Continuing to browse our website indicates your consent to our use of cookies. For more information, see our Privacy Policy.

Trade Educators Center

Are you teaching students on foreign affairs, global business or international public policy?

Welcome to Hinrich Foundation’s Trade Educators Center, featuring our helpful classroom discussion guides.

International trade policy is a core part of countries’ foreign policy engagement, drives how goods and services are produced and distributed, influences where jobs are created, and is a strategic tool in shaping long-term competitive advantage.

Many academic programs have insufficient content on this important topic. Teaching material – if it covers trade policy at all – is often theoretical and does not draw from real-world business and policy scenarios, making it hard to stimulate student interest and engagement.

Our teaching aids and articles are available to educators to use with their classes – as assigned reading, as the basis for in-class discussion and case studies, and to create online discussion groups. The content is available for reprint and use through our reprint policy.

Watch these videos featuring our contributors as they explain how educators can utilize our materials in their teaching:

Alex Capri on semiconductors and "techno-nationalism"

Ed Gerwin on the lessons of trade in pencils

Classroom discussion guides

Our guides were created to help educators to lead students in discussions on the economic, social, legal, historic, and geopolitical dynamics driving global trade. It's designed to supplement academic materials, and to encourage active learning methods such as student debates, case studies, and simulations.

Data is disruptive: How data sovereignty is challenging data governance

By controlling large volumes of data, governments believe they can gain economic advantage in the digital economy and be better positioned to counter the market power of the giant platforms. But advocates of data sovereignty may be misguided. Researchers cannot yet ascertain if economics of scale and scope in data will yield competitive advantage.

However, the hoarding of data by nations or firms may reduce data generativity and the public benefits of data analysis. Whether held by the public or private sector, societies benefit the most when large inventories of data are used, shared, and crossed with other sets of data. In this essay, Professor Susan Ariel Aaronson provides an overview of data governance and trade, and the defensive reactions of governments around the world as data becomes more central in today’s economy – and how trade agreements may facilitate rather than limit restrictions.

Download our classroom discussion guide for this paper.

Can 'middle powers' reset global trade through the CPTPP?

Today, the global balance of power revolves around three economic superpowers: the United States, the European Union, and China. Yet the relative autarky and increasing protectionism of the three superpowers, together with the cumbersome nature of the World Trade Organization, have arguably hindered progress when it comes to bringing trade arrangements up to date and making them fit for purpose in a rapidly changing world.

In this paper, Hinrich Foundation Research Fellow Stewart Paterson argues that Brexit may be reconfiguring more than just Europe. The UK’s application to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) could signal the emerging role of ‘middle powers’ in reviving free trade and multilateralism. Pending on the outcome of China’s application for membership, the agreement would have enabled countries committed to free trade to forge ahead with deeper economic engagement, thereby rejuvenating the global trading system.

Download our classroom discussion guide for this paper.

Quantum computing: A new frontier in techno-nationalism

The age of modern computing has produced remarkable innovations across entire industries, a phenomenon that has been driven largely by semiconductors. As microchips can no longer accommodate increased numbers of transistors (known as “bits”) on surface areas that have shrunk to the size of an atom, quantum computing promises to provide the answer.

This paper by Hinrich Foundation Research Fellow Alex Capri studies the latest general developments of quantum computing, and how it could transform the future of geopolitics and global trade. Quantum computing could reshape innovation and competition in virtually every field, produce decisive advantages in a state’s technological prowess, and decide winners and losers across a wide range of strategic industries. State and non-state actors must begin to understand and successfully harness the power of the “qubit” – or risk being dominated by those who do.

Download our classroom discussion guide for this paper.

Advancing sustainable development with FDI: Why policy must be reset

In many countries, foreign direct investment (FDI) outperforms aid, remittances, and portfolio investments as the largest source of external financing. Properly guided, FDI creates jobs, boosts productivity, and brings management expertise and technology. Subsequently, industries modernize, domestic supply chains emerge, infrastructure develops and improves, as do regulatory reforms and living standards.

Since the 2008 Global Financial Crisis, however, FDI has suffered a steady decline, both in aggregate and in developing countries. Over the past five years in particular, public policy has created headwinds for foreign investments. Discussions on the contribution of international business to pressing global challenges urgently need a reset.

This report, authored by Simon J. Evenett and Johannes Fritz of the Global Trade Alert, was published by the Centre for Economic Policy Research. In supporting this research, the Hinrich Foundation retains optimism in FDI’s contribution to advancing economic growth and sustainable development, and encourages action to address the regulatory gaps that hold back investment.

Download our classroom discussion guide for this paper.

Techno-nationalism via semiconductors: Can chip manufacturing return to America?

The COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing US-China geopolitical tensions have converged to create a global shortage of semiconductors. The increased attention on semiconductor global value chains brought stark realities to light. First, microchip manufacturing is disproportionately concentrated in Asia, especially in Taiwan. Single-source supply chains are fragile and highly vulnerable. Second, China’s increasingly competitive relationship with the US and its allies is accelerating strategic decoupling, reshoring, and ringfencing throughout the semiconductor landscape.

As geopolitical rivalry intensifies, the US and China share one common goal: They both want to localize semiconductor manufacturing. In this paper, Hinrich Foundation Research Fellow Alex Capri focuses on the actions the United States has taken to try and revitalize its chip industry. This report is Part 2 of the comprehensive primer Semiconductors at the heart of the US-China tech war.

Download our classroom discussion guide for this paper.

The EU-China CAI: An agreement whose time has passed? Rethinking China trade policy

The EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI) was concluded in principle on 30 December 2020 after seven years of negotiation. Its ratification by the European Parliament will no doubt fuel a broader debate about the EU relationship with the Chinese government whose approach is at odds with the espoused liberal values of the Union, and Europe’s relationship with the United States. On 20 May 2021, the European Parliament voted to suspend the CAI in response to Chinese sanctions on European human rights advocates, including several EU legislators.

In this paper, Stewart Paterson, Research Fellow at the Hinrich Foundation, explores the background to the CAI, the EU’s asymmetric economic relationship with China, and – in the context of China’s two decades of phenomenal growth – the relatively modest economic interaction between the two parties. The author also examines the prospect of CAI rebalancing and deepening EU-China trade linkages.

Download our classroom discussion guide for this paper.

Rethinking China trade policy: Lessons learned and options ahead

There seems to be an emerging consensus that the existing World Trade Organization (WTO) rules are inadequate for dealing with the challenges brought by China's economic system. Due to the size of China’s economy and its significant trade share, it would be unrealistic to assume that meaningful reform efforts at the WTO could be achieved without the participation of the world’s second largest economy.

In this paper, Henry Gao, Associate Professor of Law at Singapore Management University, notes that the unilateral approach employed by the US towards China has failed and that multilateralism offers a more viable approach. This includes the enforcement of existing rules through WTO litigation, and the negotiation of new rules through WTO reform. Gao's analysis provides a critical evaluation of these two options.

Download our classroom discussion guide for this paper.

The digital yuan and China’s potential financial revolution

China is leading the way among major economies in trialing a central bank digital currency (CBDC). Given China’s technological ability and the speed of adoption of new payment methods by Chinese consumers, the CBDC could displace physical cash in the economy over the next few years. The power that this gives to the state is enormous, both in terms of law enforcement and in improving economic management. At the international level, the digitalization of the yuan has the potential to accelerate decoupling that is already underway. 

This paper by Hinrich Foundation Research Fellow Stewart Paterson explains how CBDCs could operate domestically; specifically the impact it could have on the Chinese economy and society. It also looks at the possible implications for global trade and geopolitics.

Download our classroom discussion guide for this paper.

China & the WTO at 20: celebration or regret?

China’s accession to the WTO led to a marked deepening of its trade and investment linkages with the rest of the world. However, China’s statist and mercantilist approach to economic management meant that the relationship was asymmetric by design, posing some troubling questions for the future of the global trading system.

This paper by Stewart Paterson, Hinrich Foundation Research Fellow and author of "China, Trade and Power: Why the West’s Economic Engagement Has Failed", looks at the evolution of the Chinese economy both before and after WTO membership. Paterson asks what lessons can be learnt and how, if at all, China’s accession to the WTO could have been managed differently to mitigate disruption and facilitate a more equitable distribution of the gains from trade. 

Download our classroom discussion guide for this paper.

A techno-globalist approach to intellectual property and supply chain disruptions

This paper is co-authored by Mark A. Cohen, Distinguished Senior Fellow and Director at the Berkeley Center for Law and Technology, and Philip C. Rogers, PhD candidate at the University of California, Berkeley. 

The authors note that responding to techno-nationalism need not be a binary choice between decoupling and engagement with China. Global IP-protective strategies can also help remedy the IP theft concerns underlying US-China trade tensions. In what the authors termed a "techno-globalist alternative", more practical approaches that incorporate IP strategies can help build stable, durable and resilient supply chains.

Download our classroom discussion guide for this paper.

India: A 21st century technology hub?

This paper authored by Hinrich Foundation Research Fellow Alex Capri seeks to find out whether India in the 21st century will emerge as a global technology manufacturing hub amidst a major paradigm shift driven by techno-nationalism.

Washington’s technology cold war with Beijing has resulted in strategic decoupling, prompting manufacturing supply chains to shift to new locations.

India finds itself well positioned to absorb these supply chains. Its government has responded by rolling out reforms to attract foreign direct investment, create new infrastructure, and promote special economic zones and technology clusters. Meanwhile, India’s digital landscape appears to be on the verge of a fintech and e-commerce revolution.

India’s growing significance as a security partner for Washington and its allies also puts the country in a favorable position. But the country will not succeed unless it can overcome its main systemic challenges.

Download our classroom discussion guide for this paper.

New Cold War: De-risking US-China conflict

This paper authored by Hinrich Foundation Senior Research Fellow Dr. Alan Dupont, one of Australia's leading security strategists and Asianists, concludes that the linked US-China trade, technology and geopolitical conflicts have precipitated a new Cold War. A second Cold War could be worse than the first, given the interdependence of the US and Chinese economies, their centrality to global prosperity and the proliferation of dangerous military and digital technologies.

This report draws out the risks — and likely consequences — for a system already in a state of flux as the transition to a post-American world accelerates and the coronavirus wreaks havoc on the world economy and international trade. Comprised of four chapters, it concludes by outlining seven recommendations for policy makers to prevent and mitigate worst-case outcomes of the increasingly bitter contest between China and the US.

Download our classroom discussion guide for this paper.

Hinrich Foundation Sustainable Trade Index 2020

The Sustainable Trade 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.

Commissioned to the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), the 2020 index examines the role of sustainable trade for building back better in a post-COVID-19 world. It identifies four areas policymakers, business leaders and NGOs should address for more sustainable growth.

This report comes with a dataset that contains detailed results for the 20 economies reviewed, and can be compared across economies, indicators and years. 

The Sustainable Trade Index is currently in its third edition.

Download our classroom discussion guide for this paper.

Digital trade in the Asia-Pacific: Issues for 2021 and beyond

This paper was published on 23 December 2020 by the Hinrich Foundation, and authored by Dr. Deborah Elms, Founder and Executive Director of the Asian Trade Centre. This report identifies eight issues that governments and firms across the Asia-Pacific region will need to tackle to reap the full benefits of the digital opportunity.

The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted global trade and up-ended many longstanding business models. Firms are rapidly shifting to develop or expand digital capabilities to manage highly altered supply and demand pressures. Despite the growing importance of digital trade, the ability of governments to tackle a range of issues of relevance to managing the online environment still lags behind the speed of innovation for firms. Given the overwhelming importance of small businesses to every country in Asia, failure to create supportive policies will impede the region’s attempt to advance sustainable and inclusive development.

Download our classroom discussion guide for this paper.

Techno-nationalism and the US-China innovation race

This report was published on 3 August 2020 by the Hinrich Foundation, and authored by Research Fellow Alex Capri. This paper outlines the implications for markets, academia, research organizations, and governments of the US-China competition to achieve innovation advantage. 

A US-China tech innovation race has sparked a paradigm shift in global trade and commerce that is challenging the long-standing primacy of the world's open trading system.

Current thinking is tilting towards increased state activism and interventionism, not only in the technology landscape but in many of the industries of the future.

Driving this change is techno-nationalism: a mercantilist-like behavior that links tech innovation and enterprise directly to the national security, economic prosperity and social stability of a nation.

Download our classroom discussion guide for this paper.

© The Hinrich Foundation. See our website Terms and Conditions for our copyright and reprint policy. All statements of fact and the views, conclusions and recommendations expressed in this publication are the sole responsibility of the author(s).