First ever simulation of World Trade Organization in the region, second one in the world

Students of University of Belgrade decided to bring change to their surrounding and spread knowledge and interest in World Trade Organization and they found the best possible way to do it, by organizing second in the world simulation of WTO in their home town, Belgrade.

Behind every successfully executed idea there is a group of ambitious people with the same vision. The organizing team of “Model WTO Belgrade” is consisted of 12 members of the biggest and most proactive student organization based at the University of Belgrade, Faculty of Economics, named “Grupa za SPEKOF” as well as members of partner organizations (BEUM, OFA..). As the leading student organization at the University of Belgrade, they strive to improve the quality of education at the Faculty of Economics and student’s lives in general. Aim of their projects is to build young capable future leaders within the organization as much as outside of it by encouraging people to think in a different, creative way and supporting them to constantly work and improve themselves. They believe that extracurricular activities are very important because they provide opportunities and open doors. Everything started with an idea that came to one of the organizers Ms. Ksenija Ivanovic who contacted the team from the first ever simulation of WTO which is organized annually in Switzerland. This event has been taking place since 1997 and from its first edition in Serbia in 2018 it set its new roots in Belgrade, as a second simulation ever. Ms Ivanovic then contacted two people with knowledge from many different international conferences and simulations such as Model United Nations, Belgrade Security Forum, Business forum etc. Eventually the team came to the total number of 12 amazing students who contributed on different ways. The most important thing was that they all worked for the same cause and believed in the same thing which they think is the basic of every great team.

The Model WTO Belgrade 2018 edition took place at the Chamber of Commerce and Faculty of Economics in May. In this edition participants had a chance to discuss and negotiate the creation and development of new or existing regulations, to adapt current international trade rules to SME needs where necessary. This was done within one of the 3 committees which have been set up on the basis of the most relevant issues for SMEs discussed by current scholars and WTO experts. The conference is constructed as a simulation of WTO’s work where students have the opportunity to get to know everything about WTO and its rules of procedure, they are able to work on their diplomatic skills and learn through practical knowledge of what it looks like to be a delegate/an ambassador to the World Trade Organization.

How It works?

Students represent 10 nations in groups of three delegates. Each of them takes part in a committee focused on a specific topic E-commerce, Development and Dispute Settlement. In total, three committees engage students to actively debate on trade related issues through various perspectives. While delegates defended their national interests, two chairpersons in every committee guided them towards an agreement by specifically set rules of procedure which are used at the World Trade Organization itself. The conference is organized in 4 days with included negotiation rounds, high academic level with experts who are advising the delegates, materials, social events and great prices for the best ones.

By working with and having the support of the team from Model WTO in Switzerland, students from Belgrade had a chance to have their committees chaired by key chairpersons who have received specific training during a year by a WTO counsellor at the University of St. Gallen prior to the negotiations. Co – chairs were students from University of Belgrade who gathered knowledge from St. Gallen chairs and they will use that knowledge so they can be the key chairs to the Model WTO Belgrade 2019 edition. Apart from the generous help from the St. Gallen University academic level of the conference was very high thanks to the experts in this field from the IDEAS Centre Mr Josip Pervan who participated in completion of Croatian WTO accession negotiations and Mr Nicolas Imboden who was previously Senior Vice President of SGS, a Swiss Government trade and aid official with the rank of an ambassador, Governor of the regional development banks (ADB, AFDB, IDB) and Executive Director at the EBRD. Mr Imboden and Mr Pervan contributed to the event on a high level by giving advice to the delegates and by directing them during the negotiations. This is what they had to say about the conference: “IDEAS Centre is proud sponsor of the Model WTO Conference held in Belgrade in early May 2018. We are currently implementing a project, financed by a Swiss Government, of assistance to Serbia in its WTO accession process, and this Conference was one of the activities  we decided to sponsor under this project. We were impressed with the quality of the organization of the Conference: from logistics, to venues and the quality of materials produced prior to the Conference- everything was at a very high level. We also found that the students were well prepared and engaged during their simulation exercises, and were glad to contribute with our presentations to the positive outcome of this Conference. IDEAS Centre would like to express its sincere gratitude to the organizing team for their excellent work that made this Conference a success.“

One of the main guests was Mrs. Olivera Jocic deputy minister at the Ministry of Trade Tourism and Telecommunications, one of the partner institutions to this project., who had a lot of impact for the event. Mrs. Jocic was the first person who offered to help the students in this “pilot project” and just one of many who encouraged them to keep the project going for the future to come. Many institutions supported this project; the Ministry of Trade Tourism and Telecommunications, Embassy of Mexico in Serbia, State Secretariat for Economic Affairs Switzerland, IDEAS Center Geneva, Faculty of Economics at the University of Belgrade, Chamber of Commerce,ISAC fund, Model WTO Switzerland, BEUM, OFA and etc.

Two of the best delegates from the Model WTO Belgrade Mr Dusan Brujic and Mr Miodrag Andrijevic will be going free of charge to the next edition of Model WTO Switzerland while 3 delegates with the best policy paper will be getting the cash prize for their effort provided by ISAC Fund.

While everyone are still sorting their impressions of this amazing and high level conference the organizing team was more than welcome to announce that they will be organizing Model WTO Belgrade annually and are again thanking everyone for their help and support. They believe that young people can achieve great things with the support of the right people.

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