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ITCD Online Certificate Program
On the Professional Practice of Commercial Diplomacy

The Institute for Trade and Commercial Diplomacy (ITCD) focuses on training business and government professionals in the skills required for Commercial Diplomacy. Commercial Diplomacy encompasses the management of policy issues that affect international trade and investment and the negotiation of international trade agreements. ITCD develops training materials, conducts training courses, and most recently completed the development of this online certificate program.

Any organization affected by the actions of its own government or by foreign governments on trade and investment issues has to be able to participate actively in formal and informal consultations that take place between the private sector and governments on the development of policies and negotiating objectives. Managers responsible for interacting with domestic and foreign government to advance the interests of their company or industry need a special set of Commercial Diplomacy skills, as do government officials responsible for formulating policies and negotiating agreements with other governments. An effective professional in the field of Commercial Diplomacy has to have the ability to analyze the commercial, macroeconomic, policy-related, political, and legal aspects of an issue, and to communicate and negotiate effectively with domestic and foreign stakeholders and governments.

This module-based program leads participants through the steps an accomplished professional in Commercial Diplomacy must follow in advancing the interests of the organization she/he represents in trade policy decisions, trade negotiations and the settlement of trade disputes. It covers the following:

  • The analytical skills and research methods required for an in-depth understanding of policy issues that affect international business and investment;
  • The communication and consensus-building skills required for influencing national trade policy decisions and negotiating positions that may impact business positively or negatively; and
  • The negotiating and dispute settlement skills required for the development of international agreements and the resolution of international disputes.

The structure of the program provides a roadmap for individuals seeking to learn about Commercial Diplomacy or to strengthen their Commercial Diplomacy skills and knowledge acquired through practice.

ITCD Online Certificate Program:

The ITCD Online Certificate Program consists of the following 20 modules:

I. Understanding Commercial Diplomacy

Module 1, Understanding Commercial Diplomacy, covers the factors that must be considered in analyzing a policy issue in international trade and investment, and how the skills and knowledge of Commercial Diplomacy can be applied.

Module 2, Trade Policy Process, covers the basic steps of the trade policy process, the predominant actors in the process, and how to use Commercial Diplomacy skills and knowledge to formulate or influence the formulation of trade policy.

II. The Global Trading System

Module 3, The World Trade Organization
, covers the history, nature, and scope of the WTO, and the structure for international trade and investment.

III. Analyzing the Issues

Module 4, Analytical Framework, provides a conceptual framework for the analysis of a commercial issue, trade problem, or trade policy goal.

Module 5, Defining a Trade Policy Issue, covers the challenges involved in defining the trade problem for policy action or negotiation.

Module 6, Using Economic Data in Commercial Diplomacy, covers the analysis of the domestic economic impact of a trade policy measure, including the impact on prices, trade, production, productivity, wages, and consumer welfare using back-of-the-envelope calculations.

Module 7, Analyzing Trade-Related Domestic Policy Issues, covers the identification and analysis of the domestic policies related to a trade problem and the reconciliation of domestic and international trade policy objectives and responsibilities.

Module 8, Legal Analysis, covers the analysis of domestic laws and international trade rules that apply to an identified trade problem. The participant will be able to determine what laws or trade rules can be invoked to solve a trade problem, and whether a solution to the identified problem requires a change in a domestic law or regulation, or negotiation of a new international agreement or trade rule.

Module 9, Political Analysis, covers the identification of stakeholders, their interests, and their options for using the political process to influence the decisions of policy makers and trade negotiators. The participant will become familiar with the preparation and implementation of a successful strategy for achieving desired policy objectives.

Module 10, Developing a Research Strategy, covers the development of a research strategy for obtaining the data and information necessary for carrying out a comprehensive analysis of an issue.

Module 11, Completing Analytical Framework, pulls together the results of each element of the analysis into an Analytical Framework chart.

IV. Communicating the Message

Module 12, Writing as a Professional Tool, covers the preparation of written documents. The participant learns to target an audience, represent the positions of an organization, and properly structure and organize each type of document.

Module 13, Effective Oral Communication, covers the use of oral communications in Commercial Diplomacy. The participant learns how to develop content with focus, organization, accuracy, timeliness, and enthusiasm; how to use a hook or grabber to capture the attention of the audience; how to set the agenda in the introduction and how to integrate all the parts of the presentation seamlessly; and how to reiterate the main points and message in the conclusion.

Module 14, Effective Data Presentation, covers how to present data and interpret graphs effectively.

Module 15, Writing a Decision Memorandum, covers the preparation of an effective and succinct Decision Memorandum, once the Commercial Diplomat has completed the analysis and identified a recommended course of action.

V. Negotiation and Consensus Building

Module 16, Building Consensus and Managing the Politics of Trade, covers the development of a consensus on a desired course of action by aligning the interests of various stakeholders.

Module 17, Managing the Business/Government Relationship of Trade, covers the roles of government, business, and nongovernmental organizations in the trade policy decision process and the management of the relationships among these three groups. Participants learn about the different roles, values, motivations and objectives of actors in each of the three sectors, and the use of advocacy tools to build agreement on government policies affecting international commerce.

Module 18, Negotiations, covers effective negotiating techniques appropriate for the various types of negotiations. Participants will become familiar with the techniques and skills of interest-based negotiation. Participants learn how to research and analyze the subject matter of a negotiation, build a consensus, lobby decision-makers, and formulate a comprehensive negotiation.

VI. Dispute Settlement

Module 19, The WTO Dispute Settlement Process, covers the WTO dispute settlement system, its organization, and its mechanisms for resolving disputes. The participant will learn the steps involved in preparing a case under the WTO dispute settlement process, including:

  • Analysis of the legal principles at issue and the facts supporting an argument under them.
  • Decision on a venue, or method of resolving the dispute.
  • Assessment of the extent of damage actually caused or potentially arising from the situation.
  • Assessment of whether resorting to legal proceedings of any sort will act to resolve the dispute or whether they will complicate or prolong it.

Module 20, Alternative Dispute Resolution Mechanisms (ADRMs), covers alternative venues of dispute settlement.

Structure of Each Module:

Generally, the modules will contain the following:

  • Instructions
  • Power Point
  • Manual
  • Resources
  • Exercise (exercise and/or test questions applying the skills covered in the module to a specific case study [where applicable])
  • Test Questions (tests the participant’s comprehension of the module material). The participant must correctly answer 80 percent of the test questions to proceed to the next training module.

Requirements for Certificate:

The participant will be required to do the following to obtain the Completion Certificate at the end of the program:

  • Pass the module tests and final exam consisting of Multiple Choice and True/False questions, answering 80 percent of the questions correctly.
  • Analyze a real-world trade issue from the perspective of an identified stakeholder and complete the Analytical Framework and BATNA Interest Chart.
  • Write a Decision Memorandum analyzing the issue above, recommending a policy outcome and course of action for the identified stakeholder.


Diagram I – Analytical Framework

The Analytical Framework below provides the tools necessary for the participant to analyze in depth a particular commercial or trade policy issue.

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course outline