The World Trade Organization (WTO) members have secured an unprecedented package of agreements at the 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12).
Aged 31, Justin Sun witnessed the attainment of the “Geneva Package” as head of the Grenada delegation.
“That is a thrilling and sacred moment,” the young billionaire later recalled.
Prior to attending the MC12 as the Ambassador of Grenada to the WTO, Justin Sun was widely known as the Founder of TRON. Statistics from TRON show that the platform, ranking among the world’s top three public chains, has over 109 million users and more than 3.7 billion transactions on its network. To many people’s surprise, Sun announced at the end of 2021 that he had resigned as the CEO of the TRON Foundation and, subsequently, embraced his new role as the Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Grenada to the WTO.
The recent episode in Geneva shows that the unpredictable and often controversial young billionaire is apparently showing more enthusiasm for diplomacy now.
From China to the Grenada
In December 2021, Justin Sun announced that he had resigned as the CEO of the TRON Foundation and would accept the appointment as the Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Grenada to the WTO.
Before becoming a diplomat, he was a prominent entrepreneur in the blockchain industry and a young billionaire. In 2017, he founded TRON, which became one of the most influential blockchain finance groups in 2021 and one of the three major public chains in the world now.
Having a keen eye for spotting trends, Sun has amassed a great fortune through a series of audacious moves.
But opportunities also come with challenges.
China imposes more stringent regulations on cryptocurrencies than most other countries do.
And a regulatory storm came earlier than expected. On September 4, 2017, seven China regulatory bodies including the People’s Bank of China jointly issued a public notice on “Preventing Risks of Fundraising Through Coin Offering”, which defines initial coin offerings (ICO) as “unauthorized and illegal public fundraising and suspected of involving in criminal activities such as illegal selling of tokens, illegal issuance of securities, illegal fundraising, financial fraud and pyramid schemes”.
This was a devastating blow to industry giants including TRON, who had to close business in China, with some project founders leaving the country.
Upon the notice, BTCChina, Huobi, and OKCoin announced the suspension of swaps between CNY and all cryptocurrencies as well as a shift of focus to international markets; even CZ’s Binance delisted its CNY trading zone and sought expansion in overseas markets.
Under tremendous pressure, Sun made a series of bold moves: he published articles in industry-leading journals, participated in blockchain project research in research institutes, and funded technology research in the institutes as some western entrepreneurs did. However, hindered by the strict regulations of the crypto industry, these moves did not help to lift the restrictions on TRON’s business in China.
In 2019, Sun left China, obtained Grenadian Citizenship, and became a diplomat there. As for why he chose Grenada, people familiar with Sun have different answers. Grenada’s relatively straightforward immigration process and its visa-free policy for China might account for part of the reason.
Becoming a diplomat–new adventure for the young crypto tycoon
Without a doubt, Sun’s high profile in the crypto sphere facilitates—and also justifies—his being appointed as the ambassador.
After resigning as the CEO of the TRON Foundation, Sun announced his new identity as the Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Grenada to the WTO.
According to Grenada, this island country will leverage Sun’s experience in the digital sector to drive the digitization of its trade, investment, and governance.
And as can be seen from Sun’s Twitter account, he is dedicated to this job and fulfilling his duties.
Since March this year, Sun has met with several diplomats, such as the U.S. Ambassador to Singapore, the Ambassadors of Russia, Singapore, and the European Union to the WTO, and discussed e-commerce, cryptocurrency, and digital trade. He also presented blockchain and digital economy to global roundtable discussions.
In fact, he had already mentioned the crucial role cryptocurrency could play in protecting economic security in a conversation with Dmitry Lyakishev, Russia’s Ambassador to the WTO. It is reported that the two had a further exchange on how to help people who lack access to the financial system with blockchain technology, among other topics.
While drawing global attention to cryptocurrency’s importance in the economy, Sun also proposed to the world to lead the digital transformation of the world economy through blockchain technology, with a view to fixing the looming global economic recession.
The challenges of Grenada are clear: it is hard for this island country in the western hemisphere to escape the influence of Western powers, even after its supposed independence; meanwhile, traditional sources for economic growth—agricultural products and trade in services—can barely help Grenada catch up in today’s world. This is when blockchain technology comes to play and introduces a new way out. With advanced digital tools, Grenada may inject new vitality into the international trade system, driving the development of the Caribbean region as a whole.
At MC 12, Sun reiterated in his speech as head of the Grenada delegation that the development of e-commerce and the broader digital economy, including blockchain and other technologies, will drive global economic growth in the post-pandemic era.
Meanwhile, he also clamored for restoring the WTO’s two-tier dispute settlement mechanism and argued that Grenada, a small island developing state with an open economy, is heavily dependent on a thriving multilateral trading system that is predictable and transparent.
However, making such an ideal system come true is challenging, especially during the ongoing market slump. The global digital asset market is in a big bear run, and the Bitcoin price has plummeted 60% from its annual peak. Statistics show that the global cryptocurrency market cap has shed about $1 trillion, losing about 40% of its total value. Numerous big-name investors such as Three Arrows Capital are on the verge of bankruptcy.
Some countries, such as El Salvador in Central America, have tasted bitter fruits. In June 2021, El Salvador became the first country globally to adopt Bitcoin as a legal tender. Later it announced its plans, such as building a Bitcoin City powered by geothermal volcano power for BTC mining and issuing a $1 billion bitcoin-backed bond. Even the president went all-in on it, adding Bitcoins to the government coffers. This nation-level experiment on cryptocurrency seems to face a bleaker future, of which the latest BTC price is a harbinger.
Another challenge is whether the pace of development in Grenada matches the blueprint that the young diplomat has drawn up for the country. Caribbean countries generally have a weak industrial base, and Grenada is no exception.
The young tycoon stated in a recent interview that despite these challenges, he has full confidence in the crypto market and Grenada’s performance in the future digital economy.
Will there be a bear market rally to back his bold moves? Will his diplomatic career in Grenada be as successful as his crypto ventures? Perhaps time will tell. After all, Grenada faces great complexity from past to present, while Justin Sun and his solution are pretty young. The continuous attempts seem to be prudent, at least they spared Grenada from an El Salvador collapse.