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Vinitha Johnson MILE 15

MILE 15, Vinitha Johnson

MILE 15

India

Vinitha Johnson is a lawyer from Chennai, India. She graduated with an LL.B from the National Law University, Jodhpur, where she specialised in trade and investment Law. As a research assistant, she contributed to developing a module in international investment law. She authored an article entitled “Market Economy Treatment for Chinese Producers under the Indian Antidumping Regime” in the Global Trade and Customs Journal (published by Kluwer Law in 2013). Following her graduation, she worked in law firms dealing with Private Equity (particularly in the microfinance and renewable energy sectors) and International Trade: Vinitha assisted in reviewing the compliance of India’s proposed submissions to the General Agreement on Services Committee. She was also involved in conducting a gap-analysis which juxtaposed the ILO Convention on Fishermen’s Rights with domestic laws pertaining to the rights of fishermen. After gaining some professional experience in law firms, Vinitha spent two years working in a non-governmental organisation engaged in advocating policy reforms, in both domestic and international forums, particularly those pertaining to international economic law. Vinitha worked extensively on the WTO Agreement Government Procurement: she undertook stakeholder consultations with the government, trade associations and other members of civil society to assess whether India should accede to the WTO Agreement on Government Procurement. Subsequently, she worked with a cross-functional team to develop a negotiating strategy for India’s possible accession to the WTO GPA, following which she was involved in conceptualising a national level policy on public procurement. She critiqued negotiation-approaches by member-countries of the WTO GPA, undertook an analysis of the process of accession into the WTO GPA (stage-wise), and assessed the political and economy-related aspects of negotiations to inform future negotiations both at the WTO and in other regional agreements. Vinitha provided government advisory services to domestic economic policy and to inform regional and multilateral negotiations. Some specific areas she worked in include suggesting modes for monitoring and evaluating the effects of economic engagement, and making suggestions to improve stakeholder integration in FTA negotiations. Vinitha was a panellist in a session on the interactions of civil society with the WTO, jointly organised by the WTO and the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung in Jakarta, Indonesia. Vinitha led a cross-functional team to engage with stakeholders in ministries and trade associations all over the country (including Kashmir and North-East India) to uncover the impact of India’s National Foreign Trade Policy on alleviating poverty. The team studied the impact of fiscal and non-fiscal policy instruments, institutions, and mechanisms which were developed by stakeholders both locally and at a national level to communicate their interests in agribusinesses and handicraft industries. The team applied value-chain analysis to understand opportunities for value-addition and brand-building, following which the report advocated modification of trade-policy instruments and development of institutions, to ensure that export revenue reaches less-privileged stakeholders. As a result of the invaluable experience in leading this project, Vinitha aspires to build a career in export promotion, and eventually advise small and medium enterprises and trade associations on strategic cross-border marketing and lobbying. At the WTI, Vinitha aims to deepen her understanding of the interface between trade, data-analysis and marketing strategies. She hopes to undertake research on cross-border lobbying strategies, with a focus on evolving informational lobbying strategies. After completing the MILE programme, she is keen to work closely with organisations like the International Trade Centre, industry associations, trade promotion organisations and trade support institutions to inform strategies for export promotion for small and medium enterprises. Vinitha is fluent in English and Tamil, and enjoys reading books on the psychology of human interactions, power-relations, marketing and strategy.