Business Makes the World Go Round

The McBride Center for International Business hosts forums and conferences on global business issues

By Justin Walker

Global business relations are a hot topic in the news lately, with trade talks between the United States and other countries impacting families all around the world. But the Hankamer School of Business’ (HSB) McBride Center for International Business has been doing its part to develop strong international leaders for almost 15 years.

In October 2005, the McBride Center hosted the “Free Trade in the Americas Conference” to discuss the state of trade agreements between countries in North and South America, including the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Market of the South (MERCOSUR). This conference featured conversations on new trade strategies in the Americas, different types of trade agreements and results of free trade. Many big names were on hand to speak at the conference, including Dr. Supachai Panitchpakdi, then secretary-general of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.

The success of the conference led the McBride Center to establish the Global Business Forum (GBF), a series of conferences focusing on international business issues, Lourenco Paz, associate professor of Economics, said. The first official GBF event took place in February 2007 on “International Trade and Investment.” The annual event has continued each spring, with the 2019 GBF focusing on China’s role in the global business setting.

“International trade and international business have a substantial overlap,” Paz said. “It’s hard to imagine some sort of international business deal being conducted without international trade. It becomes natural for someone interested in global business to be dealing with trade.”

Along the way, several conferences and forums have popped up that are not part of the official Global Business Forum series, including the November 2018 forum called “Trade Integration in the Americas.” These conferences tend to take place during the fall, Paz said, and while not GBF events, each still revolve around international business issues.

McBride Center staff and HSB faculty put in a lot of work for these events, Paz said. Staff members are responsible for many of the behind-the-scenes responsibilities, including room reservations, catering and paperwork. Faculty have the task of recruiting speakers and lecturers, as well as developing the schedule.

“The McBride Center’s role is to pretty much provide the administrative support for making those things happen,” he said.

With negotiations and proposed agreements on the table, International trade and business will continue to be a topic of interest going forward, Paz said. This provides numerous opportunities for the Global Business Forum going forward.

“It’s hard to say what issues will be relevant in a few years, but these forums will continue to provide great discussion on current trends and happenings, just as it always has,” Paz said.

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