Periodically we’ll be interviewing Senior CEME Fellows to check in on their latest research, big questions they’ve been pondering and everything they’re keeping an eye on in the world. Today we spoke with Harsha Singh, Executive Director at Brookings Institution India Center.
Interviewer: What are the questions that keep you up at night around your current research/focus of interest?
HS: I am concerned with the conflict that might arise in the future as a result of the non-inclusive economic systems that are being developed in trade and investment agreements. These agreements are meant to break-down barriers, but often raise standards for industries — often for less developed countries, such as those in Africa — that are often not capable of meeting the requirements. This actually leads to less market access unless their capacity to meet requirements can be increased. As a result these economics tensions can spill over into global politics. The solution lies in identifying ways to sensitize the stakeholders negotiating these agreements to the effects of other parties.
Interviewer: What do you see in the developments and events around the world today that make your work relevant and timely?
HS: The first major event that this relates to is the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) being developed between us and 11 other nations, and another one is the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) being developed between the US and Europe. Another focus of my work is to examine the impact of one billion additional people estimated to be entering the middle class in this decade. And then there are the global firms who buy and sell their goods and services all over the world that must navigate the emerging trade and investment agreements and take them into consideration when doing business.
Interviewer: Where do you see the greatest opportunities for impact for students who affiliate or work with IBGC?
HS: The greatest opportunity for students through the IBGC is to connect with experts in the field and either use them as a source for guiding their research, making contacts, or act as a research assistant to one of our projects.
Interviewer: What is the most interesting book you have read recently?
HS: The Presidents Club: Inside the World’s Most Exclusive Fraternity by Nancy Gibbs