Millennial Views on Trade: Dylan Clement

In this ongoing series, we ask current and former students of trade about their views and experiences with international trade, negotiation simulations, and globalization. Dylan Clement is a 2017 Masters of Science in Foreign Service graduate from Georgetown University, and a former student of Consensus founder Professor Andrea Durkin.  

On Views of Globalization

For roughly a decade, I’ve been interested in the interaction between politics and commercial interests in our increasingly global world, i.e. “political economy.” Seeking to understand this is largely what brought be back to school. Throughout my time studying foreign affairs and international business at the Georgetown School of Foreign Service, I’ve found that trade is a central part of understanding how globalization works, that it ties everything together.

More so then ever, the world is simultaneously global and local. Politics can highlight a major truth about globalization – that trade in general can be beneficial, but trade also comes with a downside. Local interests can be hurt even when society as a whole gains, and while countries may try to create the least restrictive trade regime possible, the realization of truly “free trade” is rare. I think a great challenge of our time is to understand these local-global dynamics so that we can better navigate the  world we face.

On Trade and Career Prospects

I’m very interested in the political economy aspect of globalization and trade. My career interests have always been at the intersection of diplomacy, international business, and development; international trade is integral to all three.

With the world so interconnected these days, there isn’t much daylight between what is local and what is global. Businesses and governments must navigate both simultaneously, and every trade decision has local implications. Understanding how trade works and how different policies will play out is vital to making sure that trade and globalization can help further these local interests – to help workers, businesses, and communities thrive. I want these issues to be among those I focus on over the course of my career, and trade will undoubtedly be a part of this picture.

On Participation in Trade Simulations

While at the School of Foreign Service, I had the opportunity to participate in two trade simulations. The first major takeaway I found was in the interesting dynamics between countries in a formal, diplomatic setting. At the table, all voices are equal and all interests are given a fair shake. The countries that negotiate may not be equal in a material or objective sense – clearly China has more economic clout than Mauritius. It was interesting to see the coalitions form and the jockeying for position at the table between nominally equal parties with such different characteristics.

Another aspect of the simulations I found interesting was the disconnect between negotiations and the real world. At the table, negotiators do their best to consider all the interests they represent – workers, farmers, businesses, etc. – but this can be difficult to do. Every concession they make moves closer to an agreement, but it also has real world implications. I may need to give up lumber in exchange for coffee to sign a deal, but that will have real impacts on the communities built around lumber. Each stroke of the pen can change a life. It’s a real challenge, and requires policymakers and the public to think very carefully about what a trade deal really means.

 On Skills Gained from Negotiation Simulation

Negotiating in a complex, multiparty environment can be tough, which was why I found the negotiation simulation really helpful. In such a complicated situation, you know you have to bring your “A game,” to know all the different aspects of what’s being talked about. I found that the simulation helped in practicing complex strategic thinking: assessing all the relevant stakeholders and interests of your country to set a goal, analyzing what the different arguments about the topic could be, considering who might agree or disagree with your perspective, and charting out how to get what you want.

I also found it helpful to practice dealing with these issues in a stressful situation. Things can get heated, and though we knew it was only a simulation there were times you have to take a deep breath. Negotiating parties might be offensive, and you might be running up against a wall without your interests getting met, but you have to stay collected and the simulation helped with that. Those are quite valuable skills that are not easy to practice.

 

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