RSIS Seminar by Dr Christopher H Lim, Senior Fellow, RSIS
Are WTO and FTAs Passé?
The World Trade Organization (WTO) came into being in 1995. The WTO is the successor to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) established in the wake of the Second World War. Currently, WTO has 164 member states globally. Essentially, almost all the international trade and cross border business transactions are governed by the rules of WTO and Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) whose rules must be consistent and within the framework of WTO.
Yet it must be noted that since 1995, there have been drastic changes in business models and technology. The extents to which we are now relying on information and communications technology have set aside block and mortar businesses and recast virtual ones. Consumers are increasingly demanding faster, better, cheaper, and businesses are changing to meet their needs, with the aid of new technology. So the intent of this seminar is to provide a brief tour of these changes in technology and business models. In the light of these developments, we would then re-examine WTO, FTAs and Strategic Goods Control regimes. Amongst others, we will use selected industry examples (biopharming, 3D printing, specialty chemicals, and etc) to test whether these rules are acting as inhibitors or promoters of international trade. The intent is to stimulate the audience to develop their own verdict at the end of this seminar as to whether existing international trade rules and platforms are in sync with reality.
About the Speaker:
Chris read Pure Mathematics as an undergraduate, followed by a MS in Systems Engineering; and subsequently a PhD in Developmental Neuroscience, as a recipient of the John Crawford Scholarship and the Glaxo Wellcome Scholarship, at the Australian National University. He is a member of the Omega Rho International (Operations Research) Society and a fellow of the International Development Centre of Japan.
Over the past 30 years, Chris has been involved in technical consultancy and research in a number of disciplines — demography; solar energy systems; systems & control engineering; and functional development of embryonic brain. In addition, he has also been working extensively in economic planning and formulation of national economic strategies.
During his tenure at the International Policy Division in the Economic Development Board of Singapore, his major responsibilities included in the negotiation of international economic policies such as US-Singapore Free Trade Agreement, ASEAN-China Free Trade Agreement and others. For more than a decade, Chris was also the Singapore lead negotiator for investment and industrial co-operation in ASEAN.
In his role as the Deputy Director of Business Environment till his retirement in late 2015, Chris and his team supported Singapore-based companies in solving their international trade related issues, contributing to an annual US$1 billion in tariff benefits since 2011 derived from Singapore’s FTA networks.
Prior to his current appointment as a Senior Fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, Chris was a consultant to various corporate clients and foreign governments. At the same time, he had conducted lectures on topics ranging from science & technology assessment to economic and business strategic planning, and researched into Biomimicry.