On Global Trade & Investment
Published Three Times a Week By:
The Global Business Dialogue, Inc.
Washington, DC   Tel: 202-463-5074
No. 21 of 2017

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The Honorable Clayton Yeutter, from Eustis, Nebraska, who served the United States as U.S. Trade Representative, as Secretary of Agriculture, as Counselor to the President, and in many other roles, died on March 4 at his home in Potomac, Maryland. This past Saturday there was a memorial service for him in Bethesda. His contribution to U.S. and global trade policy was enormous.

In July 2014, the Washington International Trade Association presented Ambassador Yeutter with its lifetime achievement award.  A few days after that ceremony, GBD published a TTALK note on the event.  We republish it today in remembrance of this remarkable man. 

"I have to tell you that being U.S. Trade Representative in the Second Reagan Administration was my all-time favorite job in this world in the period of sixty years."

Clayton Yeutter
July 16, 2014
CONTEXT & COMMENT  as published on July 23, 2014
A week ago at this time, the trade people in Washington were thinking about the Trade Prom, which would be held that evening.  We find it impossible to believe that anyone who was there was disappointed.  The 2014 Annual Awards Dinner of the Washington International Trade Association (WITA) and the Washington International Trade Foundation was a fabulous affair. 

As for the awards, the choices could not have been better.  That is especially true of the Lifetime Achievement Award, which went to the Hon. Clayton Yeutter.  ... Here is some of what was said at the Trade Prom last week by and about Clayton Yeutter. 

Peter Allgeier, the President of the Coalition of Service Industries, was the master of ceremonies.  Himself a former U.S. ambassador to the WTO, Mr. Allgeier was one of (our guess) hundreds in the room who at one time had worked for Ambassador Yeutter.  He began his introduction of the nominee saying, "The affection and the respect for this man is stunning, but it is not at all surprising for any of us who have had the privilege of working with him." 

He then quoted Tweets he had received about Ambassador Yeutter in advance of the dinner.  Here are three of them: 

From Dick Cunningham of Steptoe & Johnson: "Without Ambassador Yeutter, there would have been no Uruguay Round and thus no World Trade Organization."

From Ellen Terpstra of the International Food and Agricultural Trade Policy Council: "Clayton inspired his own team and the other side with his infectious enthusiasms for engagement and contentious issues." 

And from Josh Bolten, now Managing Director of Rock Creek Global Advisers: "A great mentor to generations of trade policy professionals, Clayton Yeutter taught me that the good guys can play offense."

When it was his turn to talk, Clayton Yeutter didn't give a trade speech.  He thanked people, mainly his family, his personal family with children from 9 to 59, and his professional family that included a large number of those at the Prom.  As he put it, "I think half the audience worked for me at some time or another, either at USDA or at USTR through the years.

It is more than understandable why he would emphasize those two positions, but they are not the only high-level positions he has held.  Born in Eustis, Nebraska, a town below the Platte River and just above the Republican River, Clayton Yeutter has served -- to name just a few -- as: 
  • Chief of Staff to the Governor of Nebraska, 1967, 
  • Director of the University of Nebraska Mission in Colombia, 1968, 
  • Assistant Secretary of Agriculture for International Affairs and Commodities Programs, 1974, 
  • Deputy U.S. Trade Representative, 1975, 
  • CEO of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, 1975-1985, 
  • United States Trade Representative, 1985-1989, 
  • Secretary of Agriculture, 1989-1991.

There is more, but you get the point.  Today Ambassador Yeutter is a Senior Adviser at Hogan Lovells, and from that perch too he has led the effort to liberalize global trade through TPP and other initiatives.


Awards of, of course, are meant to honor -- and so in some sense to flatter -- those who receive them.  In this case, however, it was WITA itself and all those present last Wednesday evening who were unexpectedly and profoundly complimented, when Ambassador Yeutter said:
"I will never in my lifetime receive an honor that means more to me than this one here tonight."

There was more of course, much more.  ... These, however, are the lines we will remember. 
A lot has happened since July 2014.  Peter Allgeier retired from the Coalition of Service Industries in 2016, and earlier this year Josh Bolten took over as the President and CEO of the Business Roundtable.  But there are continuities here as well as change.  We'll come back to that. 

Let me switch to the first person singular for the remainder of this entry.   I was not among those who worked for Clayton Yeutter, at least not directly.  On the other hand, if you were an American in trade policy in those years, chances are that, in one way or another, you were working for Clayton Yeutter.   One largely forgotten Yeutter initiative was the Uruguay Round Task Force on Industrial Subsidies,  which he set up as part of the Advisory Committee on Trade Policy and Negotiations.  Ambassador Yeutter asked Stanley C. Gault -- CEO first of Rubbermaid and then Goodyear -- to chair the group, which included representatives from a rich cross section of American industry as well as the AFL-CIO.   I was working at the National Association of Manufacturers at the time, and I  had the privilege staffing the group.   The view from that small vantage point was a view of America at its best.  And Clayton Yeutter was the dynamo. 

And of course, throughout his tenure as U.S. Trade Representative, anyone writing about trade was writing a lot about Clayton Yeutter.  In any article where he was mentioned, the first reference to "Yeutter" was often followed with the note "rhymes with fighter."  Indeed. 

Clayton Yeutter is part of history now.  And in a strong society, history is the heartwood, the strong part in the center that holds the tree up.  In that sense we shall be relying on his strength for some time to come. 
After the Prom takes you to the original version of this entry, which was published on July 23, 2014. 

In Memoriam is the Washington Post obitituary on Ambassador Yeutter.

Clayton Yeutter is the Wikipedia entry for this remarkable public servant. 


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R. K. Morris, Editor
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