WITA Vlog: WTO Director-General Race: Round Two Recap




On Thursday, October 8th, WITA hosted its second Video Blog to discuss the WTO Director-General Race. Discussants talked about the candidates who didn’t make it through Round Two, the candidates that did, and how they read those tea-leaves.

The event featured:

Wendy Cutler, Vice President and Managing Director of Washington DC Office, Asia Society Policy Institute and former Deputy USTR

Terence Stewart, former Managing Partner, Law Offices of Stewart and Stewart, and author of the blog, Current Thoughts on Trade

Ambassador Rufus Yerxa, President, National Foreign Trade Council, and former Deputy Director General of the WTO

Moderator: Kenneth I. Levinson, Executive Director, Washington International Trade Association

Over the Summer, WITA hosted all eight candidates to be Director General of the WTO. Those videos can be found on WITA’s YouTube Page.


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.

Terence Stewart, now retired, was the managing partner of the Law Offices of Stewart and Stewart from 1986-August 2019. Mr. Stewart has a BA from the College of the Holy Cross, an MBA from Harvard University and an LLM from Georgetown University Law School. He was an adjunct professor at Georgetown Law from 1995-2012 teaching courses on the GATT and the WTO. Mr. Stewart’s practice focused on international trade, notably trade remedies, WTO and FTA negotiations and dispute settlement. Among his publications (editor and/or author) are The GATT Uruguay Round: A Negotiating History (1986-1992)(Vols. I-III); The End Game (Part I)(Vol. IV); Opportunities and Obligations: New Perspectives on Global and U.S. Trade Policy, dozens of articles and posts on various WTO, FTA and trade remedy issues. He has been a frequent speaker on WTO matters including on the future of the WTO dispute settlement system

Mr. Stewart is a former President of the Federal Circuit Bar Association. He has served as President of the Customs and International Trade Bar Association, been a member of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit’s Advisory Council as well as a past Chairman of the U.S. Court of International Trade Rule Committee. He also received an honorary Doctorate from the Ukrainian Academy of Foreign Trade and an honorary Doctorate of political science from the Russian Academy of Sciences. In 2009 he was awarded the Order of Merit of the 3 rd Degree by the government of Ukraine.

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).

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 in the U.S. capital for the open and robust discussion of international trade policy and economic issues. WITA has over 3,500 members, and more than 170 corporate 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.