9 Apr 2024

MILE Alumni Profile: Ratnakar Adhikari

MILE has definitely provided me the required mileage – both through the sharpening of my academic knowledge as well as the broadening of my horizons.

Ratnakar Adhikari

Ratnakar Adhikari, a graduate of MILE 2, is Executive Director of the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF), a programme supporting least developed countries to be more active in the global trading system. In this interview he talks about the challenges in store and how MILE set him on his career path.

Congratulations on your new position. What priorities have you set yourself in it? 

Thank you. Since my primary responsibility is to manage and coordinate trade related support in the 49 least developed countries (LDCs), my immediate priority is to provide continuity to the ongoing activities of the organisation. However, in the near future, I would like see the EIF Secretariat playing a major role in helping LDCs integrate themselves into the regional economic mainstream as well as plug themselves into the global and regional value chains on a sustainable footing. 

What do you see as the challenges? 

The major challenges we encounter relate to working in conflict and post-conflict environments where it is not only difficult to ensure permanent ownership of the programme by the government but also to implement the projects on the ground. In some cases, it is impossible to visit a country for a considerable period of time, thus impairing our ability to supervise the programme.

What was your previous position? 

Prior to joining the EIF, I was the Chief Executive Director of South Asia Watch on Trade, Economics and Environment (SAWTEE) – a South Asian think tank based in Kathmandu, Nepal. 

Where are you from originally and what led you to WTI and the MILE programme? 

I am from Nepal. It was the need to have a more specialised training on trade policy issues, particularly after SAWTEE was established and I started working full time for the organisation, that led me to join the MILE Programme. 

How important do you think MILE was to your career success? 

MILE has definitely provided me with the required mileage – both through the sharpening of my academic knowledge as well as the broadening of my horizons. I equally think that post-MILE work both at the academic as well as the policy level has also played a role in my career advancement (I prefer not to call it a "success", though). Particularly noteworthy is the PhD that I completed from the University of Warwick focusing on the political economy of aid for trade. 

What were the key things you learned from MILE? 

During my MILE year, I learned public international law and its application in the context of the multilateral trading system and was able to conduct analysis of issues confronting the system from a legal perspective, a concept quite alien to me before then. Equally important was the application of the key concepts of international economics and industrial organisation in the context of international trade. Other issues include state aids and trade remedy measures, which I may have never learned if I had not attended the Programme.   

If you were to sum up your MILE experience in just one sentence, what would that be? 

It was a seminal experience for me, not only in terms of learning opportunities but also as a platform for sharing ideas and thoughts. 

What advice would you give to current or potential MILE students? 

I would advise them not to get too bogged down with assessments all the time, but also to explore life outside MILE, particularly during breaks and reading weeks (which, given the opportunity, I would have termed "learning weeks").