THE OECS Commission has awarded 21 scholarships to citizens of its independent protocol Member States to pursue studies under a special dispensation of the University of the West Indies Shridath Ramphal Centre (SRC) flagship Masters in International Trade Policy (MITP) Programme (OECS-MITP).
The students are beneficiaries of a fully-funded OECS-MITP Scholarship Programme, made possible via the “Consolidating the OECS Economic Union through Sustainable Trade Capacity Building’’ Project under the African, Caribbean and Pacific group of states (ACP) TradeCom II Programme, which has been funded by the European Union.
The scholarships, for the OECS Commission, mark a significant milestone on the journey it has embarked upon since the signing of the Revised Treaty of Basseterre in 2010. The treaty provides for the creation of an economic union and enables, among other things, the free movement of people, the free circulation of goods and services and the harmonisation of trade policy.
Scholarship recipients hail from the OECS Commission, Antigua and Barbuda, Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The OECS-MITP will facilitate the technical and professional upgrading of trade expertise within the OECS Member States and in the Commission. The training will also strengthen capacities for the private sector and cross border traders as we navigate our insertion into a global space and prepare for post Brexit negotiations.
The 21 students were formally welcomed at a reception held in their honour on Friday, 28 February at the Sagicor Cave Hill School of Business and Management. The reception was attended by officials from the OECS Commission, Senior University administrative staff and faculty, current students and alumni of the MITP programme.
Project Manager of the ACP TradeCom II Project within the OECS Commission, Mr.WinsbertLouison, speaking on behalf of Director General, Dr.Didacus Jules, urged the recipients to take advantage of the opportunity and looked forward to their contributions in furthering the mandate of the OECS Commission to expand the OECS’ trade capacity and solidify the economic union.
In his official welcome, SRC Director Neil Paul highlighted the feat of the regular MITP in training over 200 students from across the Caribbean. He referred to studies showing that MITP graduates have found employment not just in the highest levels of government, foreign embassies and regional and international organisations, but also in the private sector. Deputy Principal of The UWI Cave Hill Campus, Professor Winston Moore, explained that the OECS-MITP Programme fits within current initiatives of The UWI that are focused on offering specialised training.
The Programme is backed by the name and brand of The UWI, which ranks among the top 4% of universities in the world and top 2% in the Latin America and Caribbean region.
Delivering the evening’s keynote address entitled “The Place of the OECS in a Changing World”, Dr. Wendy Grenade, OECS-MITP Faculty Member, and Head of the Department of Government, Sociology, Social Work and Psychology of The UWI Cave Hill Campus, gave inspiration to the new students. She reiterated that they were joining a tradition of excellence at the University of the West Indies, where “one flies and all soar”. Dr. Grenade divided her address into two parts: the first explored the historical journey of the OECS, and the second considered implications for the OECS small states in a new world. She cautioned the students to be philosophically grounded as they engage the multilateral system and encouraged them to pursue trade policy conscientiously, and with an understanding of the machinations of global geopolitics. Replying on behalf of the new students, Ms. Leah Crag-Chaderton expressed the group’s thanks, quipping that while they had all come on ‘different ships’, they were all now in the “same boat”.