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On February 24 and March 3, 2018, the Hinrich Foundation, in partnership with the Hong Kong-America Center, hosted the Open Trade Asia Negotiation Simulation Hong Kong 2018. Students from multiple universities across Hong Kong attended the two-day trade negotiation event, which took place on consecutive Saturdays at Asia Society Hong Kong.

During Open Trade Asia Negotiation Simulation events, student delegates assume the important role of trade ambassador. They are asked to represent their country teams in real-world trade negotiation scenarios debating real-world trade issues. Throughout the process, delegates become acquainted with pivotal global trade issues and develop a unique understanding of how trade benefits and affects society.

On day one of the event, students were greeted by an impressive list of guest speakers. Glenn Shive, Executive Director of Hong Kong-America Center, and Alexander Boome, Program Director at the Hinrich Foundation, provided welcome remarks to the students. They were followed by Hinrich Foundation Founder, Merle A. Hinrich, who presented insightful opening remarks underscoring the importance of global trade. Special guest Kurt Tong, US Consul-General to Hong Kong and Macau, then delivered a keynote speech on the importance of trade and free trade agreements in the region. He was followed by Hinrich Foundation Research Fellow Stephen Olson, who prepared the students for the upcoming negotiations and provided key negotiation strategies moving forward.

Students were then divided into country teams representing Australia, China, India, Japan, the Philippines and the United States. While caucusing amongst their new teammates, delegates were tasked to establish their individual roles and decide on their national negotiation priorities as a group. Delegates then worked together to prepare their opening country negotiation stances. At the conclusion of day one, country teams presented their agreed upon objectives to the other nations during the opening plenary.

On day two, students were welcomed back to the negotiations and briefed on the upcoming proceedings. Country teams were instructed to discuss and negotiate on trade topics including health care services, digital economy, agricultural subsidies and non-tariff measures on food products. They presented their individual country stances during sector negotiations, while listening attentively to the positions of other nations.

They were then briefed by special guest Michaela Browning, Australia Consul-General to Hong Kong and Macau, who delivered a keynote speech on trade and free trade agreements over lunch. Following her remarks and additional rounds of sector negotiations, country teams met to formulate their final positions and consider compromises with other nations. Throughout the day, teams were presented with additional curveballs, which forced the delegates to think creatively and address unforeseen issues in the negotiations.

Delegates entered final negotiations and began drafting a joint communique. A final plenary was then held where teams voted to affirm the final communique, thus concluding negotiations with a consensus. The event closed with final remarks and a presentation of certificates to all participants.

To find out more information about our Open Trade Asia Negotiation Simulation programs, please click here.

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About the author – Lauren Kyger

Lauren Kyger is a Research Associate with the Hinrich Foundation where she focuses on international trade research. She is a Hinrich Foundation Global Trade Leader Scholar alumna, earning her Master’s degree in Global Business Journalism from Tsinghua University in Beijing. She received her Bachelor’s degree from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.