Shipbuilding – The Next US-China Trade Battle?




The Office of the United States Trade Representative has initiated “an investigation of acts, policies, and practices of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) targeting the maritime, logistics, and shipbuilding sectors for dominance.” This is one of seven strategic sectors first identified by Beijing as a priority in 2006, and again in their Made in China 2025 plan.

On April 24, WITA and the Asia Society Policy Institute hosted an event to look at the trade case against  Chinese shipbuilding and logistics industries, past efforts to incentivize American shipbuilding, and what role trade remedies can play to help revitalize this U.S. industry.

Featured Speakers:

Elizabeth Drake, International Trade Attorney and Partner, Schagrin Associates; currently serving as counsel to United Steelworkers and other interested parties in the recently filed Section 301 petition 

Colin Grabow, Research Fellow, Herbert A. Stiefel Center for Trade Policy Studies, Cato Institute; author of Sorry Unions, China Isn’t Responsible for US Shipbuilding Woes | Cato at Liberty Blog

Captain Jonathan Kaskin, U.S. Navy (Ret.); Chair, Merchant Marine Affairs Committee, Navy League of the U.S.; Senior Fellow, Center for Naval Analyses (CNA); Marine Board Member, National Academy of Sciences

Rear Admiral Michael McDevitt, U.S. Navy (Ret.); Senior Fellow in Strategic Studies, Center for Naval Analyses (CNA); former Director & Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for East Asia, Office of Secretary of Defense, U.S. Department of Defense; author of China as a Twenty-First Century Naval Power

David Ross, Partner & Chair, International Trade, Investment and Market Access Practice Group, WilmerHale; former International Trade Counsel, United States Senate Committee on Finance

Moderator: Wendy Cutler, Vice President and Managing Director, Asia Society Policy Institute (ASPI) Washington, DC Office; former Acting Deputy United States Trade Representative

Speaker Biographies:

Wendy Cutler is Vice President at the Asia Society Policy Institute (ASPI) and the managing director of the Washington, D.C. office. In these roles, she focuses on leading initiatives that address challenges related to trade, investment, and innovation, 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), where she also served as Acting Deputy U.S. Trade Representative. During her USTR career, she worked on a range of bilateral, regional, and multilateral trade negotiations and initiatives, including the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, U.S.-China negotiations, and the WTO Financial Services negotiations. She has published a series of ASPI papers on the Asian trade landscape and serves as a regular media commentator on trade and investment developments in Asia and the world.

Elizabeth J. Drake is an International Trade Attorney and Partner at Schagrin Associates. has over thirteen years of experience as an international trade attorney, and she worked on international trade policy for six years prior to entering practice.

Ms. Drake has represented clients in a broad array of international trade law matters, including antidumping and countervailing duty proceedings, section 301 petitions, trade preferences, and international and bilateral trade agreements. She has also advised clients on trade policy and legislative matters, as well as on dispute settlement proceedings before the World Trade Organization.

Ms. Drake has testified before Congress, the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, and the U.S.-China Economic Security Review Commission. She has also spoken and published on a wide variety of issues in international trade, including China’s industrial policies, WTO rules and disputes, and Buy America laws. In 2015, Ms. Drake was nominated to be a judge of the U.S. Court of International Trade. Her nomination was returned without a Senate vote.

Prior to joining Schagrin Associates in 2017, Ms. Drake was a partner at a boutique law firm focused on trade remedies. Before entering practice, she was an international policy analyst at the AFL-CIO. She has been recognized by Best Lawyers, Chambers USA, and as a Super Lawyers Rising Star.

Colin Grabow is a Research Fellow at the Cato Institute’s Herbert A. Stiefel Center for Trade Policy Studies where his research focuses on domestic forms of trade protectionism such as the Jones Act and the U.S. sugar program.

His writings have been published in a number of outlets, including USA Today, The Hill, National Review, and the Wall Street Journal.

Prior to joining the Cato Institute, he performed political and economic analysis for a Japan‐​based trading and investment firm and published research and analysis for an international affairs consulting firm with a focus on U.S.-Asia relations.

Grabow holds a BA in international affairs from James Madison University and an MA in international trade and investment policy from George Washington University.

Captain Jonathan Kaskin is Chair of the Merchant Marine Affairs Committee at Navy League of the U.S, Senior Fellow at the Center for Naval Analyses, and Marine Board Member at the National Academy of Sciences. He was a member of the Senior Executive Service for over 25 years and retired with 37 years of government service as the Director, Strategic Mobility and Combat Logistics Division, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (N-42), in June 2012. He was rehired as a Senior Advisor,  Maritime, to support the Navy Secretariat’s investigation of the business case for Dual Use Vessels on America’s Marine Highway which he completed in June 2014. He is now a part-time Senior Fellow at the Center for Naval Analyses.

Following four years on active duty with the Navy and four years of graduate education, Mr. Kaskin began his civil service career as an Operations Research Analyst at the Military Sealift Command Headquarters in the Office of the Assistant for Special Programs in September 1979. From July 1982 to March 1987 he served as the Executive Assistant to the Vice Commander, Military Sealift Command. From May 1987 to June 2012 he served as the OPNAV Program sponsor for strategic sealift and combat logistics ships (OPNAV N42).

Mr. Kaskin has a BSEE from the University of Pennsylvania (1971), a Master of Science degree in Engineering from Harvard University (1977) and second Master of Science degree in Shipping and Shipbuilding Management as well as a professional degree of Ocean Engineer from MIT (1979).

Mr. Kaskin is a Member of the National Defense Transportation Association, Propeller Club of the United States, Fellow of the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers, Life Member of American Society of Naval Engineers (Gold Medal Recipient), Association of the U.S. Navy, U.S. Naval Institute, Military Officers Association, and the Navy League at which he currently serves as Chair of its Merchant Marine Affairs Committee, completing a six year term as National Vice President for Legislative Affairs. He also serves on the National Academies Marine Board. He was awarded the SES Presidential Rank of Meritorious Executive in 1999 and 2009 and the Navy Distinguished Civilian Service Medal in 2012.

Rear Admiral Michael McDevitt, US Navy (Ret.) is a Senior Fellow with CNA Strategic Studies.

Over his 15 years at CNA, as both a vice president and now as a fellow, he has had a number of papers dealing with security issues in Asia published. His most recent research focus has been the maritime security issues along the Indo-Pacific littoral and the maritime dimension of
China’s national strategy.

During his navy career, McDevitt spent his operational time in the Pacific, including a two year
assignment in Sasebo, Japan. He held four at-sea commands, including an aircraft carrier battlegroup. He was the Director of the East Asia Policy office for the Secretary of Defense during the George H.W. Bush Administration. He also served for two years as the Director for Strategy, War Plans and Policy (J-5) for US CINCPAC. McDevitt concluded his 34 year active duty career as the Commandant of the National War College in Washington, DC.

He is a graduate of the University of Southern California and has a Master’s Degree in U.S.
Diplomatic History in East Asia for Georgetown University. McDevitt spent a year in residence
at the U.S. Naval War College as a member of the CNO’s Strategic Studies Group. He is also a
graduate of the National War College.

David Ross chairs WilmerHale’s International Trade, Investment and Market Access Practice. Drawing on his experience at the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) and on Capitol Hill, Mr. Ross advises companies on the use of domestic and international trade rules to eliminate regulatory barriers and other impediments to their businesses and investments around the world, with a particular focus on the technology, services/financial services, and aviation/aerospace sectors. Mr. Ross also spends significant time on trade policy and legislative matters, including proceedings under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974, US legislation, the negotiation and enforcement of international agreements, and World Trade Organization (WTO) and other international trade law. Mr. Ross joined WilmerHale after spending four years as international trade counsel to the Republican staff of the Senate Finance Committee, and eight years as associate general counsel at USTR.

During his time at USTR, Mr. Ross was responsible for legal matters involving services and financial services, subsidies, antidumping measures, and safeguards. Mr. Ross served as lead counsel for the United States in numerous dispute settlement proceedings before the WTO, including the successful US challenges to EU subsidies for large civil aircraft and Mexican antidumping duties on imports of US rice. Mr. Ross also served as the chief US lawyer in the negotiation of the free trade agreement with Chile and as the services and financial services lawyer in free trade agreement negotiations with Australia, Morocco, Bahrain and Oman.

While serving with the finance committee, Mr. Ross advised member, Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, and Republican staff on trade and economic issues including services, intellectual property, investment, currency/exchange rates, climate, labor, trade adjustment assistance and WTO dispute settlement. Mr. Ross provided policy guidance on trade and economic matters involving trade with China, Europe and the Russian Federation, and he negotiated and drafted trade legislation on issues falling within the finance committee’s jurisdiction. Through these experiences, Mr. Ross gained deep experience in the formulation and execution of Congressional trade policy, legislative drafting, Executive Branch oversight, and the use of legislative tools to help address and resolve impediments to trade.

From 1993–1997, Mr. Ross was an attorney-adviser in the Office of the Chief Counsel for Import Administration, US Department of Commerce. Mr. Ross provided legal advice to the Import Administration (IA) on its regulatory responsibilities under the US trade remedy laws and defended IA determinations before US courts and NAFTA panels. He also was extensively involved in the negotiation and administration of the antidumping suspension agreements on uranium and honey.

Mr. Ross is a member of the Georgetown University Law Center, International Trade Update CLE Advisory Board. He is also a member of the US Court of International Trade and the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

Ken Levinson serves as the Chief Executive Officer of the Washington International Trade Association (WITA) and Washington International Trade Foundation.

WITA is the world’s largest non-profit, non-partisan membership organization dedicated to providing a neutral forum for the open and robust discussion of international trade policy and economic issues. WITA and its affiliated groups have over 10,000 members, and more than 160 corporate sponsors and group memberships.

Ken has over 30 years of experience working with companies, associations, NGOs and governments, advocating innovative solutions to complex public policy challenges. Over the years, Ken has worked with clients in the technology, telecommunications, biopharmaceuticals, agriculture and food, financial services, retail, apparel, energy, and consumer products sectors.

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. Ken advised the Senator on foreign policy and national security matters, and served as the Senator’s chief advisor on the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, dealing with issues related to international trade and tax policy.

Ken received his Master’s Degree 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.