Alan Wm. Wolff became WTO Deputy Director General on October 1, 2017. He was formerly in private law practice in Washington DC dealing extensively with international trade matters. Prior to joining the WTO he was Chairman of the National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC), the oldest American association supporting open international trade.
Ambassador Wolff's prior public service includes being U.S. Deputy Special Representative for Trade Negotiations after being General Counsel of the Office, serving as acting Head of the U.S. Delegation for the Tokyo Round of multilateral trade negotiations, and as a principal draftsman of the basic U.S. law creating a mandate for trade negotiations. He has served as a senior trade negotiator in, and advisor to, both Republican and Democratic administrations.
He is a member of the Advisory Committee of the Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE), is a lifetime National Associate of the National Academies, and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
After a decade of arduous economic recovery, the global economy has been brought to its knees by the COVID-19 pandemic, disrupting global value chains and paralyzing trade. There were plenty of warning signs prior to the pandemic. In the domestic arena, corporate and sovereign debt levels soared while manufacturing stagnated. On the international level, protectionism, trade wars, unresolved WTO disputes, and a worldwide inward turn to nationalism posed serious risks and demonstrated the potential for reversing decades of progress. The pandemic did not merely shutter businesses, paralyze supply chains, and stall trade. It also exacerbated pre-existing weaknesses, setting the stage for one of the worst economic collapses in modern history. While policymakers have responded swiftly, including taking radical measures to help prevent the total crumbling of the global economy, their efforts can only be sustained for so long and also give rise to a host of new challenges. What can be done to re-energize the global economy, including managing skyrocketing debt levels? What lessons does the pandemic offer for future preparedness and resilience of the global economy, and how does it inform the design of international supply chains? In times when turning inwards and the notion of strategic sovereignty have gained prominence as risk-mitigating strategies, how can free trade become a part of the solution again?