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Policy Dialogues in DC - International Trade

Policy dialoguesOn Friday, February 27th students from TJPPP went to DC for their first Policy Dialogue of the Spring Semester. The topic was international trade and development issues. In this whirlwind time of policy debate, it is undeniable that trade and global development will be pivotal issues over the next decade. As domestic and world economies have continued to contract rapidly, voices all over the world have begun to call for a revisit to protectionist policies. However, insulating domestic work at the expense of globalization could pave a difficult road for the world economy.

To explore these issues, we met with three brilliant minds: Johns Hopkins University Economics professor Mine Zeynep Senses, Brad Parks (a William and Mary Alum) of the Millennium Challenge Corporation and Aaron Rosenberg (a TJPPP Alum) of the International Finance Corporation. Together, we discussed the growth of income inequality in the US, Foreign Assistance for Developing Nations and weathering the economic storm.

Each of our guests brought a unique and experienced perspective to our meetings. Dr. Senses shared her work on relative supply and demand for skilled labor in the US and how the globalized market has affected the wages available to skilled workers. The increase of the “Skill Premium,” the value of extra earnings available to the skilled workers, stems from the increased demand for such jobs in our marketplace. She also shared some interesting nuggets of wisdom regarding the practice of economics. As she explained some of her work she warned: “For everything, I’m going to tell you what we think and then I’m going to show you how [our theories] fail miserably. This is life.”

Mr. Parks explained the mechanics of the aid given by the Millennium Challenge Corporation to developing nation. We went through the scores assigned to each nation and how that assessment translates into potential aid. This aid, once assigned to deserving nations, can be used by that government for any national need. 

Policy dialoguesMr. Rosenberg brought his particular personality to the world of international trade. Discussing his previous work with the World Bank, he explained: “All you have to do is look around yourself and be entertained.” As evident as his enjoyment of his work was, more so was his intuition regarding the importance of trade. In an interesting segue from the aid of the MCC, Mr. Rosenberg explained that aid is a means trade is the end. 

It was a long day of interesting discussion. From our three guests, it was clear that international trade will be one of the foremost policy issues of the next half-century. Our world is growing together everyday. The choices of our policymakers will determine who is left behind and who thrives in this new order.