Kurt Tong

Senior Adviser (Non-resident), Simon Chair in Political Economy
Expertise: Asia

Ambassador Kurt Tong is currently a partner at the Asia Group, where he leads the firm’s work in Japan and the broader East Asia region. A leading expert in diplomacy and economic affairs in East Asia, Ambassador Tong has thirty years of experience in the State Department as a career foreign service officer and member of the Senior Foreign Service. Prior to joining the Asia Group, Ambassador Tong served as consul general and chief of mission in Hong Kong and Macau where he led U.S. political and economic engagement. Prior to that role, he served as the principal deputy assistant secretary for economic and business affairs at the State Department from 2014 to 2016, guiding the Department’s institutional strengthening efforts as its most senior career diplomat handling economic affairs. He also served as deputy chief of mission and chargé d’affaires at the U.S. embassy in Tokyo from 2011 to 2014, where he played a key role in setting the stage for Japan’s entry into the Trans-Pacific Partnership and supporting Japan’s recovery from the Great East Japan Earthquake. In 2013, he received the Cordell Hull Award for Economic Achievement by Senior Officers for his outstanding success in advancing U.S. economic interests by reducing trade barriers, increasing market access for U.S. products, and enhancing international cooperation across the Asia-Pacific region. Ambassador Tong also served as ambassador for Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) in 2011, leading the U.S. chairmanship of the organization during one of the most productive periods for APEC. As director of Korean affairs in the State Department’s Bureau of East Asia and Pacific Affairs, he played a leadership role in negotiations with North Korea as part of the Six-Party Talks. He was one of the original architects of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement during the Bush and Obama administrations, including while serving as director for Asian economic affairs at the National Security Council from 2006 to 2008. Earlier in his career, Ambassador Tong served as economic minister-counselor in Seoul, counselor for environment, science and health at the U.S. embassy in Beijing, deputy treasury attaché in Tokyo, and as an economic officer in Manila. Ambassador Tong holds a B.A. from the Woodrow School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University and studied economics at the U.S. Foreign Service Institute.