Yesterday’s announcement that President Obama has designated Wendy Cutler as Acting Deputy U.S. Trade Representative represents a very good day for U.S. trade.
Wendy brings the hard-boiled skills that come from her many years at that agency and a proven record of success. She was the chief negotiator for the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement, has led the agency’s impressive trade and investment work in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, and logged extensive experience negotiating WTO agreements. She also has negotiated a number of bilateral agreements with Japan and has more recently been at the tip of the spear to bring Tokyo into the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The entry of that huge economy into the TPP is a genuine game-changer.
With Michael Froman as the new USTR, U.S. trade is at something of an inflection point and poised to deliver on a growing list of agreements that stand to improve U.S. jobs and prosperity for years to come -- reaching beyond the TPP to include a major trade agreement with the European Union and an important negotiation to expand the Information Technology Agreement.
In full disclosure, I may be bringing a biased view to this blog as Wendy hired me to work for her at USTR more than a dozen years ago. I left the agency a few years back, but can tell you from a first-hand perspective that she will be a great addition to Froman’s deputy leadership team. She’s highly respected in the building, in other U.S. agencies involved in trade, and in the big capitals around the world. She’s a master of her craft and knows what it takes to close on a deal.
The President is designating her as “Acting” Deputy for now. But Wendy will by no means be “Acting” in her new role. She’ll be the real deal.