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Following the UK’s departure from the EU, a major challenge facing Government Departments is ensuring they have the skills and expertise to negotiate successfully in a wide array of international negotiations.  In addition to CPDS’ generic Negotiation Skills courses, we have recently delivered a number of bespoke courses specifically designed for teams preparing for upcoming negotiations.  These courses are developed in close collaboration with the team leaders to ensure they address the gaps in the teams’ knowledge or experience.
Three examples of such courses are:
  • Negotiations with the EU on the Northern Ireland Protocol. This involved training officials from one Department that has a large part to play in these negotiations, not least addressing problems regarding trade in certain sensitive goods.  Team leaders identified a need to train members of their Directorate supporting the negotiating teams, especially in interdepartmental co-ordination, briefing skills and their role in ensuring the negotiators were as well armed with arguments and evidence as possible;
  • The WTO’s 12th Ministerial Conference in Geneva. “MC12” is the first WTO Ministerial Conference in which the UK participates separate from the EU.  It presents important opportunities for the UK to influence key policy questions, for example the role of trade policy in responding to the current and future pandemics.  CPDS trained officials on the specific challenges of negotiating at a Ministerial Conference, including preparation, alliance building and communication as well as conducting a simulation exercise involving negotiation between a small number of countries hoping to influence the course of events in a wider multilateral negotiation;
  • Some Departments face the challenge of participating in negotiations on many different bilateral trade agreements. Following up participation in CPDS’ general Negotiation Skills course, two teams asked us to create an exercise simulating over three days a real life trade negotiation, incorporating many of the issues the UK would expect to face with the two countries concerned.  Debriefing at team and individual levels after the course indicated that a great deal of learning had taken place, as well as identifying areas where more development was needed in preparation for the real life negotiation to come.
  • “Simulation achieved exactly what they wanted it to – showing a new and inexperienced team a realistic experience of proper negotiations.”

Feedback given to a negotiation simulation exercise by a participating Team Leader
Training course International Negotiation delivered to the UK Department for International Trade, November 2021
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