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Economic Diplomacy online course

Start date: 14 October 2024

Economic diplomacy deals with the nexus between power and wealth in international affairs.

Economic diplomacy not only promotes the state’s prosperity but also, as occasion demands and opportunity permits, manipulates its foreign commercial and financial relations in support of its foreign policy – as in the case of sanctions against Iran. Accordingly, economic diplomacy is a major theme of the external relations of virtually all countries. At home, economic ministries, trade and investment promotion bodies, chambers of commerce, and of course foreign ministries, are all participants in economic work. Current trends include increasing collaboration between state and non-official agencies, and increased importance given to WTO issues, the negotiation of free trade and preferential trade agreements, and accords covering investments, double taxation avoidance, financial services and the like. Abroad, embassies, consulates, and trade offices handle economic diplomacy. The main focus is on promotion, to attract foreign business, investments, technology and tourists. Economic diplomacy connects closely with political, public and other segments of diplomatic work. This online course is practice-oriented, and aims at capacity development.

What will you learn?

  • Describe how economic diplomacy has evolved, and how it plays a key role in international affairs, connecting closely with domestic priorities and development objectives in states.
  • Explain the role played by different actors, state and non-states, in the development of ‘whole of country’ policies, and how a good diplomatic system works with all the key stakeholders.
  • Apply the learning to the running of a commercial or economic section, and to the manner in which commerce chambers of individual enterprises can work with the foreign ministry and with diplomatic missions in the commercial and economic arena.
  • Apply the learning also to the promotion of exchanges of business delegations, and participation in trade exhibitions.
  • Assess current trends in the framework conditions of international trade and other economic exchanges.

How will you learn?

In this course you will interact intensively in discussions with classmates and lecturers from around the world. You will receive guidance and personalised feedback on your classwork from the course team.

How long will you learn?

The course lasts for 10 weeks:

  • 1 week of course introduction and orientation to online learning
  • 8 weeks of addressing the course topics one by one (see below for more details)
  • 1 week for the final assignment and completing pending tasks

Who should apply

This course will be of interest to:

  • Practising diplomats, civil servants, and others working in international relations
  • Postgraduate students of diplomacy or international relations wishing to gain deeper insight through interaction with practising diplomats
  • Postgraduate students or practitioners in other fields seeking an entry point into the world of diplomacy
  • Journalists, staff of international and non-governmental organisations, translators, business people, and others who wish to improve their understanding of diplomacy-related topics


The course consists of 8 modules:

  1. The evolution of economic diplomacy: Diplomacy starts with trade: consulates precede ‘embassies’; the Levant Company sets up the English embassy in Constantinople, 1583; the subsequent advance of high politics; the age of imperialism and the slow recovery of economic diplomacy. Diplomacy ends with trade: growth of importance of international trade and capital flows (even to USA); new political need of diplomatic services to respond to business lobbies at home; Britain: near bankruptcy in 1945; a succession of official reports insists on overriding priority of commerce.
  2. Economic diplomacy today: the definitions of economic diplomacy; principal content; the stages traversed by countries in practice of economic diplomacy; public diplomacy, image management and economic diplomacy; how economic diplomacy connects with other branches of diplomatic work; working with home actors, learning from them.
  3. The regulatory environment and the domestic context: extent and consequences of ‘managed trade’; dumping and complaints procedures; trade negotiations; role of chambers of commerce and industry associations; special role of embassies in such domestic outreach; role of think tanks and NGOs; public diplomacy dimension of trade.
  4. The embassy economic section: the staff of the economic section, including the importance of locally engaged staff; the position of the section within the embassy and comparisons between diplomatic services; how many ambassadors have had significant experience of economic diplomacy? Does this suggest that economic diplomacy has the real priority that the usual rhetoric suggests? If not, why not?
  5. Trade and investment promotion: importance of trade, focus on exports, pursuit of new markets and new products; dispute settlement and role of official agencies; value and domestic role of foreign direct investment (FDI), portfolio, private equity and other forms of investment; broad and targeted promotion; role of specialised agencies; two-way FDI flows.
  6. Craft skills: Business delegations and trade exhibitions: country promotion exhibitions and specialised trade fairs; selection, observation and participation; exhibition techniques and best practices; organisation of business delegations; role of missions in both outbound and homebound groups; planning, preparation and follow-up; delegations accompanying summit and other official visits.
  7. Economic sanctions: why economic sanctions became popular in the 20th century; the variety of purposes they are designed to serve; the different kinds of sanctions; the role of embassies; how states defend themselves against sanctions, including cultivation of business lobbies (e.g. South Africa under apartheid; Iraq under Saddam; Iran today); smart sanctions versus stupid sanctions.
  8. WTO and Free Trade Areas (FTAs): basic features of the multilateral trading system; WTO process and its future; likely outcomes of current, convoluted negotiations; preferential trade agreements (PTAs), including commonalities and differences; are FTAs and PTAs building or stumbling blocks to a multilateral trading system?

Course lecturers

Marília Maciel

Head of Digital Commerce & Internet Policy, Diplo

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Asoke Mukerji

Former Indian Ambassador to the United Nations, New York


The Economic Diplomacy online course is based on a collaborative learning approach, involving a high level of interaction over a period of 10 weeks. Reading materials and the necessary tools for online interaction are provided in a virtual classroom.

Each week, participants study and discuss course materials and complete additional online activities. At the end of the week, participants and lecturers meet to discuss the topic of the week. For successful completion, this course requires a minimum of 5 to 7 hours of study time per week.

Participants who successfully complete a certificate course receive a certificate issued by Diplo which can be printed or shared electronically via a permanent link. Participants who successfully complete an accredited course will receive 9 ECTS credits from the University of Malta.


All course applicants must have regular internet access; dial-up connections are sufficient, but broadband is preferable.

Applicants for certificate courses must have:

  • An undergraduate university degree OR 3 years of work experience and appropriate professional qualifications in diplomacy or international relations
  • Sufficient English language skills to undertake postgraduate-level studies

Applicants for accredited courses must meet the University of Malta prerequisites:

  • Bachelor's degree in a relevant subject with at least Second Class Honours
  • Proof of English language proficiency obtained within the last 2 years (minimum requirements: TOEFL paper-based – 650; TOEFL internet-based – 95; IELTS – 6.5.; Cambridge – Proficiency Certificate with Grade C or better). If when applying you are still waiting for your English language proficiency results, the University may issue a conditional letter of acceptance.

Fees and scholarships

Course fees depend on whether you wish to obtain university credit for the course or a Diplo certificate:

  • University of Malta accredited courses: €850
  • Diplo certificate courses: €690

Note: Diplo alumni can benefit from a 15% discount on the fee for this course.

A limited number of partial scholarships are available for diplomats and others working in international relations from developing countries. Discounts are available for more than one participant from the same institution. 

You can apply for this course as:

How to apply

Fill out the short form to start your application process for this course. You will receive an instruction email on how to continue.

Applying for financial assistance? Please indicate this on the application form, upload your CV, and a motivation statement that should include:

  • Details of your relevant professional and educational background
  • Reasons for your interest in the course
  • Why do you feel you should have the opportunity to participate in this course? How will your participation benefit you, your institution and/or your country?

Please note that financial assistance from Diplo is available only to applicants from developing countries! 

Late applications will only be considered if there are spaces available in the course.


Apply for a University of Malta accredited course

Complete application packages must be received by specified application deadlines in order to be considered.

  1. Two copies of the University of Malta application form filled out in full
  2. Certified copies of original degree(s) and official transcripts
  3. English translations of degree(s) and transcripts if they are not in English, signed and stamped by a translator
  4. English language proficiency certificate obtained within the last two years (minimum requirements TOEFL paper-based – 650; TOEFL internet-based – 95. IELTS – 6.5.; Cambridge – Proficiency Certificate with Grade C or better). Please indicate on the application form if you are still waiting for your English language proficiency results
  5. Photocopy of personal details pages of your passport
  6. If you are requesting financial assistance, please include your CV and a motivation letter with your application. The motivation letter should include details of your relevant professional and educational background; reasons for your interest in the course; and why you feel you should have the opportunity to participate in this course (i.e. how will your participation benefit you, your institution and/or your country). Financial assistance from DiploFoundation is available only to applicants from developing countries.
  7. Application fee or proof of payment (€100, non-refundable – see methods of payment).

Please send the complete application package by email to or by post to:

Anutruf, Ground Floor
Hriereb Street
Msida, MSD 1675, Malta

Please note that by sending your application package, you are confirming that you have read Diplo's Privacy Policy. Please note that Diplo will process and share your personal data with third parties (including the University of Malta) for admissions and academic matters, administering finance, and administrative purposes in accordance with the Privacy Policy.


Cancellation policy

Diplo reserves the right to cancel this course if enrolment is insufficient. In case of cancellation, Diplo will notify applicants shortly after the application deadline. Applicants who have paid an application fee may apply this fee towards another course or receive a refund.