Trade and National Security: China and Outbound Investment in the Crosshairs




On Friday, October 27, panelists looked at the different approaches to investment restrictions currently making their way through Congress and the Administration. 

In August, the Biden Administration released an Executive Order regarding certain US outbound investments to China in semiconductors and microelectronics, quantum information technologies, and artificial intelligence that present national security concerns. Treasury has received extensive public comments to its notice of proposed rulemaking to implement the Executive Order, which is just one piece of a wide range of reforms and actions under consideration by the Administration and Congress that could restrict certain outbound investments into critical technologies.


Featured Speakers:

Daniel Bahar, Managing Director, Rock Creek Global Advisors; former Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Services and Investment, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative

Peter Harrell, Non-Resident Fellow, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and former Senior Director for International Economics and Competitiveness, National Security Council at the White House

Emily Kilcrease, Senior Fellow and Director of the Energy, Economics, and Security Program, Center for a New American Security

Clete Willems, Partner, Akin and Non-resident Senior Fellow, Atlantic Council; former Deputy Assistant to the President for International Economics and Deputy NEC Director, The White House; former Chief Counsel for Negotiations, Legislation, and Administrative Law, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative

Moderator: Clay Lowery, Executive Vice President, Research and Policy, Institute of International Finance; former Assistant Secretary for International Affairs at the U.S. Treasury Department, and Director of International Finance at the National Security Council at the White House


Speaker Biographies:

Daniel Bahar is a Managing Director at Rock Creek Global Advisors, where he focuses on international trade and investment policy, including negotiations, market access, and regulatory matters.

From 2016 to 2021, Mr. Bahar served as Assistant US Trade Representative for Services and Investment, responsible for development and implementation of US services, investment, and digital trade policy. He oversaw bilateral, plurilateral, and multilateral negotiations, including services, investment, and digital aspects of the United States- Mexico-Canada Agreement and the US-China Phase One Trade Agreement, the US-Japan Digital Trade Agreement, and the WTO Joint Statement Initiative on E-Commerce. He also represented USTR on the interagency Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States.

As Deputy Assistant US Trade Representative for Investment, beginning in 2012, Mr. Bahar led USTR’s overall investment policy portfolio, serving as USTR’s lead investment negotiator for trade and investment agreements, including U.S.-China investment treaty negotiations and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and representing the United States on investment matters in international fora, such as the G20. He joined USTR as Director for Investment in 2006.

Before joining USTR, Mr. Bahar was an associate at Sidley Austin LLP, representing multinational companies, organizations, and governments on matters arising under the WTO, international trade and investment agreements, and US law.

Mr. Bahar and the USTR Digital Trade Team received the National Foreign Trade Council Foundation Trade Leadership for the Digital Age Award in 2018, recognizing the team’s role in advancing US digital trade leadership. Mr. Bahar received the USTR William B. Kelly Special Honor Award in 2015, recognizing exemplary dedication and leadership in US trade policy.

Mr. Bahar received a J.D. from Harvard Law School (cum laude), an M.A. from the College of Europe, studying as a Fulbright Fellow, and a B.S. from Drexel University (summa cum laude).

Peter Harrell is a Nonresident Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He also serves as an attorney advising companies and investors on international legal, regulatory, and geopolitical risks. As a member of Carnegie’s American Statecraft program, Harrell’s research focuses on issues of U.S. domestic economic competitiveness, trade policy, and the use of economic tools in U.S. foreign policy.

From January 2021 through 2022, Harrell served at the U.S. White House as Senior Director for International Economics, jointly appointed to the National Security Council and the National Economic Council. In that role, Harrell co-led President Biden’s E.O. 14017 supply chain resilience agenda; worked on the global digital, 5G, and telecommunications strategies; spearheaded negotiations with the European Union on the U.S.-E.U. Data Privacy Framework; served as the White House representative to the CFIUS committee; and worked on U.S. sanctions and export controls towards Russia is response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Immediately prior to joining the White House, Harrell served on the Biden-Harris Transition team from September 2020 to January 2021.

From 2015 to early 2021 Harrell was an attorney in private practice and served as Adjunct Senior Fellow at the Center for a New American Security. In those roles he advised U.S. and multinational companies on sanctions compliance and a range of geopolitical risks, and also published widely on public policy. His articles and op-eds appeared in publications including the Wall Street Journal, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, Politico, and Lawfare, among other outlets. Harrell has testified in front of multiple congressional committees, including, most recently, the House Financial Services Committee in February 2023.

From 2012 to 2014, Harrell served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Counter Threat Finance and Sanctions in the State Department’s Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs. From 2009 to 2012 he served on the State Department’s Policy Planning Staff, where he was instrumental in developing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s economic statecraft agenda.

Earlier in his career, Harrell served on President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign and as a reporter for Congressional Quarterly in Washington, DC.

Harrell is a magna cum laude graduate of Princeton University and holds a JD from the Yale Law School.

Emily Kilcrease is a Senior Fellow and Director of the Energy, Economics, and Security Program at Center for a New American Security (CNAS). Her research focuses on the U.S.- China economic relationship; alignment of national security objectives and economic policy; and geoeconomic statecraft.

Kilcrease previously served as a deputy assistant U.S. trade representative (USTR), overseeing the development, negotiation, and coordination of U.S. foreign investment policy. She served as the senior career staffer leading USTR’s work on the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) and coordinated USTR’s policy engagement on related national security and economic tools, including export controls and supply chain risk management. She played a lead role in drafting CFIUS reform regulations, with a focus on transactions involving critical technology and sensitive personal data. She was involved in the negotiation and enforcement of the Phase One Agreement with China, trilateral work with the EU and Japan to counter unfair Chinese trade practices, and the initial negotiations for a free trade agreement with the United Kingdom.

Previously, Kilcrease served on the National Security Council (NSC) as a director for international trade, investment, and development. She focused on reforming U.S. development finance authorities and launched the interagency effort that resulted in the BUILD Act, as well as coordinating policy on women’s economic empowerment. Prior to the NSC, she served at the Department of Commerce overseeing the department’s CFIUS work. She began her government service at the Department of Interior working on trade and environment policy.

Kilcrease’s commentary has been cited by major national press outlets, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Reuters, NPR, and ABC News. She has testified on coercive economic statecraft before the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission.

Kilcrease received her MA in international relations, with a concentration in international development and economics, from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. She received her BA in government from Georgetown University.

Clay Lowery is the Executive Vice President of Research and Policy at the Institute of International Finance. As the Executive Vice President, Mr. Lowery oversees the departments responsible for macroeconomic analysis, international financial regulation, financial technology, and specific policy areas such as debt transparency and analysis, and sustainable finance. Over the previous eight years, Mr. Lowery helped build and was Managing Director of the Rock Creek Global Advisors consulting firm. Mr. Lowery also served in the U.S. Government for 16 years and held positions at the National Security Council and a number of positions at the U.S. Treasury Department and culminating as the Assistant Secretary for International Affairs from 2005 to 2009 where he managed a 200- person team responsible for economic and financial diplomacy, monetary and banking issues, currency strategy, and trade and investment practices. Mr. Lowery received his Bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia (Phi Beta Kappa) and his MSc at the London School of Economics.

Clete Willems is Partner at Akin Gump. He advises clients, including investors, trade associations and multinational companies, on international economic law and policy matters. With over 16 years of U.S. government experience, he offers clients strategic guidance and legal representation on trade, investment, finance, economic development, sanctions and energy, among other issues.

Before joining Akin Gump, Clete served in the White House as the Deputy Assistant to the President for International Economics and Deputy Director of the National Economic Council. This position was also part of the National Security Council. In this role, he was the lead U.S. negotiator at multilateral summits, serving as the President’s Sherpa at the G- 7 and G-20 Summits and the lead negotiator at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Forum. He was also deeply involved with negotiations with major U.S. trading partners, such as China, the European Union, Japan, Korea, Canada and Mexico. Clete also helped the administration achieve key legislative victories, including the passage of development finance reform legislation and Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) reform legislation.

Prior to joining the White House, Clete worked at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) for eight years. Among other positions, Clete served as chief counsel for negotiations, legislation and administrative law, and legal advisor to the U.S. Mission to the WTO. He was heavily involved in both trade policy issues and WTO litigation.

Prior to joining USTR, Clete worked as counsel on the House Budget Committee and in multiple positions, including legislative director, for then-Representative Paul Ryan (R- WI). In this role, he was successful in helping pass multiple pieces of trade and energy- related legislation into law.

In addition to being part of the firm’s public law and policy practice, Clete works closely with the international trade team on issues related to the WTO, CFIUS and sanctions. He has participated in over 30 WTO proceedings.