Bush Picks Schwab to be USTR

April 18, 2006. President Bush nominated Susan Schwab to be the United States Trade Representative. She has been a Deputy USTR since November of 2005. See, White House release and transcript of White House event.

She was previously P/CEO of the University of Maryland Foundation, Inc. and USM Vice Chancellor for Advancement. She has also been Dean of the University of Maryland School of Public Policy.

Earlier in her career, she worked as a trade negotiator at the Department of Commerce, and for former Sen. John Danforth (R-MO). She is the author of the 1994 book titled Trade Offs: Negotiating the Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act [Amazon]. She has also worked for Motorola.

Bush said that "Trade is one of the most powerful engines of growth and job creation. America accounts for about 5 percent of the world's population, and that means that 95 percent of our potential customers live overseas. So my administration has taken an aggressive agenda to break down barriers to American exports across the world. When I took office, we had three free trade agreements. Now, we have free trade agreements with 11 countries, and 18 more are pending. Susan will work hard to conclude these agreements and ensure that American goods, services and crops are treated fairly in overseas markets."

Susan SchwabSchwab (at left) also spoke at the White House event. She said that "to maintain American global prosperity, we must pursue a sensible, market-oriented trade policy that provides greater market access and enforces our laws and agreements." See, transcript.

She added that the Doha Development Round negotiations are "a once in a generation opportunity to generate global economic growth and to lift millions out of poverty. And it will continue to be a top priority for this Administration."

She also addressed bilateral and regional trade agreements. She said that the "USTR has an equally ambitious bilateral and regional agenda -- including ongoing negotiations with 14 countries to dramatically reduce trade barriers, to set important precedents for future trade negotiations, and to grow a critical mass of countries that recognize the immense benefits that come with more open international commerce. Here, again, holding our trading partners accountable through enforcement of existing trade laws and agreements will continue to be a critical component of our trade agenda."

If confirmed by the Senate, she will replace Rob Portman, whom President Bush nominated to be Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

The shift of Portman from trade to budget responsibilities may reflect a determination by President Bush that he no longer places as much priority on trade issues as he previously did. Portman was, until a year ago, a respected and influential member of Congress. Schwab worked as a Congressional staff assistant long ago.

The switch may also impact Doha negotiations. Peter Mandelson, the EU Commissioner for Trade, stated in a release that "I have very much enjoyed working with Rob Portman and I shall be sorry to see him go from this post. I look forward to working with his successor, Susan Schwab, whom I know well. We will of course manage without him, but at this stage in the Round, it would have been easier to manage with him."