Open Trade Asia

A Simulation of Negotiating Trade Agreements in Asia
for University Students in Hong Kong
Organized by the Hong Kong America Center (HKAC)
Supported by the Hinrich Foundation
Saturdays February 24 and March 3, 2018
Venue: Asia Society Hong Kong in Admiralty


Students in all universities in Hong Kong are invited to apply for a place in the 2018 Simulation of Asian Trade Negotiations.

The Hinrich Foundation is supporting the HKAC to organize a two-Saturday program at the elegant venue of the Asia Society of Hong Kong to simulate trade negotiations in Asia. Post-graduate and advanced undergraduate students from all programs and disciplines are welcome to register online. Additional information is also on the HKAC website ( and on our FB at Program fee has been waived, but places are limited. Join us to learn the dynamics of negotiating successful trade agreements among Asian nations.

The Future of Open Trade in Asia:

The open trade system has been a major part of the powerful globalization process that has accelerated economic growth and lifted the lives of millions of people in Asia, North America, and worldwide. But further progress in the open trade system appears stalled in many nations due to lackluster political support, and sometimes overt opposition, to the open trade agenda. It seems that a generation has grown up around the world assuming the benefits of expanding trade without understanding how global trade functions, or how to sustain and strengthen this open trading system.

Hong Kong is highly dependent on global trade. It is important that the educated public here understands how governments reach regional or bi-lateral trade agreements. Knowledge of trade agreements can lead to a career path for young professionals in business, government, law and the social sciences. Policy uncertainty in trade relations, stimulated by economic nationalism in our region, actually creates new needs for people who know the issues and can give professional advice to offices and interest groups that need to renegotiate on trade to new standards and priorities. For example, what will it take to re-negotiate NAFTA in North America, or to create a whole new set of trade agreements for the UK after Brexit? As more stakeholders become involved in trade relations, and the more complex these negotiations become, the more the need for young professionals in government, business and public policy centers who know the score on trade.

Since the American president Trump withdrew from the Transpacific Partnership (TPP), which the US did much to promote among 12 countries over a decade, the leaders of governments and businesses in the Asian region have been in much uncertainty about the future of trade policy. Will the United States introduce new bilateral trade negotiations with Asian countries? Will the eleven TPP nations, without America, join in a regional agreement that incorporates the main elements and high standards of the TPP? Will a new regional trade block in Asia emerge as a result?

Will China become the new leader in promoting global trade, as the United States creates a vacuum of leadership by succumbing to ideas of economic nationalism? Will the Belt and Road Initiative by China and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) lead to new trade agreements in the Eurasian region between Europe and China?

Could new barriers to trade slow growth in the global economy, to the detriment of all nations (but to some more than others)? Will the role of the WTO change in this context? What kinds of economic growth are not happening due to the absence of new trade agreements?

Build Your Negotiation Skills Through Simulation

The Hong Kong America Center, a consortium of universities in Hong Kong, develops active learning strategies related to trade that engage students across the disciplines. We believe simulations of real- world trade negotiations are powerful ways to introduce young people to how trade policies are made and to reveal the human factors that come into play in trans-national negotiations. Of course, the negotiation skills students learn in one sector will be of value in many other transnational work settings as well.

This project will enable students can explore trade issues and envision new areas of potential for trade agreements, whether bilateral or multilateral, in the Asian region. University students in Hong Kong, and in wider Asia, will interact and learn from one another about the trade system in transition.

Located at the rather hidden but stunningly beautiful venue in the Asia Society in Admiralty, this program will be on the Saturdays of February 24 and March 3, 2018. Participants must commit to attending the full program on both Saturdays.

Students are invited to register directly HERE. Please indicate your preference for country teams. They are: China, Japan, South Korea, United States, India, and Indonesia.

Each country team will have about six members. Participants may be post-graduate or advanced undergraduate students from any academic field. They may be from Hong Kong, the Chinese mainland, or international students studying in HK. We encourage gender balance and discipline diversity. The program will be in English.

The simulation will also include several journalists (not attached to country teams) to “cover” the simulation for the purpose of writing about their observations and interviews of the delegates in their roles. A Facebook page for the simulation will allow delegates to communicate with one another – in role – well before the first meeting on February 24th. This is consistent with the age of political tweets and social media.

Student teams will be expected to do research on their country’s economy, political system and current trade policies, as well as other countries in the simulation, before the first session on February 24.

Given a generous grant from the Hinrich Foundation, the program will be free of charge to students. Teams may include members who have participated in earlier simulations conducted by the HKAC. Selected students will be asked to make a deposit of HK$ 500 with the HKAC to reserve a place in the program. The places are in high demand, and we will have a waiting list to replace delegates who cannot take up their places. This amount will be reimbursed in full in cash at the conclusion of the program on March 3.

Awards and prizes will be given for the best negotiating team and the best individual contributors to the overall program. All students who complete the program will be awarded a certificate from the Hinrich Foundation and the HKAC. A program schedule is attached to this announcement.

Join us if you can for this unique simulation of global trade negotiations. Make trade negotiation one of your professional skills for an international career.




Saturday February 24 (Day 1)
08:30 Registration
09:00 Welcome remarks (Hinrich Foundation, Asia Society, and the HKAC)
09:15 Keynote speech by Kurt Tong, US Consul General in HK: Open Trade and US-East Asian Relations
10:00 Stephen Olson, HF Fellow, Introduction and Overview to the Simulation
10:30 Break
10:45 Country teams meet
11:30 Briefings on trade sectors A and B (concurrent sessions)
12:30 Lunch
13:30 Stephen Olson, Presentation on Trade Negotiation Process
14:15 Prepare country presentations
14:45 Plenary: Country presentations of opening positions with Q+A
15:45 Break
16:00 Trade sector negotiation meetings Part 1 (groups A and B)
17:00 Country teams meet: review Day 1 and prepare for Day 2
17:30 Adjourn


Saturday March 3 (Day 2)
08:30 Registration
09:00 Welcome remarks (Glenn Shive and Stephen Olson)
09:15 Keynote by David Dodwell on evolving regional trade architecture in Asia
10:00 Country teams meet
10:30 Break
10:45 Sector negotiations Part 2: A and B (concurrent sessions)
12:00 Presentation by Mark Michelson: Trade Agreements and Public Policy Challenges in Asia
12:30 Lunch
13:30 Country teams meet; informal cross-team meetings
14:00 Sector negotiations Part 3: A and B (concurrent sessions)
15:15 Break
15:30 Plenary: Concluding negotiation of trade agreements (A and B)
16:45 Plenary: Presentation of draft communique by communique team
17:00 Reflections, evaluations, certificates, vote of thanks
17:30 Adjourn