Although there's not a lot of reason to believe that the current Doha Round of international trade negotiations under the auspices of the World Trade Organization will produce a comprehensive agreement by yearend, don't fault April 18's White House announced change in U.S. trade negotiators. The talks were 16 months behind schedule before the announce, frustrated by disagreements over agricultural subsidies and a more generalized divide between the world's rich countries and developing nations.
Subject to Senate confirmation, current U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman will become director of the White House Office of Management & Budget and Susan Schwab, a deputy U.S. trade negotiator, will replace Portman.
"Susan Schwab is an excellent choice to take the lead" at the U.S. Trade Office, said John Engler, president of the Washington, D.C.-based National Association of Manufacturers. Engler noted that since joining the trade office last November, Schwab had been "actively engaged" in the development of U.S. negotiating strategy for the Doha Round and had concluded U.S. free-trade agreements with Peru and Colombia.
"President Bush could not have made a better choice for United States Trade Representative than Susan Schwab," said Thomas J. Duesterberg, president and CEO of the Manufacturers Alliance, an Arlington, Va.-based business and public policy research group. "Her broad background in government and academia is strengthened by high-level experience in the business world. This combination gives her the credibility to be a strong advocate for American interests in the global economy.
Schwab was a senior aide to former U.S. Sen. John Danforth (R., Mo.), was director general of the U.S. & Foreign Commercial service during the administration of George H.W. Bush, was director of corporate business development at Motorola Inc. and was dean of the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland.