Jacob “Jack” Lew serves as the current U.S. secretary of the Treasury. Prior to his confirmation in February 2013, Lew served as the White House chief of staff between 2012 and 2013, and directed the Office of Budget Management for the Clinton and Obama administrations. Lew has a background in business, having worked as managing director and chief operating officer for banking giant Citigroup.
Why is he in the news?
Lew is taking a high-level U.S. delegation on a five-nation trip in the Asia Pacific this week to Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, and China. This is his second trip to the region – Lew visited China earlier this year – and his first visit to Southeast Asia since becoming treasury secretary.
What can we expect from his visit?
In Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, and Vietnam, Lew is expected to discuss important political and trade issues surrounding the conclusion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement by the end of the year. His visit is another laudable step in President Barack Obama’s effort to send his Cabinet members to Asia more frequently, as the administration seeks to enhance U.S. engagement across the region. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, and Secretary of State John Kerry have all visited countries in East and Southeast Asia this year.
Lew’s stop in Vietnam will be the first cabinet-level visit to the country since the United States and Vietnam signed a bilateral Comprehensive Partnership in July 2013. During his stops in the three ASEAN countries, expect Lew to affirm the U.S. government’s interest in expanding financial cooperation with major Southeast Asian economies. In China, Lew will likely press PRC leadership to allow the country’s currency – the yuan – to continue to appreciate.