Farewell Free Trade? The Trump Administration's Approach to Asia Trade Policy


In collaboration with the Asia Society Policy Institute

HOUSTON, May 25, 2017 — Asia Society Policy Institute Vice President Wendy Cutler discussed the future of U.S. trade in Asia under Donald Trump, how the U.S. can continue meaningful economic engagement with its Asia-Pacific partners in light of withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and whether Asian economies may go forward with TPP without the United States — or instead gravitate toward the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). Alan R. Crain moderated the discussion. (1 hr., 8 min.)

The United States’ decision to back out of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in January 2017 drastically altered the prospects for active U.S. economic engagement in the Asia-Pacific region. Additionally, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Cooperation (RCEP), the other major trade negotiation in the region, is facing serious challenges. The result is that many countries in the region are pursuing bilateral trade agreements which do not deliver the same magnitude of benefits.

In 2016, the Asia Society Policy Institute (ASPI) established an Independent Commission on Trade Policy, chaired by ASPI Vice President and former Acting Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Wendy Cutler, to examine the regional trade landscape and offer practical recommendations for policy makers to chart a path forward for trade and economic integration in the region.

Wendy Cutler and Alan Crain will discuss how the U.S. can continue meaningful economic engagement with its partners in the Asia-Pacific. How will the Trump administration’s trade policy in the region evolve? Will Asian economies gravitate towards RCEP and/or pursue the implementation of the TPP without the United States? Are bilateral trade agreements adequate to advance growth and prosperity in the region, or do high-standard regional agreements, such as TPP and RCEP, represent the best path forward? Join Asia Society for a program exploring these critical questions.


6:00 pm | Reception
7:00 pm | Program

About the Speaker

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.

About the Moderator

Alan R. Crain has provided legal, commercial, and political advice throughout the world for over 35 years. He began his career with a law firm in Washington, D.C. and has been general counsel of three Fortune 500 multinationals. He has served as an arbitrator in a broad range of cases and as an adjunct professor of international law at the University of Houston. He serves on the boards of directors of both public and private companies as well as the boards of the Asia Society Texas Center, Institute for Transnational Arbitration, World Affairs Council of Houston and National Association of Corporate Directors TTC. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Asia Society Texas Center Business & Policy Programs, Endowed by

Huffington Foundation

Muffet Blake, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, United Airlines, and Vinson & Elkins LLP are presenting sponsors of Business and Policy programs, with lead support from Nancy C. Allen, BP America, Nancy T. Chang, Anne and Albert Chao, Eagle Global Advisors, and Wells Fargo. Generous funding also provided by the Friends of Business & Policy at Asia Society Texas Center, a premier group of individuals and organizations committed to bringing the best in public programming. This program is presented in collaboration with Asia Society Policy Institute.

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Event Details

Thu 25 May 2017
6:00 PM - 8:30 PM

1370 Southmore Blvd Houston, Texas 77004

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