WTO inaugurates Universitas Pelita Harapan, Indonesia, into Chairs Programme
Wednesday, October 15, 2014
Universitas Pelita Harapan in Indonesia was inaugurated into the WTO Chairs Programme at a ceremony attended by WTO Deputy Director-General Xiaozhun Yi on 15 October 2014.
DDG Yi said: “One of the WTO’s current focuses is to remedy supply-side constraints faced by developing countries who are trying to benefit from more open trade. The scarcity of people with the kind of training and capability that can inform policymaking … is the supply-side constraint that we, through the WTO Chairs Programme, are trying to address.”
John Riady, Executive Dean, Faculties of Law, Business and Political Science, is the WTO Chair holder at Universitas Pelita Harapan.
The university is the second to be inaugurated into the WTO Chairs Programme under Phase Two of the Programme. North-West University of Potchefstroom, South Africa, joined the Programme on 17 September 2014. The Chairs Programme will be extended to universities in Benin, Brazil, Oman, Tunisia and Turkey in the coming months.
Statement by DDG Yi
His Excellency, Mr. Muhammad Lutfi, Minister of Trade,
Dr Jonathan L. Parapak, Rector of the Universitas Pelita Harapan,
Mr John Riady, incoming WTO Chairholder and Director of Lippo Group and Executive Dean, UPH Faculties of Law, Business and Political Science,
Ms Mia Mikic, Coordinator of the Asia-Pacific Research and Training Network, Valued staff and students of UPH,
Ladies and gentlemen,
On behalf of our Director-General, Mr Roberto Azevêdo, I would like to express my appreciation to Rector Parapak, Mr John Riady and Mr Simon Lacey and all the organisers of this wonderful event for their warm hospitality. Today it is my distinct honour and privilege to officially launch the WTO Chairs Programme at the Universitas Pelita Harapan (UPH).
This is my first trip back to Indonesia since the WTO’s Ministerial Conference in Bali in December. Indonesia and Bali in particular hold a special place for us given the successful outcome of the WTO negotiations last year. It confirms the long-standing belief that there is something truly magical about Bali that makes it easier for peoples and countries to come together.
The presence of the WTO in this event reiterates our standing commitment to support the development of capacities in academic institutions in developing countries. Our hope is that the WTO contribution will make a difference in creating or updating academic courses, promoting new research initiatives and, in partnership with universities such as the UPH, linking up these enhanced institutional capacities to other universities and research institutions in Indonesia and in this region, such as the Asia-Pacific Research and Training Network.
The establishment of the WTO Chair at the University Pelita Harapan recognizes the University’s commitment to educate a new generation of leaders in Indonesia and the wider ASEAN region on the benefits of trade and the multilateral trading system. UPH is a relatively young university, only established in 1994, but it is already one of the leading private universities in Indonesia. This is testimony to the dedication of its leaders to academic excellence, innovative curricula, and outreach to the wider community. UPH’s partnership with the WTO is a great example of public-private and international partnership which I firmly believe we should have more of. I congratulate them for their dedication and long-term vision. The WTO looks forward to forging a close cooperation with the University, certainly in the next four years, but even beyond that to increase its research, teaching and outreach capacity on trade and WTO issues.
WTO Chairs Programme
The WTO Chairs Programme is part of the technical assistance programme that the WTO delivers with a view to enhancing the quality and level of participation of developing countries in the multilateral trading system and their ability to benefit from it. It is specifically targeted at academic institutions because they help the WTO raise awareness on trade issues and they form the knowledge base for effective decision-making by policymakers. It has three main pillars — research, curriculum development, and outreach. Thus the programme promotes trade and WTO-relevant research, supports the development of trade and WTO related curricula and assists outreach to the private and public sectors.
One of the WTO’s current focuses is to remedy supply-side constraints faced by developing countries who are trying to benefit from more open trade. To many people, supply-side constraints are synonymous with lack of trade-related infrastructure, low labour productivity, high cost of credit, and so on. But I believe it is also reflected in the scarcity of people with the kind of training and capability that can inform policymaking. This is the supply-side constraint that we, through the WTO Chairs Programme, are trying to address.
The programme began in 2010 with the selection of 14 institutions of higher learning for a four-year term. An additional seven institutions were selected for the second phase of the Programme in 2014. The Chair at the UPH is one of those seven WTO Chairs awarded in 2014. It succeeded in a highly competitive selection process, involving some 80 academic institutions. The WTO Secretariat was assisted in the selection by an external Advisory Body, comprising 21 academics, who act as advisors to the Chairs Programme. UPH thus joins an existing network of 21 Chairs with four universities coming from Asia. Indonesia is the only country to have two Chairs, the first one being Universitas Gadjah Mada. I congratulate the excellent work done by Mr Riza Arfani and his team.
The WTO Chairs Programme provides financial support to beneficiary institutions for a period of four years. This phase of the Chairs Programme is being funded by the Netherlands. I would therefore also like to take this opportunity to express the WTO’s gratitude for this generosity. It will allow us to pursue the goals and objectives of the programme and build on the excellent work already undertaken by the Chairs in the first four years of the programme.
Indonesia’s role in the global economy
It is propitious that the WTO chair is being awarded to Indonesia as it is the largest economy in Southeast Asia and is the 16th largest economy in the world with GDP of $870 billion. It is a model of resilience, having mounted an impressive recovery from the Asian financial crisis. Since the turn of the millennium, Indonesia has grown on average by 5.4% per year, easily surpassing the global average of 3.7%. Its rate of expansion has also been above the average of the other advanced ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries. Growth is expected to rise further to 6% in the next few years. At this rate, its economy will grow to $1 trillion by 2017 at the latest.
The growth of Indonesia’s trade has been quite strong during this period. It is now the 20th largest exporter of merchandise goods, which totalled $183 billion in 2013. Its commercial services exports were about $21.7 billion in 2013. Other indicators of economic performance confirm Indonesia’s upward trajectory. FDI flows have grown nearly tenfold from only $1.9 billion in 2004 to $18.4 billion in 2013.
The country has literally leapt up the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) global competitiveness ranking. This year the WEF ranked Indonesia number 34 out of 144 economies included in the rankings in terms of competitiveness. It is ranked even higher than some EU and G-7 members. Only nine years ago, Indonesia was ranked number 69. Indonesia’s strong economic performance is now leading global investors to include her in the "Next Eleven" list, a select group of emerging economies that together with the BRICS, have the potential of becoming the world’s largest economies in the coming decades.
Indonesia’s role in the multilateral trading system
Indonesia’s economic importance is reflected in the leadership role she plays in this region and in the world. She is a founding member of ASEAN and hosts the headquarters of the organization. With other ASEAN members, Indonesia is actively working to boost trade and investment ties with other countries in the Asia-Pacific region through initiatives like the ASEAN Plus Three, ASEAN-India, ASEAN-CER, etc. She is a founding member of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), which is a leading proponent of "open regionalism". Indonesia is also a member of the G-20 which played such a vital role in coordinating the economic policy response to the global economic crisis.
In the WTO, Indonesia is an important member of the G-33 which is one of the more influential developing country groupings in the WTO. As a member of the G-33, and individually as well, it is a strong supporter of the multilateral trading system. This strong support was demonstrated in its successful hosting of the WTO’s Ninth Ministerial Conference which concluded with a historic agreement in Bali.
The Bali Decisions
The Bali meeting is part of a more than decade-old process of trade negotiations — the Doha Round of negotiations — that seek to improve international trade rules and achieve greater market opening. There were a number of valuable decisions reached in Bali, including increased trade preferences for the least-developed countries, public stockholding for food security and the Trade Facilitation Agreement, the first multilateral trade agreement since the establishment of the WTO. The Trade Facilitation Agreement contains provisions for faster and more efficient customs procedures as well as technical assistance and capacity building for developing countries. Some economists have calculated that, once implemented, the Agreement can increase international trade by as much as one trillion dollars, benefiting major trading countries like Indonesia. Our own economists at the WTO Secretariat have estimated that it can help developing countries diversify their exports, enabling them to enter new markets and sell new products. This means Indonesia has a huge interest in WTO members completing the final steps required to enable ratification of the Trade Facilitation Agreement, achieving speedy implementation of all the Bali decisions, and reaching a successful conclusion to the Doha negotiations.
This kind of analysis is very helpful to policymakers since it enables policymaking to be conducted based on evidence rather than mere opinion or conjecture. It is the kind of analysis that researchers here in Universitas Pelita Harapan can undertake to help decision makers in Indonesia identify the right policies to pursue.
Let me draw on another example to show the value of economic analysis and outreach and why the WTO is supporting them with this programme. Despite the strong positive role played by trade and the WTO, public perceptions regarding the impact of trade are sometimes negative. These perceptions are not necessarily based on the facts, but they can badly skew the public debate on the cost and benefits of more trade opening. Thus, more research by academics, including those at UPH, on the linkage between trade, employment and inequality, and public outreach activities are necessary to help clarify these issues and to better inform public discussion.
In conclusion, let me once again congratulate Dr Jonathan L. Parapak, Rector of the Universitas Pelita Harapan and Mr John Riady, the WTO Chairholder, for their hard work and commitment. On behalf of the Director-General, Mr Roberto Azevêdo, I have the great pleasure to award a WTO Chair to the Universitas Pelita Harapan. Congratulations!