Counselor Hiroaki Kojima of the Japanese embassy recently joined students in Professor Richard Crowder’s 7:45 a.m. negotiation class to discuss U.S. – Japanese agricultural trade and trade agreements in the wake of the United States’ withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Counselor Kojima’s visit was the capstone to Crowder’s class where students first learned techniques for effective negotiations and then participated in mock negotiations based on Crowder’s experience as a trade negotiator in the private sector as well as his time as U.S. chief agriculture negotiator.

“I always appreciate when professors bring in people from industry or government,” said Ana Telleria, a senior agricultural economics and management major from Falls Church, Virginia. “You get to see what goes on outside of Virginia Tech, where most of us will likely start our career. It gives us a window into the outside world and a chance to explore different career options.”

Through Counselor Kojima’s visit, students were given a glimpse into the life of a trade diplomat and a wealth of knowledge into Japanese agriculture and trade issues.

The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ Center for Agricultural Trade co-hosted Counselor Kojima and held a small group meeting for graduate students and some undergraduates with particular interest in international trade relations and trade agreements. One such student, Joan Barringer, a junior Applied Economic Management major from Fredericksburg, Virginia joined Counselor Kojima for the small group discussion.   

“I’ve been interested in trade since high school,” said Barringer. “So it’s really cool to see it come to life like this. I’ve learned so much about trade since coming to Virginia Tech through classes and experiences like this.”

Barringer hopes to meet Counselor Kojima again while she interns for the United States Department of Agriculture this summer in Washington, D.C. The two will have lots more to talk about as Barringer has questions about currency manipulation, the future of U.S. – Japanese trade, and potential new trade agreements.

Barringer and Telleria hope to connect with more figures like Counselor Kojima when they return to campus in the fall. Meanwhile, Crowder and the Center for Agricultural Trade will be hard a work planning visits from other leaders in the trade sector.