also plan to go through some of the articles analyzed in the course with my undergraduate students to show them the way econometric techniques are used in international economics research."
Participants also gave top marks to the course's technical aspects and learning activities, rating multimedia lectures and hands-on exercises as the most effective in helping them learn.
"Despite the difficulties imposed by distance, and the complexity of the topic, we had a group of very motivated participants," Ugarte said.
"A special mention needs to be made about the women participating in the course," Macku added. "Of the 31 enrolled, 29 went on to pass the course, and 11 of them were among the top graduates."
All successful participants were granted certificates of completion. The best 27 graduates have also been invited to submit research proposals for the subsequent phase of the Vi trade and poverty project, in which 10-15 researchers, in cooperation with national policymakers, will write papers on trade and poverty topics of policy interest to their countries. Selected projects will receive coaching support from UNCTAD experts and financial grants from the Vi.
"My first contact with the Vi dates back to 2008 when I took a course on Teaching and Research of Economic and Legal Aspects of International Investment Agreements," said Kassahun Aberra, of the Ethiopian Economic Association. "I strongly believe that the Institute has a fair share in my professional development in the area."
Latest Spanish-funded Vi project successfully concluded
The project, running from October 2011 to October 2012, involved the delivery of an online course on international economic law and the development and facilitation of an expert network on the topic.
The first activity took place October 10 to December 11, 2011, when the online course, "Legal Instruments of International Economic Relations and Regional Integration," trained 30 academics and government officials from 25 countries (see story in the Vi newsletter of December, 2011).
The second activity was launched in January, 2012, with the creation of the International Economic Relations Network (IERN), a virtual professional group aimed at providing further training and networking opportunities to graduates of the online course and students of the University of Barcelona's (UB) Master in International Economic Law and Policy (IELPO), among whose graduates are several Vi members.
| Vi fall videoconferences link UNCTAD with members in Brazil, Jordan and Russia|
The Vi organized seven videoconference presentations of UNCTAD's research on trade, investment, macroeconomic policies and technology for a combined audience of 265 students and lecturers from Vi member universities in Brazil, Jordan and Russia in the last three months of the year.
The videoconference held October 1 for 12 researchers from Brazilian affiliate member, the Institute for Applied Policy Studies (IPEA), was led by Masataka Fujita, Head of UNCTAD’s Investment Trends and Issues Branch, who presented the findings of the latest World Investment Report (WIR).
Fujita reported that in 2011 global foreign direct investment (FDI) flows surpassed the average of the pre-crisis 2005-2007 period, with inflows increasing across all major economic groupings, developing and transition economies accounting for 51 percent of the flows.
The October 4 videoconference on renewable energy technologies and development gathered 20 students from a course on International Technology Transfer at affiliate Vi member, the Moscow State Institute of International Relations.
Delivered by Padmashree Gehl Sampath, Chief of the Taskforce on the Technology and Innovation Report (TIR) series, the lecture was based on findings of the 2011 TIR, which proposes the implementation of renewable energy technologies (RETs) as a response to the challenge of reducing energy poverty while mitigating the effects of climate change.
According to the report, exploration of RETs from the perspectives of climate change, development, and equality and inclusiveness is imperative, as more than 20 percent of the global population (1.4 billion people) had no access to energy in 2010.
The videoconference was part of the Vi's support of MGIMO's courses on trade and technology. The series of videoconference lectures began in 2009 with a presentation of UNCTAD's Information Economy Report for students in a course on electronic commerce. The TIR is the latest UNCTAD flagship report to be integrated into university teaching at this Vi member university.
"The presentation has been a very precious complement to our course on innovations in the energy sector," writes lecturer and Vi member coordinator, Anna Abramova, who initiated the regular contributions of UNCTAD researchers to the courses in her university.
The November 4 videoconference on UNCTAD's latest Trade and Development Report counted with the participation of 24 lecturers/researchers and Master's students of economics at Brazil's University of Campinas (Brazil) and the counselor of the Permanent Mission of Brazil to the WTO, Marcelo Della Nina.
Flassbeck also took this message to 75 lecturers and graduate students from Russian affiliate members, St. Petersburg State University and St. Petersburg State University of Economics and Finance participating in a Vi videoconference held November 15.
The videoconferences returned to FDI topics on November 21, when Astrit Sulstarova (pictured, center), co-author of UNCTAD's WIR, linked with 32 lecturers and undergraduate students from Vi core member, the University of Jordan.
FDI flows to West Asia declined by 16 percent for the third consecutive year in 2012 "due to both the political instability in the region and the deterioration of the global economic prospects in the second half of 2011," Sulstarova said.
And although Jordan witnessed an impressive rise in FDI flows 2005 to 2008 due mainly to the liberalization of several sectors toward foreign investors and large acquisitions in the mining and telecommunication sectors, flows to the country declined by 24 percent in the first half of 2012, reaching USD 1.5 billion, down from USD 1.7 billion in 2010.
“There is a high degree of uncertainty related to the global economy, which is being reflected not only in lower global GDP but also in lower trade flows and, therefore, lower FDI flows,” he said. “This uncertainty continues to reinforce the wait-and-see attitude of many transnational companies."
Sulstarova also presented the report to 90 graduate and undergraduate students from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, the St. Petersburg State University of Economics and Finance, the St. Petersburg State University and the North-West Institute on November 27.
Although inflows to Russia also declined in the first half of 2012, developing and transition economies continued to absorb more than half of global FDI flows, indicating a pattern shift in FDI inflows from developed to developing economies.
"Emerging markets' economic growth is playing a crucial role in the dynamics of FDI," Sulstarova said, stressing that investment is being driven not only by the search for natural resources or cheap labour, but by market-seeking behaviors. "In Southeast Europe, competitive production costs and access to EU markets drove FDI, while in the CIS, large, resource-based economies benefited from continued natural-resource-seeking FDI and strong growth of local consumer markets."
UNCTAD projects sustained growth of FDI flows to transition economies, reflecting a more investor-friendly environment, WTO accession by the Russian Federation and new privatization programmes in extractive industries, utilities, banking and telecommunications.
The last Vi videoconference of the year, held December 5, featured a presentation highlighting the work of UNCTAD's Division on International Trade in Goods and Services, and Commodities (DITC), led by its director, Guillermo Valles. The presentation gathered 12 researchers from IPEA.
"Our research goes beyond the division's well-known analysis of trends in international trade," Valles said, stressing the importance of looking at new phenomena, including non-tariff measures (NTMs) and private standards. "Higher transparency regarding the use of NTMs will allow a better measurement of their impact."
With this aim, a classification of NTMs was prepared by a group of technical experts from UNCTAD and other international organizations.
"This classification shall be used as the basis to collect, classify and disseminate information on non-tariff regulations applied by a country,” he said. “However, what really counts is to analyze the impact of these measures on trade and development, and seek alternatives and, where appropriate, harmonization."
The presentation was followed by a brainstorming session about possible research cooperation on trade issues of interest to both UNCTAD and IPEA.
South-South cooperation topic of fourth Vi study tour for Colombia
Designed with support from UNCTAD's Unit for Economic Cooperation and Integration among Developing Countries, the lecture series analyzed the features that make South-South cooperation different from North-South, and outlined policies and measures conducive to optimizing its benefits.
Students benefited from the expertise of UNCTAD's Alfredo Calcagno, Ricardo Gottschalk, Denise Penello Rial, Alfredo Saad Filho, Piergiuseppe Fortunato, Rashmi Banga, Jan Hoffmann, Padmashree Gehl Sampath, Bineswaree Bolaky and Sophia Twarog. Nadia Rocha, of the WTO, Manuel Montes, of the South Centre, and Theresa Carpenter, of the Graduate Institute brought in the perspectives of their organizations and research.
As in previous years, students had the opportunity of meeting with the ambassador and the deputy permanent representative of their country's mission to the WTO. This meeting provided a much appreciated link between the global and regional issues covered by the tour and the specific situation of Colombia.
"The level of inspiration and information this study tour gave has helped me to orientate my professional future. Due to this tour, I found exactly what I needed to continue my studies," wrote one participant.
Members from Senegal and Tanzania in Geneva for research on commodities and non-tariff measures
Kounta's self-funded Vi fellowship helped him flesh out his PhD thesis on the effect of rules of origin on trade flows in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) region, under the guidance of mentors Samuel Munyaneza (pictured) and Marco Fugazza, of UNCTAD's Division on International Trade in Goods and Services, and Commodities, October 2 to November 5.
"This fellowship allowed me to have a clear idea of ??how to approach the question that interests me, and how to provide relevant responses, which was not the case before coming here," Kounta said. "It is necessary that this fellowship program continue because it is very important for us researchers, especially African and Senegalese academics, who have a lot of trouble accessing the resources necessary to do in-depth research."
Masanja chose to develop lectures for his course on the Economics of Commodities Production and Trade during his Vi fellowship, which took place October 29 to December 7. A participant of the 2010 Vi regional workshop on natural resources and economic development, Masanja seeks to reflect his interest in commodity issues in both his teaching and research. His Vi fellowship was funded by the Tanzania One UN Fund.
With support from his UNCTAD mentors, Yan Zhang (pictured) and Taro Boel, of UNCTAD's Special Unit on Commodities, Masanja developed readers, PowerPoint lecture presentations and discussion questions on three specific areas: commodity production structures in developing countries; financing commodity production and trade; and agricultural commodity price risk management in developing countries. Each topic prominently features Tanzania's economic context to facilitate the learning process for students.
"My mentors have been very supportive, I greatly appreciate their contributions," Masanja said. "The fellowship also gave me the possibility to add more knowledge through access to a wide range of commodity data and consultations with UNCTAD experts, and develop new professional and social networks."
To conclude his fellowship, Masanja discussed the outcome of his stay at UNCTAD with Lucas Sarnga, Chargé d'affaires a.i. of the Permanent Mission of the United Republic of Tanzania.
Vi members in Colombia and Russia launch UNCTAD flagship report
At EAFIT, host of Colombia's IER national launch for the third consecutive year, Félix González Londoño, research director and presenter of the report, said findings of the report, which focuses on software and its role in development, meant new opportunities for developing countries, which should consider making the move from technology consumers to providers of new applications and functionalities.
In Russia, the launch was conducted by MGIMO Vi member coordinator, Anna Abramova, who also contributed research on her country's software market development to this year's IER. Her contribution included information on exports and the role of e-government initiatives and Information and Communication Technology clusters in supporting the growth of the sector.
Vi members join in Morocco international dialogue
The dialogue, titled "Trade of the Mediterranean countries in the context of political transitions underway: Problems and promises," debated the effects of recent political and economic changes on developing countries in Northern Africa and the Middle East.
Evidence presented by international, regional and national experts from academia, government and international organizations suggest that, despite successive financial, economic and sovereign debt crises which have negatively affected the Mediterranean countries since 2007, the long-term economic prospects for the region are favorable.
Core French university member coordinator, Pierre Berthaud (Pierre Mendès France University), presented the findings of his research on the impact of major southern emerging powers (Brazil, India, China and South Africa) on global governance. Senegalese core university members and former Vi fellows, Malick Sané and former Chérif Sidi Kane, of Cheikh Anta Diop University, also contributed to the congress with presentations on trade and FDI issues related to West Africa during a dedicated session chaired by Berthaud.
Azzedine Ghoufrane, UM5S Vi member coordinator said that the conference also gave young students the opportunity to learn from experienced senior researchers during the last day, which was devoted to a graduate student workshop on research methodologies and issues raised during the dialogue.
UNCTAD experts contribute to Vi university members’ conferences
Fajarnes delivered a keynote presentation on challenges and opportunities of globalization to the eighth international business congress of Vi's latest Colombian affiliate member, the Universidad Santo Tomás, on November 1.
Alvarez led a series of lectures on the trade and financial aspects of South-South cooperation at a workshop sponsored by Vi core Peruvian member, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, and the Red Latinoamericana de Política Comercial (LATN) November 20-23.
More than 2700 publications headed for members' libraries
Each package, lovingly put together by our fall intern, Johanna Lüder, includes Vi teaching materials on commodities and macroeconomics, UNCTAD flagship reports on the Least Developed Countries, trade and development, and technology and innovation, as well as a variety of discussion papers, policy documents and best-practice guides.
We'd like to take this opportunity to thank Johanna, who has just returned to her studies, for her help during her brief -- but busy -- internship with the Vi.
| >_TEACHING RESOURCES |
Tanzanian member completes Vi material localization
The module analyzes various aspects of trade integration between Tanzania and its partners, particularly the East African Community (EAC). The first section provides a historical background of integration within the EAC, and explains its link with Tanzania's National Trade Policy. The second section analyzes the trade performance of EAC members based on empirical indices for competitiveness, complementarity, intensity, comparative advantage and trade structure of trade flows between countries. The last section of the module focuses on non-tariff measures (NTMs) and in particular, on the consequences of non-tariff barriers (NTBs) on trade flows.
The authors conclude that there is still potential to gain market shares in regional markets and in Africa in general, and that non-tariff barriers (NTBs) are now the main policy-related impediment to intra-regional trade within the grouping.
Mexican Vi member shares teaching materials on WTO law
Vi multimedia teaching materials on UNCTAD flagship reports now online
In Technology solutions for energy poverty, Padmashree Gehl Sampath, Chief of the Taskforce on the UNCTAD Technology and Innovation Report (TIR), explores the potential of renewable energy technologies to provide access to energy for the 1.4 billion world's poorest, while mitigating the effects of climate change.
UNCTAD Handbook of Statistics 2012
Continuously updated and made available online at UNCTADstat, the data includes figures related to: international merchandise trade (values, shares, growth rates, trade balances, intra-regional trade, trade by region and product, trade indicators and indices); international trade in services (value, trade by category, world merchandise fleet); commodities (prices and instability indices); international finance (balance of payments, FDI, migrants' remittances, international reserves, ODA flows, external long-term debt); and development indicators (GDP total, per capita, by type of expenditure and economic activity, GDP growth rates, population and labour force).
UNCTAD Least Developed Countries Report 2012
According to the report, more systematic policy action is needed in order to enhance the contributions of diasporas to development, including mobilization and coordination of home country institutions and firms, host country governments, diaspora organizations, international organizations and bilateral donors. Its conclusions identify policies, including lessons from the experiences of other countries, which LDCs may wish to consider in designing policy frameworks for harnessing remittances and diaspora knowledge to build productive capacities.
UNCTAD Review of Maritime Transport 2012
According to the report, the tonnage of the world fleet grew faster than world seaborne trade in 2011, resulting in freight rates falling to unprofitable levels for most shipping companies. For importers and exporters, however, the low freight rates helped to reduce transaction costs, which is important for helping to revive global trade.
As freight traffic continues to grow, however, its long-term sustainability is getting increased attention in the policy debate on globalization, trade and development, environmental sustainability, energy security and climate change. Reflecting these new realities, the report addresses a range of relevant issues in this context, and includes a special chapter on sustainable freight transport.
UNCTAD Information Economy Report 2012 (IER)
Given the increasing use of software across societies and activities, software and service activities represent an opportunity for developing countries, thanks to low capital entry requirements and the sector's high-value, high-growth nature and knowledge-rich profile. The report also introduces the concept of the national software system and stresses the importance of quality, affordable ICT infrastructures and access to relevant human resources and capital, among other elements.
To conclude, the IER discusses what governments and their development partners could do better to leverage software for development and strengthen national software systems, using evidence from case studies of BRIC countries (including one on Russia based on a paper prepared by Vi member coordinator, Anna Abramova, of the Moscow State Institute of International Relations), Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Republic of Korea, Lao PDR, Bangladesh, Argentina, and the Free Software and Open Source Foundation for Africa. A statistical annex provides international data on software spending, exports and employment.
UNCTAD Technology and Innovation Report 2012 (TIR)
Participation in global production networks and foreign direct investment are factors that could promote transfer of technology and technological development in developing countries. However, these benefits are currently derived by only a few countries, particularly in East, South-East, and South Asia, despite the existence of promising initiatives and projects in other parts of the world. The report details some of the initiatives undertaken at the firm and public sector levels, as well as the intra-governmental level, and suggests that developing countries should create an overarching framework for South-South collaboration in technology and innovation, and that policies at different levels (international, regional and national) of support to developing countries should be adopted to achieve the desired effect.
UNCTAD's Investment Policy Framework for Sustainable Development (IPFSD)
UNCTAD is now putting the IPFSD into action at its national and regional training events and has also launched an online platform, the Investment Policy Hub, for further consultation and discussion with all investment stakeholders. IPFSD also lends itself to be used as university teaching material.
Local Production of Pharmaceuticals and Related Technology Transfer in Developing Countries
Although China, India and Brazil were the first countries to launch local initiatives, other countries have been able to enter the arena recently, and participate in different stages of the value chain of pharmaceutical production. Individual firm analysis provides information on how they produce and innovate, and covers the four models of technology transfer: South-South, North-South, state-supported and private-sector-supported.
Asia-Pacific Trade and Investment Report 2012 (APTIR)
According to the report, intraregional trade accounted for more than half of the Asia-Pacific's merchandise imports and total exports in 2011. The region supplied close to 28 percent of world Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), and attracted 33 percent of inflows, with China the largest recipient. Most of the investment went to industries in the coal, oil and natural gas, metals, automotive, real estate, chemicals, financial services and transportation sectors.
For 2012, the APTIR estimates a slowdown by two-thirds of exports and imports due to rising uncertainties within and outside the region. The forecast for 2013 remains mixed, with only Thailand and India projected to return to double-digit export growth rates. Rich statistical data are available in the second part of the report, dedicated to trade performance indicators. Individual country trade fact sheets for the 22 economies in the region are available online.
The Gravity Model of International Trade - A User Guide
After a brief presentation of the intuition behind the gravity model and a review of its theoretical foundations, the book introduces readers to the estimation of the standard gravity model using trade in services data. All estimations are presented with their corresponding procedures in order to allow readers to run the regressions themselves. The author then moves on to the estimation of the gravity model with and without fixed effects, and treats the endogeneity problem in this framework, using the two-stage least-squares procedure. To conclude, the guide describes recent alternative methods to the linear regression which take into account the presence of zeros in trade flows and examples of the Poisson estimator and the Heckman procedure for sample selection.
Os Brics Na Omc: Políticas Comerciais Comparadas De Brasil, Rússia, Índia, China E África Do Sul (BRICS in the WTO: A comparative analysis of the trade policies of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa)
The 15 authors examine the policies used by the BRICS to regulate their participation in international trade and the multilateral trade regime from the perspectives of the diplomatic-legal pillar, the dispute settlement system, and the political-negotiator pillar, analyzing the Doha Round of trade negotiations, and significant joint action at the agriculture G20.
The Informal Sector in Francophone Africa: Firm Size, Productivity, and Institutions
By concentrating on informal firms rather than informal employment, the study proposes a new definition that covers six components of informality, and provides new information about large informal firms, which tend to be concentrated in sectors such as import-export trade, domestic wholesale, transportation and construction. Based on qualitative and quantitative surveys run in three cities in Benin, Burkina Faso and Senegal, indicating that that a weak regulatory and business climate encourages firms to remain informal, the study provides recommendations on the policies that should be implemented in the fight against informality.
WTO e-learning courses - http://etraining.wto.org
ITC tools free again in 2013
New for this year is 2011 and 2012 monthly trade data for more than 100 countries in Trade Map (www.trademap.org); new datasets, including non-tariff measures, historic tariff and trade data, as well as new analytical functionalities in an updated version of Market Access Map (www.macmap.org); a new selection menu for direct access to FDI country and sector breakdowns in Investment Map (www.investmentmap.org); and a new analysis module containing over 80 pre-set queries, re-designed at-a-glance summaries, and the last in a series of four literature reviews on the impacts of private standards in Standards Map (www.standardsmap.org).
World Bank Gender data portal - http://datatopics.worldbank.org/gender/
Global South Scholar-In-Residence Programme - Deadline: March 1
The Scholarship covers round trip travel to and accommodation in Geneva, plus a contribution toward living expenses. Applications for the fall semester (mid-September to end January) must be submitted by March 1.
Call for articles - Deadline extended to March 9
AD-minister is indexed in EBSCO, Index Copernicus, e-revistas, Latindex, Clase, Actualidad Latinoamericana, New Jour, Open Journal System (OJS), Publindex and Google Scholar. The journal publishes articles both in English and Spanish. All submissions will undergo an anonymous external peer review process, should be previously unpublished, and comply with the terms of the Guide for Authors.
Vi members’ joint research project spurs film on economic contribution of Caribbean diaspora
The film reveals the power of people of the Caribbean diaspora -- migrants with strong national ties -- to contribute to the economy of their homelands. Shot in nine locations in seven weeks, it features stories of people from the Dominican Republic living in New York, the Guyanese in Toronto, the Surinamese in Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague, and the Jamaican diaspora in London.
Ethiopian member shares research on investor-state arbitration
The article uses arguments from the investor-state arbitration principles of good faith and equality of arms to critically assess the case of Salini Consoruttori SPA vs The FDRE Addis Ababa Water and Sewage Authority (ICC Arbitration No 10623/AER/ACS).
Young Nigerian researchers win Vi partners award
The paper examines the likelihood of countries, particularly in Africa, to implement protectionist measures within the current multilateral and regional trade system.
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