WITA Webinar Featuring:
Rt Hon Dr. Liam Fox MP, Former UK Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of 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
Rt Hon Dr. Liam Fox MP is a British politician who has been a staunch advocate for free-trade and a defender of the rules based global trading system based on the WTO.
Dr Fox is a member of the UK Parliament and a Privy Counsellor.
As International Trade Secretary under Prime Minister Theresa May, from 2016 to 2019, he successfully built a new department of government to oversee the creation of the UK’s first independent trade policy for over 40 years post Brexit. Strongly anti- protectionist, he was also a passionate advocate of the ITC’s ‘SheTrades’ initiative, believing that greater access to trade for women is both economically empowering and socially progressive. He believes that there must be much better coordination between trade and development policy if the full potential of both is to be achieved.
Dr. Fox entered the House of Commons in 1992 and has served in a wide range of posts in both government and opposition. In the government of Prime Minister John Major, he served as Lord Commissioner of the Treasury and then as Minister in the Foreign & Commonwealth Office where he answered on Trade and Aid Policy in the House of Commons. It was during this time that he worked extensively on what became known as the ‘Fox agreement’ in Sri Lanka, designed to help foster the conditions in which a negotiated solution to the country’s civil war could be achieved.
In opposition, between 1997 and 2010, he held a number of roles including Chairman of the Conservative Party, Shadow Health Secretary, Shadow Foreign Secretary, Shadow Defence Secretary and Constitutional Affairs spokesperson.
He was appointed Defence Secretary under Prime Minister David Cameron in May 2010, overseeing a major reorganisation of the Ministry of Defence and British involvement in the campaigns in Afghanistan and Libya. He has continued to argue that there needs to be a better understanding about the links between Trade, Prosperity and Security, a theme that was a regular feature of his time as international trade secretary. Many of these issues were discussed in his 2013 book ‘Rising Tides’ which set out the challenges facing the globalised era ranging from terrorism to the potential crisis in global commodities, especially water. The book contained a number of conversations with world leaders from Tony Blair to Condoleeza Rice.
Following his period as Defence Secretary he founded a charity, Give Us Time, which provides family holidays for those who serve in the armed forces, especially those who saw combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. While there are a number of charities that look after service personnel themselves, Dr Fox felt that too little support was given to the families of service personnel whose own hardship and sacrifice often went unrecognised.
He was born in Scotland and studied medicine at the University of Glasgow before practising as a doctor in the NHS. He also worked as a civilian army medical officer and a divisional surgeon with St John ambulance, a voluntary medical charity. He has also worked as a speech writer to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and is currently finishing writing a book on Pandemics.
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.