Dr Nathan Gray, adjunct lecturer and Managing Partner of AsiaAustralis, led a group of 22 emerging business, academic, and policy leaders to Europe in July 2015 to look at the European context and to undertake a comparative study of trade policy, of particular relevance was the pending EU-Australia FTA.
The group visited Hi-tech companies in Europe to discuss innovation and EU policy on venture capital, hosted by Professor Piet Secru from KU Leuven, followed by a visit to the OECD to consider the macro role of innovation. The group travelled onto the Netherlands where Dr Hein Roelfsema and Dr Erik Stam presented The Entrepreneurial Eco-system of Europe and Prof Michiel van de Kasteelen led 2 days of seminars and visits to The Hague and the European Commission office in the Netherlands.
The tour concluded in Geneva for a round table discussion and debate on modern challenges of International Trade for Business, Industry and Government and the role of the WTO.
The Study Tour from the Students perspective
The Professional Study tour to Europe was an incredible learning experience in that it provided us with the opportunity to hear from two remarkable presenters, Professor Dickson Yeboah, Head of the Intensive Trade Negotiations Skills Unit, and Professor Keith Wilson from the University of Adelaide Institute for International Trade. Professor Yeboah presented on the importance of the World Trade Organisation on international trade in the 21st century. Since its establishment in 1995, the WTO has played a vital role in overseeing the rules of international trade. Its duties include monitoring trade agreements, settling dispute and facilitating negotiations has contributed to the success of world trade. He also highlighted the role that the WTO has in promoting and facilitating international trade, particularly in the context of economic development. For some, the experience provided a meaningful introduction into trade concepts, and for others, provided an opportunity to gain a deeper insight into the organisation.
Our own Keith Wilson presented on International Law and the World Trade Organisation. His main focus was on the WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body, which deals with disagreements between member states. He highlighted the important role that international lawyers have, whether it is on research, working on legal disputes with member states, or providing sufficient legal advice to developing nations who would not otherwise have access to these services. He made the point that the power to rethink the system and make it fairer belongs to professionals, who are capable of identifying problems and seeking effective solutions through dialogue and other means.
Our visit to the World Trade Organisation was an enriching learning experience that will supplement the diverse areas of study and interest we all have. The experience truly put into perspective the importance of trade and the WTO not only in the EU, but globally, and for many provided something to aspire towards and pursue as we continue our studies. Being able to directly interact with both professors gave us an intimate opportunity to learn about the inner-workings, and how the WTO operates in practice in contrast to theory taught in textbooks. We were able to develop far more rounded views on the institution and its role, and perhaps changed some of our preconceived notions. The presentation was relevant to all our areas of study, whether it be finance, law, marketing or international business, we all benefited from this visit beyond our expectation.