PAAC Global Vision Summit: Trade Wars

I had a great time participating in the Pacific and Asian Affairs Council‘s 2020 Global Vision Summit on Trade Wars on March 7, which brought together high school students from across Hawaii for an interactive simulation. Students participated in three rounds of trade negotiations, starting under relatively simple conditions and then getting progressively more complex. The last round introduced the concept of tariffs to enable students to see how trade barriers affect the flow of goods.

After the simulation, I joined Steven Craven and Mark Elwell on an expert panel. The students were energized and engaged, and they asked excellent questions about supply chains, monopolies, labor rights, technology, etc. that revealed how much they’d learned. According to students’ feedback, they left feeling much more informed about the dynamics of trade and the relationship of trade to other domestic and international issues.

This was my third time participating in PAAC’s Global Vision Summit, and it was another rewarding experience. Check out past years here:

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Invited Talk: Designing Trade Architecture for the Free and Open Indo-Pacific

I traveled to Vancouver, Canada at the invitation of the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada to speak at their conference on “The Free and Open Indo-Pacific: Charting a Common Approach” on January 22–23, 2020. The conference explored different states’ understanding of the FOIP concept as it applies to their domestic, foreign, and security policy-making processes.

I spoke on “Designing Trade Architecture for the Free and Open Indo-Pacific” as part of the panel on FOIP Economic Interconnectivity. Other participants included Mr. Steve Dechka (Japan-Canada Chambers Council), Dr. Masahiro Kawai (Economic Research Institute for Northeast Asia), Mr. Michael Rau (Natural Resources Canada), and Ms. Deanna Horton (University of Toronto). The following is a summary of my comments:

Although many countries have incorporated economic elements into their evolving thinking on the Indo-Pacific, their goals vary. How can we think about designing trade architecture for the [Free and Open] Indo-Pacific? Looking at the current state of existing agreements and proposals, it is clear that none of them encompass all of the countries in this region, even by its narrowest definition.

If they wish to expand current trade architecture to encompass the Indo-Pacific, countries face challenges related to regional economic diversity, inclusivity, leadership, and varying preferences for the quality of trade pacts and linking them to other issues. If you asked different countries to design their ideal Indo-Pacific trade architecture right now, they would very likely resolve these challenges in different ways. It’s important to recognize that and assess if/how these differences might be resolved in the near or long term.

Regional economic diversity means that leaders face tradeoffs in designing more inclusive lower-quality trade agreements versus pacts that pursue higher standards that will exclude some countries. Also, the domestic politics of trade are increasingly contentious. everywhere. If India is indeed out of RCEP, the “Indo” is conspicuously absent from the trade architecture of the Indo-Pacific. Economic integration within South Asia and between South Asia and other parts of the region has room for a great deal of improvement. Given the centrality of China to the regional economy, it would be strange to exclude it from an Indo-Pacific trade architecture, but this sits uncomfortably with some countries, given their concerns about security and about Chinese economic practices. If the geographic scope of the Indo-Pacific is expanded even further, as some countries have suggested should be the case, then the existing trade architecture also needs to be correspondingly broadened in ways that may pose additional difficulties.

National preferences also diverge as to whether potential trade architecture for the Indo-Pacific should be explicitly or implicitly linked to other issues related to human security, non-traditional security, or security. This is important to recognize and discuss.

It was exciting to hear all of the evolving ideas about the Indo-Pacific at this conference. The diversity of regional discourse is challenging but also really productive—and it’s wonderful that Canada is thinking proactively about how to engage more with the region. Given the weakness of American leadership on trade and other issues right now, there is actually more room for countries like Canada, Japan, Australia, and others to influence emerging regional governance structures, so these discussions are particularly important right now.

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Panel Discussion: “The New Era for Japan” at Japan House LA

Left to right: Dr. Saori Katada, Dr. Fukunari Kimura, Dr. Kristi Govella, Ms. Christine Peterson

On December 12, I visited Japan House Los Angeles for an event on “The New Era for Japan: Business, Economy and Regional Security.” I was happy to share the stage with Dr. Saori Katada (USC), Dr. Fukunari Kimura (Keio & ERIA), and Ms. Christine Peterson (Mayor’s Office at the City of Los Angeles) for a wide-ranging panel discussion of trade and investment in Asia. Topics included Abenomics, CPTPP, RCEP, the US-Japan bilateral trade agreement, the US-China trade war, the Belt and Road Initiative, demographic change, female labor force participation, and more.

Other participants included Dr. Harutaka Takenaka (GRIPS), Dr. Sheila Smith (Council on Foreign Relations), Dr. Gene Park (Loyola Marymount), and Dr. Michael Thies (UCLA). There were also opening remarks by Consul General Akira Muto and Japan House LA President Yuko Kaifu, as well as a keynote speech by Ambassador Nina Hachigian, Deputy Mayor of International Affairs at the City of Los Angeles.

View the full program

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Senior Korean Journalist Security Forum

On September 17, I was a panelist in a roundtable discussion with Richard Vuylsteke, Denny Roy, and James Minnich at the East-West Center as part of the 2019 Senior Korean Journalist Security Forum.

East-West Center President Richard Vuylsteke kicked off the session with opening remarks, followed by comments by EWC Senior Fellow Denny Roy on North Korea and by APCSS Professor James Minnich on the ROK-US alliance. I spoke about recent tensions between South Korea and Japan from a US perspective, highlighting three key impacts on the regional and global economic and security environment. I also suggested some opportunities and limitations related to a role for the United States in mediating the dispute.

The roundtable was attended by representatives from Hankyoreh, Yonhap, Kungwon Domin Ilbo, Kukmin Ilbo, Korea Press Foundation, Seoul Shinmun, Chosun Ilbo, YTN, SBS, MBC, Dong-A Ilbo, Maeil Kyungje, JoongAng Ilbo, Segye Ilbo, and Korea News Editors’ Association, as well as US Embassy Seoul.

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Invited Lecture at US Army Japan

With Command Sergeant Major Scott Beeson, Major General Viet Luong, and staff

On August 2, I had the pleasure of visiting US Army Japan to give a presentation entitled “The Abe Security Reforms: Drivers and Constraints, Opportunities and Challenges” as part of their Leadership Professional Development Seminar series at Camp Zama. The lecture situated recent developments under the Abe administration in political, social, and historical context, providing an overview of the key domestic and international factors shaping Japan’s contemporary security policy and suggesting some challenges and opportunities that Abe’s reforms may present for the US in the future.

Thanks to US Army Japan for extending this invitation to me and for the great conversation!

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New Publication: Technology and Tensions in the Global Commons

I’m happy to announce that my article, “Technology and Tensions in the Global Commons,” is now available in the latest issue of Fletcher Security Review. I argue that advances in and diffusion of technology have transformed the global commons into increasingly crowded domains characterized by interstate competition and heightened tensions. Whether these tensions prevail depends on the creation and strengthening of regimes to manage interactions and promote shared rules and norms.

Read more:

Kristi Govella, “Technology and Tensions in the Global Commons.” Fletcher Security Review, vol 6., no. 1 (Summer 2019), pp. 38-44.

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New Publication in The Washington Post

My article on President Trump’s recent visit to Japan was published this morning in the Monkey Cage column on The Washington Post website. While Prime Minister Abe and President Trump succeeded in orchestrating an impressive display of the strengths of the US-Japan relationship, some tensions were also visible during the trip, particularly on the issues of trade and North Korea.

Read the full article

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US-Japan Network for the Future

I’m pleased to announced that I have been selected as a member of the fifth cohort of the US-Japan Network for the Future. The US-Japan Network for the Future is a two-year program designed to build and enhance a network of Japan specialists that can bring diverse expertise and perspectives to the bilateral policy-making process in the mid- and long-term. This will lead to deeper and more vigorous dialogue and research on topics of immediate concern as well as on ways to strengthen the US-Japan relationship through cooperation and shared goals in the global arena. The network includes US-Japan specialists from all regions of the United States and Japan. This program is supported by the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation and the Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership.

Throughout the two-year program, participants are expected to: develop their network of contacts; engage with other Network members; engage others in the academic and policy fields with what they have learned about Japan; prepare for and actively participate in the program’s meetings, workshops, and study trip; participate in group activities and support the program’s larger goals and objectives; conduct independent research on key issues of particular interest to them; produce op-ed pieces, commentaries, and blog posts on important policy issues in U.S.-Japan relations; and produce and seek to publish or otherwise disseminate a brief policy paper. Network participants present their papers and discuss current issues in the region during the program’s last meeting, a public symposium in Washington, D.C. The program covers the costs of travel, accommodations, and meals associated with participation in program meetings and study trips.

Press Release from the Mansfield Foundation

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Joining the East-West Center as an Adjunct Fellow

I’m pleased to share that I’ve been invited to join the East-West Center as an Adjunct Fellow with the Research Program. Established by the U.S. Congress in 1960, the East-West Center promotes better relations and understanding among the people and nations of the United States, Asia, and the Pacific through cooperative study, research, and dialogue. It has built a worldwide network of 65,000 alumni and more than 1,100 partner organizations. Its 21-acre Honolulu campus, adjacent to the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, is located midway between Asia and the U.S. mainland and features research, residential, and international conference facilities. The East-West Center was recently named the fourth best government-affiliated think tank in the world by the Lauder Institute.

The East-West Center Research Program works with research and policy communities in the US and the Asia Pacific to provide more complete knowledge and deeper understanding of environments, societies, economies, governments, and international relations in the region. Research is conducted in close collaboration with networks of individuals and institutions throughout Asia and the Pacific and is shared broadly with planners, policymakers, regional specialists, the media, and the general public.

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National Asia Research Program Fellowship

I have been named a Fellow with the National Asia Research Program (NARP), a major research and conference program organized by the National Bureau of Asian Research and the Institute for National Strategic Studies at the National Defense University. In order to promote policy-relevant research on Asia and build bridges between academe and the policy community, 20 rising Asia scholars have been selected in a competitive, nationwide process to conduct research in four major areas: geopolitics and grand strategy, international security and military modernization, domestic transitions and transformations, and non-traditional security issues. The program provides financial support for fellows’ research, opportunities to present and publish research, and engagement with policymakers.

University of Hawaii Press Release

2019 National Asia Research Program Fellows

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