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Trade In Tough Times: How To Do It Better

Indigenous and social rights, gender equality, climate change mitigation and sharing prosperity are all critical issues for future trade policies.

And now with Covid-19 arguably representing the greatest challenge to global and domestic economies since 2008, there are tight restrictions on the movement of people, goods and services, falls in business and consumer confidence, and slowing production.

To look at how to manage inclusive and sustainable trade in today’s volatile economic environment, the 2020 University of Auckland Trade and Economic Policy School (#ATEPS2020) will bring together leading national and international experts on trade policy on 4 and 5 December 2020 at the Fale Pasifika, University of Auckland.

Keynote speakers will include: Minister of Trade, Export and Growth, Hon Damien O’Connor; Climate Change Minister Hon James Shaw; the UK Minister of State for Trade Policy the Rt Hon Greg Hands; managing director of the Asia Society Policy Institute (Washington D.C.), Wendy Cutler; Karsten Steinfatt, Trade and Environment Division, World Trade Organisation; Alice Tipping from the International Institute for Sustainable Development; Gender trade experts from Global Affairs Canada, Georgina Wainwright-Kemdirim and the OECD, Dr Marion Jansen.

These international guests will be joined by a number of New Zealand trade specialists, including Vangelis Vitalis, Deputy Secretary Trade and Economic at MFAT, Rachel Tauleilei, Hone McGregor, Amokura Kawharu, Chris Karamea Insley and Stephanie Honey, amongst others.

The Public Policy Institute at the University is hosting the event, and director Professor Jennifer Curtin says it’s a challenging but vital time to be talking about trade.

“Simultaneously, we’re witnessing the European Union and some national governments’ attempts to implement a more inclusive and sustainable approach to the process and substance of trade agreements,” she says.

“And while driven in part by commitments to the Sustainable Development Goals, these initiatives are also a result of public pressure for trade policy to rebuild social licence by responding more effectively to these challenges.”

She says over the past 30 years we have seen significant reduction in tariffs, an increase in APEC’s share of world trade, and a considerable growth in the number of trade agreements.

“New and increased market access coupled with enhanced enforceability of global trade rules has contributed to increased international openness and economic integration. Yet, despite these achievements, we are living in a world where uncertainty is the new normal.

And meanwhile, political and trade tensions remain, the reform of the World Trade Organisation’s dispute settlement process is still unresolved and, as APEC’s economy has grown, so has its environmental footprint, she says.

But given the Asia-Pacific region's growing economic weight, Professor Curtin believes that with New Zealand taking up the role of APEC Chair for 2021, there is a real opportunity to promote a rejuvenated trade agenda; one that includes a strong focus on the significance of the Māori economy and Indigenous trade, and on ways to advance gender inclusive trade, alongside commitments to sustainability.

“I’m delighted that so many specialist policy professionals, business leaders and academics will sharing their insights on this globally important topic, both virtually and in person, over the two days of the forum," she says.

Read full programme

Registrations for the 2020 University of Auckland Trade and Economic Policy School close on Friday, for in-person attendance and on Wednesday 2 December for the virtual option, so register now.

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