by Johannes A.A.M. van Gorp
We are living in an increasingly interconnected world. Whether it is a tsunami in Japan, or an uprising in the Ukraine, both have very real consequences not just for the people that live in those societies, but for all around the world. Take the March 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis that hit Japan. Not only was the loss of life staggering and the material damage suffered by Japan immense – it is estimated that about half a percentage point of global economic growth was lost that year. Similarly, the managing director of the IMF, Christine Lagarde, predicted that recent tensions between Russia and the West over the Ukraine were likely to negatively impact an already slow economic recovery. Put another way: these events have repercussions not just for the countries they impact, but for business here in the U.S. as well.
That is why diplomacy is more important than ever. It matters for businesses here in Southern California, especially for multinationals that have a global presence. Successful diplomacy does not just defuse crisis when they arise, but manages day to day interstate relations. Ambassadors are also able to explain what investment opportunities exist in their countries and can serve as liaisons between companies here in the U.S. and their home country – both qualities that matter to businesses.
That is why it is so exciting that The Ambassadorial Roundtable was founded here in San Diego in 2005. Headed by Dr. Ina von Ber, its mission is to connect international capital, businesses, academia, and government representatives with access to high level foreign dignitaries and diplomats. In January of this year, this organization brought Zoran Straveski, the Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Macedonia, Bill Petroviski, the Foreign Investment Minister of the Republic of Macedonia, and Zoran Jolevski, the Ambassador of the Republic of Macedonia to the United States, to San Diego. While here they met with community and business leaders and gave a presentation on the business climate in the Republic of Macedonia. Similarly, in September 2013 Ashok Kumar Mirpuri, the Ambassador of Singapore to the United States, was invited to meet with members of the Ambassadorial Roundtable in La Jolla, CA to discuss business opportunities in Singapore.
The Ambassadorial Roundtable’s largest annual meeting, the World Diplomatic Forum Conference, is set to take place May 8-9, 2014 here at the Rady School of Management. Bringing together dozens of diplomats, business leaders and academics, this conference is modeled on the World Economic Forum that takes place annually in Davos, Switzerland. With a focus on international diplomacy, it seeks to replicate a similar experience as the one in Davos here in San Diego, CA. With a keynote address to be held each morning, participants in the afternoon will break off into group to discuss a variety of pertinent issues in a more intimate setting: education, diplomacy and globalization, healthcare, cyber security and IT, bio-pharm and clean-tech, tourism and hospitality, and government, defense and aerospace.
Through bringing together this many foreign dignitaries and business leaders, this two day conference offers amazing networking opportunities unique to Southern California. It shouldn’t be missed!
For more information on the conference and how to attend, see: http://rady.ucsd.edu/world-diplomatic-forum/index.html
Dr. Johannes van Gorp is a Lecturer of Political Science at the University of California, Riverside and specializes in West European Politics. In the past he worked as a Visiting Assistant Professor of Politics at Occidental College and was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the European Union Centre of Excellence at York University, Canada. He received his Ph.D. in Political Science from Boston University and also holds an M.A. in European Studies from New York University and a B.A. in History and International Affairs from Lafayette College
 Nanto, Dick K., William H. Cooper, J. Michael Donnelly and Renée Johnson (2011). Japan’s 2011 Earthquake and Tsunami: Economic Effects and Implications for the United States. Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service
 Giles, Chris and Michael MacKenzie (2014). “Stock markets hit post-crisis highs as IMF warns on growth,” Financial Times. April 2