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Research Fellow gives lecture on globalisation at HKUST

Published 27 February 2019

On February 25, 2019, Hinrich Foundation Research Fellow Stephen Olson gave a lecture to the students of Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST).

The lecture was attended by about 50 students from the Globalisation course in the university. Olson said tariffs were first brought by Smoot and Hawley. He gave a detailed presentation on the ill-effects of Smoot-Hawley Tariffs Acts that contributed to the Great Depression. In order to rectify the Act’s effect, world leaders came together to form General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT).

But, Olson explained, as the world moved forward new issues such as services, intellectual property rights, subsidies etc. started to crop up. GATT did not have provisions to deal with these new world issues. This led to the formation of World Trade Organisation (WTO) to deal with them and provided dispute settlement mechanism for a free and fair trade.

During 1950-2000, the global trade was 22 times higher than the tariff-embedded trade years. Olson explained the structure and aim of the WTO and touched upon the different multilateral rounds of negotiations, especially the Doha round which took 12 years, but went in vain. However, the round brought unity among the members on giving greater access to farmers from developing countries.

In today’s scenario, Olson opined that multilateral agreements are dead in the water, while there is proliferation of bilateral and regional agreements. The relevance of WTO is under increasing attack due to the ongoing trade war, he said.

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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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