The second Open Trade Asia Negotiation Simulation, held Sept. 6, 2017, at the De La Salle University (DLSU), was a great learning experience for me. It provided me the opportunity to interact with professional business people from various ASEAN countries, representatives of Asia Society Philippines and the Hinrich Foundation, and Ambassador Delia Albert, who is now senior adviser at SGV & Co. Further, the experience let me get a glimpse of how negotiations and compromises are reached in the world of trade, specifically within the ASEAN.

During the event, I participated in the simulation with the negotiation scenario “Trade in Service Dispute – Accounting services.” The task of those representing the ATD countries is to negotiate a resolution that will be acceptable to all parties.

Under this scenario, certain professionals –including accountants — in member countries of the Asian Trade Dialogue (ATD) are allowed to provide services in other countries on a non-discriminatory basis. In the simulation, I was among the representatives of Thailand, which recently instituted a policy requiring accountants who want to work in Thailand to take a certification course and pass the related exam. The course takes place over a three-month period, four nights a week, and can be taken only in Thailand. This means that accountants from other ATD countries would have to leave their domestic practices behind and spend three months in Thailand.

Additionally, under the scenario, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar look to be on the verge of rolling out their own certification course requirements that will be very similar to those of Thailand.

During the discussion, Thailand argued that the other countries should abide by their rules and regulations. Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Brunei, Indonesia, Cambodia and Laos, meanwhile, were for ATD countries having standard accounting policies so that their accountants would not be able to practice in other markets. Brunei offered to help improve and review the accounting policies of Thailand.

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Team Thailand deliberates.

Thailand’s final decision was to proceed with the certification course requirement. Additionally, Thailand accepted Brunei’s offer to help improve the country’s accounting policies so that at some point, it could prepare ATD-level accounting policies. China, Myanmar and Singapore did not agree.

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Team Thailand makes its stand clear in the first round of negotiations.

The group on the “Trade in Service Dispute – Accounting services” failed to reach a consensus.

I learned a lot from the Open Trade Asia Negotiation Simulation. First, a negotiation occurs only when everyone in the group achieves consensus. With this, all parties must mutually benefit from the decision. Second, ASEAN countries should help each other progress and achieve peace. Lastly, there are a lot of key players in a negotiation so it is important to listen and comprehend their stances. Each ASEAN country has its own competencies that can help improve and strengthen their fellow countries.

The Open Trade Asia Negotiation Simulation is a great opportunity for students to be aware of the different issues regarding trade. It also helps students improve their decision-making.

About the author – Nicole Keith Sarte

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Nicole Keith Sarte is studying Bachelor of Science in Accountancy at De La Salle University (DLSU) in Manila, Philippines. She currently serves as assistant vice president in finance for the DLSU Junior Entrepreneurs’ Marketing Association.