WASHINGTON – Wendy Cutler, who served as the acting deputy U.S. trade representative under President Barack Obama, called on Japan to lead the reform of the World Trade Organization in a recent interview.
Cutler, currently vice president of the Asia Society Policy Institute, said the United States under President Donald Trump is “no longer leading” on many issues, including WTO reform.
“Countries like Japan should be playing a much more active role in the WTO, and lead reform efforts,” she said.
Japan took the reins of the former Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement and also led a successful Group of 20 summit in Osaka in June, Cutler noted.
The 11-nation TPP was concluded after Trump pulled the United States out of the previous deal soon after his inauguration in January 2017.
“I would hope in the coming year that Japan could play a larger role on the WTO front and try and bring countries together, including the United States, on a series of reform issues both substantive and more institutional,” she said.
On the U.S.-China trade negotiations, Cutler said it was “hard for me to see” phase two of the talks concluding anytime soon, after the world’s two largest economies recently reached a deal on phase one, leaving thorny issues including Chinese subsidies and state-run enterprises to future talks.
Looking to 2020, Cutler said she was “most worried about what will happen” with the relationship between the United States and the European Union.
“It is quite possible that the (Trump) administration may threaten tariffs against the EU in the auto area,” she said.