Ottawa Group Ambassadors on the WTO



Washington International Trade Association

On December 11, WITA welcomed members of the Ottawa Group to discuss key issues on their WTO agenda, including their proposal for a WTO Trade and Health Initiative to strengthen supply chains and ensure the free flow of medicines and medical supplies, their work on WTO reform, and ongoing negotiations on e-commerce and fisheries.

The Ottawa Group includes several key U.S. allies with whom the incoming Biden Administration can expect to work on these and other critical trade issues in the years to come.

Program Agenda


  • Kenneth I. Levinson, Executive Director, Washington International Trade Association

Remarks and Discussion

  • H.E. Stephen de Boer, Canada’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the WTO
  • H.E. Didier Chambovey, Switzerland’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the WTO 
  • H.E. Tan Hung Seng, Singapore’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the WTO
  • H.E. Kazuyuki Yamazaki, Japan’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the International Organizations in Geneva 
  • H.E. George Mina, Australia’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the WTO
  • Moderator, Ambassador Rufus Yerxa, President, National Foreign Trade Council, former Deputy Director-General of the WTO, and former US Ambassador to the WTO

Followed by:

  • Q & A with Audience Moderated by Ken – Webinar attendees are encouraged to use the Q&A function on the Zoom app to submit their questions in real time.

 Event Close


H.E. Stephen de Boer is Canada’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the World Trade Organization, appointed in August, 2017. 

Mr. de Boer joined Global Affairs Canada in 2005 and has held various positions in the department, including in the Investment Trade Policy and North America Trade Policy Divisions. In 2006, he was named the Director of the Softwood Lumber Division. From 2008 to 2010, he served as the Director of the Oceans and Environmental Law Division and as Lead Counsel for Canada’s international climate change negotiations. In 2010, he joined Environment Canada as the Deputy Chief Negotiator for climate change and the Director General responsible for Canada’s international climate change negotiations and partnerships. Mr. de Boer returned to the department in 2013 as the Director General of the Trade Controls Bureau. In 2015, he was appointed Ambassador to Poland and in 2016, Ambassador to Belarus. Prior to joining the public service, he worked for the Government of Ontario. 

Mr. de Boer has published and lectured on international trade and environmental issues including at the Faculty of Law at Western University, Ryerson University, and at the School of Law at Case Western Reserve University. He is also a member of the Advisory Board of the Canada-U.S. Law Institute. Mr. de Boer has a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws from Western University and a Master of Laws in International and Comparative Law from Georgetown University.


H.E. Didier Chambovey is the head of the Swiss Permanent Mission to the WTO and EFTA in Geneva, appointed in September 2016.

Previously, he was Federal Council Ambassador and Delegate for Trade Agreements, and head of the World Trade Division in the Foreign Economic Affairs Directorate. From 2006 to 2011, he was Deputy Secretary-General of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). From 1998 to 2006 he served as deputy head of the Swiss Permanent Mission to the WTO and EFTA in Geneva. 

Before his appointment as section head in the WTO Division in 1993, he worked in the field of economic cooperation with the countries of Central and Eastern Europe. Didier Chambovey joined the Federal Office for Foreign Economic Affairs (FOFEA) in 1987 as scientific adviser in the GATT Division.

Ambassador Chambovey holds a PhD degree in economics from Lausanne University (HEC). 

H.E. Tan Hung Seng is Singapore’s Permanent Representative to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), appointed in February, 2019.

Ambassador Tan joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1990, and served as Singapore’s Permanent Representative to ASEAN from August 2013 to January 2019, and Ambassador to the Arab Republic of Egypt, with concurrent accreditation to Libya, from July 2009 to July 2013. He was also concurrently accredited as Ambassador to the State of Kuwait until October 2012. Ambassador Tan’s other overseas postings included Embassy of the Republic of Singapore to Thailand in Bangkok, where he was Deputy Chief of Mission/Counsellor from 1999 to 2003; and two stints in Embassy of the Republic of Singapore to the Arab Republic of Egypt in Cairo as Deputy Chief of Mission from 2003 to 2005, and First Secretary from 1992 to 1995.

Ambassador Tan graduated from the National University of Singapore and did post-graduate studies at the University of London, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), under the Raffles/Chevening Scholarship. He was awarded the Public Administration Medal (Silver) in 2011 and the Long Service Medal in 2013. Ambassador Tan is married to Mrs. Kayo Suzuki-Tan and they have two daughters.


H.E. Kazuyuki Yamazaki is Japan’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the International Organizations in Geneva, appointed in November, 2019.

Prior to his appointment to Geneva, Mr. Yamazaki had been serving as Senior Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan since 2017. He was Deputy Minister for the budget, personnel and parliamentary relations at the Ministry from 2015 to 2017, and Councillor at the National Security Secretariat, Cabinet Secretariat in 2014. He has held various other posts since he joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1983, including as Personal Assistant to the Prime Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office from September 2008 to 2009, and as Chief of Staff to the Minister for Foreign Affairs from 2005 to 2008.

Mr. Yamazaki’s foreign postings include serving as Minister and Head of the Economic Section at the Embassy of Japan in Beijing, China from 2010 to 2012; as Fellow at the Weatherhead Centre for International Affairs of Harvard University, and concurrently serving as Minister at the Embassy of Japan in Washington DC, United States, in 2009; as Counselor and Deputy Head of the Political Section at the Embassy of Japan in Washington DC from 2001 to 2003; as First Secretary and then Counselor at the Permanent Delegation of Japan to the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development from 1997 to 2001; and as Third Secretary and later Second Secretary at the Embassy of Japan in Washington DC from 1986 to 1989.

Mr. Yamazaki has a B.A. in economics from Hitotsubashi University in Tokyo (1983), and attended a diplomatic training programme of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan at Swarthmore College, Pennsylvania, United States (1984-1986). He is married with two children.


H.E. George Mina is Australia’s Ambassador and Australian Permanent Mission to the World Trade Organization, Geneva, appointed in August, 2020.

Prior to taking up his current role, he served as First Assistant Secretary, Consular and Crisis Management Division, in Canberra. He has also served as Assistant Secretary, Services and Intellectual Property Branch (2010-2012); Assistant Secretary, Trade Policy Branch (2012); Head of Australia’s campaign for the United Nations Human Rights Council (2017); and Head of the Office of Trade Negotiations (2017-2020).

Overseas he has served as First Secretary, then Counsellor, Cairo (1999-2002); Counsellor, Australian Mission to the WTO, Geneva (2004-2007); and Deputy Head of Mission and Ambassador to UNESCO, Paris (2013-2017). Whilst in Paris he concurrently served as Ambassador to the Republic of Chad and Ambassador to the Central African Republic.

Mr Mina holds a Master of Arts (International Relations) from the Australian National University (1998); a Bachelor of Commerce (Honours, Economics) from the University of Melbourne (1991); and a Diploma in Modern Languages (French) from the University of New England (2012). He is married with three children.


Ambassador Rufus Yerxa is the President of the National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC) since May of 2016. As president, he oversees NFTC’s efforts in favor of a more open, rules-based world economy, focusing on key issues to U.S. competitiveness such as international trade and tax policy, economic sanctions and export finance.

He has more than four decades of experience as a lawyer, diplomat, U.S. trade negotiator and international official. He has been in key policymaking and management roles in Congress, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) and the World Trade Organization (WTO), and also spent several years in private law practice and the corporate world. As Deputy Director General of the WTO from 2002 to 2013 he helped to broaden its membership and strengthen its role as the principal rules-based institution governing world trade.

Prior to this, from 1989 to 1995, he served as Deputy USTR under both a Republican and a Democratic President, first as the Geneva-based Ambassador to the GATT (the predecessor organization to the WTO) and subsequently as the Washington Deputy. Earlier in his government career (1981 to 1989) he was with the Committee on Ways and Means of the U.S. House of Representatives, where he was Staff Director of the Subcommittee on Trade. He began his government career as a legal advisor with the U.S. International Trade Commission. After leaving government service in 1995 and prior to joining the WTO he spent five years in the private sector, including as the Brussels-based partner with the U.S. law firm of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld. Rufus is a native of Washington State.

He holds a BA in political science from the University of Washington (1973), a JD from Seattle University School of Law (1976) and an LLB in international Law from the University of Cambridge in England (1977). He is a member of the District of Columbia Bar, and is also a Visiting Professor with the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey (MIIS).


Kenneth Levinson is the Executive Director of the Washington International Trade Association (WITA). WITA is Washington’s largest non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to providing a neutral forum in the U.S. capital for the open and robust discussion of international trade policy and economic issues. WITA has over 3,750 members, and more than 170 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. Ken and his wife, the Reverend Donna Marsh, live in Bethesda, MD, with their two daughters.