Byline: Jim Ostroff

WASHINGTON — The on-and-off plan to appoint Rita Hayes U.S. ambassador to the World Trade Organization is reportedly on again. It could be announced this week.
Hayes is currently the chief textile negotiator, and sources first cited her as the top candidate for the WTO job in January. The speculation cooled, however, as the White House considered awarding the plum assignment to political supporters.
Ultimately, sources continued, textile interest lobbyists — with whom Hayes had worked in hammering out bilateral pacts, the most recent being the major agreement with China — convinced Trent Lott (R., Miss.), the Senate Majority Leader, and Sen. Ernest F. Hollings (D., S.C.) to push the White House to give Hayes the nod. The appointment will be subject to Senate confirmation.
In moving to the WTO post in Geneva, Hayes would coordinate all U.S. presentations before the trade body. Equally important, the WTO ambassador often operates behind the scenes, working to build consensus for U.S. positions and to resolve disputes once they have come before the organization’s adjudicative bodies. Booth Gardner, former governor of Washington, resigned from the post this year.
A decision on who will succeed Hayes in the textile post still has not been made final, according to sources.
Hayes became the chief textile negotiator at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative in September 1995, following a 29-month stint as Commerce’s deputy assistant secretary for textiles, apparel and consumer goods.
Before coming to Commerce in spring 1993, Hayes served as chief of staff for both former Rep. Elizabeth Patterson (D., S.C.) and Rep. John Spratt (D., S.C.). During her tenure at Commerce, Hayes also served as chairman of the Committee for the Implementation of Textile Agreements.

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