5th AVID Thought Leadership Forum Speakers’ Profiles


Dr. Ben Shepherd, the Principal of Developing Trade Consultants, is a trade economist and international development consultant. He has worked on a wide range of trade and development issues with organizations, like the World Bank, the OECD, the Asian Development Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, the United Nations, and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation. He specializes in providing policy-relevant research, as well as capacity-building seminars for researchers working in trade and development. He has published over 15 articles in peer-reviewed journals, and a similar number of book chapters.

Prior to starting DTC, Dr. Shepherd was a Postdoctoral Research Associate at Princeton University’s Niehaus Center for Globalization and Governance. He holds a PhD in economics from France’s leading public policy school, the Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris (Sciences Po). He has also completed graduate studies at Cambridge University in the UK, and the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, Switzerland


Dr. Fukunari Kimura has been Professor, Faculty of Economics, Keio University, Tokyo, Japan since 2000 and Chief Economist, Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia since 2008. He received his Bachelor of Law from the Faculty of Law, University of Tokyo in 1982, M.S. and Ph.D. in economics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison respectively in 1990 and 1991. He was Researcher at the International Development Center of Japan (1982-1986), Assistant Professor at the Department of Economics, State University of New York at Albany (1991-1994), and Associate Professor at the Faculty of Economics, Keio University (1994-2000). Dr. Kimura was also the President, Japan Society of International Economics (2010-2012) and the Representative Director, Tokyo Center for Economic Research (2012-2014). His recent publications include books and articles on international production networks and economic integration in East Asia.


Dr. Rafaelita M. Aldaba, PhD, the newly appointed Assistant Secretary of the Philippine Department Trade and Industry, earned her undergraduate, Masters, and Doctorate degrees in Economics from the University of the Philippines, and took Advanced Studies in International Economic Policy Research at the Kiel Institute of World Economics in Germany.

Prior to her government post, she served as Senior Research Fellow and Acting Vice-President of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS). Her extensive experience as researcher, research team leader, and consultant for the Philippine government and global institutions, like the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the World Bank (WB) covers development issues in the ASEAN, with focus on regional economic integration, international trade, industrial policy, foreign direct investments, competition policy, and small and medium enterprises.

This dedicated scholar’s exhaustive body of work figures in specialized Philippine and international journals, the more recent of which include “The Impact of Trade Liberalization on Wage Skill Premium in the Philippines” (2013), a Discussion Paper for the Philippine Institute for Development Studies; “Does Trade Protection Improve Productivity?” (2012) for Economic Consequences of Globalization: Evidence from East Asia; and “Do FDI Inflows Have Positive Spillover Effects? The Case of the Philippine Manufacturing Industry” (2010) for the Philippine Journal of Development


Dr. Ganeshan Wignaraja is Principal Economist at the Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) Office of Regional Economic Integration. He also represents the ADB at the WTO Director-General’s Advisory Group on Aid for Trade. He holds a doctorate in economics from Oxford University.

Over the last 20 years, he has managed multi-country projects, implemented strategic assignments, and conducted policy-oriented research on international trade, regional integration, economic competitiveness, technology and macroeconomic forecasting. Formerly, he was in London as Head of Competitiveness and SME Strategy at Maxwell Stamp PLC and Chief Program Officer at the Commonwealth Secretariat.  He has also held research positions at Oxford University, the OECD, the Overseas Development Institute and the United Nations Institute for New Technologies.  He has published 10 books, including Pan-Asian Integration (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), Competitiveness Strategy in Developing Countries (Routledge, 2003), and the Postwar Evolution of Development Thinking (Macmillan and St. Martins Press, 1991).  His research has been quoted in the Financial Times and the Asian Wall Street Journal. 

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