Screenshot of Global Supply Chain Forum participants Katherine Tai and Annibal Sodero

Showcasing the power of partnership, three organizations at The Ohio State University combined their efforts to spotlight a critical area of global business: the complicated intersection of trade, commerce and diplomacy.

Fisher’s Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER) and the Center for Operational Excellence (COE) teamed with the East Asian Studies Center to host the 2023 Global Supply Chain Forum. The virtual event connected academics, practitioners, government representatives and students for a discussion on building resiliency among global supply chains.

The forum, which drew more than 150 attendees, featured interactive sessions with U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Katherine Tai and William C. Kirby, a historian of modern China and the Spangler Family Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School.

“Our state, our region and our entire world is more connected than ever before,” said Anil K. Makhija, dean and John W. Berry, Sr. Chair in Business. “More connections, of course, present more complexities and — sometimes — vulnerabilities. The pandemic certainly exposed some of these weaknesses. Now, these breaks in supply chains, it seems, have given way to disruptions rooted in trade tensions and geopolitical unrest.”

A Cabinet-level position, Tai is the country’s principal trade advisor, negotiator and spokesperson on U.S. trade policy. She shared her perspective on the need to ensure that materials needed globally, such as steel, are produced and distributed in ways that do not reward over-production while incentivizing clean, fair business practices.

Tai also detailed the U.S. Trade Representative’s Indo-Pacific Economic Prosperity Framework (IPEF), which seeks to advance resilience, sustainability, inclusiveness, economic growth, fairness and competitiveness for global economies.

“At its core, the Economic Framework will link major economies and emerging ones to tackle 21st-century challenges and promote fair and resilient trade for years to come,” Tai said.

Kirby’s work examines contemporary China's business, economic and political development in an international context. He has written and taught on the growth of modern companies in China, Chinese corporate law and company structure, business relations across greater China and the country’s  relations with the United States and Europe.

Moderated by Anníbal Camara Sodero, assistant professor of marketing and logistics, Kirby fielded questions from attendees and presented his insights as illustrated by a number of case studies he is writing on Chinese companies including Huawei, TikTok and electric vehicle manufacturer Nio. Kirby also spoke of navigating the business and education crossfire created by friction between Chinese companies, American firms and higher education. These disagreements, he said, can negatively impact supply chains of all kinds — from products to intellectual knowledge and workforce talent.

“For institutions like Fisher and Ohio State, this forum is a chance to step up and double down on our mission to ensure that, through our research, education and programs such as this, we’re facilitating meaningful dialogue and exchanging the knowledge to address and solve these pain points,” Makhija said.