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About ITCD

The Institute for Trade and Commercial Diplomacy (ITCD) is a world leader in the development of training materials in Commercial Diplomacy. ITCD was founded in 1999 and is headquartered in Arlington, Virginia, USA.  Geza Feketekuty, the President of ITCD, developed the first comprehensive Master’s level graduate program for training Commercial Diplomacy professionals in 1996 at the Monterey Institute for International Studies (MIIS) in Monterey, California, USA. Building on the experience and materials initially developed for the graduate program ITCD designs and delivers training courses for a global audience. In April 2005, ITCD launched a module-based Online Certificate Program on the Professional Practice of Commercial Diplomacy. The structure of the program provides a roadmap for individuals seeking to learn about Commercial Diplomacy or to strengthen their Commercial Diplomacy skills and knowledge acquired through practice. Visit for information on registration, frequently asked questions, and a full program description.

ITCD also supports the development of professional training in Commercial Diplomacy by other institutions, particularly in developing countries, by partnering with such institutions and making available education and training materials in Commercial Diplomacy through its web site, The materials produced by ITCD include model curricula and teaching guides, manuals, case studies, simulations, Power Point presentations, model advocacy and negotiating documents, and resource guides. Learn more about ITCD's training materials and programs by visiting ITCD's web site,


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Who Are Commercial Diplomats?

The most obvious practitioners of Commercial Diplomacy are trade officials who are charged with negotiating international trade and investment agreements and resolving policy conflicts that impact on international commerce. Trade officials are only the most visible Commercial Diplomats and are usually outnumbered by personnel with trade-related responsibilities in many other government departments and ministries.

Examples include:

  • Officials from departments or ministries responsible for foreign affairs, finance, agriculture, industry, labor, health, the environment, the regulation of banks, telecommunications, air transportation, or the licensing of professionals.
  • Managers in the international departments of industry associations, corporations, unions, and non-governmental organizations who have a stake in the outcome of trade policy decisions and therefore play a role in the domestic and global political advocacy and coalition-building process that usually precedes negotiations on international
  • Corporate managers posted in foreign countries where they must interact extensively with the host government on a broad range of regulatory issues.
  • Professionals in international organizations that deal with global trade, investment, and trade-related regulatory issues.


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What is Commercial Diplomacy?

Commercial Diplomacy is diplomacy with a commercial twist – diplomacy designed to influence foreign government policy and regulatory decisions that affect global trade and investment. In the past Commercial Diplomacy concerned itself largely with negotiations over tariffs and quotas on imports. In today’s more interdependent world, trade negotiations cover a much wider range of government regulations and actions that affect international commerce – including standards in areas such as health, safety, environment, and consumer protection; regulations covering services such as banking, telecommunications and accounting; competition policy and laws concerning bribery and corruption, agricultural support programs; and industrial subsidies.

Commercial Diplomacy encompasses the whole analysis, advocacy, and negotiating chain that leads to international agreements on these trade-related issues. In the highly interdependent world we live in today, the policy issues subject to trade negotiations are often very complex and touch on a myriad of domestic policy issues, legal provisions, institutional issues, and political interests. The first step in Commercial Diplomacy, therefore, is to undertake an in-depth analysis of all the factors that can have a bearing on the policy decision-making process at home and abroad. It requires an in-depth analysis of all the dimensions of an issue: the commercial interests at stake, the macro-economic impact of alternative policy options, the interests of all possible stakeholders and their political influence, the domestic policy issues entwined with the trade issue, the applicable domestic and international legal provisions, and the impact of media coverage on public opinion.

Commercial Diplomacy deals with political decision-making, and, therefore, is all about exercising political influence. In fact, issues related to the access of foreigners to domestic markets, their right to buy domestic assets such as land and businesses, and their qualification to provide a wide range of services are often even more political than purely domestic regulation by governments. Thus, Commercial Diplomacy usually requires a heavy dose of domestic politics, both at home and in the foreign country, including the active use of a wide range of advocacy and coalition-building tools.

At home, the Commercial Diplomat must utilize a full range of political advocacy tools and techniques to assure support of the home government for desired outcomes abroad, or to obtain favorable policy actions by the home government in areas such as taxation, export credits, and export controls. To obtain governmental decisions favorable to the stakeholders he/she represents, the Commercial Diplomat must be able to make effective use of advocacy tools such as letters, testimony, white papers, speeches, op-ed pieces in newspapers, phone calls, and personal visits to key stakeholders and decision-makers. The Commercial Diplomat must also be successful in building coalitions within the government, industry or interest groups, or among stakeholders with political influence, thus increasing the political influence that is brought to bear in support of the desired outcome. The international phase of Commercial Diplomacy involves the same advocacy and coalition-building steps required at home, as well as negotiations, dispute resolution, and mediation.


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What Happens When Commercial Diplomats Are Not Well Trained?

Company x lost a billion dollar investment because its managers failed either to understand or to ameliorate latent domestic political opposition to a crucial aspect of that investment. Country y lost a billion dollar market because its trade negotiators failed to understand the requirements for a mutually satisfactory solution to some policy conflicts. Countries have fought major wars because their trade negotiators failed to arrive at a mutually advantageous basis for trade.
Most losses due to poor training in Commercial Diplomacy, however, are less dramatic but have no less of an impact. Commercial Diplomats must wrestle with numerous unimportant detailed issues that nevertheless add up and can lead to increasing friction in bilateral relationships between key countries and missed opportunities in creating new business opportunities.

In the highly interdependent world economy that has emerged from the globalization of production, the commercial success of corporations and the economic welfare of nations can be affected by the whims of petty bureaucrats in remote foreign locations. Even in the absence of ill will, the economic machinery of globalization requires the intermeshing of uncounted regulatory decisions by governments at all levels around the world. Resolving policy conflicts is a task that is best done by professionals trained in integrating the commercial, economic, political, legal, cultural, environmental, and other policy considerations that have a bearing on the issue; in short, professionals trained in Commercial Diplomacy.


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What Does the Commercial Diplomat Need to Know?

Commercial Diplomacy requires all the finesse and knowledge of traditional diplomacy. In addition it requires an in-depth knowledge of commercial and macroeconomic analysis, the analysis of policy issues ranging from health and the environment to the prudential supervision of insurance, the politics of trade and foreign investment, national trade laws and global trade rules, and the role of the media in forming public opinion.


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What Kind of Training is Required for Commercial Diplomacy?

A comprehensive training program in Commercial Diplomacy calls for courses in many different disciplines: economics, business, politics, law, media and public relations, international relations, negotiation and dispute settlement, area studies, foreign languages, and culture. Commercial Diplomacy programs have four distinct stages of instruction: (1) theory; (2) institutions; (3) techniques and skills; and (4) integration. An ability to integrate the many dimensions into a multifaceted strategy that advances stakeholder interests is a critical aspect of professional training in Commercial Diplomacy.


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What is ITCD Doing to Train Commercial Diplomats?

ITCD is a catalyst and facilitator of training in the professional practice of Commercial Diplomacy and assembles all of the information and training materials in the field. ITCD makes available course information, lesson plans, manuals, case studies, model documents, and information resources at

ITCD also works directly with governments, universities, corporations, international organizations, and NGOs that express an interest in offering Commercial Diplomacy training. ITCD helps such organizations to identify the training needs of the potential students and to fashion a training program that fits the targeted niche. ITCD works with international development programs funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in creating model programs for a number of developing countries. ITCD has also collaborated with the International Training Center of the State University of California at San Diego in developing a model course for its Distance Learning Network that reaches throughout Latin America.

ITCD provides direct support to the Master of Arts in International Trade Policy (MAITP), the successor to the Master of Arts in Commercial Diplomacy (MACD) offered by the Monterey Institute for International Studies (MIIS), in Monterey, California. The President of ITCD, who founded that program, continues to offer instruction in that program on a part-time basis as the Distinguished Professor of Commercial Diplomacy. Materials developed by ITCD usually find their first application in the MAITP program at Monterey.

The ITCDonline Certificate Program on the Professional Practice of Commercial Diplomacy was launched on April 1, 2005. ITCD believes that online learning is an essential element of its future education and training services. This module-based program leads participants through the steps an accomplished professional in Commercial Diplomacy must follow in advancing the interests of the organization she/he represents in trade policy decisions, trade negotiations, and the settlement of trade disputes.  It covers the following:

  • The analytical skills and research methods required for an in-depth understanding of policy issues that affect international business and investment;
  • The communication and consensus-building skills required for influencing national trade policy decisions and negotiating positions that may impact business positively or negatively; and
  • The negotiating and dispute settlement skills required for the development of international agreements and the resolution of international disputes.


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Who Benefits from ICDPís Web Site?

ITCD's materials and methodologies benefit current students and practicing professionals of Commercial Diplomacy, individuals who want to learn about Commercial Diplomacy, and institutions that are interested in developing courses, workshops, or a comprehensive training program in Commercial Diplomacy. By visiting the following tools are made available:

  • Course outlines
  • Case studies,
  • Negotiating simulations,
  • Masters projects,
  • Web links,
  • A guide to information resources,
  • A dictionary of Commercial Diplomacy terms,
  • Manuals covering key skill areas such as writing and quantitative analysis in Commercial Diplomacy
  • General information about the field,
  • A database of training programs, and
  • Links to useful information about Commercial Diplomacy topics)


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What is the Challenge ICDP Seeks to Address?

The new global economy that is being forged by the Internet; the ATM machine; and global television networks like CNN, communications giants like Vidafone, and multinational firms like Daimler Chrysler demands a new class of well trained professionals: the Commercial Diplomats. Global production systems, global communications networks, electronic banking and products create the need for convergence and integration of regulatory systems, while our national political and legal systems create divergence. Bridging the gap between our global economic systems and networks and our national political/legal institutions is not a simple matter and requires a class of individuals who can integrate the commercial, economic, political, legal, regulatory, cultural, and institutional realities that underlie the countless frictions and conflicts that emerge at the interface between global economic decisions and national political decisions.

This new class of professionals - the Commercial Diplomats -- have emerged from the requirements for policy coordination and negotiation among nations on issues affecting global trade and investment. The training of this new class of professionals has been haphazard at best and has relied largely on a defacto apprenticeship system that generates neither enough qualified nor sufficiently well trained professionals. This gap between the demand and supply of qualified Commercial Diplomats has to be met through dedicated training programs focused on the skills and knowledge required of competent professionals in the field. If professional training is available for our architects, lawyers, accountants, doctors, business managers; why not for Commercial Diplomats?


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What Kind of Materials Does ITCD Make Available?


A comprehensive training program in Commercial Diplomacy calls for courses in many different disciplines – economics, business, politics, law, media and public relations, international relations, negotiation and dispute settlement, area studies, foreign languages, and culture. The ITCD web site offers a blueprint for such a program.

The model program is structured as a sequence of four distinct stages of instruction -- theory, institutions, techniques and skills, and integration -- which are described in more detail below. The sequence of the program reflects the natural progression in the learning process. Students’ knowledge of trade becomes deeper, and not just broader, as they progress through the program. The courses that make up the model curriculum are described briefly and most course descriptions are supported by sample course outlines and reading lists.

Theory. The first stage provides the intellectual and conceptual foundation for the field of Commercial Diplomacy. While it should not be surprising that stage one involves a heavy dose of economics, the theory stage also includes courses on politics and on policy analysis.
Institutions. The second stage introduces the institutional context of trade and trade policy. Courses cover international and national trade organizations, regional trading arrangements, and international trade law. Other courses cover the history of thought on trade, the history and evolution of trade policy, in-depth analyses of case law, and international institutions.

Skills and Techniques. In the third stage, students are in a position to combine their knowledge of economics, politics, law, institutions, media, and culture into a coherent analysis of any international commercial issue, and to develop an integrated strategy for advancing policy prescriptions desired by any stakeholder. Students also learn how to implement the resulting strategy through the development of operational documents and the effective use of advocacy tools such as hearings, press conferences, coalition building efforts and negotiations. Students learn to combine the disparate subjects previously covered in ways that will enable them to function effectively in the private and public practice of Commercial Diplomacy. Courses include: (i) the framing of trade issues; (ii) the art of politics; (iii) the rhetoric of economics; (iv) relations with press, public, and legislative bodies; and (v) negotiation tactics and skills. These are skills that trade professionals typically develop on the job. The purpose of this stage of the program is to give students a head start in their conversion from graduate students to professional practitioners.

Integration. Integration combines three types of courses: (i) courses in which students participate in simulated trade negotiations, both in English and in multilingual settings; (ii) an individual project in which a specific issue is studied in depth, allowing students to demonstrate their expertise on the multiple facets that go into becoming a trade professional; and (iii) courses that deal with important current trade issues.


ITCD seeks to fill the void created by the absence of textbooks in Commercial Diplomacy by developing Manuals, Instructional Modules, and most recently an Online Learning Program.

Manuals. Manuals cover particular skills crucial to the practice of Commercial Diplomacy or training in the field in a very practical, hands-on manner. Examples include writing case studies and policy documents, analyzing a trade issue, and working with economic data in Commercial Diplomacy. See the Manual Index on for a full listing.

Teaching Modules
. Teaching Modules provide Power Point slide presentations on key subjects in Commercial Diplomacy augmented by talking points, teaching notes, other supporting materials, and a study guide. They represent the first step toward the development of text books in the field. Over time these materials have been further augmented through the application of new technologies, leading to the development of interactive Internet modules, CD ROMs, and video presentations. Continuous development of these modules will facilitate additional training programs in Commercial Diplomacy at universities and other training institutions, and the achievement of a higher level of quality in training offered in Commercial Diplomacy, comparable to professional training in areas such as business management and public administration. It also contributes to professional and broad public recognition of this new and exciting area of academic training.

Online Learning. ITCDonline leads participants through the steps an accomplished professional in Commercial Diplomacy must follow. This 20-module online learning program, located on, is broken down into six main sections: (i) Understanding Commercial Diplomacy, (ii) The Global Trading System, (iii) Analyzing the Issues, (iv) Communicating the Message, (v) Negotiations and Consensus Building, and (iv) Dispute Settlement. Throughout the coursework, participants learn how to advance the interests of stakeholders in trade policy decisions, trade negotiations, and the settlement of trade disputes. A real-world case study is introduced and a series of study questions and exercises pertaining to this case study reinforce effective use of the tools of the trade. By working through the case study, completing the related exercises, and passing the module exams, including a 100-question final exam, participants receive a Certificate of Completion and can immediately apply their newly acquired skills in Commercial Diplomacy in their professional and/or academic settings upon completion of the program.


The case study approach, like that used in Harvard's Executive Training programs, is effective in teaching the operational aspects of Commercial Diplomacy. To date, very few trade studies have been written, and even fewer have been developed from the point of view of someone responsible for managing the trade negotiation process.

Trade case studies are built around historically important or particularly interesting trade problems and demonstrate how they were addressed through advocacy programs, legislation, negotiations, or dispute settlement. They provide insights into the political and economic strategies that were employed by industry advocates, politicians, and government officials. Furthermore, they give both students and professionals a way to learn from past successes and mistakes. Case studies afford the critical opportunity to ask of past trade negotiations what went well, what did not, and what could be improved? Such an analysis is rarely, if ever, conducted. Distribution of these studies to current practitioners in the business community and the government enables them to reflect on past negotiation successes and failures and improve their performance in future trade negotiations.


An invaluable exercise for anyone who wants to develop a strong set of skills in the professional practice of Commercial Diplomacy is to analyze a specific trade issue in depth and to create a comprehensive, coherent set of policy recommendations for addressing that issue. Such an analytical exercise goes well beyond simply learning about trade policy. ITCD, through its web site, publishes some of the best such exercises developed by students enrolled in the Master of Arts in International Trade Policy (MAITP) program (formerly MACD) at the Monterey Institute. These exercises give students practical experience in integrating commercial, economic, political, institutional, legal, and domestic policy analyses of an issue; developing a strategy to address the issue; and practical experience in writing the papers, letters, press releases and op-ed pieces that policymakers and business people use to advance their interests.


Simulations provide an opportunity for students in Commercial Diplomacy to practice negotiation, mediation, dispute settlement, and public advocacy skills while addressing real world issues in Commercial Diplomacy. Unlike case studies, which are historical, the simulations are drawn from situations on current outstanding issues. Simulations of negotiations and dispute settlements are a core part of a hands-on-approach to professional training in Commercial Diplomacy. They provide a nuts-and-bolts perspective that is an excellent way to train trade professionals. Simulations teach students how to integrate material from different areas of knowledge such as business, economics, politics, law, culture, public policy, and science; how to simplify and focus complex issues to the priority issues; and how to make decisions in the face of imperfect information and the time pressures typical in the real world. Simulations teach not only the art of negotiation, dispute settlement, and public advocacy, but also how to use research to pull together information relevant to these processes. By choosing a current conflict, students have access to a rich base of contacts, including the Internet and other research sources, and understand first-hand how research can be used to influence the outcome or direction of negotiations.


The preparation of operational documents is an essential part of professional training in Commercial Diplomacy. It requires students to integrate what they know with their analysis of an issue within the operational context of the documents that are the essential tools of Commercial Diplomacy.

Sample documents have been prepared by professionals in the field and can be used as essential tools in teaching students how to write such documents. They provide ideas on what such documents look like, what they contain, and what makes them effective. Students also learn how different countries and cultures handle similar tasks. The operational documents available for review are as follows:

• Public policy statements,
• Strategy papers,
• Briefing memoranda,
• Press releases,
• Cables,
• Public testimony, and
• Speeches that reflect best professional practice in the field.

From time to time, the inventory of sample documents is updated to represent current trade issues/problems from a wide range of countries and cultures. By posting these documents ITCD hopes to cover the full range of issues addressed by Commercial Diplomats.


ITCD collects and publishes information about training programs and information resources in Commercial Diplomacy that are available on the Internet and from other public sources. Teaching students where relevant research materials can be obtained is an important part of a training program. Commercial Diplomacy requires practitioners to assemble information and analytical material on a wide range of subjects, frequently on short notice, and the information published on serves as a starting point for a student’s research efforts. The guide also provides information about training materials that are available from other sources, thus giving instructors a wider selection of materials from which to choose in the field.


Commercial Diplomacy has a terminology all of its own, and those new to the field are often baffled by terms and concepts regularly employed in Commercial Diplomacy writing. ITCD seeks to assist those new to the field by making available dictionaries of some of the most commonly used words, phrases, terms, and acronyms.