World Trade Organization

 
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Director's Letter

Dearest Delegates,

It is with great pleasure that I welcome you to HNMUN 2020! My name is Katie Sakys, and I am unequivocally excited to be your Director for The World Trade Organization. Challenging and thought-provoking, this committee will be an intense exploration of the rise and regulation of trade in the goods, services, and knowledge economies in an increasingly integrated global community. The future of the WTO and the global trading system is in our hands. We are so often told by professors, Secretaries-General, and committee directors that we are future change-makers, that we are the leaders of tomorrow. I see no reason why we need to wait until tomorrow. As one of Harvard’s head delegates, I am often asked why I enjoy giving up my weekends to travel and simulate the United Nations. My adament answer is that I am passionate about debating some of the world’s most pressing issues of international concern, and I reckon that could be said for many of you as well. Why not turn that passion into actual change? We need to enhance our knowledge of global challenges and become active stakeholders in the global trading system because trade and the economic ramifications of barriers to trade affect us all, regardless of our background, nationality, or political views. As leaders, we will inevitably participate in the decisions taken to shape our world. This is the perspective which I took when I formulated this committee, and I stand by my view that the purview of this committee is not only important and pressing, as many MUN topics are, but that international trade is one of the most impactful areas for us to effect change as leaders.

The topics I have selected for our debate are topics that are relevant to every single member of the WTO. Having directed now ten committees, I am passionate about accessibility to my committees. A good background guide can only go so far in making a committee and its topics both accessible and engaging. It is quite easy and a bit discouraging to represent a nation that is perceived to be irrelevant to the debate or otherwise not have a meaningful voice in a MUN committee. That is why I have selected topics for our committee that are not just relevant to the large, Western powers that often dominate large General Assembly committees. Non-tariff barriers to trade and the regulation of intellectual property are crucial issues that affect every single nation that is a member of the WTO and many of those nations that are not. Due to the proliferation of various non-tariff rules and regulations affecting international trade, trade policy is becoming increasingly complex and multifaceted. Understanding the uses and implications of these trade policy instruments is essential for the formulation and implementation of effective development strategies. This is particularly important for developing countries, as their market access depends to a great extent on compliance with trade regulatory measures that are beyond the scope of traditional tariffs and existing preferential schemes.  

The emergence of the knowledge economy means that IP issues are critical to national, regional and international policy-making in most areas of economic endeavor. Undoubtedly, this committee will provide a valuable learning experience for all those who are interested in the development of new international law, the protection of newly-created science, technology, literature and art, or the promotion of international trade. The challenge of the WTO is to help ensure that the rights of creators and owners of intellectual property are protected worldwide and that inventors and authors are, thus, recognized and rewarded for their ingenuity while simultaneously balancing respect for state sovereignty and the proper extent to which knowledge should be considered a public good. The World Trade Organization is profoundly interesting to me, and I hope to you as well. You and your fellow delegates will be working to create and refine an international framework to approach non-tariff barriers to trade and/or intellectual property around the globe as well as to ensure that all nations are in a position to reap the benefits of an effective and affordable system of trade protection that promotes wealth creation and economic development.

Before I get too carried away discussing what is sure to be an exciting committee, allow me to introduce myself as a human rather than simply a director or a delegate. Travelling often as a child, my interest in the world was born at a young age. I was fortunate enough to grow up on the island of Oʻahu in Hawai‘i, a place where many cultures fused to create an extremely vibrant and special place in which to reside. My homeland infected me with a passion for food, art, music, and most importantly, learning about the world around me. Living at the Pacific crossroads of North America and East Asia solidified my interest in international relations and global interactions, which subsequently spurred a long career in speech and debate.

With very little Model UN activity occurring on my little rock in the middle of the ocean, it wasn’t until I arrived at Harvard that I was able to fuse my interest in global affairs and my passion for extemporaneous speaking and debate by joining Harvard’s traveling MUN team. I instantaneously fell in love with the mission of Model UN encouraging, above all else, collaboration, diplomacy, and education. Why do I still love Model UN? In a world riddled with disagreement and conflict, this activity develops our empathy, challenges our greatest ideas, and pushes young thinkers to tackle the greatest problems facing our world today, all while pushing us to work together rather than fight one another. I look forward to seeing unity and harmony reflected in you and your work in our committee, and I hope that you will learn new skills and acquire new friends along the way.

My interest in our committee’s purview has been fostered through my studies at Harvard, where I am concentrating in Economics. When I originally arrived on campus, I desired to pursue a minor in Government with an emphasis in International Relations and Political Economy. Spurred by my aspirations to serve as a diplomat, I enrolled in several classes on IR, political economics, and most recently, international trade and regulation. Thus, my fascination with intellectual property rights and governance was born. I am actively involved in Harvard’s International Relations Council and Model UN, where I learn more about IR than I could ever hope to gain in a traditional classroom setting. Thus I decided to alter my academic trajectory to focus my minor on the History of Art and Architecture, a field in which I anticipate embracing my inner artist and letting my creativity reign free. Do not fear, I still like to think I am qualified to lead you in our exploration of international trade regulation and governance. I have previously directed two Specialized Agency committees with HNMUN and two General Assembly committees with our sister-conference for high schoolers, HMUN, as well as two General Assemblies with Harvard WorldMUN and three ECOSOCs with various non-Harvard international conferences. In the little time I have outside of MUN and IR, I work with the Harvard College Consulting Group, participate in a variety of Native American and Hawaiian cultural activities, brush up on my photography skills, and experiment with my cooking and baking skills in the kitchen.

Our committee’s topics are extremely important to me, and I could not be more eager to see these issues discussed and solved with the level of fiery passion, intense debate, and intuitive understanding that is unique to the collegiate MUN environment. I look forward to learning just as much from you as I hope you will learn from me. Please do not hesitate to reach out if you have any questions — first and foremost I am here as a resource for you as you prepare for and participate in the conference. From the beginning to the end of our committee, my desire is that you have a substantive experience and an incredible time. I was thrown into my first MUN conference with very little understanding of Model UN and even less committee experience, and it made for a rather nerve-wracking weekend. Thus it is especially important to me that both new and seasoned delegates feel welcome and empowered to participate to their fullest capacity at HNMUN 2020. I will be here to support you every step of the way, from the minute you read this and begin researching to the moments after we pass a resolution following four long days of debate and diplomacy. Even if you do not have any questions for me, I encourage you to introduce yourself beyond the scope of a MUN delegate. In the meantime, I will look forward to meeting you this upcoming February!

Yours truly,

Katie K. Sakys

 

Topic Area A: Non-Tariff Barriers to Trade

Due to the proliferation of various non-tariff rules and regulations affecting international trade, trade policy is becoming increasingly complex and multifaceted. Understanding the uses and implications of these trade policy instruments is essential for the formulation and implementation of effective development strategies. This is particularly important for developing countries, as their market access depends to a great extent on compliance with trade regulatory measures that are beyond the scope of traditional tariffs and existing preferential schemes. Non-tariff measures include a very diverse array of policies that countries apply to imported and exported goods. Some NTMs are manifestly employed as instruments of commercial policy (e.g. quotas, subsidies, trade defense measures and export restrictions), while others stem from non-trade policy objectives (e.g. technical measures). The latter often serve a legitimate purpose as they are put in place for valid concerns such as food safety and environmental protection. Although the underlying intent of NTMs is important for negotiations and policy response, it is not the only issue. Regardless of whether NTMs are imposed (or implemented) with protectionist intent or to address legitimate market failures, NTMs are thought to have important restrictive and distortionary effects on international trade. Restrictive and distortionary effects of non-tariff measures may be systematically biased, although in many cases unintentionally, against developing countries and more so against low-income and least developed countries. Non-tariff measures are also becoming a key topic of negotiations not only in North-South, but also in South-South contexts. Therefore, it is crucial for developing countries to be fully aware of the effects of non-tariff measures, in regard to both market access and import competition. Unfortunately, the impacts of non-tariff measures on international trade, or more generally on social welfare, are not always well understood. This committee emphasizes an effort to improve existing knowledge on relevant issues related to non-tariff measures, with particular attention to those more relevant for developing countries. A better understanding of non-tariff measures will help nations and their policymakers to formulate appropriate policy responses and direct the necessary technical and financial resources to where they are needed most. It will also contribute to more balanced international trade agreements and improved multilateral dialogue on trade policy issues within the World Trade Organization.

Topic Area B: Intellectual Property

The emergence of the knowledge economy means that intellectual property issues are critical to national, regional and international policy-making in most areas of economic endeavor. Undoubtedly, this committee will provide a valuable learning experience for all those who are interested in the development of new international law, the protection of newly-created science, technology, literature and art, or the promotion of international trade. The challenge of the World Trade Organization is to help ensure that the rights of creators and owners of intellectual property are protected worldwide and that inventors and authors are, thus, recognized and rewarded for their ingenuity while simultaneously balancing respect for state sovereignty and the proper extent to which knowledge should be considered a public good. This topic will challenge this committee to lead the development of improvements to the current Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). While TRIPS represents some of the first intellectual property rules introduced to the mulitlateral trade system, it is not perfect. The World Trade Organization and its members still struggle to determine the best ways to apply the basic principles of the multilateral trading system to intellectual property, what minimum standards of protection for intellectual property rights should be provided by World Trade Organization member nations, how said member nations can best enforce such rights within their own territories, and how to settle disputes on intellectual property between nations. Thus, this topic will require debate on thought-provoking ideas for a balanced and effective international intellectual property system that enables innovation and creativity for the benefit of all. In considering issues of intellectual property as it relates to world trade, the World Trade Organization becomes a policy forum to shape balanced international intellectual property rules for a changing world, provide global services to protect intellectual property across borders, and resolve disputes. Furthermore, continued discussions of intellectual property with the World Trade Organization allow for improvements to the technical infrastructures that connect knowledge systems, as cooperation and capacity-building programs can enable all countries to use intellectual property for economic, social and cultural development.




 

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