Debrief on WTO MC13




On Monday, March 4, WITA hosted trade leaders who briefed us on key outcomes of the Ministerial and shared behind the scenes insights into what went on in the negotiations and behind the scenes in Abu Dhabi.


Special Guest:

Angela Ellard, Deputy Director General of the WTO

Featured Speakers:

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

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

Ben Conner, Partner, DTB AgriTrade, LLP

Kyle Johnson, Director of Trade Policy, Information Technology Industry Council 

Douglas Petersen, Deputy Vice President, International, PhRMA

Alice Slayton Clark, Senior VP of Trade, Investment and Digital Policy, US Council for International Business

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.

Ben Conner is a partner at DTB AgriTrade, LLP – an agricultural trade policy consulting firm. He joined the firm in 2019, after spending a decade at an agricultural trade association and as a staffer in the U.S. Senate. Ben helps clients pursue their agricultural trade policy goals through assistance with international trade negotiations, monitoring and analyzing compliance with trade commitments, enforcing trade rules, and engaging with governments and international organizations on policy issues related to agricultural trade.

Prior to joining DTB, Ben was the Vice President of Policy at U.S. Wheat Associates (USW), where he worked with farmers, USW’s foreign offices, USDA, USTR, and related industry to improve market access by addressing tariffs, trade-restrictive sanitary and phytosanitary measures, and other non-tariff barriers to U.S. wheat exports.

Ben joined USW after serving as the agriculture and trade legislative assistant for U.S. Senator Mike Johanns of Nebraska. During his time in that position, Ben championed the Senator’s priorities for the 2014 farm bill, such as creating the position of Under Secretary of Agriculture for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs. He also assisted with the Senator’s push for ratification of free trade agreements, and coordinated support for the inclusion of Japan in the Trans-Pacific Partnership pending resolution of the BSE-related restrictions on beef from cattle under thirty months.

In 2014, Ben completed a joint MS-MBA in food and agribusiness management from Purdue University and Indiana University. He also has a master’s degree in international commerce and policy from George Mason University and was an undergraduate at Miami University in Ohio. 

Angela Ellard has served as WTO Deputy Director-General since June 2021.

Prior to her appointment, Ms Ellard had a distinguished career serving in the US Congress as Majority and Minority Chief Trade Counsel for over 26 years. She is internationally recognized as an expert on trade and international economic policy, resolving trade and investment barriers, negotiating trade agreements, and supporting multilateral solutions as part of an effective trade and development policy. 

Ms Ellard has negotiated and delivered significant bipartisan trade policy outcomes and legislation with Members of U.S. Congress and senior Biden, Trump, Obama, Bush, and Clinton Administration officials. Ms Ellard was also a lawyer in the private sector, specializing in trade litigation and strategy, trade policy, and legislative issues. 

Ms Ellard obtained her Juris Doctor, cum laude, from Tulane University School of Law and her Master of Arts in Public Policy also from Tulane. She received her Bachelor of Arts from Newcomb College of Tulane University, summa cum laude. Ms Ellard is a frequent lecturer at law – graduate, and undergraduate classes. She has received numerous awards recognizing her accomplishments in trade law and policy, including WITA’s 2011 Lighthouse Award, honoring an impactful individual in the trade policy community.

Kyle Johnson serves as the Director of Trade Policy. Prior to joining ITI, he served at the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration, where he led the Information Technologies Team. In that role, he supervised ICT hardware industry experts working to strengthen the global competitiveness of U.S. industry through industry analysis, trade policy development, addressing trade barriers, supporting semiconductor and ICT industry supply chain resilience, and assisting with trade promotion strategies.

Previously at Commerce, Kyle served in several staff roles focused on developing and implementing trade policy and promotion efforts to support trade and international competitiveness in innovative U.S. technologies. He contributed to Commerce’s work addressing technical barriers to trade, particularly relating to cybersecurity policies, ICT standards, and labeling. He coordinated an ICT-focused working group under the former U.S.-China JCCT, ensuring the group addressed China market access issues and created industry-government meetings to highlight emerging technology areas. He oversaw the formation of a working group to improve trade policy and promotion programs related to smart cities technology, and supported development of trade-related programming under the U.S.-ASEAN Smart Cities Partnership. He also co-led the development and implementation of APEC projects promoting risk-based cybersecurity policy development and regional harmonization on e-labeling policies and standards.

Before his roles at Commerce, Kyle worked as a Legislative Correspondent with Senator Byron Dorgan, served as an intern with the commercial section of U.S. Embassy Singapore, and taught English as a foreign language in South Korea. Kyle holds an MA from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in International Economics and East Asia Studies, and a BA from the University of North Dakota in Political Science and Communications.

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.

Douglas Petersen, is PhRMA’s deputy vice president for international trade. Previously, he was international trade counsel for the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance, an international trade attorney with White & Case LLP and a trade policy analyst at the Cato Institute. He received a law degree from New York University, a graduate degree from the London School of Economics, and undergraduate degrees from the University of Utah.

Alice Slayton Clark is USCIB’s Senior VP of Trade, Investment and Digital Policy. Clark joined USCIB in 2021. Clark brought to USCIB her considerable experience in trade policy, having worked in a number of international law firms and consulting practices, as well as on Capitol Hill.

Most recently, Clark has been a Senior Government Relations Advisor for Jacobs Global Trade & Compliance LLC. Prior to this she spent time as an independent International Trade Consultant, and as an International Trade Specialist at Sidley Austin Brown & Wood, Powell Goldstein Frazer & Murphy, Graham & James, and Mudge Rose Guthrie Alexander and Ferdon. She began her trade career in the offices of Representative Robert Torricelli and Senator Bob Graham.

Clark received a BA in Government and Spanish from Oberlin College, and an MA in International Relations From Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. In the past she has served as the President of the Women in International Trade (WIIT) group, and as a leader in local and school organizations.

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.