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NPF International Trade Fellowship 2022

The National Press Foundation in collaboration with the Hinrich Foundation welcomed 22 Asia-based journalists to its International Trade Fellowship in Singapore last month. The five-day workshop, held at the Foundation’s offices in Singapore, touched on digital trade, trade agreements, and U.S.-China trade friction among other issues. The NPF International Trade Fellowship is part of an ongoing program of trade training for journalists and awards for trade coverage sponsored by the Hinrich Foundation.

The training kicked off at the Hinrich Foundation office in Singapore with a welcome address by the Foundation’s Chief Executive Officer Kathryn Dioth. Research Fellow Alex Capri discussed the upheavals in trade, changes in the US-China relationship, export controls, reshoring, and climate change. Senior Research Fellow Stephen Olson delivered the keynote address on global trade’s inflection point.

Retired Singaporean diplomat, Bilahari Kausikan unpacked the geopolitical and geoeconomic impact of the war in Ukraine on the region and the world at large on the second day, with insights on what is in store for the future of the world economy and how countries should interpret the developments in the US-Russia-China dynamic. The questions posed by the Trade Fellows raised concerns over the impact of the Belt and Road Initiative, the US-China rivalry, and an apparent comeback of the era of conventional warfare on the future of trade and economic stability. Deborah Elms, Executive Director at the Asian Trade Centre presented a comprehensive summary of the various regional trade agreements in Asia-Pacific and the extent to which they have helped facilitate trade in various domains.

International trade economists from the National University of Singapore led the dialogue on the rise of the Chinese economy – the story so far and what the future holds. Through detailed and careful data analysis and scenario-building exercises, they highlighted the transformational moments in history that have led to the massive growth of the Chinese economy and key future events that could prove decisive for China, such as the US-China tariff war, the Communist Party congress, and potential WTO reforms.

Digital trade is another area that needs regional and international cooperation for policy coherence to effectively regulate cross-border data flows, data localization, digital currencies, etc. A panel discussion on digital trade facilitation highlighted the need for international cooperation in the digital domain, emphasizing the cross-border nature of barriers to trade in financial services.

The week-long training session wrapped up on 28 July with two conversations on the impact of trade agreements and negotiations on human rights and labor rights records of countries, and the influence of US policy positions on Asian trade. The sessions included field visits to Gardens by the Bay, the Port Innovation Centre, and a vertical farming site.

Trade, Labor, and Human Rights – at odds or reconcilable

While businesses navigate legal, operational, and reputational risk, the duty to protect human rights still falls onto the state, explains Harpreet Kaur, Business and Human Rights Specialist at the UNDP.

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US interest in Asia

When assessing trade agreements, like-minded partners must also consider a country’s record in keeping to both the letter and spirit of the agreement, emphasizes Founder of APAC Advisors, Steven Okun.

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Digital trade facilitation, fintech, e-commerce

Digital trade specialists spoke to the International Trade Fellows about trade finance digitization, the future of digital currencies, and the need to reduce policy fragmentation in the digital domain.

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Environmentalism and trade come together and collide

Four experts and journalists briefed NPF International Trade fellows on the difference between compliance and voluntary carbon markets, greenwashing versus green financing, and more.

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Tackling questions of supply chain resilience, friend-shoring and reshoring

Pandemic disruption, geopolitical shifts, and rising protectionism have prompted many businesses to consider friend-shoring. While “friend-shoring” has appeal, labor, environmental and political obstacles remain.

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Global trade at an inflection point

The international world order shaped in the aftermath of World War II is crumbling. How did we get here and what’s next, answers Hinrich Foundation Senior Research Fellow Stephen Olson.

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Geoeconomics after Russia-Ukraine

The relative peace in the aftermath of the Cold War was a historically anomalous period and journalists must be prepared to cover the new normal in geopolitics, explains retired diplomat Bilahari Kausikan.

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Chinese economy, trade & tariffs: Past, present, future

Have the pandemic and US-China trade war irreversibly affected the future of the Chinese economy? Two trade economists from NUS discuss the past, present, and future of the Chinese economy.

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IPEF, ASEAN, RCEP, DEPA, CPTPP: Decoding the Alphabet Soup of Asian Trade

Deborah Elms, Executive Director, Asian Trade Centre, gave a briefing on what journalists need to know to track the multiple Asian bilateral and multilateral trade deals and frameworks.

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Techno-Nationalism & the Perfect Storm of Geopolitics, Climate Change and COVID

For the past 30 years, the answer to "what's your growth strategy?" has been one word: China. Now, all of that is changing, says Alex Capri, Research Fellow at the Hinrich Foundation.

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Explore more content from International Trade Fellowship workshops and The National Press Foundation.