The Office of the United States Trade Representative

USTR Portman Praises Senate for Swift Confirmation of Nominees

WASHINGTON - United States Trade Representative Rob Portman today applauded the United States Senate for their swift action on the nominations of Karan K. Bhatia and Susan C. Schwab as Deputy United States Trade Representatives. The two deputies join Peter F. Allgeier, the Geneva-based representative to the WTO, as USTR’s top policy advisors.

“Karan and Susan will be making immediate and invaluable contributions as soon as they are sworn in,” said Portman.  “The President has tasked me with an ambitious trade agenda and my deputies will provide key strategic assistance, especially at this critical stage in the global trade negotiations. The World Trade Organization meeting in Hong Kong is less than two months away and their vast experience will bring further significant talent to our already skilled trade team.  

“I want to thank Majority Leader Bill Frist, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley and Finance Committee Ranking Member Max Baucus for the emphasis they have placed on moving this confirmation process along smoothly and quickly. They recognized our need to have these key nominees in position as soon as possible. Their prompt movement again demonstrates their commitment to the cause of free trade.”

Bhatia will lead U.S. efforts to open new markets and enforce existing trade agreements in Asia and Africa.  His responsibilities will include leading trade efforts with China which presents special opportunities and challenges, continuing negotiations to secure free trade agreements with Thailand and the Southern African Customs Union and strengthening U.S. trade relations with the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and South Asian economies. In addition, he will supervise USTR global negotiations on pharmaceuticals, labor and the environment.

At the Department of Transportation, Bhatia secured breakthrough aviation trade liberalization agreements with China, India, Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia and oversaw the Department’s participation in various global and regional trade and transportation fora including APEC. Prior to this, he served as the Deputy Under Secretary for Industry and Security at the Department of Commerce from 2002 to 2003 and as the Chief Counsel for the Commerce Department’s Export Administration from 2001 to 2002. Before joining the federal government, Bhatia worked at the law firm of Wilmer, Cutler and Pickering from 1994 to 2001 where he was a member of the firm’s international and corporate groups and the administrative partner for its international aviation, defense and aerospace area; in academia as an adjunct Professor at Georgetown University Law Center from 1999 to 2003; and as a judicial clerk for a New York District Judge from 1993 to 1994.

Bhatia received his Bachelor’s degree in International Relations from Princeton University, a Master’s degree in International Relations from the London School of Economics and a Law Degree from Columbia Law School.

Dr Schwab will be responsible for supervising U.S. trade negotiations with Europe and the Middle East, Latin America and the Caribbean, Mexico, and Canada. This portfolio includes negotiations of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), the Free Trade Agreements with the Andean countries, Panama, and the United Arab Emirates, the next steps on Bahrain and Oman and the implementation of the Central America-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR). In addition, she will supervise negotiations on accessions to the World Trade Organization (WTO) and will lead the negotiations for services, investment and intellectual property in the global trade agreement negotiations, commonly known as the Doha Development Agenda. She will also oversee the Industry, Market Access and Telecommunications and the Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Liaison departments.                        

Dr Schwab began her career as an agricultural trade negotiator at USTR in 1977.  In the past 25 years, she has worked at the US Embassy in Tokyo on technology trade issues; for Senator John Danforth (R-MO) when he chaired the Finance Subcommittee on International Trade; as Assistant Secretary of Commerce and Director General of the US & Foreign Commercial Service in the Administration of George Bush; and as Director of Corporate Business Development for Motorola Inc. in Illinois.  Between 1995 and 2004, when she became the President and CEO of the University System of Maryland Foundation, she served as Dean of the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland, College Park.

Dr. Schwab received her Bachelor’s degree in political economy from Williams College and a Master’s degree in Development Policy from Stanford University.  She earned her Ph.D. at the George Washington University School of Business and Public Management. Her book, entitled Trade Offs: Negotiating the Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act, was published in 1994 by Harvard Business School Press.