ASEAN Young Entrepreneur Association delegates participate in Open Trade Asia Negotiation Simulation

MANILA, Philippines, Sept. 7, 2017 – As part of the Philippines hosting ASEAN’s 50th anniversary, the Hinrich Foundation ( and the Asia Society Philippines co-organized the Open Trade Asia Negotiation Simulation, in collaboration with the Philippine Young Entrepreneurs Association, and in partnership with De La Salle University on Sept. 6 for 80 for delegates from the ASEAN Young Entrepreneur Council, a regional organization incubated by the ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ASEAN-BAC), and a group of  De La Salle University students.


The Hinrich Foundation designed the simulation to help enhance awareness of – and thinking on ways to advance – ASEAN’s aim to harmonize, improve and integrate economic activities in the ASEAN community. Each of the 10 ASEAN (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam) country teams plus China comprised participants from various countries to enable each delegate to understand the issues from another country’s perspective. They negotiated fictional disputes on trade in goods – lumber, and in services – accounting.


In her keynote address, Ambassador Delia Albert discussed the achievements of ASEAN, and the energy and ambition represented by the aspiring youth across the dynamic member countries. She stressed the importance of trade as a catalyst for sustainable prosperity and lasting peace – not only in ASEAN, but globally.

Albert said: “As ASEAN matures with the growing trust and confidence built over five decades, the way forward for ASEAN is to connect the three pillars. After all, there can be no economic community without the peace and stability brought about by political leaders and no socio-cultural community without the economic well-being of the people triggered by economic interactions of increased 
movements of goods, services, investments, and mobility of people.”

Asia Society Executive Director, Suyin Liu Lee, said: “Asia Society Philippines is the only Southeast Asian Center of the Asia Society’s 12 global centers. It is our initiative to promote the mission of ASEAN and provide a platform and a network for discussion on cross border issues to bridge gaps among people and institutions of Asia and the West to work toward a shared future.


“While the Open Trade Negotiation Simulation focused on economic prosperity through trade, it is in the personal interactions that will forge sustainable relationships that are critical to solidifying regional cooperation and progress.”


Steve Olson, Hinrich Foundation Research Fellow, designed and led the simulation. Olson began his career in Washington. D.C., as an international trade negotiator, and served on the US negotiating team for the NAFTA negotiations. He developed the simulation scenarios to be as realistic as possible, including mid-negotiation urgent communiqués dictating new positions for the country teams.


Despite intense negotiating and significant progress, at the plenary session, the teams failed to pass the trade resolution due to intractable differences. Olson said: “Negotiating multilateral trade deals is tough! And this is often the reality: Negotiations do break down, and teams need to regroup and try again!”


The underlying premise for providing this practical exposure and developing skills for the young ASEAN entrepreneurs it to give them a better understanding of what is involved in trade negotiations so they can have a constructive voice to help advance open trade in their home countries.


One delegate, Nathaniel Q. Camat, Director of Membership of the Philippine Young Entrepreneurs Association, said: “The level of interaction of the delegates elevated the learning experience. Some delegates have already experienced trade simulations in the past. However, most were still challenged by the complexity and intricacy of the case scenarios provided.


“The delegates’ investment in the activity was evidenced by the unintentional emotions that surfaced during the culminating discussion when the activity had to reach its conclusion during the voting. We were approached by fellow delegates who were commending the activity as a whole from the nature of the activity to the expertise of the facilitators. The event was insightful and thought provoking!”


The Open Trade Asia Negotiation Simulation in Manila was the second in a series of Hinrich Foundation education programs related to international trade research and trade development. The previous simulation was held in Hong Kong with 56 university students representing six countries who negotiated intellectual property rights in pharmaceuticals and tariffs for rice. The Hinrich Foundation is planning further simulations with university students in the Philippines, Hong Kong and Vietnam.