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Obama Nominates Michael Punke as WTO Ambassador

Michael Punke, a senior trade official in the Clinton administration, nominated to be ambassador to the WTO and deputy trade representative by President Obama.

WASHINGTON — President Obama on Thursday nominated Michael Punke, a senior trade official in the Clinton administration, to be ambassador to the World Trade Organization and deputy trade representative.

If the nomination is confirmed by Congress, Punke will succeed Peter Allgeier, who is departing to work with a private consulting firm. The WTO is based in Geneva.

Punke was a senior policy advisor at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative from 1995 to 1996, after serving as the director for international economic affairs at the National Security Council and the National Economic Council at the White House from 1993 to 1995. During his first stint with the USTR, Punke advised the agency on a range of issues, including agricultural trade and intellectual property protection.

Before joining the Clinton administration, Punke was international trade counsel for Sen. Max Baucus (D., Mont.) from 1991 to 1992 when Baucus was chairman of the Finance Committee’s International Trade Subcommittee. He most recently had his own consulting firm, and is a trade attorney. In addition, Punke has written a novel and several works of nonfiction.

Allgeier was named ambassador to the WTO in 2005 after working in the USTR office since 1980.

“Michael Punke is uniquely suited to lead USTR’s team at the WTO, particularly at this critical time in the Doha Development Round of trade negotiations,” said U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk. “His breadth of experience and considerable leadership skills will ensure that the American people have their interests well represented in Geneva as we seek a balanced and ambitious conclusion to the Doha Round that will provide new economic opportunities.”

Kirk is attending a meeting of trade ministers in New Delhi this week in an effort to kick start negotiations in the stalled Doha talks, which are aimed at lowering tariffs worldwide.