World Trade Centers Association Announces the Formation of Regional Advisory Council—Europe

First major priorities include onboarding additional resources in Europe, and selecting venue for 2019 Regional Meeting

New York, NY, USA | The World Trade Centers Association (WTCA) today announced the formation of its first Regional Advisory Council (RAC), the result of several months of work to build capacity on the ground in its regions.

“Our intent with this pilot program is to put additional resources into Europe to help further activate the network, and to do so under the guidance of the RAC,” remarked Rolf Draak, Chair/CEO, World Trade Center (WTC) Nice/Sophia Antipolis, Vice Chair of the WTCA Board of Directors, and the first Chair of the RAC—Europe. “I am happy to report that we have had our first few meetings by phone to set regional priorities, and we are off to a great start.”

The group is comprised of two Directors on the WTCA Board, and three other Members from the region. This first seating of the RAC includes:

  • Rolf Draak, WTC Nice/Sophia Antipolis (RAC Chair; Vice Chair, WTCA Board of Directors)
  • Emmanuel Thaunier, WTC Rennes Bretagne (Member, WTCA Board of Directors)
  • Edward Allison-Wright, WTC Gibraltar
  • Eva Hyllstam, WTC Gothenburg
  • Evert Jan Schouwstra, WTC Leeuwarden

Given the staggered nature of the terms on the council, in the future Members in the region will have the opportunity to elect new Members to open seats, or indicate their own interest to serve.

Among the first tasks will be to hire an additional staff person in Europe—the “European Membership Coordinator”—to work in tandem with the RAC and Headquarters to help galvanize engagement in the region, roll out core programming, and address critical issues on the ground. Another important decision that needs to be addressed in short order is to select a location for the 2019 Regional Meeting for Europe. WTCA is now accepting applications from Members who wish to host this meeting, which are due on 19 December 2018.

For more information on the RAC, the new position in Europe, or how to host the 2019 Regional Meeting in Europe, please contact


WTCA Meridian November 2018 Feature: The Ups and Downs of Global Trade

A brief glance back at the moments that defined global trade in 2018, and how these might affect what’s to come in 2019

This past year was volatile for global trade and commerce, with new trade deals, testy international relationships, and the disruption of traditional institutions paving the way for evolving trade partnerships and new investment opportunities.

Perhaps the biggest contributor to trade volatility in 2018 was the strict tariffs United States President Trump implemented on roughly half of the goods the United States imports from China, which triggered a spate of retaliatory measures. Overall, opinion on these tariffs has been resoundingly negative, with the IMF fearing they’ll “trigger financial market volatility and slow investment and trade.”

This volatility between the US and China came as China continued to try to make inroads in Europe. First China tried to convince the European Union to align with China in joint opposition against the United States trading policies, a proposal the EU ultimately rejected. Then at a meeting of the 16+1 Summit in July, China and 16 Eastern and Central European countries sought to foster cooperation between China and Europe on a number of infrastructure deals. While these meetings have attracted praise from many, they have also drawn scrutiny from others, having yielded few actual agreements and perhaps stoking disunity among the participating European countries.

Meanwhile, uncertainty reigns in post-Brexit Europe as the European Union and the United Kingdom seek to strike a lasting deal both with each other, and with their respective governments. After unveiling a draft proposal on November 14, several high-level resignations from the UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s own cabinet followed as both sides wait for a Parliamentary vote in that country on December 11. Still not a done-deal, it is hard to find any party happy wtih the current circumstances, with a high likelihood that the relationship between the EU and the UK will remain uncertain well into 2019.

And finally, after a year of negotiations, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is no longer, as the newly agreed-to U.S.-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) trade agreement becomes NAFTA’s replacement. While negotiators reached a deal late in 2018, President Trump, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and Mexico’s Enrique Peña Nieto only just signed the agreement at the G-20 Summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The deal will require ratification by all three countries’ legislatures before taking effect, while experts await the impact of this new agreement in the year to come.

What is clear from 2018 is that the institutions and agreements many have come to rely on—which affect the world’s most significant players in trade—are no longer as dependable as they once were to investors. But while this global shake-up is unmistakable, not all signs point to as much continuing turbulence next year.

President Trump’s rejection of the ambitious Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) lent a major blow to US and European trade relations. Though things looked bleak for most of 2018, some encouraging signs began to develop in the second half of the year.

Meetings between EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker and President Trump helped avoid a dreaded 25-percent tariff between the two trade partners. This certainly demonstrated progress, and if US growth stalls given the tension between the US and China (which may have abated amid mixed signals coming out of the Buenos Aires summit), it’s possible the Trump White House will see value in mending relations further between the US and the EU.

Africa has also seen encouraging economic growth over the past couple of years, and that’s likely to continue throughout 2019 given the volatility elsewhere. The continent remains a golden opportunity for private sector investors, with infrastructure and consumer goods flooding into the region. The ongoing housing crisis in Nigeria and Kenya also opens up the opportunity for creative housing solutions for real estate investors.

As concerns grow over climate change and sustainability, the cleantech sector will likely have a strong year in 2019 as investors will also continue to look for technological solutions to ecological problems. How artificial intelligence affects the economy as a whole is worth watching, and as the technology improves, it will likely only play a bigger and bigger role in the global economy.

Amid all of this uncertainly, however, the major question remains: “is growth poised to stall?” The last two years have seen encouraging economic growth around the world, but could that be coming to an end soon? With political turmoil on the rise in many places, along with less investment in some emerging markets, it’s possible that we could see an economic downturn in 2019 that sets the stage for a recession the following year, something many bankers predict. Already the IMF has lowered its projection for global growth to 3.7 percent, down from a previous projection of 3.9 percent.

Overall, an eventful 2018 set the stage for a fascinating 2019, with WTCA Members positioned to help navigate their local business communities through any oncoming turbulence. The increasingly protectionist stance of some major trading nations, and still-brewing tensions in other key blocs indicate the upcoming year in global trade and commerce will be full of both opportunity and complexity.

As a network we are ready for whatever may come.


The December issue of the WTCA's official publication is out now!

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WTCA Meridian November 2018 Feature: Member Seminar 2018

Partners in Progress


The business world is changing by the minute – large sums of money are moved in mere seconds at the touch of a smartphone, and the majority of daily business tasks are all done behind a screen.But one thing remains true: the value that face-to-face interaction still boasts cannot be surpassed by the agility of technology. An overwhelming number of business leaders still find in-person meetings and events preferable to digital interaction, as they feel that it leads to deeper bonds with clients, customers, and consumers. The point of good business – and, more importantly, strong leadership – is not simply to accomplish as many tasks as possible, but to create lasting connections with your stakeholders.

As an Association with more than 300 Members spanning nearly 100 countries and regions, it can prove to be difficult at times to get all of us in the same room .But our network has never been known to back down from a challenge, so in addition to all-important regional meetings, WTCA strives to create two of the most seamless, engaging, and interactive events for our Membership twice a year: the WTCA General Assembly and the WTCA Member Seminar.

While the General Assembly is our premiere global meeting, the WTCA Member Seminar is a platform for all of you to showcase your World Trade Centers and expertise, exchange innovative ideas with other business leaders, expand your network, and – not to be forgotten – connect with old friends! The event also serves the all-important task of welcoming new Members and new staff at existing WTCs to the community. That is why multiple interactive workshops ranging from moderated Global Best Practices and Member Advisory Council Planning Sessions, to media training and digital platform orientation, all sit at the heart of each year’s Member Seminar.

The breadth of expertise and knowledge within our network is incredible, but it also always proves beneficial to get an “outsider’s perspective.” This is why we featured experts like Brian Stelter (Senior Media Correspondent and Host of “Reliable Sources” at CNN) and Andrew Heyward (Visiting Scholar at the MIT Media Lab and former President of CBS News) to dive into the current state of media. While their session titled, “The Fourth Estate in the New Normal, and Why Media Matters,” had a US-tilt, the shifting sands of media are a worldwide phenomenon.

We also welcomed a global panel of experts consisting of your fellow Members, along with some very special guests from their communities, to foster a dialogue on global-local collaboration stemming from our recently launched WTCA Trade & Investment Report. The panel stressed the impact that your WTCs have on their local markets, causing a ripple effect that reaches a global
scale. Many thanks again to our panel participants (pictured left to right on front cover) Moderator Claire Casey, Managing Director, FP Analytics; Betsy Cohen, Executive Director, St. Louis Mosaic Project at World Trade Center St. Louis; Molly Hyland, Senior Vice President, Community Relations & Government Relations, Commerce Bank; Mariette Mulaire, President and CEO, World Trade Centre Winnipeg; Loren Remillard, President & CEO, The Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce; Evert Jan Schouwstra, Managing Director, World Trade Center Leeuwarden; and the Honorable Klaas Kielstra, Vice Governor, Province of Friesland, the Netherlands.

Workshops and keynotes are all edifying moments, but we cannot forget about the importance of social events. From private exhibits at the Museum of Arts and Design and the exclusive Crossing Art Gallery, to receptions and cocktail hours offering breathtaking views of New York City, we all need time to unwind and catch up after action-packed schedules. “Down time” can be priceless
for building bonds that turn into valuable business relationships.

But, as always, we are looking for ways to enhance our events and programming to best meet your needs. What did you like? Where can we grow? What would you like to see in the future? We strongly encourage you to reach out to the team at HQ at, and send us your thoughts. It is your feedback that lays the foundation for our work – after all, we are all partners in progress.

WTCA Meridian™ November 2018 Issue

The November issue of the WTCA's official publication is out now!

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