The Leaderboard: Wendy Cutler

The Leaderboard profiles the people behind the policies of the Asia-Pacific.Who is she?

A senior trade official with extensive negotiating experience, Wendy Cutler became assistant U.S. trade representative (USTR) for Japan, Korea, and Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation affairs in 2004.

Over the course of her 25 years at USTR, Cutler has worked on many bilateral and multilateral issues, including the 1997 World Trade Organization Financial Services Agreement, several Uruguay Round agreements, bilateral agreements with Japan on telecommunications, insurance, and semiconductors, and the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement. She is currently leading the consultation process for Japan’s entry into the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade agreement negotiations. Cutler was educated at the George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

Wendy Cutler has been appointed acting deputy USTR. Source: CSIS flickr photostream, used under a creative commons license.

Why is she in the news?

On June 26, President Barack Obama approved USTR Michael Froman’s appointment of Cutler as acting deputy USTR. The decision is being widely welcomed both within the agency and throughout the trade community. Cutler is a long serving and hardworking insider, and her nomination has helped further boost the esprit de corps at USTR, which spiked positively when Froman took the reins earlier this month. According to a USTR spokesperson, the Cutler’s official designation is expected to follow as early as late this week.

What can we expect from her?

In her new capacity, Cutler will be in charge of trade issues in Asia and Africa, as well as continue her day-to-day oversight of U.S. trade policy toward Japan. She will likely have a greater role in the TPP negotiations, working alongside lead negotiator Barbara Weisel.

Froman, Cultler, and USTR are taking back leadership on economic diplomacy from the State Department as Undersecretary of State Robert Hormats and other key economic officials are leaving that agency. With Cutler’s appointment, the Obama administration signals a growing commitment in the president’s second term to conclude the TPP negotiations and to accelerate trade ties with U.S. allies and partners in Asia.


3 comments for “The Leaderboard: Wendy Cutler

  1. david merrill
    July 3, 2013 at 16:51

    If Wendy Cutler is the new Deputy USTR, what is the role of Miriam Sapiro, formerly Deputy USTR and for a while, Acting USTR? Is there more than one Deputy, or Amb Sapiro has moved? Thanks.

    David Merrill
    301 793 4727

  2. Murray Hiebert
    July 9, 2013 at 09:00


    Thanks for your question. There are currently three deputy USTRs. Miriam Sapiro is still there, responsible for Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, and the Americas. That was her former position; she had served as Acting USTR from the time Demetrios Marantis resigned in May until Michael Froman was confirmed. Wendy Cutler has stepped into Marantis’ old area of responsibility for Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Michael Punke is the third and serves as U.S. ambassador to the WTO.


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