Promoting sustainable global trade through digital engagement

Container ship passing under Golden Gate Bridge

International trade is one of those things few of us think about on a daily basis (headlines excepted), but now and again we’re reminded of its colossal scale. I remember crossing Belcher Bay in Hong Kong once and seeing a mammoth container ship nonchalantly pass by, like a floating skyscraper.  God knows what it was carrying. Ancient mummies? Japanese toilets?

Fact is, the importance of trade to the world is enormous., and any wobble is going to be felt. There’s the trade dispute between China and the US , for instance, and closer to home, the Brexit shenanigans. The impact of these events will affect us all to a greater degree than almost anything else.

So it’s exciting to be providing digital support to a philanthropic organisation that is influencing the international trade debate. The Hinrich Foundation was founded in 2012 by an entrepreneur with an incredible career in international trade of six decades – and counting – and a solid vision. The founder’s mission: to encourage peace between nations through promoting sustainable trade.

The organisation does this through education and trade research. Take for instance the Digital Trade Project, which sizes the value of the digital trade opportunity for economies in Asia, including Malaysia recently (yes, I need to rethink my hair, among other things):

The Digital Trade Project has shown that digitally enabled services in Indonesia, for example, could grow by 13 percent by 2030, driven by online video advertising, among other exports. In even more relatable terms, demand for Indonesian content is growing. Perhaps you have heard of YouTube personality Raditya Dika – the standup comic is hugely popular outside his home country. 

I’m confident that Hinrich Foundation content will also grow in appeal among relevant audiences. I’m less certain about other predictions – don’t ask me about how the trade war between the US and China will pan out, or even Brexit’s prospects…

Internship places still available through British Council’s Generation UK – China programme

When I graduated many years ago, my options were limited. There was no social media. No smartphones. And certainly no hopping over to Asia for work experience (though I did apply – unsuccessfully – to Singapore Airlines. I’ve still not flown with them since).

Times have changed, and both students and graduates these days can apply for internships halfway around the world. What fun!

Places are still available on the British Council China’s two-month Generation UK – China internship, offered through its partnerships with CRCC Asia (Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen) and InterChina (Qingdao, Chengdu and Zhuhai).

Having been to all of these cities other than Zhuhai, I would say the latter option that includes Qingdao and Chengdu is the more interesting choice from a cultural and living perspective.

All placement fees, accommodation, travel insurance and airport pickup is covered by Generation UK – China funding, which is pretty amazing, and interns will also receive weekly Chinese language classes and take part in business/cultural activities.

It’s a heck of a start in anyone’s career, and certainly tops my call centre experience.

Anyone interested can apply through the British Council website.

UK and Japan, sorry, China, commit to tech during Strategic Dialogue

Jeremy Hunt did well to think of flowers and chocolate for his wife (‘Mrs H’) this week.

As many of us know, the new Foreign Secretary made an unfortunate slip of the tongue when meeting with his Chinese counterpart in Beijing. We’ve all been there…though perhaps not before powerful statespeople.

More relevant, though not quite so fun, was the meatier stuff discussed during the 9th China-UK Strategic Dialogue. The two sides agreed to expand cooperation in new industries and new business ‘forms’ including artificial intelligence, green energy and the digital economy.

There’s been strong interest recently in the Fourth Industrial Revolution – an umbrella term that means all sorts of things that will likely change our lives, as had the smartphone and internet era previously. Both the UK and China, among other nations, are leading the way in this new wave of innovations and have complementary abilities.

So the message is increasingly clear: if you specialise in high-end stuff like AI, robotics and renewables, now’s your time – as demonstrated by February’s mega-deals between British and Chinese companies.

One of this year’s deals was with the world’s second biggest smartphone manufacturer, Huawei – a whopping £3 billion agreement. This week the Shenzhen-based manufacturer saw the arrival of 50 participants from the UK in its Seeds for the Future training programme.

The global programme, now in its third year, includes the involvement of STEM students from the UK’s leading universities, who will be in China for one month to gain work experience.