From left to right: Dr Siwage Dharma Negara, Coordinator of the APEC Study Centre, and Professor Vinod K Aggarwal, Professor of Political Science, Affiliated Professor in the Haas School of Business. (Credit: ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute)
Following the introductory remarks by Dr Siwage Dharma Negara, Coordinator of the APEC Study Centre, Professor Aggarwal began his presentation, first, by shedding some light on the problems faced by the World Trade Organisation (WTO), bilateral free trade agreements (FTAs), multilateral regional accords, and more recently, so called mega-FTAs. Comparing America’s broad trade strategies under President Obama and President Trump, he spoke about the US withdrawal from the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the country’s systemic-, domestic-, and ideational challenges with regard to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with the European Union. Directing the audience’s attention to the trade policy followed by the current government, he presented interesting views on the origins of the assault on the “Liberal Order” and the administration’s objective of revising the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and renegotiating bilateral trade deals with major partners all around the world.
Professor Aggarwal during his presentation (Credit: ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute)
Apart from the American story, Professor Aggarwal also focussed on the “Trade Plus” strategy being followed by China. Specifically, he spoke about the progress made by the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the establishment of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) to counter the US pivot to Asia, and the ambitious One Belt, One Road (OBOR) project to connect China with Eurasia. Professor Aggarwal concluded the session by mentioning that, as trade deals continue to take definite shape, it is still not clear whether China will lead the global economic order in the immediate future.
The audience comprised of research scholars, students, and members of the media and the public, among others. (Credit: ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute)
The seminar was 90 minutes long, and was attended by an audience of 55 people, including research scholars, students, members of the media and the public. The guest speaker also answered their questions on an array of topics, including: the impact of a bipolar trading world on smaller economies, the status of India-APEC relations, labour policy and job losses, and the growth of global trade vs. GDP expansion.