13 November 2015
Two Law Graduates Selected for IVLP Program for the Trans-Pacific Partnership
Jerry Shalmont (2006) & Sianti Candra (2007), were selected to join the prestigious professional exchange program funded by the US State Dept.

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Two UPH law school alumni, Jerry Shalmont (batch 2006) and Sianti Candra (batch 2007), were selected to join the prestigious International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) sponsored by the United States (US) Department of State from 21 September – 9 October 2015. IVLP is a professional exchange program funded by the US where current and emerging leaders from across the world come to the US for short-term visits and meet with professional counterparts and representatives from US public and private sector organizations related to their field of interest.

 

The IVLP aims to build mutual understanding between the US and other nations through professional visits to the US, which reflect the visitor’s professional interest and support the foreign policy goals of the US. Each year over 4,500 International Visitors from all over the world are selected by US embassies to come to the U.S. on the IVLP. More than 200,000 International Visitors have engaged with Americans through the IVLP, including more than 335 current or former Chiefs of State or Heads of Government. Each IVLP has a different theme, such as youth leadership, government, environment and climate change, gender empowerment, cybercrime, arts, public health, international security, business and trade, and other fields.

 

 

In this instance, the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the US Department of State chose the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP) asthe main theme of IVLP. The TPP is a 21st century International Trade Agreement negotiated by twelve Pacific Rim countries concerning various topics related to international trade and investment matters, which just recently concluded on 5 October 2015 after 7 years of negotiation. Accordingly, this program was very timely since the participants were exposed tocurrent TPP issues and were given the chance to discuss the agreement fromvarious perspectives. The TPP is considered one of the most controversial trade agreementsas it goes beyond common tariff negotiations, and seeks regulatory coherence to promote economic growth; support the creation and retention of jobs; enhance innovation, productivity and competitiveness; raise living standards; reduce poverty in member countries; and promote transparency, good governance, and enhanced labor and environmental protections.

 

The TPP IVLP was created as a sub-regional project for East Asia and the Pacific, which invited 12 participants from different countries in Asia, namely Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Brunei Darussalam, Vietnam, China, Taiwan, Australia, and Fiji. Despite Indonesia’s current absence from TPP membership, Jerry and Sianti were nominated because of their background and involvement in International Trade issues. Jerry is a full-time law lecturer at Universitas Pelita Harapan (UPH), as well as Program Coordinator for the UPH Master of Laws in Trade, Investment and Competition Law and Policy (MTIC). Sianti is a research associate with the UPH Center for International Trade and Investment (UPH CITI).

 

The TPP program arranged for participants to travel to four major US cities and discuss the merits of the TPP with various individuals from the US Government, non-governmental organizations, labor unions, trade associations representing various industries, US Inside Trade journalists, think-tanks, universities and institutescloselyrelated tointernational trade issues and TPP negotiations. The first destination was Washington D.C., followed by Raleigh in North Carolina. Later the participants were divided into two groups, in which Jerry went to Chicago, Illinois and Sianti explored Dallas, Texas. At the conclusion of the program, the group joined together in Seattle, Washington to complete the program.

 

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By meeting and discussing the TPP and international trade issues, the program aimed to help participants critically examine the impact of the TPP on major sectors, like agriculture, textiles, financial services, automobiles and many more. Another objective of the visit was to get an understanding of the process of changing regulations in polemic areas such as state-owned enterprises (SOE), labor and environmental standards, intellectual property, investor-state disputes and other areas. Jerry and Sianti further learned about the good and bad effects of previous US trade agreement implementation, particularly the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Until today, NAFTA’s benefits are still being debated by the public. For instance, the clothing industry in North Carolina was greatly hit by the NAFTA, as most clothing industries moved their factories to Mexico due to the cheap labor available as compared to US labor, consequently loweringproduction costs. Thus, the program-helped participants see that there are winning and losing parties in trade agreements.

 

 

The program did not only focus on the TPP. Participants also learned about the US federal system of government, the US Trade Representative’s system of handling trade agreements, the role of the public voice in representation through the congress and senate, stakeholder management and public participation in trade agreement negotiations. The participants even got a chance to watch the voting process of the North Carolina House of Representatives in passing a law.

 

 

During this trip, Jerry reflected that she learned how government can manage their stakeholders with different interests in international trade issues. By meeting some representatives from different trade associations, Jerry got a chance to understand what real challenges are faced in business practice. During her visit to North Carolina, she noted with interest how the government cooperates with universities, both public and private, to develop research and other activities in international trade. From her visit to Wisconsin, she learned the way some think-tanks try to encourage small and medium businesses to develop their projects in order to participate in international trade. Many of these insights can be applied in Indonesia, especially in terms of capacity building. International trade and liberalization are inevitable. The main concern now is how people can equip themselves in order to compete in the global market.

 

 

What was most interesting for Sianti during the TPP IVLP trip is that she learned more about the workings of the decentralized US federal system. In this system, each state or county is given broad autonomy in trade policy making, so that they even compete with one another to attract investment and trade into their respective territory for public development. This can be achieved by, for instance, lowering income tax or giving incentives to companies that build their headquarters or factories in the territory. Although Indonesia applies a regional autonomy system, in many areas control on trade issues is held by the Central Government.

 

 

Beyond the valuable insights gained, the TPP program allowed Jerry and Sianti to get a chance to meet new friends and  engage in riveting discussion regarding issues in their countries, assisting in the enhancement of their experience and knowledge. After the program, Jerry and Sianti joined the US International Exchange Alumni group, a prestigious, web-based community for alumni of exchange programs supported by the U.S. government. (SC)