International Trade - Development - Economic Governance - Advisory Services

Our team


IDEAS Centre is an independent non-profit association composed of three partners, one associate partner and a permanent staff of four people.

The partners, associate partners and staff of IDEAS Centre come from various countries and have diverse professional backgrounds. They are independent and highly experienced in matters of international trade and development, international trade negotiations, in particular in the context of the Doha Development Agenda, as well as international trade policy and law in general.

IDEAS Centre pursues an approach that is hands-on, practical and concrete. Its activities are demand driven and flexible and its partners and staff are fully committed to an inclusive, development oriented multilateral trade framework that allows all countries to fully participate and benefit from the global economy in order to foster the development of their people.

The management structure of IDEAS Centre is the following:

  • President of the association: Nicolas Imboden
  • Executive Committee: Nicolas Imboden, Clemens Boonekamp, Christian Pitschas, and Oswald Bregy, lawyer of the association
  • Management team : Clemens Boonekamp, Christian Pitschas


Partners Nicolas IMBODEN
Christian PITSCHAS
Associate Partner Xiankun LU
Senior Policy Advisors Iva DROBNJAK
Policy Advisor Darius RAO
Head of Finance Gaëlle DUBOIS
Logistical and Admin Support Sébastien FAHRNI



President and Partner

Mr Nicolas Imboden, a Swiss national, graduated in law at the University of Geneva, holds a degree in development studies from the African Development Institute; a M.A.L.D. from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in Boston and was an AMP student at Harvard.

He is partner and co-founder of IDEAS Centre. Since the organisation’s creation in 2002, he directs and provides high-level advice in all projects: assistance in accession/post-accession, trade policy advice (WTO, regional integration, bilateral trade agreement), trade-related capacity-building, training and assistance.

Mr Imboden was previously Senior Vice President of SGS (1999-2002), a Swiss Government trade and aid official with the rank of an ambassador (1992-1999), Governor of the regional development banks (ADB, AFDB, IDB) and Executive Director at the EBRD (1992). He was the Swiss negotiator for market access and agriculture during the Uruguay Round negotiations (1987-1992). He also worked in the World Bank (1978-1982 as Agricultural Economist), OECD (1974-1978 as Researcher on aid monitoring) and UNDP (1972-1974 as Program Officer in Chad).

He has been a member of various expert groups of the World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank and of the UNDP Human Development Report.





Clemens Boonekamp was Director of the Agriculture Division of the WTO from 2009 to 2012. He was Secretary to the Agriculture negotiations in the DDA; representative to the G20 on agriculture; responsible for the secretariat for the WTO’s Committee on Agriculture, on SPS and on the STDF.

Prior to this position, he was Director of Trade Policies Review from 1998 to 2009: Secretary to the Trade Policies Review Body; directed some 150 Trade Policy Reports of WTO Members; oversaw work, including for the DDA negotiations, on Regional Trade Agreements.

From 1991 to 1998, he was Counsellor, Trade Policies Review and External Relations; drafted and supervised Trade Policy reports ; negotiated the WTO Agreements with the IMF and World Bank

Before joining WTO, Mr Boonekamp was at the International Monetary Fund, Washington D.C.  USA. He Participated in Article IV consultations and in programme negotiations, especially on balance of payments ( including financing gaps and external debt) and trade issues; represented the IMF at the GATT (now the WTO); and wrote a number papers for the IMF Board and publications, including on the Uruguay Round, Industrial Policies , and VERs.

He was also teacher and researcher at University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.



Christian PITSCHAS


Christian-PitschasDr Christian Pitschas has more than 20 years of experience in the area of international trade law and policy, including EU trade law and policy. He has advised governments and economic operators from the private sector on various matters related to trade in goods and services and worked extensively with developing countries and least-developed countries on trade issues. He has particular expertise in domestic regulation of services, government procurement, subsidies and technical barriers to trade.

Mr Pitschas is partner and co-manager of IDEAS Centre. He has been based in Geneva since 2005. Prior to moving to Geneva, he worked several years in Brussels for a major international law firm. Before that, he was a lecturer in law at Freie Universität Berlin and clerked with the Court of Appeals in Berlin.

Mr Pitschas studied law in Germany, Switzerland and the US and holds an LLM from the University of Georgia (Athens, USA) and a PhD in law from Freie Universität Berlin. He regularly publishes on current issues of international trade law and policy and frequently lectures at academic institutions, including the University of Lucerne, Freie Universität Berlin und the Europa-Institute in Saarbrucken, Germany. Mr Pitschas speaks German, English and French.



Xiankun LU

Associate Partner

Xiankun-LuMr Xiankun Lu, a Chinese national, holds a Bachelor’s Degree of Economics from Shanghai Institute of Foreign Trade (SIFT) of China and a LLM from the University of International Business and Economics (UIBE) of China.

He is an Associate Partner at IDEAS Centre and is part of the organisation since 2015.

Previously, he was Professor of China Institute of WTO Studies of UIBE of China until October 2015; Counsellor and Head of Division in the Permanent Mission of China to the WTO in 2006-2014; Deputy Director for Trade in Goods and then Director for Agriculture of the Ministry of Commerce of China (MOFCOM) in 2001-2006. During these years, he worked intensively on most WTO-related subjects, particularly on agriculture, NAMA, development, trade remedies, fishery subsidies, TRIPS and accessions. He was Chairman for the Committee of Import Licensing of the WTO in 2013-2014 and a leading negotiator of MOFCOM for China-Australia FTA negotiations in 2005-2006.

He also worked as Deputy Director for China-EU/Benelux economic and trade affairs of MOFCOM in 2000-2001, Third Secretary in the Permanent Mission of China to the EU in 1996-2000, Desk Officer for China-EU/Benelux economic and trade affairs of MOFCOM in 1993-1994.

He teaches and researches in various Chinese and European universities and publishes numerous articles on subjects related to the WTO and China. He also participated in the International Visitors Leadership Programme (IVLP) of the US State Department in 2013.




Senior Policy Advisor

Iva-DrobnjakMs Iva Drobnjak holds a MA degree in International Economics from Belgrade University, Serbia. She started her career working for USAID as Economic Advisor on the WTO accession for Serbia and Montenegro, and also as a Specialist on the accession project for Ukraine. She then became Senior Economic Advisor with SEGA (Serbian economic Growth Activity), where she provided advice in policy formulation as well as project management for the accession of Serbia to WTO. After a short period as Economic Advisor for the Ministry of Economy and Regional Development of the Republic of Serbia, she returned to USAID as Senior Policy Advisor, working on legal reforms for Serbia, followed by an assignment as Economic Consultant assisting the Government of Serbia. Recently, Iva has acted as Customs and Trade Expert for a multinational company, Economic Consultant on the CEFTA Trade Portal and worked for the International Finance Corporation, World Bank Group, as a Trade Logistics Consultant for the Western Balkans project. She joined IDEAS Centre in 2013 as a Policy Advisor in which capacity she provides trade policy advice and technical assistance to developing and least developed countries in accession negotiations, post-accession process and DDA negotiations.




Senior Policy Advisor

Mr Josip Pervan holds a MA degree in business economics from the Karl Franzens University in Graz, Austria. After finishing his studies he joined the Ministry of Economy of Croatia where he participated in completion of Croatian WTO accession negotiations. Later on he worked as a part of the team at the Ministry of European Integration of Croatia that concluded negotiations on the Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA) between Croatia and the EU. Between 2002 and 2007 he served as a trade diplomat at the Mission in Geneva representing Croatian interests at the multilateral level. As a leader of two negotiating groupings at the WTO and WIPO he articulated and advocated specific interests of developing and transition economies. In WIPO, he coordinated the Regional Group of Central European and Baltic States, while in the WTO he served as a long-term leader of the Recently Acceded Members (RAMs). At IDEAS Centre Josip is providing targeted trade policy and negotiating advice to Governments of LDCs, developing and transition economies but also managing projects and developing project proposals. Josip has also published articles and analyses on issues concerning international trade in Croatian business weekly magazine and in the Bulletin of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce.



Darius RAO

Policy Advisor

Mr Darius Rao graduated with a Master of International Law and Economics (magna cum laude) from the World Trade Institute at the University of Bern in 2011, which focuses on international trade law and policy. During and after his studies, he accomplished numerous traineeships in Belize, Palestine and South Africa, notably in the field of refugee law. His career orientation then shifted to international trade policy and he subsequently worked as a trainee for the European Free Trade Association. His fields of interests revolve around trade-related food security issues, trade in agriculture and regional integration schemes. Since 2013, he has been providing policy advice and technical assistance to developing countries in trade policy reviews, Doha Round negotiations and other trade-related matters, and has also worked on developing project proposals and concepts.




Head of Finance

Ms Dubois joined IDEAS Center in late 2015 as Head of Finance. She is responsible for the financial and legal management of the institution and of the projects, as well as for the management of human resources.


Contact us

  • IDEAS Centre
    Rue de l’Arquebuse 10
    CH - 1204 Geneva
  • +41 22 807 17 40
  • +41 22 807 17 41