WIIT Communique Summer 2018
Trade Negotiating Dynamics

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President's Introduction

This issue of the Communique focuses on trade negotiating dynamics and the complex issues around persuasion and influence. We hear from seasoned negotiators with experience advancing bilateral, plurilateral, and multilateral interests; a veteran of a strategic dialogue platform aimed at forging meaningful deliverables; a senior trade advocate who negotiated from an Embassy post in a key capital; and an expert in the Congressional component of advancing a coordinated U.S. trade policy.
First, we hear from WIIT Board member and Asia Society Policy Institute Vice President Wendy Cutler, who offers her perspectives on the evolution in trade negotiations over her thirty years at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), views on negotiating within a non-binding forum like APEC, and thoughts on negotiating techniques that serve all negotiators well.
Incoming WIIT Board member Kaitlin Sighinolfi, now with Siemens and formerly Legislative Director for Representative Charles Boustany (R-LA), describes Trade Promotion Authority as the single most important tool Congress has to express its trade negotiating priorities and hold an Administration accountable, the need for improved consultation between the branches, and the role of back-home constituent education.
Sharon Yuan, Managing Partner and General Counsel of WIIT corporate member The Asia Group, shares her insights on negotiations that take place as part of strategic dialogue platforms, drawing on her past experience as Executive Secretary and Senior Coordinator for China Affairs and the Strategic and Economic Dialogue from 2012 to 2015. She offers thoughts on utilizing such platforms as one component of a broader, comprehensive U.S. strategy for China. She also provides insights on the benefits and challenges of pursuing a coordinated strategy with our allies to achieve shared goals.
Next we hear from Scott Mulhauser, the founding partner of strategic advisory firm Aperture Strategies and former chief of staff at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, where he helped run one of the largest and busiest posts in the world. Scott describes the advantages of being on the ground in China in terms of the ability to engage directly and immediately to advocate on issues, but also the importance of collaboration across the U.S. government to maximize advocacy. He also offers his perspectives on the critical role of export finance in helping U.S. companies big and small grow via sales abroad, drawing on his prior experience as Senior Vice President and Chief of Staff of the U.S. Export-Import Bank.
Finally, we turn to the multilateral arena, where Bruce Hirsh, Principal and Founder of Tailwind Global Strategies LLC, takes us through some of the factors that led to the successful conclusion of the first multilateral WTO agreement in two decades, the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement. As Deputy Assistant USTR for WTO and Multilateral Affairs, Bruce served for a period of years as the lead U.S. negotiator on the agreement. Looking ahead, he discusses the role that plurilateral negotiations can play in broadening support for ambition in specific areas, and how reform of the WTO dispute settlement system will require good-faith engagement among WTO members to consider U.S. concerns.
Many thanks to our contributors and we hope you enjoy the issue! With my term as WIIT President coming to an end in mid-May, I want to thank our WIIT Communique Executive Editor Kathryn Kobe for being a great partner in producing this quarterly publication. I know my successor Lisa Schroeter looks forward to continuing to bring the WIIT membership interesting trade content on timely issues.

We thank all of our contributors and hope WIIT members and friends enjoy the issue!


A Conversation with Wendy Cutler -
The Evolution of Trade Negotiations

Q&A featuring Wendy Cutler

Q: You had a thirty-year career at USTR mainly focused on strengthening ties with Asian trading partners. You were witness to a lot of evolution over that period – a shift from tariff to non-tariff barriers as a key focus of negotiations, a move from pursuit of bilateral trade agreements to multi-party agreements, the growing focus on global supply chains, and the rise of data as a negotiating priority. What stands out most for you in terms of negotiating changes during your time at USTR?

A: While there were many changes over the years, I would like to highlight two. First, the scope of issues dealt with in a trade negotiation expanded dramatically during my career at USTR. When I started at USTR, we were mainly negotiating barriers “at the border,” including tariffs, import licensing and rules of origin. As we succeeded in reducing such barriers, the focus moved to barriers “behind the border,” including regulatory issues. This introduced many new government agencies into the trade game, including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Food & Drug Administration (FDA), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). This made the interagency coordinating mandate of USTR more challenging because these agencies were often reluctant to bind their policies and practices in trade agreements.
Second, we have witnessed the support for trade and trade agreements dwindle over the years, particularly with the introduction of social media. When I started my career, there was bipartisan support in Congress for our trade agenda, and stakeholders were also largely supportive of our market-opening mission. It’s hard for many to imagine that such a time existed. For me, I got the first flavor of this change when I worked on the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) negotiations at the OECD in the mid-1990s. Opponents to this negotiation were growing and able to successfully use the internet to mobilize opposition. When I explained this phenomenon to my European counterparts, I recall how skeptical they were of this development, claiming that it could never happen in Europe. The negotiation was put on hold and never resumed.   
Q: During your time at USTR, you made major contributions to the APEC agenda, where initiatives were often incubated that later took root in other negotiating platforms. Would you talk a bit about a consensus-based negotiating forum like APEC and how, as a negotiator, you may work differently in such a forum to build support across economies?
A: I have to admit that early on in my career I was a skeptic of APEC and non-binding trade work. When I first heard about the Bogor Goals of free and open trade and investment I recall thinking that I felt bad for the USTR official who would be working on APEC in 2010 when the Bogor Goals were to be achieved. Little did I know then that that would be me!!
I grew to become a big advocate of APEC and its voluntary mandate. We did important work laying the groundwork on issues, such as trade facilitation, which later resulted in binding WTO trade agreements. We were also able to work with many economies in a much more collegial atmosphere than a trade negotiation, which made discussion of new issues less threatening. I also value the relationships that I made with colleagues throughout the Asia Pacific region through the years, and continue to run across many of these colleagues at my new job at the Asia Society Policy Institute. 
Q: What are some of the negotiating techniques that you find most effective – is it more about the carrot or the stick? How important is it to fully understand the other side’s negotiating circumstances?
A: Everyone has their own style of negotiating. Things that might work for one person sometimes don’t work for someone else. However, I believe that there are certain negotiating skills that serve all trade negotiators well. These include the ability and willingness to listen to one’s counterpart; the need to be a trustworthy partner; the need to accord respect to the team across the table; the ability to problem solve; and the ability to read a room. Furthermore, I can’t explain how many times in my career that I thought that a negotiation was headed toward failure, only to find that with creativity, resiliency, and hard work, we were able to turn things around and get a great deal for the United States.

Wendy Cutler
Vice President and Managing Director, Washington, D.C. Office, Asia Society Policy Institute

Wendy Cutler joined the Asia Society Policy Institute (ASPI) as Vice President and Managing Director of the Washington D.C. Office in November 2015. 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 women’s empowerment in Asia. She joins 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.

Ms. Cutler’s other responsibilities with USTR included U.S.-China trade relations, the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Forum, and the U.S.-India Trade Policy Forum. She was the Chief U.S. Negotiator for the U.S.-Korea (KORUS) Free Trade Agreement and negotiated a wide range of bilateral agreements with Japan on such issues as telecommunications, autos, and semiconductors. She has extensive multilateral trade experience as the U.S. negotiator for the WTO Financial Services Agreement and several Uruguay Round Agreements. Prior to joining USTR, Ms. Cutler worked on trade issues at the Commerce Department.

Ms. Cutler received her master’s degree from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and her bachelor’s degree from the George Washington University. She is married and has one son. 

A Conversation with Kaitlin Sighinolfi -
TPA and Congress’ Contributions to Trade Policy

Q&A with Kaitlin Sighinolfi

Q. Prior to your current position with Siemens, you played a key role in Congressional trade debates as Trade Policy Advisor to Congressman Charles Boustany (R-LA). There is probably no other area of policy that reflects closer coordination between the Executive Branch and Congress than trade policy. Could you talk about the importance that Members of Congress place on Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) and ensuring that the Executive Branch abides by the negotiating objectives set out by Congress?
A: Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) is THE single most important tool Congress has to express its priorities, make clear to the Administration what its expectations are, in turn holding the Administration accountable, and finally making sure constituents have a voice in the negotiation process. This was never more apparent than watching Chairman Ryan and Subcommittee Chairman Tiberi WORK to sell TPA in 2015. Members of Congress know what TPA does, how it can work and where they have the opportunity to flex their muscles with the Administration if needed.  With critical improvements like requiring text to be made public, and an enhanced consultation process, along with numerous other advancements made in the 2015 version, Congress strengthened their role and voice in the process. This came up A LOT during the consultation period on TPP and I can only imagine that Members are utilizing it now on NAFTA.
Q: The issue of adequate consultation between the Executive Branch and Congress on trade issues has been a core concern for some time. Do you see ways to improve this process going forward?  
A: You’re right. This has always been an issue. Members want to know more about what is being said and specifically what is being negotiated. While at the same time, the Executive Branch just wants to be able to do their job and negotiate. Whether it was a Senate Finance briefing as a legislative aide for Senator Snowe, or during one-on-one briefings as Congressman Boustany’s LD, there was constantly tension in the room during the consultation process. I never knew if I was asking the right questions to get the kind of answer my boss was expecting, or if I was just throwing a total curveball that no one was expecting. USTR congressional affairs staff was always helpful but with negotiations you have to be careful because they’re on-going and some things just can’t be said/confirmed/denied yet.

So… ideas for improvement? Honesty. USTR, USDA, Commerce, the White House, etc can only be helpful if they know that a Member has a concern. So every member, not just W&M or SFC need to be using Congressional Affairs. That’s what those jobs exist for. That said, walking into a consultation with a member or group of members, the Administration should be prepared to have a conversation and actual dialogue. Not just Q & A. And at no time should an issue raised come as a surprise to them. Unfortunately, I think that’s where the crux of the problem is.  
Q: Congress sits closer to, and has more accountability to, the American people. Could you talk about the importance of engaging back-home constituents and how pro-trade supporters could improve their messaging outside the Beltway both during an ongoing trade negotiation and once a pact is ready for Congressional action?
A: I admittedly still have my naïve, optimistic hill staffer hat on. I can’t help but still think of trade through a constituent lens. It has been the biggest challenge of moving to the private sector. With that said, I think it’s important for everyone involved in trade negotiations (Congress, Executive Branch, cleared advisors, etc) to remember that at the end of the day, the American public needs to understand how the agreement helps them, or it will fail. From farmers, to longshoremen and everyone else involved in the process, trade impacts their daily lives. The cost of groceries, the cost of their kids clothes, and how much it takes to fill up with a tank of gas is always on the public’s mind. We all know that trade helps to determine cost of goods and global supply chains. We’re facing those decisions right now with the new steel and aluminum tariffs, and the possibility of new tariffs with China. However, sometimes in DC, we lose sight that we need to explain more of that to the average American. I think this where the business community can help. We know what our employees’ concerns are, and with Government Affairs teams we understand what Congressional and the Administration’s concerns are. In my opinion, we could do a better job at playing the middle man and make sure to connect the two groups together as frequently as possible - especially when we’re not negotiating a trade agreement. Many of you heard this from me when I was a staffer, and it continues to be a frustration. Trade matters, but it is our job as trade wonks to make sure people understand why it does and how critical the negotiation process is, and how the deals that are made impact not only the global marketplace, but set a standard for future agreements and possibilities. Congress and the Executive Branch need to understand that when they speak, it matters. And when they don’t speak, that also matters. Just my 2 cents.

Kaitlin Sighinolfi
Director of Tax and Trade within the Government Affairs team, Siemens Corporation

Kaitlin Sighinolfi is the Director of Tax and Trade within the Government Affairs team at Siemens Corporation US, where she is primarily responsible for international trade & investment issues and tax policy. In this role she is responsible for supporting Siemens’ U.S. business units, Corporate Affairs, and Global Supply interests on a variety of issues surrounding international trade, customs and economic policy, working with the U.S. Government, Congress, foreign embassies, trade associations, and other D.C.-based organizations. 

Before joining Siemens, Kait was a long-term hill staffer, most recently serving as Legislative Director for Congressman Charles W. Boustany, Jr.,MD.  running point in his office on TPA Reform 2015, the creation of the Friends of the TPP Caucus, US Japan Caucus, US China Working Group and Customs Reauthorization in 2016. Prior to joining Team Boustany, Kait moved to DC to work for Senator Olympia J. Snowe. She earned her Senate stripes working her way up from staff assistant to Legislative Assistant, covering marine, agriculture and trade issues before Snowe retired in 2012.

Kait made a name for herself for her bipartisan approach to legislating, her honest and blunt way of relaying the legislative environment and her understanding of the real world implications of policy making. 

A Conversation with Sharon Yuan -
Strategies for Negotiations with China

Q&A with Sharon Yuan

Q: We’re in the midst of a volatile period in U.S.-China commercial relations with the Administration’s pursuit of tough trade actions against China, including most recently the proposed U.S. tariff measures under the Section 301 IP-related investigation and possible Chinese response. One of the main messages being delivered by the U.S. business community is that the Administration should work in a coordinated fashion with our allies to identify the specific actions we seek from China by a date certain and devise a strategy to increase pressure to achieve those goals. Could you talk about the benefits and challenges of devising coordinated negotiating strategies with allies to achieve shared goals?
A: At a high level, coordinating with strategic partners to achieve shared goals provides the United States additional leverage and greater credibility, while reaffirming U.S. leadership in stewarding a rules-based order of international trade. Such an approach also meets head on China’s posturing around the importance of the multilateral trading system and the rules underpinning it. And in a global economy where countries – and not just the United States and China – are increasingly interdependent, coordination also pulls in partners that otherwise may let China set the rules of the road.
Pursuing a coordinated strategy, however, is not without its challenges. First, while many of our trading partners are confronting similar issues and recognize the need for action, they may be reluctant to enter into a coalition given their own domestic interests and/or may need to balance their own relationships with China. Even if our partners were willing to work together, as a result of the diversity in national and potentially competing objectives, there is the possibility that the shared goal pursued will not be as ambitious; however, that risk ultimately must be weighed against the likelihood of success if the United States (and other countries) were to go at it alone. Another challenge is how the United States can work with other trading partners to pursue shared objectives, particularly if there is a difference in views on what tools are available and sufficient to address evolving concerns. Moreover, Beijing’s increasing ability and willingness to wield its growing economic and commercial leverage to dissuade those that might work with the United States is also a complicating factor.
One additional thought: we should not discount the impact and influence of global industry coalitions, which can serve as a strong complement to government action. In my experience they can be as effective as, and sometimes even more so than, a coalition of governments.
Q: While you served at the Treasury Department as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Trade and Investment Policy from 2009 to 2015, you concurrently held the role as the Executive Secretary and Senior Coordinator for China Affairs and the Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED) from 2012 to 2015. The Trump Administration has largely suspended cabinet-level dialogues like the former S&ED or more recently the Comprehensive Economic Dialogue (CED), believing that they have not yielded sufficient gains. In your experience, what are the benefits of such high-level dialogues and what are their shortcomings?
A: Previous administrations created high-level dialogues – the Strategic Economic Dialogue (SED) under the Bush administration and the Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED) under the Obama administration – to serve as mechanisms for engaging China on cross-cutting, systemic strategic and economic issues and concerns of the United States. To be effective, this required that the Dialogues have the imprimatur of the leaders; indeed, both the SED and S&ED were established by the U.S. and Chinese presidents and led by their “special representatives.” This helped overcome the “stovepipes” in the Chinese bureaucracy by designating on the Chinese side a vice premier who oversees a portfolio of economic issues and is empowered to coordinate individual line ministers to address a broad range of U.S. trade and investment concerns, each of which often touched more than one ministry. Such a high-level framework resulted in at least two concrete benefits. First, these Dialogues provided opportunities to reach parts of the Chinese bureaucracy that otherwise would have had no interactions with U.S. officials, but that no doubt helped create the uneven playing field that U.S. and other foreign companies faced in China. Second, meetings between the special representatives served as action-forcing events to drive change and secure effectively binding commitments from the Chinese (especially in the absence of any formal trade agreement negotiation). At the same time, given their scope, the Dialogues provided a forum for the two countries to work together on key issues of shared concern. In that same vein, previous administrations – as well as the current one – likewise have used Presidential and other senior leadership visits to make progress on issues of concern in the bilateral relationship.
However, these bilateral Dialogues were not and should not be the end objective; rather, they should be one component of a broader, comprehensive U.S. strategy for China that includes leveraging multilateral and regional fora to address concerns, especially when these are systemic issues shared by other countries. More importantly, in order to remain effective, these Dialogues (or other high-level mechanisms for bilateral economic engagement), as part of a broader strategy, must continue to evolve to reflect the current domestic political environments in both the United States and China. The key is to recognize that the leaders, bureaucratic personnel, decision-making structures, and underlying objectives and expectations that have shaped and informed these Dialogues over the past decade are changing. This will help to ensure that the bilateral mechanisms for economic engagement not only do in fact serve as an important channel for effectuating change in China, but also provide leverage to the United States in achieving its goals.
Q: In addition to your role at Treasury, you also worked in the National Economic Council in the White House and were part of some of the inter-agency discussions related to trade negotiations. There have been interesting dynamics at play recently regarding the nexus between trade and national security. In his first year in office, the President stated that China’s stance on North Korea influenced his trade policy toward China and more recently, we have seen national security cited as the rationale for the imposition of tariffs on aluminum and steel. In your opinion, what role should national security considerations play in the shaping and executing of trade policy?
A: There is no doubt of the interconnectedness of economic (and trade) policy and national security, particularly given the globalized world that we live in today. The emphasis on trade policy as a strategic tool of statecraft is deeply rooted in history, and has continued to animate much of the United States’ thinking and approach to the global economy in the post-war era (to varying degrees of success). However, taking trade actions simply under the guise of national security by any one country could pose a challenge for trade policy, particularly if it leads to others taking similar measures to defend their interests. It will be important to ensure that such actions do not become just another tool for protectionist or beggar-thy-neighbor behavior globally.

Sharon Yuan
Managing Partner & General Counsel, The Asia Group


Sharon H. Yuan is the Managing Partner and General Counsel at The Asia Group, where she brings over 15 years of experience as a senior policymaker and private sector attorney on China- and international trade and investment-related issues. Ms. Yuan also serves as one of the four U.S. members appointed by President Obama on the roster of arbitrators for the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID).

Prior to joining The Asia Group, Ms. Yuan served in the U.S. Department of the Treasury as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Trade and Investment Policy from 2009 to 2015, and concurrently as the Executive Secretary and Senior Coordinator for China Affairs and the Strategic and Economic Dialogue (from 2012 to 2015). In these positions, she helped manage the U.S.-China economic relationship for the Secretary of the Treasury, and oversee the annual U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED). While working on the S&ED, she successfully helped to inter alia secure China’s commitment to negotiate the U.S.-China Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) based on a “negative” list approach, as well as conceived and secured China’s agreement to launch multilateral negotiations on official export financing disciplines. In addition, Ms. Yuan served as the Treasury Department’s lead on trade and investment policy, and was responsible for the financial services negotiations in U.S. free trade agreements and bilateral investment treaties, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, and the U.S-China BIT. Additionally, she was responsible for the development of U.S. policy on official export financing, including as it relates to the U.S. Export-Import Bank. In recognition of her contributions and leadership while serving in these positions, Ms. Yuan was awarded The Treasury Medal.

Ms. Yuan also served on the staff of the National Economic Council in the White House from 1998 to 2000, where she focused on international economic matters, including China’s accession to the World Trade Organization, as well as coordinating U.S. participation in the 2000 G-7/G-8 Okinawa Summit.  Ms. Yuan previously was an attorney in the International Trade & Dispute Resolution group at Sidley Austin LLP, in Washington, D.C from 2003 to 2009.

Ms. Yuan is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations. She received a J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law, where she served as the Production Editor on the Virginia Journal of International Law and the Editor-in-Chief of the Virginia Law Weekly. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from the University of California, Berkeley. Ms. Yuan is conversant in Mandarin Chinese.


A Conversation with Scott Mulhauser -
The Embassy as the Tip of the Spear

Q&A with Scott Mulhauser

Q: You served as chief of staff at the U.S Embassy in Beijing. Can you talk about the role that the U.S. Embassy plays in U.S.-China trade relations? What are some of the dynamics at play in terms on how messages are conveyed from the U.S. team in Beijing and at consulates around China to Chinese counterparts versus the messaging from Washington in terms of the need for additional market-opening?

A: The Embassy is often the tip of the spear in terms of trade relations – and beyond.  When markets access opportunities emerge or issues arise, the Embassy can work with local partners to effectively engage directly and immediately to advocate.  Because the Embassy team is on the ground abroad and immersed in the bilateral relationship every day, there is often more ability to engage in probing, thought experiments and potential solutions.

But U.S.-China relations are at their best when the pieces of the U.S. government collaborate to deliver results – across agencies and across continents.  We therefore not only worked closely across the various pieces of the Embassy and with private-sector partners and others on the ground to deliver results, we also conferred regularly with Washington to ensure we were all on the same page to maximize advocacy. 

We strategized regularly with our colleagues in DC to decide who should reach out first, when and how they should do so and when to elevate as needed.  It often helped to have the Embassy team probe initially, gauge solutions and then encourage colleagues in DC additionally convey the gravity of the moment or present an alternative solution.  By utilizing the skills and analysis of talented folks on both sides of the Pacific, we were able to minimize discord and maximize opportunities.

Q: An Embassy must deal with the full suite of issues in a bilateral relationship – from security to commercial to consular to cultural affairs, among others. How does the senior team in an Embassy determine the priority to place on each and the right amount of time to allocate toward advocating for market-opening measures as well as individual company concerns in the market?

A: While there’s no magic equation, it starts with organization, communications and a smart team with know-how.  We found these made all the difference and help the Mission think proactively, analyze moments big and small and get ahead of problems to mitigate them as much as possible.  The U.S. Embassy in Beijing is blessed with a tremendous team which was a great first step.  Given the importance of the U.S. China relationship, we had 49 individual agencies at post, so expertise abounded.

In the economic and trade space, we were blessed with senior economic, commercial, trade and financial attaché teams representing the Departments of State, Commerce, Treasury, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and more.  That gave our Embassy – and our country – expertise across market-related measures to take on commercial and other related opportunities – and concerns.  It gave this space numerous seats at the table and all of us made sure the voices advocating on behalf of trade, companies, markets, jobs and wages were heard and heard loudly.

But a strong and talented U.S. government presence is only the start.  Embassies count on relationships with a host of outside entities to get a sense of issues, address problems and more.  In Beijing for example, we relished our strong relationships with the American Chambers of Commerce in Beijing, Shanghai and across China, the U.S.-China Business Council and a host of sector-specific advocacy groups from technology to aviation and more.  But it wasn’t just industry groups, we spent hour after hour and day after day with companies large and small, elected and appointed leaders, analysts, advocates and other stakeholders who could help us get a full grasp of as much as we could digest.  And then we’d talk to reporters, NGOs and more all to make sure we were as well-versed in developments on the ground as we could be.  Finally, we found conversations with public and private sector leaders not only in the U.S. and China, but in a host of countries in the region and across the globe, to be informative as well. 

It was when we were regularly in touch with this host of stakeholders that we could fully analyze, assess and advocate successfully.

Q: Prior to your time in Beijing, you were senior vice president and chief of staff of the U.S. Export-Import Bank. As the U.S. seeks to grow its exports to other major markets around the world, how critical is the export finance piece?

A: The export finance piece is not only critical, it’s often the untold success story for many U.S. companies.  Exporting U.S. products and services abroad is a tremendous way to ensure economic and job growth here at home.  Export financing helps make that happen. 

At the Export-Import Bank, we helped companies big and small sell their terrific products and services and helped them grow via sales abroad.  The companies benefitted and the workers did as well.  But not only did the exporters make money, American taxpayers did as well.  Ex-Im Bank transactions not only pay for themselves and the entire operation of the Bank, but they earned billions more for the U.S. Treasury – and all with only 400 staff!  We saw 90 percent of our deals go to small businesses – and seeing their success made us particularly thrilled.

But the Bank faces real challenges.  Opponents in Congress attempt to stymie its effectiveness at every turn.  After a successful reauthorization fight, though the President has put forth nominees to fill four open seats on the Bank’s board, those nominations remain stalled in the Senate.  Without a full board, the Bank can only approve smaller transactions, which limits the opportunities for American exporters to grow abroad. '

Export financing agencies across the globe are eager for these projects and these jobs and I’m hopeful the U.S. fights for our exporters!

Scott Mulhauser
Founding Partner, Aperture Strategies

Scott Mulhauser is the founding partner of Aperture Strategies, a strategic advisory firm working with coalitions, corporations and associations to navigate public affairs and management challenges and advise them on developments domestically and across the globe.  

Scott has spent two decades at the intersection of government, business and politics, playing leadership roles in critical policy and political battles and landmark legislative successes in Washington and across the globe.  In addition, Scott regularly appears in media interviews and on panels, discussing politics and policy on topics ranging from campaigns and elections to Congress and the White House to health, tax and international developments.  He is featured in print and on-air regularly in media outlets ranging from The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Financial Times, Bloomberg, NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, BBC, Politico, Buzzfeed and more. 

Scott served as the chief of staff at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing where he helped run one of the largest and busiest posts in the world, traveling to more than half of China’s provinces to lead trade missions, speak on behalf of the U.S. government and work closely with leaders in the public and private sectors as he helped them hone their strategic approaches in China and the region.

Prior to his time in Beijing, Scott worked in senior management and communications roles, including work as deputy chief of staff to Vice President Joe Biden, counseling and traveling across the country with the Vice President and overseeing key pieces of his campaign operation, including the communications and messaging portfolio. Scott spent more than a dozen years on Capitol Hill, including the Senate Finance Committee, and in the executive branch, playing leadership roles in numerous successes, running communications, messaging, strategy and more. 

Scott is a professor at Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy, was selected as one of five visiting fellows in the prestigious Georgetown Institute of Politics and Public Service and was also named by the University of Pennsylvania's new Perry World House as a member of its inaugural class of visiting fellows and scholars. He is a Washington, D.C. native where he lives with his wife Kara and suffers each season as a lifelong D.C. sports fan.  He is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and the Georgetown University Law Center.

A Conversation with Bruce Hirsh -
Multilateral Trade and the WTO

Q&A with Bruce Hirsh

Q: As Deputy Assistant USTR for WTO and Multilateral Affairs, you were for a period of years the lead U.S. negotiator for trade facilitation at the WTO, helping to set up the successful conclusion of the first multilateral WTO agreement in two decades, the Trade Facilitation Agreement. How important was conclusion of the deal for the WTO and what steps paved the way for success?  

A: The deal demonstrated that the WTO remains a viable negotiating forum under the right, albeit limited, set of circumstances. Principal among those was the broad support of the WTO Membership -- in particular, developing countries -- for the objectives of the negotiation, namely to reduce the time and expense of moving goods across borders. Building a consensus took years, as did the negotiating process. That process was bottom-up and Member-driven, in contrast with the rest of the Doha Round, which relied on Chair-drafted texts to try to bridge gaps. The bottom-up approach forced Members to engage with each other and reach common ground, and ensured that progress, when it came, had the full support of the membership. Only once issues were sufficiently narrowed in the closing phase of the talks were they handed off to political leadership to close the deal.

Another important factor contributing to the success of the negotiations was that its broad support -- again, especially among developing countries -- left it less vulnerable to hostage taking than other negotiating groups of the Round. The handful of developing countries that would have preferred a less ambitious outcome were compelled to mute their criticism and were largely unable to hold up the talks in pursuit of goals beyond trade facilitation. 

Q: In recent years, there has been a growing focus on plurilateral negotiations between like-minded countries. Many trade supporters hope to see the resuscitation of the Trade in Services Agreement negotiations, a unique initiative in that it was outside the WTO, but under negotiation in Geneva and with capitals and Geneva ambassadors directly involved. Recently, USTR Bob Lighthizer suggested negotiations among smaller groups of countries would in fact be the preferred approach and the EU’s Cecilia Malmstrom likewise said “short-term plurilateral arrangements within the WTO framework” would be the best way forward. Have we reached the point where multilateral negotiations are a thing of the past and we should just focus on forming “coalitions of the willing” if we are to make market-opening progress in new areas?

A: In a certain sense, negotiations have always involved “coalitions of the willing.” By that I mean that multilateral negotiations succeeded when there was a consensus that they should. For example, the unusually broad support for the Trade Facilitation Agreement underpinned that success, notwithstanding the absence of broad support for other areas of the Doha Round. Unfortunately, for the foreseeable future, those “willing” are likely to be a smaller subset of the WTO membership, and plurilaterals will be the most realistic approach to market-opening progress.

That could at some point change, so I wouldn’t go so far as to say multilateral negotiations will always remain a thing of the past. For it to change, though, emerging economies like Brazil, China and India would need to exercise the leadership they failed to show in the Doha Round, offering both developing and developed Members market access and other concessions commensurate with their role as major global traders. And a new consensus will need to develop in favor of particular negotiating topics. Plurilaterals can help in that regard by broadening support for ambition in specific areas, as can regional trade agreements like the TPP that raise standards for key WTO Members.

Q: You previously served as USTR’s Chief Counsel for Dispute Settlement and as Legal Advisor to the U.S. Mission to the WTO in Geneva. The subject of dispute settlement at the WTO is a hot topic, with the U.S. administration contending that the WTO Appellate Body has extended WTO disciplines beyond those negotiated, among other critiques of the system. How would you reform the dispute settlement process to improve its functioning? 

A: Reform of the WTO dispute settlement system will require good-faith engagement among WTO Members to consider U.S. concerns. Two such issues are whether the Appellate Body should limit the scope of its findings to those necessary to resolve a particular dispute, and whether the Appellate Body should defer interpretations of ambiguous provisions to Members. While it will be a challenge to achieve the consensus among WTO Members necessary to amend dispute settlement rules or to issue agreed interpretations of those rules, engagement on those issues could itself signal the Appellate Body that it should take a more cautious approach in the future. Agreement on these issues that can be translated into specific guidance to WTO adjudicators would of course be more effective. In addition, certain procedural reforms could be helpful, such as providing for interim review at the appellate stage similar to that now available at the panel stage. This could result in stronger Appellate Body reports free of factual and analytical errors and enable the Appellate Body to consider the validity of criticisms before, rather than after, final reports are issued.

Bruce Hirsh
Principal, Tailwind Global Strategies

Bruce Hirsh is the founder of Tailwind Global Strategies LLC, which provides strategic advice on global government relations matters, with a particular focus on international trade and regulatory issues. He previously held positions over 18 years in senior levels of the Executive and Legislative branches of the U.S. Government.
Until July 2016, Mr. Hirsh was the Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Japan, Korea, and APEC. There he negotiated Japan-related provisions of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement and represented the United States at Senior Official meetings under APEC and the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement. From 2011 to 2014, Mr. Hirsh was Chief International Trade Counsel for the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance, where he was Chairman Max Baucus’s principal advisor on international trade and economic matters and advised Members of the Committee and the Democratic Caucus on these issues. In that role, he negotiated the Baucus-Camp trade promotion authority legislation. Before that Mr. Hirsh served as Deputy Assistant USTR for WTO and Multilateral Affairs and lead U.S. negotiator for the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement, the first multilateral WTO agreement in two decades. Earlier in his career, he was USTR’s Chief Counsel for Dispute Settlement and Legal Advisor to the U.S. Mission to the WTO in Geneva, Switzerland.
Before joining the U.S. government in 1998, Mr. Hirsh practiced law in Washington, DC and Tokyo, Japan. He is a graduate of Brown University and Stanford Law School.
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