WITA Webinar Featuring:
H.E. Amb. Amina Mohamed, Kenya’s Candidate to be Director General of the World Trade Organization, former Kenyan Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Trade
Ambassador Rufus Yerxa, President, National Foreign Trade Council, and former Deputy Director General of the WTO
Wendy Cutler, Vice President, and Managing Director, Washington D.C. office of the Asia Society Policy Institute
Ambassador Amina Mohamed was Kenya’s Permanent Representative and Ambassador to the WTO. She was the first woman to chair the General Council in 2005 and the Dispute Settlement Body.
As General Council Chair, she brokered an agreement of major importance to developing countries, an amendment to the TRIPS Agreement to assist countries with insufficient manufacturing capacities in the production of essential drugs to treat diseases such as HIV/Aids and Tuberculosis. She was also the first woman to chair the African Group at the WTO and advanced African interests successfully at the WTO and in UN bodies.
Ambassador Mohamed was the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Justice, National Cohesion and Constitutional Affairs from 2008 to – 2011. She was in charge of the constitutional review process that culminated in the promulgation of the 2010 Constitution of Kenya. She managed far reaching legal and Institutional reforms ever realized in Kenya. She also chaired the Annual Multi-Stakeholder Ethics and Conference. In all these roles, she has promoted development and diversity, particularly the educational, social and economic empowerment of women.
She was Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations and Deputy Executive Director of UNEP from 2011 to 2013 and helped advance its agenda to address contemporary challenges facing the organization. Given her trade background, she was particularly interested in the interface between trade and environment, believing in their complementarity and mutual supportiveness.
As Kenya’s Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister from 2013 to 2018, she chaired the 2015 WTO Ministerial Conference in Nairobi. As the first woman and first African to chair the WTO’s highest forum, she played a crucial role in reaching positive outcomes, especially the decision to eliminate export subsidies in agriculture. This was the first fulfilment of a UN Sustainable Development Goal, under SDG2-Zero Hunger.
Amina’s Ministerial portfolios have also included Education, Science, Technology and Innovation (2018-19) and Sports, Culture and Heritage (2019 to present).
Amina is an Advocate of the High Court of Kenya. She obtained her Undergraduate and Masters Degree in Law from Taras Shevchenko University in Kiev, Ukraine, attended the Kenya School of Law and obtained a Postgraduate Diploma in International Relations as a Chevening Fellow at the Oxford University, United Kingdom. She is a UNITAR Fellow, is fluent in English, Kiswahili, and Russian, and has basic knowledge of French.
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.
View Ambassador Amina Mohamed’s brochure on her candidacy for the WTO here: Amina Mohamed WTO-Candidature FINAL (1)