All developing countries are confronted today with the ever-growing importance of policy and trade negotiations. ACP countries in particular progressively see the need to be prepared to participate in regional integration initiatives and trade negotiations as key ingredients of their own development strategy. However, they face serious capacity gaps for the design and implementation of sound trade and development policies, as the pool of experts able to inform policy processes and negotiations is too small. Although in recent years new post-graduate programmes in trade law and economics have been set up and the number of training centres focused on trade policy and negotiations has been growing, these initiatives too often remain isolated and are not sufficient to provide a bridge to the policy process and dialogue.
The project addresses interrelated difficulties that render many ACP countries unprepared and uninformed when it comes to formulating trade and development policy. It will do so by enhancing the capacity of five East and Southern African (ESA) universities to provide quality training and carry out policy-relevant research on current trade and development issues. The ultimate goal is to not only contribute to improved policymaking on trade and development in ACP countries, but also, simultaneously and as a result, to contribute to strengthened regional integration and integration into the world economy, and to sustainable development and poverty reduction.
Specifically, the project will improve the quality and relevance of study programmes focusing on trade and development, reinforce inter-university ties, promote collaborative research on trade and development and bridge the gap between academics and policy makers, establishing new linkages and fostering dialogue.