Testing Their International Negotiation Skills – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Testing Their International Negotiation Skills

Hobart and William Smith students in Switzerland conduct mock trade negotiations at World Trade Organization

(April 8, 2004) GENEVA, N.Y.– Students participating in the Geneva, Switzerland, semester abroad program recently had an opportunity to test their economic, political and negotiating skills during a simulated trade negotiation at the World Trade Organization (WTO), the international body charged with enforcing global free trade rules.

Denby Probst, a 1988 William Smith graduate and former biology major, organized the session for the students in Professor Tom Drennen's globalization class. Probst lives in Switzerland and has served as a counselor in the market access division of the WTO for seven years.

During the simulated WTO negotiations, the students represented three countries, Bangladesh, Chile and the United States. Prior to the session, students were provided with background publications for each country. Their task was to represent their country's interests in negotiations on further opening access to their markets.

Drennen reports that, at times, tensions among the countries were quite high. Chile walked out of negotiations with the United States, noting that it was “better to have no deal than a bad deal.” The United States, while noting their inability to reach an agreement with Bangladesh, acknowledged “basic commitment to help developing countries through further trade liberalization.”

In summary, Probst says that “this was very similar to the type of negotiations that actually go on at the World Trade Organization.”

HWS' study abroad semester in Switzerland allows students to examine global issues such as justice, international conflicts, the environment and refugees as they are addressed by international organizations. The program takes advantage of the fact that many of these organizations have headquarters in Geneva.

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The following students participated in the WTO mock negotiations:
Sylvan Bonsignore Burch ’05 of Gillett, Pa.
Katie Coffey ’05 of Williamsville, N.Y.
John Condon ’05 of Rye, N.Y.
Geoff Henschel ’04 of Bedford, N.Y.
Anne Hoskins ’04 of New Orleans, La.
Blake Nicholson ’05 of Monkton, Md.
Ross Offinger ’05 of Brooklyn, N.Y.
Fernando Penaloza ’05 of Rego Park, N.Y.
Donna Richardson ’05 of Phippsburg, Maine
Angela Tallo ’05 of Beverly, Mass.
Sarah Trapani ’06 of Auburn, N.Y.
S. Wiley Wakeman ’05 of Cohasset, Mass.
Matt Williams ’05 of Chestertown, Md.
Ryan Wilson ’05 of Topsfield, Mass.