Centre for International Business Studies

2009 Eldon D. Foote Lecture in International Business

On the 2009 Foote Lecturer:
Daniel Trefler is J. Douglas and Ruth Grant Canada Research Chair in Competitiveness and Prosperity at the Rotman School. He was raised in Toronto, and has degrees in economics from the University of Toronto (B.A.), Cambridge University (M. Phil.) and UCLA (Ph.D.). He is currently a Research Fellow at the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research. He is a Research Associate at the Institute for Policy Analysis, and National Bureau Economic Research, member of the Academic Advisory Board for Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade and serves on the Ontario Task Force on Competitiveness, Productivity and Economic Progress. He is the editor of the Journal of International Economics. His recent articles have been, “The Innis Lecture: Canadian Policies for Broad-Based Prosperity”(2008), and “The Boundaries of the Multinational Firm: An Empirical Analysis”(2009).

Trefler’s research focuses on the interface of international trade with institutions, technological change, skill acquisition, income distribution, and domestic politics. His current research focuses on domestic and international levers for promoting Canadian competiveness; much of this is done in conjunction with the Institute for Competitiveness and Prosperity.

Lecture Abstract:

In prefacing his intent for the Foote Lecture, Dr. Trefler notes that it is hard not to be drawn into a type of hysteria surrounding the rise of China as the world’s manufacturer and of India as the new capital of outsourced services. While cries for a dramatic government response are everywhere, panic is the wrong mindset.

The labour-market impacts to date have been much smaller than one might think. The real threat—and opportunity—lies in the slow but steady rise in the innovative capacities of China and India. As these countries become richer, sophisticated customers are springing up in cities like Shanghai and Mumbai.

Local customers are who pressure local firms to be more innovative by identifying new needs and new solutions. When there are enough sophisticated customers located in these cities to support innovative domestic firms, then the global economy will have arrived at an innovation tipping point. Once past this point, world leadership in innovation will likely migrate away from minor OECD innovators such as Canada, and toward low-wage China and India. When this happens, China and India will have unglued themselves from their past, and become the nightmare of every profitable corporation in the industrialized world. The 2009 Foote Lecture will aim to offer specifics for how Canadian businesses could best react to such embryonic developments.

Lecture Transcript click here