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Trade Policy Roundtable

East Asia’s Move to Bilateral and Regional Free Trade Areas (September 26, 2002)

ALTHOUGH President Bush now has “fast track” trade-negotiating authority, which Congress repeatedly denied to his predecessor, there is a great deal of ground to make up as the Doha Round negotiations struggle to gain traction.  As a result of the failure to renew the authority for eight years, the WTO system lost momentum, the APEC process lost direction and the FTAA negotiations lost impetus.  Without trade-negotiating authority, the U.S. Administration did not have the “power of initiative” and, indeed, did not appear to be engaged.  So many countries in Latin America and the Western Pacific turned increasingly to trade negotiations with their neighbors.  Barry Desker, a member of the Institute’s board, will lay out the rationale for East Asia’s move to bilateral and regional free trade areas.

BARRY DESKER, previously Chief Executive of the Singapore Trade Development Board (1996-2000), is the Director of the Institute of Defence & Strategic Studies, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, and Chairman of Jurong Port Ltd, in Singapore.  He was earlier Singapore’s Ambassador to Indonesia. 

After Mr Desker has presented his paper, the discussion will be initiated by Michael Samuels, a former Deputy U.S. Trade Representative, now head of Samuels International Associates, and Andrew Thomson, a former government minister in Australia’s House of Representatives, now practicing trade law in Sydney. 

About the Speaker and the Discussants

BARRY DESKER is the Director of the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, having earlier been the Chief Executive of the Singapore Trade Development Board (1994-2000), after serving in the foreign service since 1970.  He is also chairman of the Singapore International Foundation, Jurong Port Ltd and Singapore Technologies Marine.  Previously, Mr Desker was Singapore’s Ambassador to Indonesia (1986-93), Director of Policy, Planning and Analysis in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (1984-86) and Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations, New York (1982-84).  He was educated at the University of Singapore, the University of London and Cornell University.

MICHAEL SAMUELS is President of Samuels International Associates Inc., business consultants, Washington, DC.  Before establishing the firm, he was Deputy U.S. Trade Representative, based in Geneva (1985-88), and earlier was Director of Third World Studies at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, Washington.

ANDREW THOMSON, an attorney-at-law in Sydney practicing trade law, was a member of Australia’s House of Representatives in 1996-2001.  He was Minister of Sport, during the Sydney Olympics, and then Parliamentary Secretary, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade; and later he was Chairman of the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties.

 

The Cordell Hull Institute’s Trade Policy Roundtable is sponsored by Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, Arnold & Porter, Hogan & Hartson, O’Melveny & Myers, Steptoe & Johnson and Wilmer Cutler & Pickering