Jennifer A. Hillman

Professor of Practice at Georgetown Law; Former commissioner, World Trade Organization & US International Trade Commission

Going it Alone In An Interconnected World: Brexit, Trump & Tariffs

About the Topic

Brexit: If it leaves the EU, Britain exchanges the frictionless movement of goods and services within the world’s largest trading block to create its own trade policies. Brexiteers believe that the UK can strike better trade deals for British businesses, including with the US. One of Brexit's greatest hurdles remains within the UK, at the “Irish backstop,” the invisible 300-mile border between Northern Ireland and Ireland. Heavily militarized during years of sectarian violence, the border reopened with the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. Goods and services flow freely between the two nations. Staunch Brexiteers insist that a hard border would once again be needed to control trade. Opponents fear its return will reignite violence. Economists warn that going it alone on trade weakens the UK's economy and even risks recession. Will there be a Brexit?

Trump & Tariffs: Last April, French President Emmanuel Macron met with President Trump, hoping to join forces in confronting China on its trade practices. According to The Wall Street Journal, Trump told Macron he did not want the EU to enjoy benefits of a US-China trade pact, calling it “my deal." That deal is currently stalled over several issues, including the Administration's use of tariffs. In what could be a two-front trade war, the Administration is also entering talks with the EU. Its cars could be labeled a threat to national security, requiring stiff tariffs. The President is sure of his approach. “I am a Tariff Man,” Trump has declared, seeing tariffs as a weapon to bring back US jobs. In a world of global supply chains, how does negotiating trade unilaterally, armed with tariffs, grow the US economy?

About the Speaker

Jennifer Hillman teaches international business and trade at the Georgetown University Law Center. She has written extensively about trade law, including two books about the legal aspects and implications of Brexit. Previously, she served as one of seven members on the World Trade Organization’s Appellate Body, as a member of the United States International Trade Commission, as general counsel in the Office of the United States Trade Representative, and as the USTR’s ambassador and chief textiles negotiator. In June 2018 she testified before Congress on “US Tools to Address Chinese Market Distortions.”