A partnership with academia

Building knowledge for trade and development

Vi Quarterly Newsletter

Issue #49 - June 2016 - Welcome to the Vi quarterly newsletter
Primakov Institute of World Economy and International Relations of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Vi think tank member Vi welcomes first Russian think tank member
The Primakov Institute of World Economy and International Relations of the Russian Academy of Sciences (IMEMO) joined the Virtual Institute April 11, expanding the Vi think tank membership to 18 institutions from 11 countries.


IMEMO conducts research on the world economy and international political and security issues, and provides policy advice to the government and business sectors. It also offers graduate and post-graduate programmes in economics, political science and international relations.

Vi member coordinator, deputy director Alexey Kuznetsov, holds a PhD in economics and focuses his research on foreign direct investment and transnationalization and globalization, among other topics. Also involved is Sergey Lukonin, head of the section for Chinese economics and politics studies.


Virtual Institute professional development workshop organized for core Chadian Vi member, the Université de N'Djaména, March 14-18 Vi workshop for Chad on commodity-related econometric analysis trains 22
The first Vi workshop for Chadian Vi member, the Université de N'Djaména, built the capacity of 22 academics from six universities to conduct policy-relevant econometric analysis of commodity-related issues March 14-18. Funded by the Government of Finland, the training was delivered by Janvier Nkurunziza, of UNCTAD's Special Unit on Commodities.


“The workshop greatly strengthened the participants' technical skills and capacity to teach at the universities," reports Gadom Djal Gadom, lecturer-researcher at the Université de N’Djaména. "They also said they felt well-equipped to conduct future research.”

Participants learned to design and draft a research project, and were introduced to the properties of econometric models, time series analysis, and panel data analysis. Each of the topics was presented from the theoretical point of view and complemented with hands-on empirical analysis exercises using the statistical software Stata.

Willy-Marcel Ndayitwayeko, of Vi core member, Université du Burundi, delivered courses for Master’s students at affiliate member, Kenya’s Moi University, May 9-21


Vi south-south teaching brings Burundian lecturer to Kenya
Willy-Marcel Ndayitwayeko, of Vi core member, Université du Burundi, conducted a series of lectures for Master’s students at affiliate member, Kenya’s Moi University, May 9-21, as part of the Vi’s South-South teaching capacity-building services.


Funded by the Government of Finland, delivered courses on trade competition and competitiveness, and on research in international economics for students of Moi’s Master’s in International Economics. Skills developed through Vi training on trade analysis, as well as Vi teaching materials on competitiveness and development, and on trade policy analysis, enriched the content of Ndayitwayeko's courses.

  Vi grants course development and research fellowships to academics from Nepal and Senegal
Vi fellow, Dinesh Bhuju, lecturer at Vi core Nepalese member, Mid-western University (left) with UNCTAD mentor, Rolf Traeger


Dinesh Bhuju, lecturer at Vi core Nepalese member, Mid-western University, developed a graduate course and a workshop for development practitioners on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) during a Vi fellowship at UNCTAD April 4-29. Mentored by Rolf Traeger, Chief of UNCTAD's LDC Section, Bhuju was able to finalize the curricula, for both trainings and in addition, prepare a bibliography containing over 200 resources.


The course and the workshop, which he plans to share with other Nepalese universities and policymakers and civil society, is made up of four modules: development perspectives; pathways of SDGs and commitments; SDGs thematic areas; and SDGs action frameworks.

“SDGs is a new topic of interest and important to all government as well as communities,” he said. “The fellowship gave me an extremely important opportunity to learn about the economic and social components of sustainable development."

Vi fellow, Serigne Bassirou Lo (right) with UNCTAD mentor, Piergiuseppe Fortunato


The second Vi fellow of the quarter, Serigne Bassirou Lo, of Vi core university member, Université Cheikh Anta Diop, conducted research on the manufacturing sector in Senegal  and on the participation of domestic firms in international trade April 4 - May 13.


Mentored by Piergiuseppe Fortunato, of UNCTAD’s Division on Globalization and Development Strategies, Lo conducted an extensive literature review which informed the data collection and the methodological part of his work. He also built a dataset containing detailed information on a vast sample of firms including measures of productivity, export intensity and size and age of the firm.

“The fellowship was very beneficial to me,” Lo said. “With an ideal working environment, I was able to achieve my objectives. The discussions with the experts and the analysis of recent literature strengthened my knowledge of the matter. Experts have much supported me in my research.”

Both fellowships were funded by the Government of Finland.

  Students from members in Colombia, Russia and the West Indies in Geneva for Vi study tours and visits


Nine students of the Master’s in International Trade from Vi Colombian affiliate member, Universidad Sergio Arboleda, completed their fifth study visit to UNCTAD April 6. On April 6, the Vi organized fifth study visit to UNCTAD for students of the Master’s in International Trade of Vi Colombian affiliate member, Universidad Sergio Arboleda. The nine students participated in lectures on UNCTAD's Trade and Development ReportInformation Economy Report, Entrepreneurship Policy Framework, and Empretec training programme.


The sessions were delivered by Alex Izurieta, of the Division on Globalization and Development Strategies, Scarlett Fondeur-Gil, of the Division on Technology and Logistics, and Cristina Martinez, of the Division on Investment and Enterprise.

The ninth annual Virtual Institute study tour for Russian university members, held April 11-15, brought 39 students and lecturers from six(*) universities to Geneva for a training programme on trade-related topics. The first study tour of the year, the ninth for Russian university members, took place April 11-15, bringing 39 students and lecturers from six universities for a series of lectures and discussions delivered by UNCTAD and Vi partner organizations, the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the International Trade Centre (ITC). The group also met with representatives of the Permanent Missions of the Russian Federation to the UN and WTO.


The programme included sessions on UNCTAD’s work on foreign direct investment, technology and innovation, the international financial architecture, industrial policies, commodities and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Students also learned about ITC’s market analysis tools and its programme on Non-Tariff Measures. At the WTO, students examined the contents of the Nairobi Package, key issues of regional trade agreements and recent development in trade in services. They were also able to discuss Russia's participation in international organizations in Geneva with Russian Federation representatives. The study tour culminated in a simulation exercise on foreign direct investment, which challenged students to apply their newly acquired knowledge.

Eight students from the Master's programme in International Trade Policy of core Vi member, the University of the West Indies (UWI) complete 12th annual study tour May 17-27 Closing the quarter was the 12th annual Vi study tour for students of the Master's programme in International Trade Policy of core Vi member, the University of the West Indies. Held May 17-27, the programme introduced eight students to UNCTAD’s core work on trade and development issues, with sessions on foreign direct investment; competition policy; technology and innovation; transfer of technology, trade facilitation; climate change and the 2030 Development Agenda. 

The study tour also exposed students to the work of Vi partner organizations in Geneva: such as the World Trade Organization, the International Trade Centre, the World Health Organization, the International Organization for Migration, the Advisory Centre on WTO Law, the International Telecommunication Union, CUTS International and the Commonwealth Small States Office in Geneva. The students also met with their Geneva-based country delegates.


  Vi videoconferences reach 65 at universities in Russia and Belarus


On March 29, the Vi organized a videoconference presentation for 22 students and professors from Russian affiliate member, the Moscow State Institute of International Relations. The discussion, based on UNCTAD's Information Economy Report 2015, was led by Torbjörn Fredriksson, of the Division on Technology and Logistics.


According to the report, the value of global business to business (B2B) e-commerce increased substantially in the past decade and exceeded USD 15 trillion in 2013. Global business-to-consumer (B2C) is also rapidly expanding, particularly in developing countries of Asia and Africa, thanks in large part to the "mobile revolution" and increased use of the Internet.

Fredriksson highlighted the great potential of e-commerce for advancing the economic and social development objectives of developing countries in particular, such as enhanced participation in global value chains, greater market access and lower transaction costs.

On April 16, 31 students and lecturers of Vi Russian affiliate member, the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, joined a videoconference on the World Intellectual Property Report 2015. The presentation, focusing on breakthrough innovations, was delivered by Intan Hamdan-Livramento, of Vi partner, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).


Along with a historical assessment of the impact of airplanes, antibiotics and semiconductors on business activity, the report considers the potential of 3D printing, nanotechnology and robotics, and explores the outlook for innovation-driven economic growth.

Lastly, on May 12, a dozen Master’s students and lecturers from Vi core member, Belarus State Economic University, joined UNCTAD’s Igor Paunovic for a presentation of the 2015 Trade and Development Report. The session focused on the global economic situation and on ways to reform the international financial architecture.


UNCTAD’s report warns that the policy mix in the developed countries, which combines monetary expansion with fiscal and wages restraint, has been ineffective, and generated negative spillovers for the rest of the world, and deplores the lack of a well-functioning international and monetary system.

Summer packs for member libraries on their way Summer packs for member libraries on their way
Our new intern, Rochelle Terblanche, is busy preparing publication packages for our 127 member institutions. More than 2200 publications were generously provided by our UNCTAD colleagues to enrich the trade libraries of our universities and think tanks.


This year's summer pack includes the 2015 Commodities and Development Report, the 2015 Technology and Innovation Report, the Least Developed Countries Report 2015 and the World Investment Report 2016, as well as a collection of Vi multimedia teaching resources developed in the past 18 months.

Trade and gender, intellectual property topics of latest Vi multimedia teaching resources
Based on a panel discussion held May 18, the Vi multimedia package, Integrating women into the economy: The macroeconomic approach, features three presentations by international experts on the topic of trade and gender. The event was organized by UNCTAD’s Division on Globalization and Development Strategies.


Intellectual property system key for innovation-driven growth, presents the latest World Intellectual Property Report (WIPR), subtitled "Breakthrough Innovation and Economic Growth." The resource is based on a videoconference presentation with Vi Russian affiliate member, the Moscow State Institute of International Relations.

UNCTAD Virtual Institute Study tour teaching materials now online
Training materials from this quarter's Vi study tours for Russian members and the University of the West Indies, are now available to our members.


Topics presented by experts from UNCTAD, WTO, WHO, ITC and ITU, among others, include foreign direct investment, the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, dispute settlement and commodity markets.

UNCTAD Virtual Institute Teaching Material on Trade and Gender


Government of Finland
Vi mentored research projects: Trade and gender in Nigeria and Ghana
Two more case studies arising from the regional workshop on trade and gender analysis are now online. The projects are an outcome of the joint capacity building project implemented by the Vi and the Trade, Gender and Development Section of UNCTAD, with financial support from the government of Finland.


The first research project, "Who is benefiting from access to the Seme border of Nigeria? A gender study," was developed byUchenna Efobi, of Vi affiliate member, Nigeria's Covenant University. He conducts an ex-ante analysis of the welfare effect arising from the improvement of border road infrastructure in Nigeria. The focus is on the Seme border, a major trade border connecting Nigeria to other countries in Western Africa. The study starts by describing the income distribution in the Nigerian states located close to the Seme border. It then analyzes the relationship between household income and household food expenditure -- in particular expenditure on imported rice - the commodity with the highest share in household food budgets -- in order to assess how changes in the price of imported food induced by border road improvements would affect different types of households. The study also investigates how simulated changes in local transportation costs stemming from road improvements would affect local prices of imported rice, and estimates the effects of the simulated price changes on household welfare by gender and rural and urban households. Results indicate that policies aiming to improve border roads, and thereby lower transportation costs, and subsequently the price of imported rice will be more beneficial to rural households. Such policies will likely produce larger welfare gains for poorer households, particularly for the poorest female-headed households. The analysis supports a conclusion that improved road infrastructure has a heterogeneous effect on gender - a finding which could be used in the design of gender-specific policy interventions.

The second research project, "Gender welfare effects of regional trade integration on households in Ghana," was conducted byEmmanuel Orkoh, of Vi core member, Ghana's University of Cape Coast. The study assesses the welfare effects of Ghana’s adoption of the common external tariff (CET) of the Economic Community of West African States, with special attention to gender differences. Using data from the 2005 Social Accounting Matrix for Ghana, the World Trade Organization, and the 2012-2013 round of the Ghana Living Standard Survey, it combines a computable general equilibrium model and a microsimulation model. The study focuses on one of the channels through which trade integration can affect poverty and welfare, the price channel. The CET is expected to result in changes in domestic prices, which will in turn have an impact on household welfare, depending on whether the households are consumers or producers of the commodities affected by the tariff reform. The findings indicate a positive welfare effect of the CET on poor households, and particularly female-headed households, as consumers. However, implementation of the CET is expected to reduce the welfare of both poor and rich households as producers, with poor and male-headed households being the most affected. The net welfare effect will be around zero for the poor male-headed households and negative for the rich. It will be positive for female-headed households in the low and middle income category, but negative for the rich. While results also depend on the geographic location of the household, among other factors, the reform is expected to have pro-poor and pro-female effects. In order to address the welfare gaps identified, the study recommends that the government introduce compensatory policies, such as income transfers to male-headed producers’ households and streamline its Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty Programme to help poor male-headed households. It could also aim to improve infrastructure in the regions which will experience a net welfare loss to make them more competitive.

World Investment Report 2016 - Investor nationality: policy challenges World Investment Report 2016 - Investor nationality: Policy challenges
In 2015, global flows of foreign direct investment (FDI) rose by about 40 percent, to USD 1.8 trillion, the highest level since the global economic and financial crisis in 2008. However, this growth did not translate into an equivalent expansion in productive capacity in all countries. In 2016, FDI flows are expected to decline by 10-15 percent, but they should resume growth in 2017.


Most (85 percent) new investment policy measures continue to be geared toward investment liberalization and promotion. The number of international investment agreements (IIAs) continued to grow in 2015, with 31 new IIAs concluded and 3,304 treaties in existence by the end of the year.

This year's report examines international production of multinational enterprises (including sales, exports, employment and value added), as well as their ownership structures and control of affiliates. This issue is becoming increasingly important because many government policies, such as those on the local content of foreign investment deals, economic sanctions, and preventing businesses from "treaty shopping" for tax planning reasons, require policymakers to know the origin of investors. The report provides insights on the ownership structures of multinational enterprises, maps the global network of corporate entities using data on millions of parents and affiliates, and proposes a new framework for handling ownership issues.

Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific 2016 Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific 2016
This edition of the Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific analyzes economic conditions and selected development challenges encountered by the region in the past year, and suggests policies to sustain economic growth and make it more inclusive, in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.


The first chapter examines the macroeconomic performance and outlook for the Asia-Pacific region, and the implications of economic challenges, such as overreliance on exports destined for developed economies, increase in private sector debt, economic slowdown, and decline in productivity in the region. It also contains a discussion on several policy options, with emphasis on fiscal policy. The second chapter provides a more disaggregated analysis of economic issues and challenges faced by each of the five subregions: East and North-East Asia, North and Central Asia, the Pacific, South and South-West Asia, and South-East Asia. The third chapter contains analyses on the importance of productivity in the Asia-Pacific region and a set of policy recommendations.

The report argues that the region’s economic growth should be driven by broad-based productivity gains and further rebalancing toward domestic and regional demand. This would require higher and targeted fiscal spending, enhanced skills, better infrastructure, and improved agricultural productivity.

Global Value Chains and South-South Trade - Economic Cooperation and Integration among Developing Countries Trading Into Sustainable Development: Trade, Market Access, and the Sustainable Development Goals
International trade is expected to play an important role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In this context, the UNCTAD report examines interactions between trade policy, with a specific focus on market access conditions, and sustainable development.


Chapter I investigates to what extent sustainable development concerns are reflected in multilateral, regional and bilateral trade agreements, and discusses opportunities and challenges in using market access conditions to meet sustainable development objectives. Chapter II delves into the use of tariffs for trade and development purposes, and provides comprehensive statistical information on trade-related indicators that can serve for monitoring SDG implementation. Chapter III examines how non-tariff measures, most of which are regulations aimed at social and environmental objectives, can help achieve the SDGs and enhance trade flows across countries. Finally, chapter IV presents recent evidence on the importance of connectivity, especially maritime connectivity, to international markets for improving exports and imports market access.

Making trade work for Least Developed Countries: A Handbook on Mainstreaming Trade Making trade work for Least Developed Countries: A Handbook on Mainstreaming Trade
Despite the relatively high economic growth during the past decade and significant trade reforms, least developed countries (LDCs) still suffer from high unemployment, poverty, and inequality. A key reason for this is their low productive capacity and the fact that they have not fully integrated trade into their national development strategies and plans.


The handbook is the outcome of an UNCTAD project aimed at strengthening the capacity of trade and planning ministries of selected LDCs to develop and implement trade strategies conducive to poverty reduction. After introducing the relationship between productive capacity, trade, and poverty reduction, and the concept of mainstreaming trade, it draws on lessons from the experiences of six countries - Ethiopia, Lesotho, Senegal, Bhutan, Kiribati, and Lao PDR – to identify key ingredients for successful mainstreaming of trade in development policies. Among them are national ownership of development policies, policy coherence, communication with the public, links of trade policy to industrial policy, capacity building, inclusion of gender in the trade agenda, availability of funding, integration of regional and global dimensions, and focus on policy implementation.

The handbook can be useful for policymakers in developing countries, development analysts, academics, and students of development.

Policy Space in Agricultural Markets Policy Space in Agricultural Markets
Following the Uruguay Round Agreement on Agriculture, all agricultural imports now have a bound tariff rate, i.e. the highest rate the countries can apply without infringing the agreement. However, countries can also use lower rates, the so-called applied rates. The difference between the bound and applied tariffs, sometimes referred to as "tariff water," is the indication of countries' policy space in setting the level of tariffs according to their needs. One recurring argument is that bound rates may limit countries' policy flexibility in response to particular economic circumstances.


In this context, the paper looks at the use and availability of policy space in agricultural markets -- first by describing the current situation, and then assessing the factors which play a role in using this policy space through an empirical analysis. The paper concludes that policy space in agricultural products is generally available to developing countries, fully available to LDCs, but limited for developed countries. The factors which are related to the use of policy space include the elasticity of import demand, the fact that the goods are being used as intermediates, food security and protection of local producers.

The results suggest that policy space tends to be used relatively less for products with lower elasticity of demand and for intermediate products. In terms of products relevant for food security, the anaylsis indicates that policy space is larger. There is also less "tariff water" and more use of policy space for products which compete with domestic producers. 


Bringing SMEs onto the e-Commerce Highway
Cross-border e-commerce has opened a new, more efficient way to connect producers and merchants to customers around the world. However, many small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in developing countries are still not taking full advantage of this opportunity. This report therefore aims at providing practical guidance that would help them face policy challenges in four processes typical to all e-commerce: establishing online business, international e-payment, international delivery and aftersales services.

The report concludes that to improve SMEs' competitiveness in cross-border e-commerce, measures need to be taken within the firm, in the business environment and at the national policy level. To assist in this process, it provides checklists for policy guidance, as well as case studies from e-commerce entrepreneurs in developing countries. The report can serve as a starting point for a public private dialogue on e-commerce, especially for SMEs in developing countries.

Call for applications: UNCTAD's regional course for Western Asia
Vi members from the Western Asia region may apply to attend UNCTAD's flagship course on international economic issues, to be hosted by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry of Oman, October 9-27. The three-module course will focus on the links between trade, investment, finance and development. 

The course will be given in English, with simultaneous interpretation into Arabic. UNCTAD will cover local costs for all participants. Funding of travel is available for participants from the least developed countries.

Nominations of candidates, due July 25, should be routed through the candidate's permanent mission in Geneva. For more information, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

National Research University Higher School of Economics Call for applications: Master's in Russia
Vi core Russian member, the National Research University Higher School of Economics (NRU HSE) invites Vi members to apply for its new International Trade Policy Master’s Programme, to be launched in Moscow in September.


The two-year programme aims to train professionals capable of understanding, analyzing and applying the tools of contemporary trade policy in the global economic environment. Courses will be delivered in English and Russian by a team of professionals in the sphere of international trade, trade policy and global economic regulation. Students will have the opportunity to study abroad at either Vi think tank member, the Kiel Institute for the World Economy (Germany) or core Swiss university member, the World Trade Institute.

Applications will be accepted July 1 to August 19. Scholarships may be available, subject to funding.

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

Call for papers: International conference, Russia
Vi Russian affiliate member, St. Petersburg State University, has launched a call for papers in preparation for annual international conference, "Evolution of International Trading System: Prospects and Challenges," scheduled for October 20 – 22.



Topics of the conference include regionalism; FDI and multinational enterprises; migration crisis in Europe; emerging powers in the international trading system; and international business.

Applications and abstracts should be submitted online by July 15, 2016. For more information, contactThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Former Vi fellow, Aman Nthangu Former Vi fellow admitted to PhD programme 
Aman Ndewa Nthangu, of Vi core Tanzanian member, the University of Dar es Salaam Business School, has received a scholarship to pursue a PhD in Economics at England's Manchester Metropolitan University. Initial contact with the university took place during Nthangu's Vi fellowship at UNCTAD. Nthangu says the Vi fellowship, as well as the support from Vi Chief, Vlasta Macku, and UNCTAD fellowship mentor, Julia Seiermann, contributed to his selection for the programme.


Working on the topic "Inward Investment into Developing Countries in the Context of the Sustainable Development Goals: The case of East Africa," Nthangu begins his studies in September.

Vi intern, Rochelle Terblanche New Vi intern
Rochelle Terblanche joined the Vi team as Project Management Intern in May. She is a graduate student who has recently completed a Master's degree in International Relations and Diplomacy and is currently enrolled in a Master's degree in International Trade.


At the Vi, her responsibilities include developing multimedia teaching resources based on filmed lectures and events, contribute to the development of online courses, assisting in the organization of videoconferences, updating our digital library, and supporting other Vi activities.

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.


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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.


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Virtual Institute
UNCTAD - United Nations Conference on Trade and Development
Division on Globalization and Development Strategies
Palais des Nations
1211 Geneva 10 - Switzerland
Phone: +41 22 917 5823 Fax: +41-22 917 0050
Web: http://vi.unctad.org
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