On Wednesday, 26 April 2017, Universitas Pelita Harapan Center for International Trade and Investment (UPH-CITI) hosted a seminar entitled “Trade and the Rule of Law in the Trump Era”. The event was generously supported by Swiss Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) – World Trade Institute (WTI) Academic Cooperation. The seminar was chaired by Jessica Marpaung – Universitas Pelita Harapan and featured three distinguished speakers: Prof. Michael Ewing Chow – National University of Singapore, Paolo Vergano – FratiniVergano European Lawyers and Dr. Michelle Limenta – UPH-CITI. The seminar was followed by a book launch entitled “WTO Retaliation: Effectiveness and Purposes” written by Dr. Michelle Limenta.
Prof. Dr. Bintan Saragih, S.H. – Dean of Faculty of Law of UPH opened the event by delivering welcoming remarks. Prof. Saragih appreciated the speakers’ support for the event and congratulated Dr. Limenta for launching her book. The event continued with a seminar which took a form of panel discussion. Prof. Ewing-Chow shared his view that we are now living in a world that is changing and pointed out three issues the world is facing. Firstly, trade liberalisation is oversold and underappreciated. Secondly, jobs are lost and manpower is replaced by technology. Thirdly, the movement of people is more visible compared to the last few hundred years. He argued that these three issues trigger the growing popularity of protectionism and people tend to put the blame on international trade.
Paolo Vergano continued the discussion by explaining that people perceive fair trade differently. Paolo agreed with Prof. Ewing-Chow that now the world is changing and countries have to start preparing themselves to embrace the changes. Dr. Limenta talked about unilateral actions. She pointed out that unilateral actions cause more harm than good. She also highlighted three important points of the 2017 US President Trade Policy Agenda: (1) the US’ plan to focus more on bilateral negotiations rather than multilateral negotiations; (2) the US’ concern over the judicial overreach of WTO dispute settlement; and (3) the US sovereignty over WTO decisions.
The discussion was followed by the questions and answers session. There were more than 45 participants who attended the event coming from different backgrounds, including government agencies, law firms, embassies, businesses, media, academics, researchers and students.