encouraging informed debate
through international trade research

Hinrich Foundation was delighted to support the Asia Trade Summit 2019, hosted by the Economist Events, on February 28, 2019, at JW Marriott Hotel, Hong Kong. The aim of the summit was to find out the next trends for global trade as major countries around the world take protectionists policies, thereby threatening free trade. 

The event saw the participation of more than 200 people including regional trade negotiators, business leaders, ministers for trade, academics and economists that came together to begin building consensus on the reforms necessary to ensure the World Trade Organisation remains a viable institution in the 21st century. It sought to establish the importance of technology in helping regional developing economies to integrate with the global trade system.

The event also deliberated on the ways to encourage the private and public sector engage in economically, socially and environmentally sustainable international trade.

Hinrich Foundation is focused on promoting sustainable global trade and its work is grounded in the belief that it requires mutually acceptable terms for balanced economic, social and environmental outcomes. HF aim is to influence and improve trade behaviours and outcomes so that trade can create maximum benefits for all the participants and enhances geopolitical stability.

Research Fellow of Hinrich Foundation Stephen Olson participated in a panel discussion, titled “A World Without The WTO”. The session discussed the scenarios that could lead to the WTO’s demise and what a post-WTO world would look like for policymakers and private sector.

Hinrich Foundation participates in Asia Trade Summit in Hong Kong 1

Olson pointed out that the WTO has never concluded a comprehensive agreement. However, the sectoral agreements are highly useful. Its dispute resolution body however is currently under threat.

He also argued that dismantling of the WTO would not necessarily bring about a rule of jungle scenario as countries like to conduct trade within a predictable rule framework. However, the WTO needs to do a better job in engaging and winning over civil society on trade issues. 

The discussion was moderated by Managing Editor, Asia and global editorial lead, trade and globalisation, the Economist Intelligence Unit, Christopher Clague, and the panellists included:

  • Yi Xiaozhun – Deputy director-general, WTO
  • Deborah Elms – Executive director, Asian Trade Centre
  • Bryan Mercurio – Chair professor, associate dean (Research) and outstanding fellow, Faculty of Law, Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK)
  • Stephen Olson – Research Fellow, Hinrich Foundation

Olson also opined that the world may get divided into trade blocs if the WTO fails.

At the event, Hinrich Foundation presented its research work and consulted scores of participants about the mission of the Foundation in promoting sustainable trade through research, stakeholder engagement and education.

Hinrich Foundation participates in Asia Trade Summit in Hong Kong 2

“Educate, Inform and Engage” is the leitmotif of the Foundation’s work. Hinrich Foundation sponsored books, including “China, Trade and Power: Why the West’s Economic Engagement Has Failed” and “Developing China: The remarkable impact of Foreign Direct Investment” was also given out to the participants.

Hinrich Foundation also distributed the Sustainable Trade Index to all the attendees at the event. The Index measures the readiness of each economy to participate in global trade in a way that creates sustainable growth and attracts foreign direct investment, funding and support from multilateral development agencies.

The Foundation had sponsored the books and the Trade Index to encourage an informed and reasoned debate among the stakeholders.

The event concluded with closing remarks from Henry Curr, Economics editor, The Economists, followed by a cocktail reception.

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About the author- Pragya Bhatnagar

Hinrich Foundation launches Indonesia Digital Trade Report in Jakarta 2Pragya Bhatnagar is a Research Associate with the Hinrich Foundation where he focuses on International Trade Research. He is a Hinrich Foundation Global Trade Leader Scholar alumnus, earning his Master’s degree in International Journalism, specializing in Business and Financial Journalism, from Hong Kong Baptist University. He received his bachelor’s degree in Economics from Lucknow University, India.