Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Diversity of thought - Always welcome

This piece in Bloomberg is not about international economic law directly but the logic applies to it too. 

It talks about the need for diversity in thought in Universities, in the context of the US.
Nonetheless, the current numbers make two points unmistakably clear. 
First, those who teach in departments lacking ideological diversity have an obligation to offer competing views and to present them fairly and with respect. A political philosopher who leans left should be willing and able to ask students to think about the force of the argument for free markets, even if they produce a lot of inequality. 
Second, those who run departments lacking ideological diversity have an obligation to find people who will represent competing views — visiting speakers, visiting professors and new hires. Faculties need not be expected to mirror their societies, but students and teachers ought not live in information cocoons. 
John Stuart Mill put it well: “It is hardly possible to overrate the value ... of placing human beings in contact with persons dissimilar to themselves, and with modes of thought and action unlike those with which they are familiar. Such communication has always been, and is peculiarly in the present age, one of the primary sources of progress.” 
I was trying to draw a parallel with diversity of thought on international trade law and policy, on approaches of free markets and protectionism and of staggered liberalisation and full-fledged opening up. A diversity of opinions and debate is always good!

Stakeholder consultations and FTA negotiations.

Stakeholder consultations in trade negotiations is a challenging task. Which interests constitute 'national interest', which diverse interests are to represented in the negotiations and how do we take stakeholder comments on board.

I found this webpage on consultations by the Canadian government on their FTA with ASEAN very interesting. It is titled 'Consulting Canadians on a possible Canada-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement', provides basic information on the need for the FTA and what they are looking for.

We want to hear from you. We need to hear your ideas, your experiences, and your priorities in relation to a possible FTA with ASEAN through these consultations.
These consultations will seek the views of Canadians to help define Canada’s interests in a possible free trade agreement, and identify opportunities for such an agreement to create wealth, innovation and jobs for Canadians.
The list of people invited to offer comments is also widespread from labour unions to indigenous people to students.

A good model to follow in complex, trade negotiations?