A partnership with academia

Building knowledge for trade and development

Vi Quarterly Newsletter

Issue #40 - March 2014 - Welcome to the Vi quarterly newsletter


Government of Finland

Government of Finland backs Vi activities once again
Staunch Virtual Institute patron, the Government of Finland, has once again come through for Vi members, who will benefit from capacity-building support made possible by a grant of EUR 630000 covering activities in the 2014-15 biennium.

Part of the funds will support the Vi project on trade and gender implemented in cooperation with UNCTAD’s Division on International Trade in Goods and Services, and Commodities. The bulk of the grant will co-fund the Vi UN Development Account project on trade and poverty, and ensure continued teaching and research capacity-building services for Vi members in sub-Saharan Africa and the least developed countries.

Vi trade and gender project activities planned for the first 12 months are: the publication of a two-volume teaching material, the development of an online course on the topic for a broad audience including academics, policymakers and other stakeholders, and the design of a regional workshop for developing country researchers. Finnish funds will also support this year's international seminar on trade and poverty for researchers and policymakers to be held in Geneva September 8-10, and the publication of the Vi book, "Trade policies, household welfare and poverty alleviation: Case studies from the Virtual Institute academic network."

In terms of capacity-building activities for sub-Saharan Africa and the least developed countries, the Vi received 23 requests for support from 13 university members by the March 26 deadline. Among the activities confirmed for funding this year are: a national workshop on post-2015 development policies for Nepal; six Vi fellowships for academics in Cameroon, the Gambia, Kenya, Senegal, Uganda and Zimbabwe; the development of a Vi teaching material on structural transformation and industrial policy (requested by six member universities); and the Nepalese localization/translation of the Vi teaching material on trade and gender.

The Government of Finland has been supporting Vi activities since 2006, and remained unwavering, going as far as increasing its contribution, and expanding the geographical coverage of support in 2009, when the world economic crisis shrank the contributions of many donor countries.

  Vi gains new affiliate members in Tanzania and China
The Vi welcomed the Open University of Tanzania (OUT) and the Central University of Finance and Economics (CUFE) into the fold during the first quarter of the year, increasing the number of Vi affiliate universities to 37.
Open University of Tanzania

The Open University of Tanzania, the second institution to represent the country in UNCTAD's programme for academic cooperation, joined on February 26, thanks to the efforts of new staff members recruited from the professional Master's in international trade programme (pMIT) from our core member, the University of Dar es Salaam Business School.

A public university founded in 1992, OUT provides open and distance education, research and consultancy services for the sustainable and equitable socioeconomic development of Tanzania and the rest of Africa. It operates through a network of centres and combines distance education with face-to-face seminars and contacts.

Through its faculties of business management and of arts and social sciences, OUT offers undergraduate, graduate and non-degree programmes and short courses in trade and development topics. Its research and consultancy services covers trade and economic policies, agricultural policies, foreign direct investment, monetary and fiscal policies, renewable and non-renewable resource utilization, SME competitiveness, investment policy, natural resources management, and international cooperation and development.

The cooperation with the Virtual Institute will be coordinated by pMIT graduate France Aloyce Shayo, responsible for courses on regional economic integration, international trade, and international marketing. He will be assisted by Akinyi Lydia Sassi, who obtained an MA in international trade in the Republic of Korea, and teaches a course on international business management and e-commerce.

Central University of Finance and Economics

Also joining in February was the Central University of Finance and Economics, established in 1949 as China's first university of its kind. The first contact with the Dean of CUFE's School of International Trade and Economics (SITE), Yihong Tang, dates to 2006 when she, at the time working at our core member, the University of International Business and Economics, attended a Vi workshop on quantitative tools for trade and trade policy analysis. The idea of a closer cooperation was taken up again following her appointment at CUFE and the participation of a colleague of hers, Dahai Fu, in the Vi project on trade and poverty in 2012.

CUFE delivers undergraduate and graduate programmes in international trade, finance, international law, international business, development studies, and international affairs. It also offers PhD programmes in international trade, development economics, international law and international relations. In addition, it runs several joint undergraduate programs with foreign universities in international trade and finance. Some of CUFE's undergraduate and graduate programmes are offered in English.

International trade and economics are among CUFE's most important research areas. Faculty members of the School of International Trade and Economics participate in a large number of domestic and international research projects on international trade and economic development funded by Chinese authorities and international organizations. The university also supports a number of specialized research centers.

Yihong Tang will coordinate CUFE's cooperation with the Vi. Holder of a PhD in economics, she is responsible for undergraduate and graduate courses in international trade theory and policy, advanced international trade, international business, and international trade and FDI in China. Her research interests include international trade theory and policy, trade protectionism, FDI, and services trade. Tang will be supported by Dahai Fu, holder of a PhD in economics, and teacher of graduate courses on international trade theory and policy, international business, international trade and FDI in China. His research focuses on firm heterogeneity and export performance, trade and economic growth, FDI spillovers, and trade liberalization and poverty.


Vi videoconferences introduce UNCTAD research on the information economy and maritime transport to Belarusian and Colombian universities
The year started out with virtual discussions of the 2013 editions of UNCTAD flagship publications, the Information Economy Report (IER) and the Review of Maritime Transport (RMT), with 47 students and lectures from member universities, the Belarus Belarus State Economic University and Colombia's Universidad EAN.


The videoconference presentation of the IER, delivered by co-author, Scarlett Fondeur Gil, of UNCTAD's Division on Technology and Logistics (DTL), gathered 22 students and lecturers from BSEU's Faculty of International Relations at the UNDP office in Minsk on March 17. Permanent Mission of Belarus Counsellor, Aleksandr Tselyuk, also joined the discussion from Geneva.

Fondeur Gil highlighted the economic potential of the 2013 IER theme, “The Cloud Economy and Developing Countries,” as revenue from this emerging trend in the ICT sector is projected to reach USD 43 to USD 94 billion in 2015.

Although most cloud traffic is currently generated by users in developed countries, developing countries' share is growing fast, she explained, as countries like the United Arab Emirates increase the penetration of fiber-to-the-home technology, a key enabler of the broadband access needed to support cloud computing. In addition, transition economies and developing countries may have an advantage with respect to developed countries, given that they are not constrained by the legacy infrastructures and can therefore introduce new technologies more rapidly.

However, the real area of concern for cloud computing relates to regulatory issues. "As data flows in the cloud can be subject to multiple jurisdictions, this may raise issues of control, effective oversight and audit," she said. "The key legal issues to address are data protection, privacy and cybercrime."

Vi Chief, Vlasta Macku (left) and Jan Hoffmann, of UNCTAD's Division on Technology and Logistics

Held March 17, the videoconference on the RMT, led by co-author, DTL's Jan Hoffmann, involved 25 students of international business at Vi Colombian affiliate member, Universidad EAN. Hoffmann presented 10 key long-term trends in international shipping related to demand, supply, markets, and future perspectives and challenges for the industry.

On the demand side, there has been a change in the position of emerging economies in international maritime transport, Hoffmann reported. While being exporters of large volumes of raw materials and importers of high-value (low-volume) manufactured goods in the 1970, they "now also import raw materials and export manufactured goods," he said.

In terms of supply, 74 percent of ships’ tonnage is currently built in China and the Republic of Korea; 29 percent of the fleet is owned by either Greek or Japanese companies; 42 percent of tonnage is registered in Panama, Liberia or the Marshall Islands; 30 percent have Danish or Swiss operators; and 94 percent of the scrapping is done in India, Bangladesh, China or Pakistan. The list of participating countries is also diverse for financing, classification, insurance services, seafarers and container terminal operators.

Liberalization has boosted private sector participation in transport, leading to a more globalized maritime market. As a result, "national maritime enterprises have almost disappeared (and) freight costs are (somewhat) lower and freight rates more volatile," he said.


Vi course participants report success in applying new knowledge

Vi course participants report success in applying new knowledge
Academics taking part in the first edition of the Vi online course on trade and poverty, held in 2012, affirm that the skills and knowledge acquired during the course had great impact in their teaching, research, and work with policymakers.

Respondents to a 12-month post-course evaluation reported that their participation in the course allowed them to enrich courses in development economics, international trade, public policy, and quantitative analysis at universities in Argentina, Japan, Kenya, Mauritius and Myanmar, where the course also served to train junior colleagues and PhD students.

Graduates also reported success in applying the methodologies learned in the course to their research, having completed or commenced several papers analyzing trade and poverty issues in Argentina, Bangladesh, Burundi, Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Myanmar, Nigeria, Pakistan and Uganda. The nature of the research being conducted indicates that the course was successful in achieving the ultimate objective of this Vi capacity-building effort: linking research with policymaking.

For 89 percent percent of the respondents, participation in the course also brought professional advancement, in the form of academic promotions and new assignments, as well as consultancy and advanced education opportunities. The survey also indicates that the course benefits extended to the participants' institutions.


University of Barcelona in Geneva for fourth Vi Study Visit

University of Barcelona in Geneva for fourth Vi study visit
The Vi organized a one-day training programme featuring sessions on international investment, global value chains and trade facilitation for 33 students from the International Economic Law and Policy (IELPO) programme at Vi core Spanish member, the University of Barcelona, on February 25.

The first session, delivered by Hamed El-Kady, of UNCTAD's Division on Investment and Enterprise, introduced the group to international investment policies and the implications of the fragmented, often overlapping, network of international investment agreements for developing countries. During the second session, Rashmi Banga, of UNCTAD's Division for Africa and the Least Developed Countries, discussed global value chains and cross-continent cost-competitiveness. The last session of study visit, delivered by Mohammad Saeed, of UNCTAD's Division on Technology and Logistics, concentrated on the WTO’s new Trade Facilitation Agreement.


Russian students take part in G20 model exercise
Members of the "Oeconomicus" student club at Vi affiliate member, the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, engaged in two days of intense negotiations as they took on the roles of world leaders during the club's third annual student Model G20 held March 12-13. The exercise aims at helping the students debate topical issues of the world economy, finance and international relations, and understand how to find solutions to global problems taking into account the interests of all participating countries.

Four committees and more than 80 "delegates" representing different countries debated the withdrawal of international forces from Afghanistan, the reform of the international financial system, the regulation of international trade and capital flows, and the fight against corruption. To prepare for the discussions, participants studied in detail the materials of the summit, the positions of countries chosen for the role-playing as well as main issues of negotiations in the WTO and international financial organizations. Introductory lectures on key issues of the Model agenda were also provided by professors of the MGIMO Department of International Economic Relations.

The model is also an important first step into the world of real negotiations, explained Oeconomicus president, Alyona Dolgova. "This year, MGIMO celebrates its 70th anniversary - that is, since 70 years, it has been preparing leaders for international relations, politics and business," she said. "I think that MGIMO students need to be educated with a clear understanding that in 20-30 years they will occupy positions of ministers of foreign affairs, CEOs of important companies, ministers of trade and finance. They need to understand that it will depend on the level of their professional competence how Russia will look like tomorrow."

For more, take a look at the video of the event (in Russian).


Four years of achievements mark the conclusion of German core member project

Four years of achievements mark the conclusion of German core member project
The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) project led by German member, the University of Applied Sciences (HTW) Berlin, and involving nine Vi member universities reached its end in December 2013. One of the most successful cooperation activities within the Vi network, the project leaves a legacy of knowledge to Vi academics from universities in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America.

In its four years of existence, the project granted 25 junior and senior fellowships at HTW to lecturers and researchers from five Vi member universities. HTW also sponsored fellowships at Vi member universities in South Africa, Uganda, Tanzania, Belarus and India. In addition, five HTW graduate students were hosted by Vi members in Uganda, Tanzania and Mauritius.

More than 30 working papers and a book were developed by project participants, who also benefited from professional development opportunities and specialized workshops at Vi core member universities in Brazil, Germany, Jordan, Mauritius, and Uganda. The project also assisted newly launched Master’s programmes in Belarus, Chile, Tanzania and Uganda.

“We will apply for a new partnership project at DAAD in a different setting, with some old and perhaps also some new partners and a new agenda,” write project leaders, HTW’s Sebastian Dullien, Jan Priewe and Alejandro Marquez. “The application will be done in spring 2014 and the project will start in 2015 if the application is successful. The new project will focus on intensified cooperation, especially on teaching exchanges within the framework of our curriculums and syllabi, student exchanges, PhD cooperation and joint research.”


Vi WTO chairs publish research

Vi WTO chairs publish research
Vi member WTO Chair holders from 11 countries answered the call to identify and propose solutions for major challenges facing their countries. The result is "Connecting to Global Markets," a compendium of case studies published by the WTO February 11.

Chapter 1, written by researchers from Vi core member, the University of Mauritius, looks at export diversification and economic growth. Chapter 3, contributed by Vi affiliate, the Shanghai University of International Business and Economics, focuses on integrating SMEs into global trade flows. Chapter 4, from Vi core Kenyan member, the University of Nairobi, takes on barriers to trade. Chapters 5 and 6, contributed Vi core members, Senegal's Université Cheikh Anta Diop, and Argentina's Latin American School of Social Sciences, grapple with sanitary and phytosanitary standards. Chapter 7, by Russian Vi affiliate member, St. Petersburg State University, explores integration into the multilateral trading system and global value chains. Chapter 8, from Vi core member, Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México, looks at the role of international economic law in addressing climate change. Chapters 10-12 and 14, dedicated to Aid for Trade, were contributed by researchers from Vi core members, the University of Chile, Barbados' University of the West Indies, Morocco's Université Mohammed V, and the University of Jordan.


Vi team puts final touches on new online course

Enquiring minds want to know: What are the effects of non-tariff measures in your country?
The Non-tariff measures (NTMs) team of UNCTAD's Division on Trade in Goods and Services and Commodities (DITC) is stepping up efforts to gather information about NTMs this year, and came to the Vi to request support in developing an online course geared toward current and potential national consultants working with UNCTAD. Both teams spent the winter holidays and early spring getting the course ready for you. A first edition will be launched soon, so keep an eye out for our call for applications.

Presented by NTM team members, the course begins with an introduction to its content and learning objectives from DITC Director, Guillermo Valles, and Santiago Fernandez de Cordoba Briz. Module 1, presented by NTM team leader, Ralf Peters, and University of Lausanne's Olivier Cadot, introduces NTMs, what they are, how they are used, how to measure their economic effect, and what policies must accompany optimal implementation. Module 2, delivered by Denise Penello Rial and Fatoumata Keita, focuses on the classification of NTMs, and Module 3, presented by Guillermo Abramowitz, on the classification of commodities affected by these measures. In Module 4, Christian Knebel and Samuel Munyaneza explain the process of NTM data collection, from identifying sources of information to registering specific measures, countries affected and relevant SPS/TBT objectives. The final module, presented by Fabien Dumesnil, walks participants through the template for recording the data gathered.


Vi team puts final touches on new online course

Government of Finland

"Trade and poverty in Cameroon" latest Vi teaching material localization
Vi member coordinator, Henri Ngoa Tabi, Director of the Centre d'Etudes et de Recherche en Economie et Gestion of core university member, Université Yaoundé II, recently completed the adaptation of the generic Virtual Institute material on trade and poverty to the context of Cameroon.

The three-chapter material begins with a look at Cameroonian strategic policy documents aimed at increasing growth, creating employment and reducing poverty, and introduces the main terms related to trade openness and poverty. The second chapter provides theoretical analysis, as well as empirical evidence, on the effects the opening of a country to trade may have on poverty, both at the macroeconomic and the microeconomic level. The third chapter, specifically dedicated to Cameroon, reviews the development of the country's trade policy since its independence, and explores macroeconomic evidence on the impact of trade liberalization on poverty. The macroeconomic analysis first considers the link between trade liberalization and economic growth and then the link between economic growth and poverty reduction, including elements such as gender inequality. Examination of the microeconomic evidence focuses on the effect of changes in prices of agricultural products on household welfare, and the effect of trade on wage inequality in Cameroon.

The material, developed with funding from the Government of Finland, also contains discussion questions for students.


New Vi multimedia teaching resources

Investment, trade and gender, Africa, topics of first Vi multimedia teaching resources of the year
The Vi team has put together three new teaching resources containing eight multimedia lectures exploring the relationship between trade and gender, recent foreign direct investment trends and global value chains, and the potential of intra-African trade to spur growth in the continent.

Mainstreaming gender in trade policy, the first output of the Vi trade and gender project funded by the Government of Finland, was developed in cooperation with UNCTAD's Trade, Gender and Development Section. The five-part multimedia teaching material explores the trade-gender relationship through case studies conducted in four developing countries.

Based on the findings of UNCTAD's 2013 World Investment Report, FDI flows shift: Developing countries now top winners, features presentations by international investment experts, Astrit Sulstarova, Nicole Moussa and Noelia Garcia-Nebra, of UNCTAD's Division on Investment and Enterprise. In addition to providing an overview of investment trends and policy developments, the presentations explore the pros, cons and policy implications of global value chains. The presentations are available in English and Spanish.

Finally, Tapping intra-African trade for economic growth, delivered by Rashmi Banga, of UNCTAD's Division for Africa, Least Developed Countries and Special Programmes, presents the findings of UNCTAD's latest Economic Development in Africa Report.




World Economic Situation and Prospects (WESP) 2014
This report is a joint product of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN/DESA), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and five United Nations regional commissions (Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Economic Commission for Europe (ECE), Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA).

In 2013 the world economy grew by a subdued 2.1 percent, according to the report. However, despite a challenging economic environment in developed countries since the financial crisis, and new domestic and international challenges encountered by a number of emerging economies, the euro zone began to grow again, and the United States of America continued to recover. In this context, the WESP forecasts global GDP to grow 3.0 and 3.3 percent in 2014 and 2015, respectively.

High unemployment remains a pressing issue as long-lasting effects from the financial crisis continue to weigh on labour markets in many countries and regions. The most affected area in the developed world are austerity-driven countries like Greece and Spain, where unemployment rates went as high as 27 percent. In developing countries and transition economies, the situation is more nuanced, as high structural unemployment rates continue to plague North Africa and Western Asia.

On the trade front, growth of world merchandise trade weakened further in 2013, dragged by slow global growth, but commodity prices are expected to remain relatively flat on average across the forecast horizon.

Amid uncertainty from unwinding unconventional monetary policies, a still-fragile banking system, and geopolitical tensions, the report calls for globally concerted policy actions with an emphasis on job creation and reform of the international financial system.

Key Trends in International Merchandise Trade

Key trends in international merchandise trade
A publication from colleagues at UNCTAD's Division on Trade in Goods and Services and Commodities, the report presents key trends in world trade in goods over the last decade.

Global trade has increased three-fold between 2002 and 2011. While developed countries continue to play the main role in international trade, developing countries account for an increasing share, generating about half of global trade in 2011. Although trade growth (both import and export) has been higher for developing countries during the last decade, this trend is slowly abating. Data for 2010 and 2011 indicate more homogenous rates of import and export growth across all country groupings, with no dramatic differences between developed and developing regions.

Nevertheless, there are important differences in the developing regions, where East Asia continues to dominate developing countries' trade flows. The importance of regional trade has further differed among developing country regions. About 40 percent of East Asian trade is intraregional, about 20 percent of Latin America's and transition economies', whereas for the remaining regions, this percentage falls to around 10 percent or less. Lack of intraregional trade for these regions is largely due to the fact that countries’ export (and import) profiles are generally not complementary but overlapping.

The dependence of many developing countries on exports of natural resources and other commodities makes them particularly vulnerable to price movements in international markets. Despite efforts by numerous countries to diversify their export base, these have often borne negligible results so far.

Key statistics and trends in trade policy

Key statistics and trends in trade policy
This UNCTAD publication provides an overview of policies affecting international trade over the recent and medium-term. It presents statistics computed by the UNCTAD secretariat based on data gathered from various data sources, and standardized to ensure time and cross-country comparison. The report is intended as a regular monitoring exercise to provide readers with informative data and analysis on a wide range of trade policies, including tariffs, preferential margins, preferential trade agreements, non-tariff measures, trade defence measures and exchange rates. Trade policy statistics presented apply only to goods (merchandise), and focus particularly on developing countries.

Findings of the report indicate that during the last decade, and in spite of the economic crisis, tariffs on international trade flows have been further reduced, especially in developing countries. Nevertheless, international trade remains regulated and influenced by different policies and instruments such as technical barriers, a non-tariff measure identified as the most pervasive, affecting about two-thirds of international trade.

?	Quantification of the High Level of Endogeneity and of Structural Regime Shifts in Commodity Markets

Quantification of the high level of endogeneity and of structural regime shifts in commodity markets
An extended version of an academic study published in the Journal of International Money and Finance, this UNCTAD Discussion Paper proposes a "reflexivity" index that quantifies the relative importance of short-term endogeneity or reflexivity for several commodity futures markets (corn, oil, soybeans, sugar, and wheat), and a benchmark equity futures market (E-mini S&P 500). The reflexivity index or endogeneity is defined as the average ratio of the number of price moves that are due to endogenous interactions to the total number of all price changes, which also include exogenous events. In other words, endogeneity represents the price changes that are not due to novel information incorporated into the price discovery process but are due to previous price changes or herding.

The study finds an overall increase of the reflexivity index since the mid-2000s to October 2012, which implies that, on a monthly basis, at least 60-70 percent of commodity price changes are now due to self-generated activities rather than novel information, compared to 20-30 per cent earlier. While this reflexivity index is defined on short-time windows (10 minutes) and thus does not capture long term memory, authors' note striking coincidence between its dynamics and that of the price hikes and abrupt falls that developed since 2006 and culminated in early 2009.

Structural change and economic development: Is Brazil catching up or falling behind?

Structural change and economic development: Is Brazil catching up or falling behind?
This paper analyzes the performance of the Brazilian economy from 1997 until 2010 adopting the Kaldor-Thirlwall model of economic growth as a theoretical framework and thus focusing on the country’s manufacturing sector and its elasticity of demand for exports.

Based on the calculation of the so-called Thirlwall equation based on empirical evidence provided by descriptive statistics, the study concludes that Brazil has been falling behind relative to the world economy. Authors observe that even though there has been a structural change in the Brazilian manufacturing sector toward more diversification and technological sophistication, its productivity gap began to quickly widen near the end of the 1990s, and has been responsible for the loss of international competitiveness of the manufacturing sector (except in the case of the natural resources industries). This indicates that the country entered into a process of early de-industrialization and, although its manufacturing industry operates under dynamic economies of scale that could sustain the economy growth in productivity, in the absence of appropriate policies, Brazil could face even lower growth rates.

The fisheries sector in the Gambia: trade, value addition and social inclusiveness, with a focus on women

The fisheries sector in the Gambia: Trade, value addition and social inclusiveness, with a focus on women
Based on extensive data collection in the country, this study developed by UNCTAD's Trade, Gender and Development team and the Division for Africa, Least Developed Countries and Special Programmes, draws a detailed analysis of the fisheries sector in the Gambia and its prospects for value addition and social inclusiveness.

The first chapter provides an overview of the fisheries sector, its economic importance and the place held by men (mainly exports of fish) and women (mainly domestic marketing of fish) in the industry. The second chapter analyzes both the constraints and the potential of the sector, with a particular focus on women. The analysis indicates, for instance, that upgrading the export-oriented segment of the fish value chain would boost exports but may advantage men who already dominate in this trade and exclude women who are domestic fresh and cured-fish sellers. The third chapter therefore proposes ways of addressing gender-based constraints in the sector by tackling the obstacles women face in developing their own businesses, helping them to increase their productivity, and developing market niches that can generate value added for women. Such measures would also have important poverty alleviation effects, given that fish and fish products represent the main source of protein for the majority of the population.

Promoting low-carbon investment

Promoting low-carbon investment
Building a low-carbon economy is a long-term strategy in which foreign direct investment can play an important role. A recent addition to UNCTAD's Investment Advisory Series, "Promoting Low-Carbon Economy" serves as a practical guide to Investment Promotion Agencies (IPAs) interested in attracting and keep low-carbon investment.

It starts by identifying investment opportunities from the introduction of low-carbon processes by transnational corporations, the generation of clean energy and the production of low-carbon products and services. It then specifically focuses on the role of IPAs in attracting low-carbon investment, while acknowledging that any strategy to develop and promote a location for low-carbon investment also needs to take into account broader policies related to energy, industry and the environment.

IPAs are well suited to take a lead role in low-carbon investment promotion programmes as business facilitators and partners. Direct promotional efforts should be selective and target subsectors with potential. What is highlighted in this guide is that partnerships and networks have proven critical in many low-carbon investment promotion strategies. Examples of such partnerships are given in case studies from Brazil, China and Denmark.

UNCTAD Investment Policy Monitor

UNCTAD investment policy monitor
Twelfth in a series of quarterly Investment Policy Monitors, the March 2014 issue provides country-specific information about the latest developments in foreign investment policies, both at the national and international level, between November 2013 and February 2014.

The Monitor finds that 25 countries took 36 investment policy measures during this period. These measures, categorized into 4 areas - entry, operational treatment, investment promotion/facilitation and general business climate - are detailed in the Monitor, together with the dates of adoption and the sources of information. There was a continued move towards improving entry conditions, reducing restrictions and facilitating foreign investment. Among the most important policy measures were the liberalization of the oil industry in Mexico, the adoption of a new investment law in Mongolia, and continued privatization programmes in other countries. Conversely, new investment restrictions were also adopted, mainly in some South American and Asian countries.

Overall, the extractive industry experienced the most active investment policy developments in recent years. Regarding international investment policies, 10 countries concluded six new international investment agreements during the period under review. There was a slowdown in the conclusion of bilateral agreements and an increase in treaty-making at regional and inter-regional levels -- several regional investment agreements are currently being negotiated. At the same time, some developing countries attempted to renegotiate (or exit from) their existing investment agreements.

For more, take a look at previous issues of the Monitor.


Building a dataset for bilateral maritime connectivity
Co-authored by frequent Vi contributors, UNCTAD's Marco Fugazza, of the Division on International Trade in Goods and Services, and Commodities, and Jan Hoffmann, of the Division on Technology and Logistics, the paper presents a database reporting the shortest liner shipping routes between any pair of countries for a reference sample of 178 countries over the 2006–2012 period.

The contribution of this database is threefold. First, it is expected to be a useful tool for a better appreciation of transport costs and access to regular container shipping services and their impact on trade. Second, it helps to describe and analyze the structure of the existing global network of liner shipping services for containerizable trade, i.e. most international trade in manufactured goods. Finally, building on UNCTAD’s original work, the database is expected to facilitate the construction of a bilateral liner shipping connectivity index.

WTO trade facilitation agreement - A business guide for developing countries

WTO trade facilitation agreement - A business guide for developing countries
Developed by Vi partner organization, the International Trade Centre, this guide aims to help businesses take advantage of the recently concluded WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement, which simplifies customs procedures, allowing businesses to become more competitive.

The first chapter of the publication reviews the negotiating history of trade facilitation at the WTO. The second chapter goes through the GATT provisions related to trade facilitation and explains in what they did not address the issue adequately. The third chapter describes the provisions of the new trade facilitation agreement, with a focus on what businesses need to know to take advantage of its provisions. The guide can also help policymakers identify needs for technical assistance.

Identifying Asian LDCs’ high potential export sectors

Identifying Asian LDCs’ high potential export sectors
The study by the International Trade Centre's Market Analysis and Research Section reviews the current export patterns of several Asian LDCs (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, Lao's People Democratic Republic, Myanmar and Nepal), and identifies products in two sectors (textiles, and fruit and vegetables) that show a high potential for exports to China and other developing countries in Asia.

The analysis is performed using ITC’s Export Potential Assessment (EPA) methodology, which combines information on export performance, import demand and market access conditions to identify promising sectors and products.

An online course is available for those interested in learning to use the EPA methodology. For more information, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


UNCTAD Virtual Institute

Vi national workshop on trade analysis for Tanzania: 3 places available
As part of its capacity building activities conducted under the auspices of the Tanzania One UN Fund, will offer training on trade data analysis for academics at Tanzanian member institutions, the University of Dar es Salaam Business School and the Open University of Tanzania (OUT), June 2-5.

The workshop will be delivered by UNCTAD expert, Marco Fugazza, of the Division on Trade in Goods and Services and Commodities. The training will cover the empirics of trade and the use of statistical software for trade analysis and model estimations.

The requesting universities have agreed to accommodate three additional academics in the Dar es Salaam area. To apply, contact OUT Vi member coordinator, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


UNCTAD invites applications for regional course on trade and development - Deadline: April 18
Vi members from transition-economy countries may apply to attend the 29th UNCTAD flagship course on international economic issues to be held at the University of Belgrade June 30 to July 18.

The six-module course will focus on the links between trade, investment, finance and development, and will culminate with a simulation exercise on national policy objectives and multilateral trade negotiations on services. The course will be given in English.

Although the course is primarily aimed at government officials, academics can also be considered. Selected participants will receive hotel accommodation and sufficient funds to cover daily meals and miscellaneous expenses. All applications must be routed through the member state's permanent mission in Geneva.

Business Dilemma: Green, Ethical and Performance Requirements, Amman, Jordan May 27-29

Vi core Jordanian member announces international conference
The University of Jordan Business School invites Vi members to participate in its second international conference, "Business Dilemma: Green, Ethical, and Performance Requirements," to be held in Amman May 27-29.

The conference aims to bridge the gap between research and practice, and create networking channels and a dialogue platform between academics from different fields around both the region and world.


Azerbaijan trade facilitation conference
The International Network of Customs Universities (INCU), invites Vi members to participate in its inaugural conference, "Trade Facilitation Post-Bali: Putting Policy into Practice," scheduled May 21-23 in Baku. Sub-themes of the conference include: the WTO Bali Package and its impact on customs; customs-business partnerships and trusted trader schemes; customs-academia partnerships in research and educational programmes; trade facilitation in emergency/disaster relief situations; and infrastructure and regional aspects of trade facilitation. Azerbaijan Customs will cover accommodation and conference fees for selected participants. Registration for the conference will close May 1.

INCU is an international not-for-profit organization established to: promote the academic standing of the customs profession; promote academic excellence in customs matters; generate research and greater public awareness of customs matters; provide the World Customs Organization and others with a single point of contact with universities and research institutes active in the field of customs research, education and training; and provide a global resource for governments and the private sector, and an educational source for students wishing to further their knowledge in the field of customs, international trade, and logistics.

Free affiliate memberships are available for interested Vi member institutions.

Vi core member, the University of Mauritius

Fellowships available for 2014-2015 Master's in Mauritius - Deadline April 30
Vi core member, the University of Mauritius, invites applications for the 2014-15 edition of its Master Programme in Social Protection Financing. The one-year, full-time programme is designed to provide students with the economic and business management tools required to contribute to the organization and evolution of social welfare programmes.

The International Development Research Centre will award fellowships covering transportation, tuition, medical insurance and some living costs to eligible candidates from sub-Saharan African countries, selected to participate in the programme.

A maximum of 30 students will be accepted. Priority will be given to serving officials from African social security institutions and ministries (managers, actuaries, financial and policy analysts), and from organizations representing African workers and employers. Other applicants will be considered if space permits.

Applications must be submitted no later than April 30. For more information, contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Vi core member, Vietnam's Foreign Trade University

Summer programmes in Vietnam
Vi core Vietnamese member, the Foreign Trade University, offers two- and three-week Summer Programmes at a discount rate for graduate and undergraduate students of the Vi network. The programmes provide participants with insights into the Vietnamese economy through seminars and company visits, and includes cultural highlights and interactive activities.

Applications must be received by May 15 for the two-week programme scheduled for August 10-23; by May 20 for the three-week programme (August 31 - September 20).

For more information, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

University of Dundee

Mineral law and policy scholarships available in Scotland - Deadline: April 30
The Centre for Energy, Petroleum and Mineral Law & Policy of the University of Dundee (CEPMLP/Dundee) is offering up to six fully funded postgraduate scholarships leading to the degree Master of Laws (LLM) in Mineral Law and Policy, a programme focusing on the law, policy and governance of mineral resources management.

Scholarships will cover tuition fees, 12 monthly stipends for living expenses, and arrival and thesis/assignment allowances.

For more information, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

World Trade Organization

WTO Essay Award - Deadline: June 1
The World Trade Organization will award CHF 5000 to the winner of this year's WTO Essay Award for Young Economists. The award will be announced at the annual meeting of the European Trade Study Group, and the winning essay will be published in the WTO Working Paper Series.

The paper, not to exceed 15,000 words, must address issues related to trade policy and international trade cooperation. Author(s) of the paper must possess or be engaged in the completion of a PhD degree and, if over 30 years of age, be no more than two years past a PhD defence.

Essays and author(s) CVs must be submitted to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by June 1.

The World Bank

Free online courses from the World Bank
The e-Institute of the World Bank offers several free-of-charge courses of interest to Vi members.

Currently open for applications is Policies for Jobs, a four-week course providing an overview of current global labor market trends in light of the financial crisis, intended to take a hard look at the challenges of employment creation by examining both demand-side and supply-side factors. Applications are accepted until April 21.

The Institute also plans two deliveries of Policies for Growth, a course providing a detailed explanation of the role economic policies have on growth and poverty reduction in developing countries.

Other courses of interest, although not currently open for applications, include Advanced Poverty Analysis, Trade in Services and Liberalization, and Standards, Competitiveness and Development.

For more information, contact Vasumathi L Rollakanty.

Academy of International Business

Academy of International Business (AIB) call for papers - Deadline: May 24
In preparation of its inaugural conference to be held August 13-15 at Kenya's Riara University, the AIB Sub-Saharan Africa Chapter is accepting research papers on the theme, "Africa Rising: The Internationalization of African Firms and the Prospects for Western and Eastern Multinationals."

Organizers welcome submissions of conceptual and empirical papers, teaching case studies and panels from scholars, doctoral, graduate and undergraduate students, business professionals and policy makers, which contribute to a greater understanding of the internationalization strategies and behavior of African firms, and how foreign-owned multinationals are (re)positioning themselves to win as competition in the product and talent markets within the region intensifies.

Papers must be submitted to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by May 24.

UN CC: Learn

Free e-Course: Everything you need to know about climate change in a nutshell
This self-paced introductory course on climate change covers six modules including climate science, policy, adaptation, mitigation, finance and planning. It provides 10-12 hours of interactive learning and uses a mix of different approaches including visuals, explanatory text, videos, and quiz questions. Downloadable PPT-based versions are available for use as an instructional tool.

The course has been developed and peer-reviewed through the UN CC:Learn partnership, a One initiative involving 33 organizations. Certificates will be issued for successful completion of all modules.

Young Vi network researcher shares latest achievements

Young Vi network researcher shares latest achievements
Since June 2013, Egyptian Vi associate member, Assem Abouhatab, has been involved in a prospective study on the future of tertiary agricultural education (TAE) in Africa. The study takes a medium to long-term perspective and continental focus to identify and analyze how changes expected in the agri-food sector will affect TAE. The study is being conducted by TEAM Africa (Tertiary Education for Agriculture Mechanism), the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, the Technical University of Lisbon, and the World Bank, with support from the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Gulbenkian Foundation in Portugal.

Assem also recently co-authored Opportunities and Constraints for Small Agricultural Exporters in Egypt, and was awarded the Distinguished Scholar Award by the Arab Fund for Social and Economic Development.

"I got two wonderful opportunities to participate in Vi workshops," Abouhatab writes. "The first one was in 2011 (tools and methods for trade and trade policy analysis), following a recommendation by the leader of my research group at Suez Canal University, and in 2012, I was selected for the online course on trade and poverty.

"These workshops were well-structured, comprehensive, engaging, stimulating and challenging. Moreover, instructors’ expertise and experience of the topics and their skills of delivery of message were highly advanced. The workshops combined theoretical presentations with by hands-on exercises and discussions that allowed me better absorb the subject matter of the workshops.

"I benefited a lot from participation in these courses as they provided me with a set of skills in the area of international trade and allowed me to explore a wider array of subjects and learn advanced techniques of trade policy analysis. This has in turn contributed significantly to my research work, and improved the quality of my research and publications."

New Vi contributors: David Zavaleta (left) and David Bicchetti

New contributors for the Vi: Welcome to the Davids!
The new year brought the Vi team some very welcome additions, as our work is now benefiting from the expertise of Bolivian and Swiss economists, David Zavaleta and David Bicchetti.

Zavaleta (pictured, left) joined the Vi in February, taking on the (many) activities of previous Vi economist, Cristian Ugarte. He has a PhD in econometrics from the University of Geneva, and is professor at the Bolivian Catholic University in La Paz. His research domains include growth, poverty and inequality in developing countries, computable general equilibrium (CGE) and microsimulation models. He has also worked on issues related to gender and entrepreneurship in Bolivia, infant mortality, and local economic development.

Bicchetti, holder of masters in economics from the University of Geneva and Vi affiliate Swiss member, the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, shares his time between the Vi and UNCTAD's macroeconomics team, where he focuses on the interactions between financial and physical commodity markets and information flows and their influence on price discovery mechanisms. Before joining the United Nations, he worked as a researcher at the Swiss Institute of Technology in Lausanne. He is the co-author of several studies on post-Kyoto protocol mechanisms and their impact on the world economy.

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 members about their current or planned activities. Send all comments and document requests to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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 networking programme aiming to strengthen the capacities of academic institutions in developing countries and countries with economies in transition to teach and research trade issues, and to foster links between research and policymaking.


***NOT A MEMBER? Sign up as an associate member by clicking here.

Virtual Institute
UNCTAD Division on Globalization and Development Strategies
Palais des Nations, 1211 Geneva, Switzerland
tel: + 41 22 917 58 23
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

To unsubscribe from this newsletter, please send an e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.