Graduate Student Competition – Winners announced!

STC updated page 1

The Sustainable Trade Challenge was started by the Hinrich Foundation and Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU) to encourage graduate students to develop innovative policy and industry sustainability solutions to make trade more beneficial for societies and economies. All submissions were based of the Sustainable Trade Index.


CONGRATULATIONS to our Sustainable Trade Challenge winners! After an overwhelming response from graduate students across the globe – from 98 universities and 27 countries – we are excited to announce, in partnership with APRU, the winners:

1st Place: Ningcheng Cao, Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU)

2nd Place: Binil Mathew, Hao Nan & Devyani Chaturvedi – National University of Singapore (NUS)

This competition attracted forward-thinking graduate students, challenging them to innovate solutions to make trade more sustainable and beneficial for a selected economy. The result? Complex, unique, data-driven solutions to some of the world’s most pertinent international issues based on the Sustainable Trade Index 2018. Each proposal we received is proof the next generation of Global Trade Leaders is already invested in a sustainable future – and we look forward seeing what they accomplish next!

Ningcheng Cao

1st Place: “Carbon tax solutions for Sustainable Trade”

Submitted by: Ningcheng Cao, HKBU

In first place, Ningcheng Cao proposed a carbon tax in China to meet the goals of “environmental protection and economic development at the same time based on the target of sustainable trade,” she wrote in the proposal’s opening sentence.

Cao’s proposal stood out to the judge panel because of her data-driven approach. Commenting on the proposal, professor Alexander Capri of NUS said it addressed “an urgent problem in China,” and was “very focused.”

Cao was motivated to participate in the competition after experiencing extreme smog in Beijing. She believes “a balance among economic growth, social stability and environmental protection” must occur to make global trade more sustainable. She chose carbon taxation because it is an efficient and low-cost method, building her model based on a process she learned in econometrics class.

View her submission here

Binil Matthew, Hao Nan, Devyani Chaturvedi

2nd Place: “Social impact investment for sustainable trade”

Submitted by Binil Matthew, Hao Nan & Devyani Chaturvedi, NUS

The 2nd place team designed a vocational tertiary education model using social impact investment in India, choosing to analyze the Indian economy because of the rapid trade growth India has experienced in the past decade.

The Sustainable Trade Challenge “was a fantastic learning and exploring experience for us because… we were really trying to combine the in-class knowledge with the real-world challenges” Hao Nan, a graduate student of Public Policy at Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at National University of Singapore, wrote in an email to the Hinrich Foundation.

“From the International Relations perspective, inter-dependency brought by tight trade relations would lead to lasting peace,” Nan said. “From the public policy perspective, trade would facilitate the exchange of management experience, professionals and technologies between nations and further lead to national prosperity.” Ultimately, if enacted, their proposal would ensure trade in India is on a path to productivity and efficiency, allowing India to take on an increasingly important role in the Asia-Pacific region and making a long-term impact on its trade sustainability.

View their submission here

Judge Panel
Along with the proposals’ promise of significant impact, judges awarded solutions for their viability and originality.

The panel included the below trade policy experts:
Name Position Organization Country
Alex Capri Visiting Senior Fellow
Analytics and Operations
NUS Singapore
Duc Tran Regional Cooperation Specialist Asia Development Bank Philippines
Kristine Alcantara Managing Partner Abad Alcantara and Associates Philippines
Mia Mikic Director
Trade, Investment and Innovation Division
UNESCAP Thailand
Pushan Dutt Professor of Economics INSEAD Singapore

Sustainable Trade Index Read more about the Sustainable Trade Index here.
About the Sustainable Trade Challenge

The Sustainable Trade Challenge is part of the Hinrich Foundation’s research-based initiatives to improve trade outcomes, create maximum benefits for its participants and enhance geopolitical stability. The competition was launched to empower voices of the next generation of global trade leaders, nudging them to a deeper understanding of the implications of the Sustainable Trade Index and creating a channel for change.

Congratulations again to the two deserving winners of the Sustainable Trade Challenge! Keep up the hard work.