Deputy Director General, World Trade Organization, Switzerland
Rufus H. Yerxa has served as Deputy Director General of the World Trade Organization (WTO) since 2002. The WTO is the principal international organization governing world trade in goods and services. WTO agreements cover a wide array of trade practices by governments and set many of the rules regarding tariff and non-tariff policies.
As the second-ranking official in the WTO Secretariat, Mr. Yerxa assists member governments in negotiations, serves as a key policy advisor to the Director General and oversees major elements of the Secretariat’s work. He is also responsible for internal administration and supervision of the WTO’s $200 million budget, and under his leadership the Secretariat is completing a major renovation and expansion of the organization’s Geneva headquarters.
Mr. Yerxa has an extensive record as an international trade negotiator, diplomat and lawyer. He served as a Presidential appointee in the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) during both Democratic and Republican administrations, first as the Geneva-based Ambassador to the GATT (the predecessor organization to the WTO) and subsequently as the Deputy USTR in Washington. In these two positions he played a major role in negotiating and securing Congressional approval of both the Uruguay Round/WTO agreement and the NAFTA accord. Prior to these appointments he was with the Committee on Ways and Means of the U.S. House of Representatives, where he served as Staff Director of the Subcommittee on Trade.
His private sector experience includes both law practice and a senior corporate role. He was a resident partner in the Brussels office of Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld, where his practice focused on international trade matters and European regulatory affairs. He subsequently joined Monsanto Company, a leading producer of agricultural input products, where he served as European General Counsel.
Mr. Yerxa is a native of Washington State and grew up in the Seattle area. He received his undergraduate degree in political science from the University of Washington, his law degree from the University of Puget Sound School of Law and an LLB in international law from the University of Cambridge. He is a member of the District of Columbia Bar. Mr. Yerxa is married to Barbara J. McSweeney. They have two children, Gavin (25) and Haley (22).