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Alan Wolff

Alan Wm. Wolff

Distinguished Visiting Fellow, Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE)

Alan Wm. Wolff is a distinguished visiting fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. Until joining PIIE, he was deputy director-general of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

His research focuses on developing reforms of the WTO; responding to the role of the United States, the European Union, and China in the international trading system; and serving the needs of all countries in using trade to achieve economic prosperity. During his visiting fellowship at the Peterson Institute, along with numerous papers and essays, Wolff has written a book on the future of the trading system, entitled Revitalizing the World Trading System (Cambridge University Press 2023). It was selected by the Financial Times as one of best books of 2023 in economics.

At the WTO, Wolff was responsible for divisions dealing with accessions, agriculture, trade and the environment, standards, translation, and information technology support.  He is a founder of the Trade for Peace (T4P) Initiative, which joins the WTO, the International Financial Institutions and the peace community in their efforts to provide assistance to fragile and conflict-affected countries.  He served as chair of the WTO's Consultative Framework Mechanism for Cotton Development Assistance.  During the six months ending on March 1, 2021, he was co-acting director-general of the WTO.  His numerous writings on current trade topics during his tenure at the WTO are available at

Prior to joining the WTO Secretariat, Wolff was a leading member of the trade bar pioneering a team approach of combining economics, law, and forensic analysis to address problems in international competition.  As a legal practitioner he has been engaged to resolve some of the largest international trade disputes on record. Prior to joining the WTO, he also served as the chairman of the National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC). He has lectured on trade policy and related subjects at universities around the world.

Wolff served as United States deputy special representative for trade negotiations in the Carter administration and was general counsel of the office in the Ford administration. He served as acting head of the US delegation during the Tokyo Round of Multilateral Trade Negotiations and was a principal draftsman of the basic US law creating a mandate for trade negotiations. As deputy USTR he was a founder of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Steel Committee and its first chairman. He has served as a senior trade negotiator in, and advisor to, both Democratic and Republican administrations.

Prior to his service at USTR, he served in the US Treasury as staff attorney for the National Advisory Committee on International Monetary and Financial Policy, participating in the work of the OECD Development Assistance Committee, reviewing lending policies in the IMF and the World Bank, and participating in the drafting of the Articles of Agreement of the African Development Fund. He was director of the Treasury's Office of Multilateral Trade Negotiations.

He is also a lifetime national associate of the National Academies, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and served on the E15 Initiative's Experts Group on Trade and Innovation.

He holds a JD degree from Columbia University and an AB degree from Harvard College.

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