Live from Abu Dhabi! WTO MC13 Pop-Up Briefing




On Tuesday, February 27, WITA hosted a unique pop-up industry briefing live streamed from the World Trade Organization’s 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13) in Abu Dhabi, UAE.


Featured Speakers:

Christine Bliss, President, Coalition of Services Industries (CSI)

Ed Brzytwa, Vice President of International Trade, Consumer Technology Association

Sharon Bomer Lauritsen, Principal and Founder, AgTrade Strategies

Lisa Schroeter, Global Director of Trade & Investment Policy, Dow

Tiffany Smith, Vice President, Global Trade Policy, National Foreign Trade Council

Moderator: Penny Naas, TradeExperettes


Speaker Biographies:

Christine Bliss is President of the Coalition of Services Industries (CSI). Prior to joining CSI, she served as the Assistant U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) for Services, Investment, Telecommunication, and E-Commerce. She also served as the lead U.S. negotiator in the World Trade Organization (WTO) Doha Services Negotiations and in the WTO Bilateral Services Accession Negotiations for Russia and Saudi Arabia.

Ms. Bliss oversaw the services and investment negotiations and was co-lead negotiator of the financial services negotiations in the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations and was a lead negotiator for services and financial services in previous U.S. Free Trade Agreement negotiations. Ms. Bliss led the three year Model Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) Review that resulted in the 2012 Model BIT. She also led the development of USTR’s digital services and investment trade agenda, which included innovative new disciplines on cross-border data flows and local server requirements. Ms. Bliss has also served as Chief Counsel and Acting Assistant USTR for Monitoring and Enforcement, responsible for managing U.S. litigating in the WTO, NAFTA, and other multilateral and bilateral trade agreements.

Before joining USTR in 2000, Ms. Bliss was Counsel to the Emergency Committee for American Trade, an association representing U.S. Fortune 500 firms on international trade, investment, and tax issues. Ms. Bliss holds a J.D. from the University of California at Davis and a LL.M. from George Washington University.

Ed Brzytwa is the Consumer Technology Association’s Vice President of International Trade.  He leads CTA’s trade and supply chain policy and advocacy work, with a strong focus on improving the international trade environment and global supply chains to strengthen the competitiveness of the U.S. consumer technology industry.

Ed previously served as an international trade advocate for the American Chemistry Council and Information Technology Industry Council and a trade negotiator in Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and U.S. Department of Commerce. Ed obtained two Master’s degrees from the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna in Austria, where he was a Fulbright fellow, and from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, and has a Bachelor’s degree in The Classics from the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts.

Sharon Bomer Lauritsen is the Founder of AgTrade Strategies LLC, a consulting service focused on U.S. agricultural trade policies. She retired from the U.S. government in 2020 with 29 years of experience, most recently as the Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Agricultural Affairs and Commodity Policy, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, Executive Office the President. Sharon served at USTR for 15 years, leading agriculture trade negotiations for the United States, including with Canada, China, the European Union, India, Japan, Mexico, South Korea and at the World Trade Organization. She also worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service (USDA’s AMS) for 10 years in senior management positions. Previously, she worked for five years leading the agriculture section of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization. She started her career in government relations for the United Fresh Produce Association. 

Penny Naas is the former President of International Public Affairs and Sustainability at UPS. An experienced global leader, Mrs. Naas leads teams in the development and execution of strategies in complex, regulated environments. In her previous role, she led efforts to advance strategies for UPS and its customers on issues including climate change, cross-border trade, and digitalization. She began her UPS career joining as the Head of Public Affairs in the then-EMEA Region. Prior to joining UPS, she worked for Citigroup in the Global Government Affairs team. She opened Citigroup’s first government affairs office in Brussels, where she advanced legislative and regulatory strategies on issues that arose after the 2008 Financial Crisis. She started her career at the US Department of Commerce, where she worked for 13 years in various roles covering global commercial issues. Her final role was to lead the office of Europe, where she oversaw US-European commercial issues. She is an experienced Director on various not-for-profit Board of Directors. Mrs. Naas has a bachelor’s degree in economics and a master’s degree in public policy from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She is a US and Belgian citizen.

Lisa Schroeter is the Global Director of Trade and Investment Policy for The Dow Chemical Company, Lisa oversees the global function and cross-business priorities for the global trade agenda as well as developing strategy on the international aspects of key corporate issues. Based in Washington, DC, Lisa’s responsibilities focus on trade policy and legislation, trade negotiations, and investment issues that foster growth in Dow’s global businesses through identification of policies facilitating market access and reducing global distribution costs.

Before joining Dow, Lisa was the Executive Director of the TransAtlantic Business Dialogue (TABD). TABD is a unique trade-facilitation process by which American and European corporations work with the U.S. Administration and the European Commission to implement practical, detailed recommendations. Lisa was responsible for staffing the U.S. Chair CEO, working with the issue committees to develop and promote their recommendations, and facilitating business and government interaction. Ms. Schroeter joined TABD in 1999, and managed the process on behalf of the Boeing Company, PricewaterhouseCoopers, United Technologies Corporation and Xerox.

Lisa is currently a member of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR); President of Women in International Trade (WIIT) and a Board Member of the Washington International Trade Association, US Council for International Business and the US-ASEAN Business Council. She serves as the Chair of the ICCA Trade Network and Global Regulatory Cooperation task forces as well as the US Business Committee of the Transatlantic Policy Network (TPN)

Tiffany Smith is Vice President for Global Trade Policy at the National Foreign Trade Council, the leading business association dedicated solely to advancing the interests of U.S. companies in international commerce.

As Vice President, she leads efforts to advance global commerce and strengthen U.S. companies’ competitiveness abroad. She oversees the development and execution of NFTC’s trade policy strategy and leads work on key bilateral and regional trade relationships, the World Trade Organization and tariff reform issues.

Tiffany previously served as senior policy advisor in Mayer Brown’s international trade and government relations practices where she advised companies, trade associations, and nonprofits on international trade policy and regulations.

Prior to joining Mayer Brown, she worked for 16 years in the Federal Government, serving in positions in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the United States Senate, and the Department of Commerce.

During her time in the Senate, Ms. Smith was one of the lead staff involved in drafting and securing passage of the Trade Act of 2002.

While at USTR, Tiffany led industrial goods market access negotiations for nine Free Trade Agreements and for negotiations allowing several countries to join the WTO. Tiffany worked with key industry sectors, including autos, chemicals, consumer electronics, and information technologies to achieve results in trade agreements that facilitated U.S. exports.

She is a graduate of The George Washington University (M.A., International Affairs) and the Stephen F. Austin State University (B.A., Political Science).

Kenneth Levinson is the Chief Executive Officer of the Washington International Trade Association (WITA). WITA is the world’s largest non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to providing a neutral forum for the open and robust discussion of international trade policy and economic issues. WITA has over 5,000 members, and more than 200 corporate sponsors and group memberships.

Previously, Ken served as Senior Director for Global Government Affairs for AstraZeneca. Prior to joining AstraZeneca, Ken served as Senior Vice President and COO at the Washington, DC consulting firm of Fontheim International. Ken started his career on the staff of U.S. Senator John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV, where he served as the Senator’s chief advisor for international trade, tax, foreign policy, and national security. Ken received a Master’s degree in European History from New York University after doing his undergraduate work at the University of Massachusetts, in Amherst. Ken also spent a year studying at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark.