Geneva, Switzerland (GenevaLunch) – Michael Punke, 44, has been nominated as the next US ambassador to the World Trade Organization in Geneva. He was one of two people nominated to top posts by US President Barack Obama Thursday 3 September. Barbara Bennett was nominated for the post of chief financial officer at the Environmental Protection Agency.
Punke’s appointment to lead the US negotiations at the WTO must now be approved by the US Senate. He is currently living in Montana with his wife and two children, where he works as an international trade consultant and writer of both fiction and non-fiction. He would replace Peter Allgeier, who has stepped down as ambassador to the WTO. He had been in the post since 2005, but had worked for the Office of the US Trade Representative since 1980.
Ambassador Ron Kirk, US Trade Representative, Friday told a group of 36 trade ministers meeting in India that “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. 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 for all.”
The White House has provided the following biographical material on Punke:
Michael Punke has worked in the field of international trade law and policy for two decades. From 1995 to 1996, Punke served as Senior Policy Advisor at the Office of the United States Trade Representative. There, he advised the USTR on issues ranging from agricultural trade to intellectual property protection. From 1993 to 1995, Punke served at the White House as Director for International Economic Affairs with a joint appointment to the National Security Council and the National Economic Council. His responsibilities included assisting in the management of the interagency process. From 1991 to 1992, Punke was International Trade Counsel to Senator Max Baucus, then Chairman of the Finance Committee’s International Trade Subcommittee. Punke has also worked on international trade issues from the private sector, including as a partner at the Washington, D.C., office of Mayer, Brown, Rowe, & Maw. During the past six years, Punke has advised clients on trade issues through Michael Punke Consulting out of Missoula, Montana. He also has worked as an adjunct professor at the University of Montana and as a writer, authoring a novel, two books of nonfiction, and two screenplays. Punke is a graduate of George Washington University and Cornell Law School, where he was elected Editor-in-Chief of the Cornell International Law Journal.
Punke is a native of Wyoming and, according to US newspaper The Missoulian, he and his wife had agreed to raise their children in the western US. They moved from Washington to Missouri in 2003. He told the local newspaper that his ideas on trade have changed since his Washington days and that he has learned a great deal about international trade by living in a state where exports are critically important (Ed. note: Montana has a large cattle industry).
Related: Reuters, “Punke seen as Obama choice for trade post”, 2 September 2009