Tricks of the trade - studied in depth
Hong Kong is a regional hub in global trade, but only now is it in a position to offer a specialised advanced degree programme for those seeking an academic grounding in this vital subject.
A master's in international trade was launched in March this year by the University of Hong Kong School of Professional and Continuing Education (HKU Space) and its long-time partner, Curtin University of Technology, based in Perth, Australia.
'Our course will be the first master's programme focusing on the international trade,' said Wong Yew-kee, HKU Space programme director, management studies division.
'There are MBAs or economics degrees with classes in international trade offered in Hong Kong, but they are not specialised.'
HKU Space also had certificate and diploma programmes in international trade, but these were basic, practical courses; the master's programme would cover in-depth theory and the practical aspects of international trade, and global economic issues, with an emphasis on Asia-Pacific markets, especially China, Mr Wong said.
It was felt that an academic programme of this kind made sense now that China was part of the WTO and economies in the region were booming.
The two-year programme includes classes in subjects such as international trade, international banking, finance, management, international business law, global distribution and transport.
'When you look at the content of the programme, you will see that we teach all sorts of things, from economics to logistics, marketing to finance,' Mr Wong said.
Classes will include case studies on China and Hong Kong, and subjects will range from law to finance. HKU Space will also organise visits to companies engaged in international trade, including banks and trading firms.
Seminars will feature guest speakers who represent industries engaged in global trade.
'It will be an interactive programme,' Mr Wong said.
The programme costs HK$100,000. The teaching materials will come from Curtin University, whose business school has been offering a similar degree programme for the past four years. But the curriculum will be tailored for Asia.
'We cater to needs in Asia. We have narrowed down the number of key subjects offered here, because some are more relevant to Australia.' The lecturers will be HKU Space faculty members. Students are free to use the learning centre, the library and other facilities at the university.
The master's programme is aimed at holders of bachelor's degrees who are interested in pursuing a career in international trade, be it the export-import business, merchandising or management.
Mr Wong recommended the programme for those seeking a change of career and a strong introduction, with market insights, into global trade from an Asian standpoint.
The programme would also be useful for those already familiar with international trade. It would help 'broaden one's horizon' and also open up opportunities for promotion at the companies the students were working for.
Those who completed the degree programme could look forward to a variety of career options. Besides getting involved in international trade, graduates of the programme may consider heading up a small trading firm or joining a multinational.
Graduates may also wish to follow up this programme with other studies, such as an MBA or a doctorate degree in business administration.
Professionals seeking a career in international trade should assume that travel is part of the job. They should be interested in travelling, or at least not mind the travel aspect, Mr Wong said. 'They may have to attend expos and trade exhibitions, and meet clients and customers in different countries and time zones.'
One thing is certain: an involvement in global trade will take you places.