16 Downside A-level Economics students attended a three-day study tour of Geneva’s international institutions this week.

The visit included presentations and talks at the World Trade Organisation (WTO), International Labour Organisation (ILO), the United Nations Geneva Office as well as with the private sector. The topics relate directly to the themes covered in the Economics A-level on trade and development.

One highlight of the trip was a stimulating discussion with Ambassador Diego Aulestia Valencia of Ecuador, the chair of the diplomatic group representing developing countries at the WTO in Geneva (the ‘G77’ group of countries, and China). Prior to his role in Geneva, Ambassador Valencia was a former international trade minister and housing minister of Ecuador, as well as the ambassador of Ecuador to Portugal and representative for trade affairs to Europe.

Mr Valencia highlighted the challenges posed by climate change and urbanisation on the economies of developing countries. He also gave the student a crash course on the consequences of dollarisation on the Ecuadorian economy. The country adopted the greenback as its currency in 2000 after an economic crisis.

Pupils were also stimulated to think about their future careers — two recent graduates working with PWC’s international development consulting division gave the pupils insights into the relative merits of private sector and public sector work.  

Outside of the meetings, the students also enjoyed a boat ride on Lake Geneva and a fondue dinner.