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The Search for a New "Washington Consensus" on Trade

Date & Time: March 21 (Thursday), 3:00pm-4:30pm (Beijing time)

Speaker: Jennifer Thornton, Vice President, Trade & International, Business Roundtable

Moderator: Mark Feldman, Interim Dean and Professor of Law, Peking University School of Transnational Law

Location: STL Building 203

Language: English

Lecture Summary:

The remarks will explore the current debate in Washington about the future of U.S. trade and investment policy against the backdrop of the reform of the multilateral trade and investment systems. I will examine the Biden Administration's pivot away from traditional trade agreements and towards novel economic framework agreements. I will then explore the foundations of the global trading system and the role that safeguards were intended to play in managing adjustment costs associated with global economic integration. Finally, I will discuss why WTO members should seek to establish a new, overlapping consensus on the appropriate limits of international economic law.

Speaker's bio: 

Jennifer Thornton leads Business Roundtable's advocacy on trade and international policy. BRT's Trade & International Committee advocates for policies that strengthen the rules-based system for international trade and investment so that American companies and their workers can compete effectively in the global economy. Prior to joining BRT, Ms. Thornton served as Trade Counsel to the Republican Members of the Committee on Ways and Means in the United States House of Representatives. In this capacity, she advised the caucus on a broad portfolio of international trade issues, including the U.S. trade relationship with the European Union, China, and Africa, the implementation of the WTO Agreements and U.S. free trade agreements, and all digital trade, investment, and intellectual property issues. Prior to her tenure on the Committee, Ms. Thornton spent ten years in the Department of State and in the Office of the United States Trade Representative litigating international investment disputes and negotiating international investment agreements. From 2014 to 2017, she served as Senior Policy Advisor and Counsel to Deputy United States Trade Representative, Ambassador Robert W. Holleyman II, and managed the full range of trade policy issues in his portfolio, including all matters involving China. Prior and subsequent to her government service, Ms. Thornton practiced law for ten years in New York and Washington representing both corporate and sovereign clients in international arbitration and investment disputes.

Ms. Thornton is currently a Lecturer in Law at Columbia Law School and has previously served as an Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of Texas and George Mason University Law Schools, where she has taught courses in international trade and investment law. She has also spoken and published regularly on U.S. trade and investment policy. Ms. Thornton holds a J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School, an M.Phil from Cambridge University, and a B.A. from Wellesley College.

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