Carla Hills

Two-Time Cabinet Member, Business Executive, and Renowned Expert on International Trade, Commerce, and Investment

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Two-Time Cabinet Member, Business Executive, and
Renowned Expert on International Trade, Commerce,
and Investment

As the third woman to hold a cabinet position, Carla Hills knows what it is like to overcome barriers with spirit, candor, and business savvy. Since then, she has become one of the world’s most influential voices on international trade, commerce, and investment. She has also played a key role in negotiating some of the world’s most defining trade agreements, still holding firm today. Her presentations draw on the many lessons and experiences from her long and storied career.


Carla first passed the bar in California to become Assistant United States Attorney in Los Angeles from 1959 to 1961. She continued to climb higher as a co-founder and partner at Munger, Tolles, Hills, and Rickershauser from 1962 to 1974, and an adjunct professor at UCLA teaching antitrust law. Through these experiences, she had already become an authority on federal practice and antitrust law, writing Federal Civil Practice and co-authoring the Antitrust Advisor, which was published by McGraw-Hill. As testament to her understanding of business, she went on to achieve the title of United States Assistant Attorney General, heading the Civil Division of the U.S Department of Justice, and was then named secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the third woman to hold a cabinet position. Despite lacking in relevant experience, she made such a high impression that President Ford referred to her as an exceptionally effective advocate for HUD and even listed her as a candidate for U.S Supreme Court Justice.

U.S. Trade Representative

Carla served as United States Trade Representative from 1989 to 1993. As a member of President Bush’s Cabinet, she was the President’s principal advisor on international trade policy. She was also the nation’s chief trade negotiator, representing American interests in multilateral and bilateral trade negotiations throughout the world. Carla was the primary U.S negotiator on the North American Free Trade Agreement and also led U.S negotiations on the Uruguay Round of the World Trade Organization. She then joined the Task Force on the Future of North America, contributing to a report that advocated greater coherence and integration in North American Trade. Carla was even awarded the Aztec Eagle, the highest honor given by the Mexican government to non-citizens. Ultimately, Carla’s tenure led to the U.S. entering into numerous trade and investment agreements with countries around the world.

Business Leader

Carla has also held many other distinguished positions of high office, serving on the board of directors for AIG, AT&T, Chevron, Gilead Sciences, Time Warner, IBM, and United Airlines, among others. She has been an international advisor to Yale and is an executive committee member of the Peterson Institute and Trilateral Commission. She was also one of the founders, and now a trustee, of the Forum for International Policy. On top of this impressive list of connections, Carla works as a consultant and public speaker through her own firm, Hills & Company International Consultants, in which she is Chairman and CEO. She currently serves on various international advisory boards, such as the American International Group, The Coca-Cola Company, J.P Morgan Chase, and Rolls Royce. While evidenced as an expert in many subjects, she maintains a specialty on China, as Chair of the National Committee on US-China Relations, advisory board member to the National Bureau of Asian Research, and Co-chair of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Doing Business in a Global Environment

Expanding beyond the confines of national borders is one of the most difficult tasks for a business to undertake. That is truer today than ever before with a whole array of challenges to global success, including tariffs, border restrictions, and national regulations. And on top of these conventional issues, ever-changing foreign policies and the rapid advancement of technology ensures that business leaders always need to stay one step ahead of the game. To help understand and face these challenges, there is perhaps no better guide than Carla Hills, a former U.S Trade Representative, respected founder of a national law firm and global advisory consultancy, and member of a multitude of Fortune 500 companies. She can provide just the insight that business leaders need to move into the global market and successfully manage the balancing act of business and politics.

NAFTA and North America’s Untapped Economic Opportunities

Since the signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement, and the creation of a trilateral trade bloc between the United States, Canada, and Mexico, these three territories have received a mutually beneficial boost to their economies that continue to hold firm to this day. NAFTA remains one of the world's leading examples on how this kind of international cooperation should be handled and it is in our national interest to see it continue to prosper and evolve. As America's original NAFTA negotiator, Carla Hills provides unique insight into how this agreement came to be and how it has become such a key structure in producing, selling, and trading between the nations. She also offers her advice on how to handle the issues they currently face and to move forward in a way that will continue to benefit not just the U.S, but all of North America for decades to come.

Preserving the Benefits of Trade and Globalization

While political rhetoric in the U.S has turned increasingly hostile towards the notion of trade, it has proven to be a crucial factor in the prosperity of our economy, as well as that of our allies, helped billions out of poverty, and brought the world together on a range of important political issues. It is more important now than ever to showcase these benefits, while also addressing those who trade has not been wholly beneficial. This applies mainly to those in industries with rapidly-changing technologies, who face a deep-rooted and understandable anxiety towards the notion of open markets. Carla Hills brings her knowledge and experience as a former U.S Trade Representative and negotiator of NAFTA to educate the public on the benefits of trade, help those who face challenges, and ensure the continuation of open borders and an open market.

How to Work With China

As one of the largest superpowers in the world alongside the U.S, and one of the largest economies, a strong U.S-China is crucial to global prosperity. Unfortunately, China and the U.S have had more than their fair share of disagreements and mutual mistrust threatens to undermine any sense of cooperation. Both countries face considerable economic and political uncertainties as well, creating a challenging playing field to engage in. But with her wealth of experience as a chair member of several foreign relationship organizations, doing business inside Chinese borders, and recognized as one of the leading voices in U.S-China relations, Carla Hills offers her advice in breaching one of the world's largest markets and thriving through cooperation.

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