15 Apr 2014

MILE Alumni Profiles: Javier Gutierrez

"The fact that students come from all over the world, with different work experience and different undergraduate degrees, is one of the most valuable assets of the MILE."

MILE 12 graduate Javier Gutierrez has a background in economics and trade law and worked for a time at the WTO in Geneva. A native of El Salvador, he is now back in Central America and working in an area close to his heart - regional economic integration.

Tell us what you have been doing since graduating from the MILE programme two years ago? The day after the closing ceremony of the MILE, I moved to Geneva to work on an ILO-UNCTAD report on the effects of trade in agricultural employment.  I then joined the WTO’s Information and External Relations Division, eventually becoming the first Salvadoran to be part of the WTO’s Secretariat.  I am now a counsellor to the Secretary General of the Secretariat for Economic Integration of Central America (SIECA) in Guatemala City. You came to MILE with wide experience in negotiating bilateral preferential trade agreements. Why did you decide to join the programme? I used to believe that the trade community was made up of outcasts, and that the only way one could learn about trade was by actually working on it.  Eventually, I found a flyer for the WTI’s Summer Academy and discovered that trade experts weren’t outcasts and that there were educational institutions devoted entirely to us.  When I visited the WTI’s website and discovered the MILE, I couldn’t help but marvel at its syllabus as it balanced the economics and law of international trade, and it included up-and-coming topics of interest in international trade; additionally the faculty list included the movers and shakers of the trade community.  I do have to say that I considered similar programmes in Europe, but the proximity to Geneva and Professor Cottier were aspects that made me choose the WTI. How have you benefited from what you learned as a MILE student? The MILE is quite intensive at times, leaving very little leisure time, but this teaches you how to work well under pressure and produce high-quality papers.  Personally, I took full advantage of the resources available to us as students of the WTI. Being a non-native English speaker, I decided to meet twice a week with Susan Plattner (Academic Language Advisor) to improve my writing skills. Additionally, the ability to perform a comprehensive legal and economic analysis of policies gives the MILE alumni a tremendous advantage vis-à-vis graduates from other universities. What aspects of the course were particularly useful? The MILE’s curriculum is thorough and includes all the tools trade experts need in the international arena. However I believe that the fact that students come from all over the world, with different work experience and different undergraduate degrees, is one of the most valuable assets of the MILE.  These different points of view result in multidisciplinary in-class discussions that actively teach students about the different implications a particular measure may have. What advice would you give to current students or those considering joining MILE? The jewel in the crown of the MILE is its faculty.  No other university or programme in the world has the possibility of having WTO experts (deputy-director generals, chief of staff, ambassadors, appellate body members, renowned scholars) come in to teach. What are your personal goals? My goal is to help transform Central America into an example for the rest of the developing world, and to prove how regionalism can be a useful tool to escape underdevelopment.