Rufus Yerxa
Rufus Yerxa

Rufus Yerxa, President of the National Foreign Trade Council, Gives Third Annual Wenger Distinguished Lecture on Trade

 

updated Oct. 12, 2018

On October 11, 2018 the Trade, Investment, and Development Program hosted the third annual Wenger Distinguished Lecture on Trade, "The Great Paradox: Economic Nationalism in an Interdependent Age." This year’s lecture featured Rufus Yerxa, president of the National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC), a leading trade association dedicated to advancing the interests of U.S. companies in international commerce. Yerxa has made many of the recent headlines, contributing his decades of trade expertise to tackling the rising challenges as the global tension escalates.

From left to right: Padideh Ala'i, Wellesley Parker '12, Rufus Yerxa, Jenny Leonard, and Vice Dean Susan Carle.
From left to right: Padideh Ala'i, Wellesley Parker '12, Rufus Yerxa, Jenny Leonard, and Vice Dean Susan Carle.

Yerxa 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 three 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, and the World Trade Organization, and also spent several years in private law practice and the corporate world. He holds a BA in political science from the University of Washington (1973), a JD from Seattle University School of Law (1976), and an LL.B. in international law from the University of Cambridge, England (1977).

Padideh Ala'i, director of the International Legal Studies Program, welcomed attendees and introduced Ambassador Yerxa, along with program moderator Jenny Leonard, Bloomberg News trade reporter; and Wellesley Parker '12, export compliance manager at Amazon, who gave remarks on behalf of the Wenger family.

Yerxa discussed the growing trend toward economic nationalism, occurring simultaneously with the growing interdependence of the world's major economies. He noted a major economic question of our time: Will the trend toward nationalism disrupt global growth and lead to a breakdown of world order, or will tensions be resolved in a way that creates fairer, more balanced economic relations? Yerxa also outlined some of today's major trade issues and urged a more careful dialogue about the policy options America faces in the coming battle over the direction of U.S. trade policy.

The annual Wenger lectures on trade at American University Washington College of Law are sponsored by the Henry E. & Consuelo S. Wenger Foundation. The lectures provide a forum for constructive discussions about trade law and policy, and for professional connection among our students, faculty, and alumni.

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The Trade, Investment and Development Program (TID) was established in 2014 at AUWCL. TID has a summer program in Geneva at the WTO, has hosted the ELSA/WTO moot court competition, and organizes conferences on trade and related topics. This past summer TID hosted the Biannual Meeting of the Society of International Economic Law (SIEL) at AUWCL.