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The training in summary:

Negotiators of international trade agreements face a complex environment of technical substance, challenging process questions and the management of a wide range of internal and external stakeholders. In addition, they work in a rapidly changing global environment. Often, negotiators well at home in the technical and legal aspects of their files have little to no training in negotiation skills “at the table”. Similarly, seasoned practitioners of international relations and diplomacy are often new to the world of international trade and investment and its bilateral, plurilateral and multilateral playing fields.

Our training International Trade Negotiations distinguishes itself by integrating the learning experience in a real live bi-regional trade negotiation simulation featuring five core aspects of trade negotiations on which agreement must be found. The training and simulation combine technical area expertise on the process and substance of trade talks with the key "at the table" and preparatory skills required for effective 21st century economic diplomacy. To maximise learning and participant engagement, we deploy both senior current and former practitioners and professional negotiation and language instructors.

What is the impact?

At the end of the programme participants will:

  • hold a thorough understanding of the key substantive issues central to international trade agreements, as well as the institutions and rules of international trade;

  • have gained enhanced knowledge of negotiation theory;

  • advance their personal skills in negotiation;

  • have experienced the real live dynamics of trade negotiations, including key dilemmas and challenges; and

  • have practiced with tools and techniques to manage these dilemmas and challenges.

What can participants expect from the training?

The course is designed around an interactive multi-party role-play simulation. This offers the participants a realistic negotiation setting where preparation, tactics, strategies and personal behaviour directly influence the outcome. In advance of the simulation, participants receive detailed instructions on the substance, logistics and process elements of the simulation. No prior knowledge on international trade agreements is required. However, preparation prior to the live sessions with trainers and fellow participants is required.


The trade negotiation simulation is based on key elements from a real-world trade case. Participants are part of one of two negotiation delegations, each representing several countries. However, they each represent a different country and/or different ministry in that country. The simulation offers the participants full instructions and background information addressing the substantive complexity of trade negotiations as well as the challenges of negotiating across cultures, sectors, and levels.


The simulation package includes:


  • General background information on the negotiations

  • Confidential instructions for each participant in the negotiations

  • A background manual on substantive aspects of the global trade agenda 

Training elements

Specifically, participants will be introduced to and learn about:


  • What are negotiations and the different stages of the trade negotiation cycle  


  • The nature of international bilateral/bi-regional vs multilateral trade negotiations


  • The basic substantive background to 5 key chapters in trade agreements: NAMA (industrial goods and fisheries), Agriculture, Services, Investment and Technical Assistance.


  • English for negotiations, important terms, and expressions, being diplomatic in English, speaking through the chair, formal vs informal, and the art of persuasion


  • Strategy and tactics: familiarity with with tools to systematically prepare for trade negotiations


  • The difference between integrative versus distributive elements of the negotiation and key principles behind constructive negotiation practices (the “Harvard method”)


  • “At the table” issues for the negotiator: behavioural traits of excellent versus average negotiators; key skills and what TO DO and NEVER TO DO in trade negotiations

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Duration and Training Versions

The training International Trade Negotiations consists of 2-3 days of live training with the instructors and approximately 4-6 hours of total preparation time for each participant. The training can be provided in several ways: 

Classroom version


In the classroom version, participants attend the live sessions of the training at a location organised by the hosting institution. The live sessions take place over several consecutive days with a minimum of 2 days and a maximum of 3 days. We recommend an off-site location (away from office premises) for this version in order to immerse participants as fully as possible in the simulation exercise.

Online version


In the online version the live sessions, the instruction, simulation and feedback elements of the training, take place through a high-quality interactive videoconferencing platform. Individual live sessions are approximately 3-4 hours each with enough breaks and off-screen exercise time to avoid so-called Zoom fatigue. The total number of sessions required is between 4 (minimum) and 6. Depending on participant/client needs, the live sessions are spread out over 2-3 weeks or take place consecutively (for example: 5 mornings in a row). NPS is very experienced in the design and facilitation of training online.

Hybrid version

In the hybrid version, the instruction of theory and simulation logistics is carried out online through 2 separate sessions of 3-4 hours each. These sessions are followed by 1 or 1,5 days of negotiation simulation at a location, including the feedback session.

Online Learning Platform

All participants and trainers have access to the NPS Online Learning Platform. The platform allows participants to access the programme well in advance and prepare in their own time. All reading materials, presentations and videos are available through the platform. In addition, the Online Learning Platform allows participants to interact with one another before the live sessions start. The platform is an integrative part of the training regardless of whether the classroom, online or hybrid version of the training is provided.

The Team


Our senior experienced training instructors provide a variety of short lectures prior to the negotiation simulation. They introduce and follow the simulation as it unfolds and offer thorough feedback to the participants to optimize the learning experience. NPS experts Lars Erik Nordgaard, Jorild Skrefsrud, Sian Griffith and Stefan Szepesi are part of the instructor team. Their specific deployment depends on the needs of the client, the final programma design and the size of the group.


Monitoring and Evaluation


All multiday NPS training exercises are monitored for quality and impact during the training. The learning objectives of the programme are measurable through an anonymous evaluation form submitted to participants in the last day of the training. The form measures both the extent to which learning objectives have been met and the feedback on the organisation and delivery of the training.