Shanker Singham is a UK and US citizen and one of the world's leading trade and competition lawyers, a recognized author and adviser to governments and companies. He has authored the leading academic text book on the subject of trade, competition and regulatory frameworks, as well as lectured, written and spoken extensively, including over one hundred articles and book chapters. He has been featured in various articles and media publications surrounding his expertise in the fields of trade and competition. His more recent developments have been in the areas of Anti-Competitive Market Distortions and the efforts to reduce barriers to free trade on a global basis. Shanker has also begun work on identifying and measuring international inhibitors to entrepreneurship and the successful creation of the preconditions necessary for individuals' success. He is the founder of the International Roundtable on Trade and Competition (1997), the Competitiveness and Enterprise Cities Project (“CECP”) (2013), and the lead author of the SRB economic model to measure Anti-Competitive Market Distortions.
Shanker founded the Roundtable on Trade and Competition in 1997 as a way of promoting the notion of free trade, competitive markets and property rights protection around the world, having learned the lessons of the openings in the former Soviet sphere, Latin America and China and India's re-insertion into the global economy.
Shanker is a cleared advisor to the United States Trade Representative and Department of Commerce, and is a Non-Government Adviser to the International Competition Network, where he has worked on competition advocacy, unilateral conduct and merger matters. He has also been a senior trade and economics adviser to a number of political candidates including Democratic Governors Lawton Chiles and Buddy McKay of Florida as well as Governor Mitt Romney’s Presidential campaigns in 2008 and 2012, and the Presidential campaign of Senator Marco Rubio in 2016.
He has worked with governments and multi-national companies on trade, competition and regulatory issues in fifty countries around the world. Between 1997 and 2005, he chaired the International Roundtable on Trade and Competition which hosted an annual meeting in Miami for the heads of competition agencies in Latin America, as well as other government ministries. Between 2005 and 2008, the Roundtable hosted a meeting in Singapore for Asian competition agencies.
He is regularly quoted on issues of trade, competition, regulatory systems and their ability to lift the poor out of poverty. Some examples are included below.
"The train of trade in the 21st century is different, but we insist on driving that train on the old lines. Instead we must change the lines, and develop a new architecture to frame the real trade issues of the day. That architecture must now find a way of harnessing the very real mercantilist impulse in nations, which has always been with us, to ratchet down internal barriers, distortions, and anticompetitive practices." - Bloomberg BusinessWeek, August 13, 2008
"Free trade was supposed to open entire new markets to goods and services from other countries. It was supposed to fuel competition, lower prices and increase choice for consumers. But free trade does not work if the market is rigged against competition." - The Financial Times, October 15, 2012
“’I soon learned that if you just open to trade at the border but don't at the same time open the competition inside and improve the rule of law, then you just gift the boundary to gate keepers, enrich rent seekers and create a backlash against the whole process, resulting in a hostile electorate...A result, he says, is that 'people say the whole thing is bad, that liberalising trade is bad. They don't say, 'it is supposed to be good for me, let's fix domestic liberalisation to make sure we get the benefit of free trade'." - The Australian, December 6, 2012.
In May, 2017, he was appointed as a member of the International Advisory Council of the Global Trade Professionals Alliance.
In March, 2017, he was appointed to be the specialist advisor to the UK House of Commons Committee on International Trade.
He was Chairman of the Trade Committee of the British-American Chamber of Commerce (Miami) between 1995 and 2005, and was appointed Issue Leader for the Small and Medium Sized Enterprise Working Group of the Transatlantic Business Dialogue in 1995.
He served as a Non-Government Advisor to the International Competition Network from 2003 to the present, and was one of its earliest proponents.
He was an issue leader for the Free Trade Area of the Americas ABF negotiations from 1997 – 2003 on behalf of the Florida FTAA, a public-private partnership initiated by the State of Florida to promote hemispheric trade integration.
He is Director of the International Trade and Competition Unit at the Institute of Economic Affairs
He is Head of Trade at the Centre for Economics and Business Research
He is Senior Advisor to Grayling/Huntsworth
He led the Economic Policy and Prosperity Studies program at the Legatum Institute, and is Chairman of the Legatum Institute Special Trade Commission. He is Chairman and CEO of Competere Group. He was formerly the managing director of the Competitiveness and Enterprise Cities project at Babson Global. The Competitiveness and Enterprise Development (CED) Project at Babson Global works with developers and governments in developing countries to put in place the necessary regulatory environment and infrastructure that will spur economic growth through the creation of Enterprise Cities.
As one of the world’s leading trade and competition lawyers, he has worked on the privatization of the UK electricity market, the transition of the Soviet, Central and Eastern European economies and the apertura in Latin America. He has worked on the accession of Poland and Hungary to the EU, the WTO accessions of a number of countries, including China and Russia. He built the Latin American trade practice of Steel Hector and Davis in Miami, and led the global market access/WTO practices of Steel Hector and Davis in Miami, and Squire Sanders in Washington, DC. He has lived in London, Hong Kong, Miami, Washington, D.C., and Boston.
He was educated at St. Paul’s School, London and has an M.A in Chemistry from Balliol College, Oxford University and postgraduate legal degrees in both the UK and US (at the Guildford College of Law, and University of Miami Law School).
Quotes about Shanker
In December, 2012, the Australian Newspaper described Shanker as a “trade crusader sought to recast trade barriers through a competition lens, and thus promote policy that lifts the world’s poor.”
Kerry Healey, President of Babson College, and former Lieutenant-Governor of Massachussetts under Governor Mitt Romney and a senior advisor to both his Presidential campaigns has said “I believe Shanker is the most brilliant conservative economist of our generation.”
Rob Portman, former USTR said of Shanker’s 2007 academic text book, “A General Theory of Trade and Competition is an important contribution to the understanding of global trade. By going back to first principles, Shanker Singham takes us back to the original purposes of free trade and competitive markets, helping to explain the benefits of free trade. It is an important book for trade specialists and policymakers.”
In 2012, at a Henry Jackson Society event, at which Shanker spoke, Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, Conservative MP and former shadow trade spokesman said “I can think of nobody more knowledgeable on trade issues than Shanker.”
In February, 2017, Michael Gove on Radio 4 said “I’ve been impressed by work that has been done by Shanker Singham of the Legatum Institute [a thinktank] who is probably at the moment in Britain the leading expert on trade deals, and he’s pointed out that it would be possible for Britain to conclude a deal not just with America but with other countries like New Zealand, whose prime minster was here recently … Shanker Singham has concluded that such a deal could increase Britain’s GDP and jobs and growth significantly. There are some experts whom one does not automatically follow, but I’m inclined to believe that Shanker Singham and the work the Legatum Institute has done points the way to a successful trade relationship between Britain and other countries.”
Former United States under-secretary of state for international trade, Francisco Sanchez said, “Shanker Singham is one of the world's top trade experts. His thoughtful analysis of trade distortions has served governments in developing polices that support free trade. He has committed his entire career to promoting and supporting economic growth through trade. Though of us who have sought his advice are fortunate to have had his wise counsel.”
Former Federal Trade Commission Director, Alden Abbott said, “Shanker Singham is a visionary. He brings to bear his wide experience in privatization of state-owned industries, trade law, and antitrust in developing a framework for the assessment of state-imposed barriers that prevent the realization of the benefits of liberalized trade. His unique knowledge set, reform vision, and entrepreneurial spirit make him the leading proponent of the effort to raise global welfare by uniting market-oriented approaches to trade and competition law and policy.”
Anti-Competitive Market Distortion Developments
His academic text book published in 2007 identified Anti-Competitive Market Distortions (ACMDs) as a threat to the global economic system. He further developed the principles of Anti-Competitive Market Distortions in his work with Alden Abbott, Deputy Director in the Office of International Affairs, as well as his various reports in association with the Council on Foreign Relations.
In a report published by The Australian, Singham was described as a “trade crusader” who has sought to recast trade barriers through a competition lens, and thus promote policy that lifts the world’s poor [cite]. He noted the purpose of trade liberalization however, is to enhance consumer welfare and ultimately make the global supply chain more efficient - hence lifting people from poverty.
The argument that free trade benefits the rich and hurts the rest, that it's a zero sum game, has begun to prevail all over the world. Singham has been seeking to develop a metric to express the welfare losses resulting in Anti-Competitive Market Distortions.
The Rushford Report confirms that the “most innovative representatives of American business — think of IBM, Microsoft, GE, Google, FedEx, UPS, US health care and medical device providers, telecommunications innovators, the Silicon Valley, Boston’s Route 128, and North Carolina’s Research Triangle — are being ripped off, big time. So are their counterparts in Europe and important trading countries including Australia, Singapore, and New Zealand.” The article goes on to quote Singham as asserting that “trillions of dollars are being sucked out of the global economy by such market-distorting, anti-competitive regulatory practices. This is why negotiating market-oriented competition reforms are so important.”
Enterprise Cities are established by governments willing to give authority to a new entity comprised of a public private partnership of government officials, experts, and developers who together create a new regulatory system that delivers a pro-competitive business environment based on open trade, competitive markets and property rights protection. Enterprise cities are beneficial for countries as they include a revenue share with the Host Government that manages this special zone, as well as employment benefits for the local population and wealth generating effects brought about by the Enterprise City. The governance and economic framework is powered by the Competitiveness and Enterprise Cities Project in these areas to deliver an overall environment which seeks to maximize the creation of prosperity.
A successful implementation of an Enterprise City will demonstrate principles behind how economies and societies can best be organized, showing how wealth is created for the society as a whole when government distortions and other road blocks to economic activity are eliminated.
March, 2018- Director of the International Trade and Competititon Unit at the Institute of Economic Affairs.
March, 2018-Head of Trade at the Centre for Economic Business and Research
May, 2018-Senior Advisor to Huntsworth/Grayling
January, 2016 – Director of Economic Policy and Prosperity Studies, Chairman of Legatum Institute Special Trade Commission; Chairman and CEO, Competere Group
September, 2013 – January, 2015 – Director of the Competitiveness and Enterprise Cities project at Babson Global, the venture arm of Babson College, Boston, USA
June 2005 – August 2013—Head of Global Market Access Practice, Squire Sanders, Washington DC, USA (managed a group of twelve lawyers all over the world)
February 2001 – June 2005 – Partner and Head of Trade and Competition Practice, Steel Hector and Davis LLP, Miami, USA (managed a group of ten lawyers all over Latin America and the US)
March 1995 –Feb 2001 – Of Counsel, Steel Hector and Davis LLP
September 1992 – March 1995 McKenna & Co (now CMS Cameron McKenna)
March 2009 – December 2015 – Cleared Advisor to United States Trade Representative and Department of Commerce (ITAC16 – SPS, TBT and Regulatory issues); Worked on TPP, TTIP and US bilateral agreements
June 2003 – present: Non-Government Advisor to the International Competition Network
Member of Council on Foreign Relations, and Cosmos Club.