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Research Fellow presents the STI 2020 findings at the GTIPA Virtual Summit

Published 29 October 2020 | 8 minute read

Hinrich Foundation Research Fellow Stephen Olson presented the key findings of the 2020 Hinrich Foundation Sustainable Trade Index (STI) at the 2020 Global Trade and Innovation Policy Alliance (GTIPA) Virtual Summit on October 29, 2020.

The summit brings together experts to explore creative solutions to difficult economic, trade, and innovation challenges facing the international community. The experts spoke about the future of trade and globalization, lessons for policymakers on managing COVID-19 economic and public health impacts drawn from a series of original country-level case studies; and getting global trade rules right to facilitate digital trade and cross-border data flows.

Stephen Olson presented the third edition of the Sustainable Trade Index to the members of the GTIPA. The Sustainable Trade Index (or Hinrich Index) measures the capacity of 20 economies – including 19 in Asia, and the United States – to participate in international trade in a manner that supports the long-term domestic and global goals of economic growth, environmental protection, and better social equity. The Hinrich Index aims to stimulate meaningful discussions of the full range of considerations when advancing sustainable trade.

In his presentation, Olson defined sustainable trade as “engaging in international trade in a way that not only generates balanced economic growth but also strengthens social capital and provides for environmental stewardship.”

On the 2020 STI, Olson pointed out that the latest edition witnessed, for the first time in the history of STI, a tie for the first spot between Japan and South Korea. The Index placed the United States at the sixth position in the third edition of the STI, Olson said that the decline in the US performance was largely due to number of tariffs and non-tariff measures that had been put in place by the economy.

Olson also spoke about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on creating greater sustainability in trade. He presented the policy implications for the three pillars of sustainability.

  • Economic pillar: Avoid over-dependency in trade
  • Social pillar: Political instability helps ensure public buy-in for pandemic policies
  • Environmental pillar: Stewardship helps head-off future zoonotic diseases

In his concluding remarks, Olson questioned if the pandemic would lead to more sustainable trade and provided two contrasting views. He spoke about Indonesia’s “Omnibus Bill” that relaxes environmental and labor standards on one hand, and highlighted the strong commitments business and investors are taking to “build back better”.

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Pragya Bhatnagar

Pragya Bhatnagar is a former Research Associate with the Hinrich Foundation where he focused on International Trade Research.

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