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Wednesday at AEI, a panel of trade policy experts gathered to discuss President Obama’s recent idea to merge six trade agencies into one agency that would focus on trade and competitiveness. Craig VanGrasstek called the proposal unexceptional given the government’s recent attempts to reorganize trade; consistent, because it follows what has already been accomplished; and incomplete, since the proposal demands only one type of fast-track authority. Jitinder Kohli focused on the capacity of a government to control competitiveness effectively, asking, “Who is responsible for economic policy and what is the content of such policy?” Kohli also shared his personal experience of working at a U.K. agency where he focused on economic policy.

John Murphy addressed two concerns that the business community has regarding the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) and the president’s administration: first, the office should not be moved out of the executive office of the president, as doing so would weaken its ability to negotiate trade-liberalizing agreements; and second, the Obama administration seemingly has more interest in the political value of the legislation than in gaining congressional support. Gary Horlick agreed with many of the other panelists’ ideas and argued that, despite the USTR’s effectiveness, a single U.S. trade agency is an impossible idea. AEI’s Claude Barfield concluded with a brief statement on U.S. competitiveness and areas the nation needs to focus on to maintain its competitiveness, such as long-term tax policy, regulation and education.

Event Description
As part of a bid for renewed authority to streamline government, the White House wants to merge six agencies into one bureaucracy focused on trade and competitiveness. The plan has sparked substantial criticism from the U.S. business and trade policy communities. An expert panel will weigh in on the controversy and evaluate President Obama’s reorganization proposal.

If you cannot attend, we welcome you to watch the event live on this page. Full video will be available within 24 hours


9:45 AM

10:00 AM
GARY HORLICK, Attorney at Law
JITINDER KOHLI, Center for American Progress
JOHN MURPHY, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
CRAIG VAN GRASSTEK, Harvard Kennedy School of Government


11:45 AM

Event Contact Information

For more information, please contact Steffanie Hawkins at [email protected]

Media Contact Information

For media inquiries, please contact Véronique Rodman at [email protected], 202.862.4871.

Speaker Biographies

Gary N. Horlick specializes in international trade and investment law. He has represented major U.S. and foreign companies and governments in disputes and negotiations. He served as the first chairman of the World Trade Organization’s Permanent Group of Experts dealing with subsidies and has chaired WTO and Mercosur dispute resolution panels. He teaches international trade law at Yale University, Georgetown University and the University of Bern’s World Trade Institute and is assistant editor of the Journal of World Trade. As head of the Office of Import Administration at the U.S. Department of Commerce, he was responsible for U.S. investigations of antidumping and countervailing duty complaints as well as foreign trade zones and statutory import programs. He developed the U.S. subsidy methodology used for countervailing duty cases and the WTO subsidy rules, negotiated the first U.S.-EU steel arrangement, and initiated the application of information technology to countervailing duty and antidumping cases. He also served as international trade counsel for the Senate Finance Committee.

Jitinder Kohli is a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress (CAP), where his work focuses on government efficiency, regulatory reform and economic issues. He is one of the co-authors of “A Focus on Competitiveness,” a CAP report that originally proposed consolidation of government agencies that work on competitiveness. Before joining CAP, Mr. Kohli spent 15 years in the British government. Most recently, he served as the director general of strategy and communications for the British Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, where he worked on the merger of two government departments to build a new agency. Between 2005 and 2009, he was the first chief executive of the Better Regulation Executive, where he was responsible for regulatory reform for the United Kingdom. Previously, he was head of productivity and structural reform in Her Majesty’s Treasury, where he led major reforms of the United Kingdom’s microeconomic framework to improve underlying productivity performance. Additionally, he has worked in the British Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit and the Home Office.

John G. Murphy is vice president of International Affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. He is responsible for representing the chamber before the administration, Congress and foreign officials as he directs advocacy efforts to open international markets for U.S. exports and investment. Since joining the chamber in 1999, Mr. Murphy directed its successful campaigns to win congressional passage of trade agreements with a dozen nations, including, most recently, Colombia, Panama and South Korea. He plays a key role in the chamber’s work on such international business priorities as regulatory cooperation, international investment, trade facilitation, and the work of the World Trade Organization.

Craig VanGrasstek is an adjunct lecturer in public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He has worked as a consultant in nearly four dozen countries on five continents, with expertise in the fields of trade negotiations, preferences and free trade agreements, WTO accessions, dispute settlement, trade-in services, and the U.S. trade policymaking process. His clients include the World Trade Organization, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, the World Bank and other international organizations, as well as government agencies and private firms. He also publishes the “Washington Trade Report.” He has taught trade policy at Harvard University and American University and also teaches an innovative course at Georgetown University on foreign policy and literature.

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