Member of FMG

Distinguished visiting fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics and former Deputy Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO)

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). 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 1 March 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


Ambassador Wolff is the author of a guidebook to the World Trading System administered by the WTO, entitled “Revitalizing the World Trading System”, Cambridge University Press (2023).  It has been selected by the Financial Times as one of the Best Books of 2023 – Economics.


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.


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.