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WBI E-Course: Trade in Services & International Agreements - 2007

Date: October 22 - December 14, 2007

Course Summary  (Course Agenda can be accessed here)

Reflecting its rising role in international trade, trade in services has become an important component of domestic reform agendas as well as of the WTO Doha negotiations and bilateral and regional trade agreements.  To strengthen the ability of trade officials, advisors, analysts, and representatives of business and consumer associations to understand the economic implications of services liberalization and trade, the World Bank Institute is offering a “Trade in Services and International Agreements E-learning Course”. As a result of the course, participants will be better able to contribute to the formulation of their country’s trade in services reform and negotiating agenda.

Course Directors

  • Gianini Zanini,  Lead Economist - Poverty Reduction & Econ Mng. Division ,WBI
  • Aaditya Mattoo, Lead Economist - Development Research Group, World Bank


International trade and investment in services are an increasingly important part of global commerce. Technological developments in the area of information and telecommunication technologies have expanded the scope of services that can be traded cross-border. Many countries have introduced private sector-led and competitive market structures in key infrastructure services, such as energy, telecommunications and transport. This trend has opened up new opportunities for cross-border investment in services. Services provided internationally through the temporary movement of individual service providers offer significant export potential for many developing countries and are already a well-established phenomenon in different regions and sectors.

Reflecting their rising role in international trade, services have become an important component of the multilateral trade architecture. Services feature prominently as well in the process of the WTO accession that a large number of countries are engaged in. And services lie at the heart of the large and growing network of regional trade agreements concluded of late or still under negotiation.

Despite the flurry of negotiating and rule-making activity described above, experience with services policy reforms is still young. Significant challenges exist in building the regulatory institutions that are needed to remedy market failures, appropriately sequence service sector reforms, and establish mechanism that promote the availability of essential services among poor people.

International trade negotiations in services raise additional challenges. Barriers to services trade do not take the form of tariffs and border measures, but consist of a variety of regulatory measures affecting foreign service providers. This tends to make trade rules complex and international negotiations information and resource-intensive.

Course Structure

Against this background, the World Bank Institute offers an E-learning course on trade in services.  The course will include 13 modules drawn from Bank studies, WBI-commissioned overview papers, non-Bank seminal works, and case studies, including critical perspectives on the relationship between national trade in services policy and its current stage at the multilateral level. 

Most modules will consist of one or more Power Point presentation, accompanying video presentations and mandatory and recommended readings that will provide more in-depth treatment of each topic.  When necessary, country experiences for dealing with trade in services will be presented.

The course will take place during 8 weeks. Participants will be expected to read the course materials at the beginning of the week. On Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of each week there will be an online discussion (not in real time) among participants guided by that week’s moderators (the same as the presenters/authors of the key readings in most cases).

To successfully complete the course and receive a certificate of course completion from the WBI, each participant is required to (i) review the mandatory materials, (ii) connect several times each week to participate actively in the online discussion.

Optional Project

Participants are also invited to prepare during the course and submit by Week 7 a concise action plan of priority reforms in their country or essay about your changed views and lessons learned from the course. Rather than making such a note a requirement, we offer it to those of you willing to produce such a document the incentive that such notes will be reviewed by both a services trade expert and a Bank country economist and will only be posted with the permission of the note's author].

1. Individually prepare a 'Response Action Plan' related to a problem/opportunity associated with services and trade in your country. This 'Response Action Plan' should be maximum 2 pages long and cover (i) a statement of the problem/opportunity that your country/industry is facing; (ii) discussion of past and current efforts made to address this problem or pursue this opportunity, (iii) identification of strategies for future action, including possible new approaches, and (iv) an indication of three proposed concrete steps/actions, and the responsible persons/organizations.

2. Work with other course participants to jointly prepare a 'Response Action Plan' of the same type as that described above. That is, two, three, or more of you can work together and prepare a single action plan for submission. For some of you who work in the same organization or who know other participants from prior contacts, this second approach may be an option for you. You should meet together, discuss the assignment, and jointly prepare the Action Plan.

3. Alternatively, you can individually prepare an 'Essay' which would consist of two parts. In the first part of the essay, you will identify either a general or very specific issue related to trade and services for which your views/perceptions have been substantially changed as a result of your participation in this course. You would identify the issue, indicate your prior and now revised views, and indicate the reasons/evidence which have influenced you to change these views. In the second part of the essay, you will identify three or four main lessons, insights, or messages that you take away from this course and

Finally, participants are required to complete an end-of-course evaluation (not a test of learning). Total time commitment for participants is expected to range from 6 to 12 hours per week.

Target Audience

  • Government officials (from trade, foreign, finance/economics ministries) directly involved in the conduct of services trade negotiations, whether at the WTO or at the bilateral and regional levels.
  • Government officials in sectoral ministries and regulatory agencies - in transport, finance, telecommunications, labor market, immigration, competition, national statistical offices – typically involved in managing the interface between trade and domestic regulatory reform.
  • Officials in development or planning ministries, whose tasks increasingly include keeping track of ongoing trade and investment negotiations and fitting such efforts into the broader and longer-term process of development.
  • Researchers in academia, think tanks and regional research networks concerned with trade and regulatory polices.
  • Representatives from professional associations (e.g. in banking, insurance, shipping, telecom users, migration policy), and from consumer groups typically interested in the impact of services negotiations on competition as well as on the price and availability of public services such as health, education, water, and overall access to universal services.
  • World Bank and other international organization staff involved in analytical, advisory and technical assistance work related to trade in services.


Participants from developing countries will be assessed a $200 tuition fee, to be waived for government officials and academics for least developed countries (LDCs). The cost for participants from developed countries will be $400. 

Technical Requirements

All participants must have access to Internet and to a CD-ROM player, and they must provide a reliable postal address where the CD-ROM containing all presentations and materials will be delivered. The course will be conducted in English over the internet, so the ability to participate in the online discussion is a key pre-requisite and mandatory requirement for participants.


Application for World Bank Staff: Closing date for accepting nominations is October 1st, 2007.

Application for Non Bank Staff: Closing date for accepting nominations is October 1st, 2007.

To register please follow the steps below:

1) Click the Apply button under the Trade in Services Internet Course
2) Complete the application form
3) Click Submit
4) A confirmation will be sent to those selected, within seven days from the deadline to submit applications.

Admission will be confirmed by October 11th, 2007.

Target number of participants from all regions is 80. Maximum number of participants admitted will be 110.

For questions related to applications, please contact  Juan Castillo, fax: 1-202- 676-9810

For questions related to the course content, please contact Gustavo Garcia-Benavides, or Gianni Zanini,  fax: 1-202-676-9810.


Last updated on Sep 27, 2007

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