NEWSLETTER ISSUE #6/2018
Welcome from Prof Wilma Viviers, director of TRADE
Once again the year seems to have raced by, making us wonder how 2019 could be around the corner already! Yet it has been a busy and productive year for TRADE. And in amongst all the activity, we have also paused to reflect on how we have grown since the early days of TRADE and where we think the future will take us. Change is in the air.
Although sometimes daunting, change can be as refreshing as the first rains of the season, and just as inevitable. One change is that the first term of the WTO Chairs Programme (which has been funded) will come to its natural conclusion in June 2019. In the second term we will continue to use the WTO Chair branding and will hopefully continue to benefit from technical assistance and other WTO programmes under new arrangements. Being selected as a Chair in 2014 was a turning point for me, TRADE and the university as a whole. The discipline that the Programme has instilled and the doors that it has opened have helped us to improve our game in so many ways and I am hugely appreciative to those who have contributed to its success. In this newsletter I share my thoughts on what the WTO Chair has meant to TRADE and the NWU, particularly in how it has enhanced the Master’s and PhD programmes and provided a range of channels through which new and more experienced researchers have been able to share the results of their work.
Our research programme is also going in new directions – with a particularly strong emphasis being placed on digital transformation at the practical and policy level and how this should be leveraged in the interests of more mutually beneficial and sustainable regional and international trade relationships. For example, we have a number of projects in the pipeline that will focus on the complex interplay between advancing digital technologies and economic development in a more fundamental sense in Africa. Even though many countries are advancing technologically, the basic developmental challenges faced by countries in Africa, particularly in bringing more people into the mainstream of the economy, should never be downplayed. TRADE is also producing some excellent research in this arena.
We will also be giving more attention to the issue of data (or the lack of it) in various sectors and countries and how this affects countries’ regional and global value chain trade prospects and performance. The TRADE-DSM® will continue to guide our thinking in terms of export opportunities around the world and the methodology will undergo regular updates and improvements in line with users’ changing needs and circumstances.
And finally, I will soon be stepping down as the director of the TRADE research entity and handing the baton to my (still-to-be-appointed) successor. But I am certainly not leaving the NWU or TRADE. I will be moving into the role of Research Professor which will afford me more time to concentrate on new research opportunities and areas of special interest, and to indulge in some of my favourite pastimes – including helping Master’s and PhD students to excel in their studies and mentoring young colleagues so that they are able to realise their professional ambitions. I also intend to remain heavily focused on South Africa’s economic and trade efforts, and I will keep the information flowing.
All the best for an enjoyable festive season and a prosperous 2019.
With warm regards
TRADE looks east - exploring trade opportunities in the Indian Ocean Rim and China with the TRADE-DSM®