JFTC Essay Competition

Words from Winners of JFTC Essay Competition 2017

I am quite honoured to be one of the recipients of the Prize for Excellence this year. I would like to thank the Japan Foreign Trade Council, Inc. (JFTC) for this award and for granting me this amazing opportunity to visit Japan. I am also grateful to the selection committee for the hard work that went into providing feedback on my essay.

Furthermore, I would like to thank the JFTC for allowing me to participate in the worldwide debate on free trade particularly as it relates to my contribution to an improved global trading system. Such proposals have become even more important given the current populist backlash against globalisation which may “portend the end of Pax Americana” as articulated by renowned economist Nouriel Roubini. This may indeed be the case if a more inclusive international trading system, that is in the interest of all parties involved, is not found soon.

Thank you again!

What made me apply for JFTC Essay Competition

I decided to enter the JFTC essay competition this year because I thought it would be a great opportunity to express my thoughts and ideas on one of the most contentious political and economic issues of our time - free trade. It also gave me the unique chance to prepare a proposal on a better global trading system that would benefit all parties involved amid the mounting populist backlash against globalisation. I really like the fact that I was able to contribute to this international debate on a global scale while competing with my peers around the world. Moreover, it allowed me to learn more about free trade as I engaged in research for this particular topic.

Ms. Anna Lee Ali (Trinidad and Tobago)

I am delighted and deeply honored that my essay has been selected for the Price for Excellence in this highly competitive essay competition with over 260 submissions. I am all the more honored as I have seen the high quality of the winning essays in the previous rounds, where the authors of all age groups and from across the globe have shown an intimate knowledge of Japan and its economy and had drawn up convincing and innovative solutions to the respective subjects. I have already learned a lot from reading those essays. This shows the strong merits of the essay competition and I truly hope that JFTC will continue to host the competition.

I am also grateful for the opportunity to travel to Tokyo and to meet leaders of the Japanese industry at the New Year's Reception, to visit member companies of the JFTC and JFTC itself. This will help me to get a glimpse of the Japanese perspective on current issues, how the domestic companies operate and how they maintain their competitive advantage in the global markets. On a more personal note, I am also grateful for this opportunity, as I was actually born in Tokyo, in Shinjuku to be precise, 28 years ago. But after two wonderful years at the kindergarden, the hoiku-en of Sanban-cho in Chiyoda-ku, unfortunately I had to leave this wonderful country. So I am glad to be back.

What made me apply for JFTC Essay Competition

I saw the essay as an opportunity to describe the Japan-EU FTA as a practical example on how to move forward in the trade policy arena under the current difficult circumstances. I felt that examining the reasons for the breakthrough and of highlighting the positive steps that have been taken by both sides could also serve as a humble encouragement for engaging in further negotiations. So, I was very relieved that on the day that I received the official notification over winning the price, that the JEFTA agreement was finalized. It can now indeed serve as an example, if the partnership agreement will be approved by the European and Japanese Parliament and EU Member States.

It seems that the enthusiasm over the successful negotiations and finalization has renewed the determination of the Japanese and European negotiators to conclude further meaningful agreements. Now it can be hoped that their agreements will mobilize other nations to also reengage with improving the global trade regime.

I am especially happy that such an important agreement has been reached between Europe and Japan. As established and mature economies, they share similar strengths but also certain challenges. Both economies would thus benefit from increased bilateral cooperation either on the global stage (e.g. in furthering the multilateral trade agenda) as many of their preferences are aligned and they would stand to benefit from an increased exchange of thoughts and practices on how they are dealing with similar challenges. By reducing the irritations from trade frictions and by stimulating the exchange of goods and services, the agreement will certainly contribute to fostering the partnership between Europe and Japan and to allow for more cooperation.

Dr. Jan-Ulrich Rothacher (Germany)


What made me apply for JFTC Essay Competition


Ms. Sachiko Stone (Japan)

I feel both exhilarated and satisfied on being recognized for my essay. It took shape after weeks of sincere efforts. Economics as a subject has always fascinated me. I also like to keep track of economic and financial developments. As a lawyer, it is interesting to observe how economics, politics and diplomacy work at the global level such that they dictate policies at the national level. In this regard, writing my essay and indeed, reading the other prize-winning essays has been an enriching experience.

Japanese culture and work ethic are greatly admired in India. We regard the Land of the Rising Sun as an example to be emulated. To be invited here to receive a prize is a great honour for me. It is also interesting to note that the roles have reversed in modern times: my mother has asked me to bring back a Japanese doll for her when I return.

What made me apply for JFTC Essay Competition

Being the second most populous nation in the world, my country is heavily reliant on foreign imports and investment to sustain its large population. In September, 2017, India entered into a partnership with Japan for financial and technological assistance for a bullet train project in India. At the same time, both countries are locked in dispute at the World Trade Organisation regarding safeguard duties on iron and steel products. This dichotomy exists between many other countries. Clearly, there is more at work than just smart business. But, what was it?

My essay took shape as I set out to investigate the above question. JFTC gave me a platform to consolidate my thoughts and present them to an illustrious panel of judges, who are experts in this field. It was only fitting that I send my essay to the Japan Foreign Trade Council as it was the case of Japan and India that got me thinking.

Ms.Surabhi Chaturvedi (India)