Andres Murcia, Director of the International Affairs Unit, Central Bank of Colombia
The importance and nature of the International Financial Institutions (IFI’s) and the type of interactions that national authorities have with them are constantly evolving, and central banks have to adjust to those changes. Indeed, one of the key objectives of the recently created Unit of International Affairs at the Central Bank of Colombia is precisely to manage the relations with IFI’s. This one of the key initiatives in the strategic plan of the Bank.
Against this background, I truly recommend BCC’s online course “Interaction with IFI’s” to anyone involved in managing such relations. The course covers both economic analysis and negotiation techniques. The potential impact of enhancing the analytical and technical expertise is quite significant. I want to highlight particularly four features of the course: the negotiation techniques, the lessons about effective communication, the simulation exercise and the online nature of the course.
The lessons about negotiation techniques were extremely valuable and I was able to apply them shortly after the course. Colombia is currently closing the negotiations for a renewal of the IMF Flexible Credit Line. This negotiation had many complex elements and actors, and I found that to achieve the best agreement it was necessary to apply some of the negotiation techniques we covered in the course. As part of the team of the Central Bank that negotiated with the IMF, I saw that the technical aspects must go hand in hand with effective negotiation skills. Being able to put into practice the lessons learned proved the importance of this kind of technical assistance to strengthen the capacity of the Central Bank in these types of interactions.
The effective communication skills are key for addressing and achieving the objectives proposed. In my day-by-day duties I have to communicate to audiences with different technical and cultural backgrounds. When presenting to different types of audiences I used to focus on the message that I wanted to deliver, but not in the best way to do so. However, through the course I learned the importance of identifying the type of audience, in order to use the best techniques for engaging with them. For instance, using a top down or a bottom up structure with different types of audience has helped me to achieve my objectives in a much easier way.
During the course, a simulation of a negotiation with the IMF took place. The exercise was a situation where a country had to negotiate a credit facility with the IMF, some were part of the central bank of the country and the others of the IMF. In this sense, we had to build a view of the economic and financial situation of the country, identify the macroeconomic variables that were useful and determine which information was important. The most valuable aspect of this process was working with people from other backgrounds and learn from the different perspectives. It was necessary to identify which kind of policies (e.g. fiscal, monetary, financial) were more appropriate to apply.
Finally, it is necessary to highlight the online nature of the course. This allows greater flexibility especially for people with high constraints on their time availability. The videos, documents and presentations were prepared for a vast public with different types of backgrounds and are particularly interesting and of an outstanding quality. These materials were designed in a good way, taking into account the time restrictions that a person who takes an online course has. I would like to highlight the feedback and attention received by the BCC staff. A friendly platform and the high-level comments on the essays that we prepared are aspects that made the course unique and especially valuable. I consider that it is crucial to develop the skills needed to interact in a higher degree through digital channels.