GEP Conference 2017: An Integrated Asia in an Interconnected World

GEP conference

KUALA LUMPUR: UNMC hosted the 10th annual Globalization and Economic Policy (GEP) conference on Wednesday, 15th February, in UNMC’s Kuala Lumpur Teaching Centre. The final part of the conference was conducted in lecture hall F1A11 of the main campus on Thursday, 16th February. The theme for this year was ‘Economic and Financial Integration in Asia and Beyond’. It comprised of  eight sessions of research presentations and lectures. The attendees mainly consisted of the speakers, academics, head of corporate firms and UNMC students.

The Nottingham Centre for Research on Globalization and Economic Policy (GEP) were behind this conference. As such, the invitees consisted of speakers from many institutions around the world. Among these were those from the South East Asian Central Banks (SEACEN), the Institute of South East Asian Studies (ISEAS), University of Malaya, Korea University, University of Melbourne and all three Nottingham campuses in the UK, China and Malaysia.

Throughout the event, the speakers detailed their objectives, methods, literature reviews and summaries of their findings. Then, the audience responded by giving comments, compliments, constructive criticism and possibilities of extending their research. Additionally, UNMC students also voiced their queries, although fellow researchers tended to be the most vocal in the audience.

Conference Highlights.

On the first day, the lead lecture focused on ensuring that small and medium enterprises (SMEs) benefit from ASEAN economic integration. Professor Cassey Lee suggested that,

“After the ‘backlash on globalization’ seen in the US and UK, ASEAN should distribute gains from trade liberalization to the wider population.”

GEP conference

Dr Cassey Lee from Yusuf Ishak Institute (ISEAS), Singapore, delivering his lecture on SMEs and ASEAN Economic Integration. Photo courtesy of Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.

This is unsurprising, as small and large firms are equally good at exporting to non-ASEAN countries, as shown by data from ISEAS. However, small businesses were much less optimistic about ASEAN economic integration. Hence, heavy discussion followed the incredible talk. Tactics to maintain and encourage exports from small businesses and improve confidence in ASEAN were the main topics of discussion.

Then, on the second day, the main lecture focused on the optimal form of regional trade agreements (RTAs) for the Asia-Pacific region. Delivered by Professor Innwon Park, he suggested that,

“The ideal way of moving forward for Asian economies to come together to participate in multilateral trade agreements to mitigate effects of trade diversion.”

As such, this talk was the final event of the entire conference.

Professor Innwon Park, Korea University delivering his lecture ‘Best Practices for Regional Trade Agreements: An Application for the Asia-Pacific Region’ at The World Economy Annual Asia Lecture, sponsored by Wiley Publishers

Professor Innwon Park, from Korea University delivering his lecture ‘Best Practices for Regional Trade Agreements: An Application for the Asia-Pacific Region’ at The World Economy Annual Asia Lecture.

Student Participation.

The GEP conference garnered interest from both undergraduate and postgraduate students. Most were from the School of Economics and Nottingham School of Business (NUBS). The UNMC Economics lecturers that attended the event as speakers had also encouraged their students to participate.

Shaimaa Mahmoud from Masters in Finance and Investment had joined to get ideas for her dissertation. Many others present attended the event simply out of interest. Moreover, some students were present for the whole day, whereas others only attended the talks of most interest to them.

Overall, most undergraduates were surprised with how much they understood. However, there were occasions when they lost interest as several economic indexes were compared. Yet, according to many in the audience, one speaker in particular, Dr Zhihong Yu, related his research on production chains in China to real life anecdotes particularly well.  Additionally, for third-year students such as Abdelbari Lahkim from the School of Economics, economic formulas taught in modules helped them understand the content presented.

By Oliver Ross and Ahmad F. Affendy

Photographs by FASS

"They say that great minds think alike, but also fools seldom differ"

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