Workshop: IGC Trade Group 2012

The IGC Trade Programme held a meeting on March 22, 2012, at Columbia University.

The goals of the event were to (1) promote interaction among the members of the programme, (2) motivate members to stay engaged with IGC and submit research proposals on trade and development for funding, and (3) give members a chance to see and discuss cutting-edge research at the intersection of trade and development.

The meeting was funded by the International Growth Centre but also received logistical support and additional funding from the Program for Economic Research of Columbia University.

The Research Programme Directors (RPDs), Andres Rodriguez-Claire and Eric Verooghen, issued an open call for papers and circulated it among members of the Trade Programme and a small number of other research networks. They received 14 submissions, from which five were chosen for presentation. The RPDs also solicited one paper by Bill Easterly and Ariel Reshef on “African Export Successes”, which seemed particularly relevant to the meeting, and invited three speakers (Wahiddudin Mahmud, Richard Newfarmer, Gart Frazer) for a final panel discussion on “Trade policy challenges in developing countries”.

The general feeling of RPDs and participants at the meeting’s conclusion was that the meeting had achieved its goal, particularly as the papers and presentations were of a very high quality. The group of participants was also quite impressive; according to the RPDs “perhaps the best group we had so far”. The panellists were very engaging and generated a lively discussion among the participants.

The final panel was particularly satisfying because it brought to the table the most relevant trade issues in developing countries and contributed substantially to the overarching mission of the IGC. Indeed, a group composed of the most eminent trade economists of the world – most of whom are not used to working on issues related to developing countries – was interacting and learning with policy experts about politically relevant problems in poor countries.

As far as the way forward is concerned, both the RPDs have emphasised the desire to focus more on this last aspect of research and policy integration. In order to accomplish this ambitious task it has been proposed to run the next meeting in one of the IGC partner countries in order to foster this interaction between researchers and policy actors. The RPDs are now sure that the group is ready to move towards this direction.