WITA Webinar: Conversation with WTO Director General Candidate Ambassador Tudor Ulianovschi of Moldova





  • H.E. Tudor Ulianovschi, Former Moldovan Ambassador to the WTO and Candidate for the post of Director General of the WTO
  • Wendy Cutler, Vice President, and Managing Director, Washington D.C. office of the Asia Society Policy Institute
  • Ambassador Rufus Yerxa, President, National Foreign Trade Council, and former Deputy Director General of the WTO

Ambassador Tudor Ulianovschi has served as Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Moldova and has had a distinguished career in diplomatic service for over 15 years, accumulating vast experience in international political and economic relations, including trade policy matters.
As Moldova’s Foreign Minister during 2018-2019, Ambassador Tudor Ulianovschi initiated and promoted Government decisions on opening new diplomatic missions, the first embassies in Africa and Latin America, while increasing the number of diplomatic missions in Asia and Europe. Minister Ulianovschi strengthened the national strategy on foreign economic diplomacy, enhancing Moldova’s role in international and regional organizations, expanding the number of bilateral investment treaties and foreign investment protection agreements, while fully capitalizing upon the potential of bilateral relations. During his mandate, the Republic of Moldova ratified and implemented the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement and became a member of the WTO Government Procurement Agreement.
Minister Tudor Ulianovschi represented the Republic of Moldova at the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2019, as the head of the delegation, where he actively engaged in talks with foreign leaders on current challenges of the world trade system and mutually beneficial strategies for the future.
Prior to that, between 2016-2018 he was the Moldovan top diplomat in Geneva, serving as Ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein, as well as Permanent Representative to the United Nations Office in Geneva and Permanent Representative to the World Trade Organization.
During his mandate in Geneva, Ambassador Tudor Ulianovschi served on and chaired various Committees, including: Chairman of the Balance of Payments Committee of the WTO, President of the Trade and Development Board at UNCTAD, Vice President of the General Assembly at WIPO, President of the Steering Committee on Trade at UNECE.
In that capacity, his accomplished experience and hands-on approach have quickly earned him the reputation of a competent and credible negotiator, capable of identifying creative solutions and building consensus on various issues. Previous to the Buenos Aires WTO Ministerial Conference, Ambassador Tudor Ulianovschi was one of the 4 Geneva based designated negotiators-facilitators, who has successfully ensured reaching a consensual text on a part of the draft Declarations of the Ministerial Conference. His high degree of credibility and excellent skills of a professional negotiator in various international fora allowed him to always find a balance of needs for LDCs, developing and developed countries on a win-win basis to build consensus and narrow the gap.
As Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister of the Republic of Moldova between 2014-2016, Tudor Ulianovschi has been in charge of economic diplomacy, international trade negotiations and public diplomacy. During his mandate, Moldova finalized negotiations and signed the Association Agreement with the European Union (including Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement), as well as FTA with Turkey and initiated consultations on FTA with EFTA countries.
Throughout his diplomatic career, Ambassador Ulianovschi served at the Embassies of the Republic of Moldova in Washington, DC (2007-2010), Doha (2013-2014) and Geneva (2016-2018), and at the Ministry, where he served as Director for Americas, Asia, Africa and Middle East, as well as Deputy Minister and as the Foreign Minister.
Minister Tudor Ulianovschi’s background also includes high-level management position in the private sector, being the Senior Vice President for Global Government Relations of a multi-national company, based in Canada.
Ambassador Tudor Ulianovschi’s academic background is in International Public and Trade Law, at the Free International University of Moldova (a LLM degree and a PhD candidate), the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna and the Diplomatic Institute in Bucharest. He is also author of multiple publications on international relations and speaker on trade and development agenda.
Ambassador Tudor Ulianovschi is a member of the International Gender Champions, seeking to build a more inclusive trading system that will allow more women to participate in trade and to reap the economic benefits of new global trading value chains.
His mother tongue is Romanian and he is fluent in English, Russian and French, with intermediate knowledge of Spanish and Arabic. Minister Tudor Ulianovschi is married with one daughter.
Ambassador Rufus Yerxa became President of the National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC) in May 2016. As president, he oversees NFTC’s efforts in favor of a more open, rules-based world economy, focusing on key issues to U.S. competitiveness such as international trade and tax policy, economic sanctions and export finance.
He has more than four decades of experience as a lawyer, diplomat, U.S. trade negotiator and international official. He has been in key policymaking and management roles in Congress, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) and the World Trade Organization (WTO), and also spent several years in private law practice and the corporate world. As Deputy Director General of the WTO from 2002 to 2013 he helped to broaden its membership and strengthen its role as the principal rules-based institution governing world trade.
Prior to this, from 1989 to 1995, he served as Deputy USTR under both a Republican and a Democratic President, first as the Geneva-based Ambassador to the GATT (the predecessor organization to the WTO) and subsequently as the Washington Deputy. Earlier in his government career (1981 to 1989) he was with the Committee on Ways and Means of the U.S. House of Representatives, where he was Staff Director of the Subcommittee on Trade. He began his government career as a legal advisor with the U.S. International Trade Commission. After leaving government service in 1995 and prior to joining the WTO he spent five years in the private sector, including as the Brussels-based partner with the U.S. law firm of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld. Rufus is a native of Washington State.
He holds a BA in political science from the University of Washington (1973), a JD from Seattle University School of Law (1976) and an LLB in international Law from the University of Cambridge in England (1977). He is a member of the District of Columbia Bar, and is also a Visiting Professor with the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey (MIIS).
Wendy Cutler joined the Asia Society Policy Institute (ASPI) as vice president in November 2015. She also serves as the managing director of the Washington D.C. Office. In these roles, she focuses on building ASPI’s presence in Washington — strengthening its outreach as a think/do tank — and on leading initiatives that address challenges related to trade and investment, as well as women’s empowerment in Asia. She joined ASPI following an illustrious career of nearly three decades as a diplomat and negotiator in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR).
Most recently she served as Acting Deputy U.S. Trade Representative, working on a range of U.S. trade negotiations and initiatives in the Asia-Pacific region. In that capacity, she was responsible for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, including the bilateral negotiations with Japan. She also was the chief negotiator to the U.S.-Korea (Korus) Free Trade Agreement. 
Cutler received her master’s degree from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and her bachelor’s degree from the George Washington University.
Kenneth Levinson is the Executive Director of the Washington International Trade Association (WITA). WITA is Washington’s largest non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to providing a neutral forum for the open and robust discussion of international trade policy and economic issues. WITA has over 3,500 members, and more than 170 sponsors and group memberships.
Previously, Ken served as Senior Director for Global Government Affairs for AstraZeneca. Prior to joining AstraZeneca, Ken served as Senior Vice President and COO at the Washington, DC consulting firm of Fontheim International. Ken joined Fontheim after spending six years on the staff of U.S. Senator John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV, where he served as the Senator’s chief advisor for international trade, tax, foreign policy, and national security.
Ken received a Master’s degree in European History from New York University after doing his undergraduate work at the University of Massachusetts, in Amherst. Ken also spent a year studying at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. Ken and his wife, the Reverend Donna Marsh, live in Bethesda, MD, with their two daughters.