Trade & Development – Renewing AGOA, GSP and HOPE/HELP for Haiti




On July 10, WITA discussed the prospects for renewal of the Generalized System of Preferences – a critical program for the U.S. in Southeast Asia, the Middle East, southeastern Europe, South America, and the Pacific Islands – which lapsed in 2020; as well as AGOA, and HOPE/HELP for Haiti, which both expire in 2025.

Featured Speakers:  

Fernando Capellán, President and CEO, Grupo M & Codevi

Ed Gresser, Vice President and Director for Trade and Global Markets, Progressive Policy Institute

Beth Hughes, Vice President, Trade and Customs Policy, American Apparel & Footwear Association

Olawunmi Osholake, Deputy Managing Director, Global Shea Alliance

Moderator: Nicole Bivens Collinson, Managing Principal, Operating Committee, International Trade & Government Relations Practice Leader, Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg, P.A.

Speaker Biographies:

Fernando Anibal Capellan is President and CEO of Grupo M & Codevi. He was born in Santiago de los Caballeros in the Dominican Republic on February 9th, 1959. His business career began in the 1980s, when he founded Grupo M while studying industrial engineering. A textile firm, Grupo M introduced advanced production technologies, efficient manufacturing systems, modern human resource management, and a commitment to employees and the community that saw it become a standard of the Dominican textile industry.

Mr. Capellan became one of the first investors in Haiti, where he installed the industrial park, Codevi, in order to operate textile factories. In addition to his business operations, Mr. Capellan works with government entities, both national and international, to help develop inclusive rules and agreements that benefit the textile sector. He has served as president of the Dominican Association of Free Zones and the Free Zone Industries Association of Santiago, and currently serves on the executive committee of the National Council of Private Enterprise, the Association of Industries of the Dominican Republic, the Cibao International Airport, and the Metropolitan Hospital of Santiago.

Ed Gresser is Vice President and Director for Trade and Global Markets at the Progressive Policy Institute.

Ed returns to PPI after working for the think tank from 2001-2011. He most recently served as the Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Trade Policy and Economics at the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR). In this position, he led USTR’s economic research unit from 2015-2021, and chaired the 21-agency Trade Policy Staff Committee.

Ed began his career on Capitol Hill before serving USTR as Policy Advisor to USTR Charlene Barshefsky from 1998 to 2001. He then led PPI’s Trade and Global Markets Project from 2001 to 2011. After PPI, he co-founded and directed the independent think tank ProgressiveEconomy until rejoining USTR in 2015. In 2013, the Washington International Trade Association presented him with its Lighthouse Award, awarded annually to an individual or group for significant contributions to trade policy.

Ed is the author of Freedom from Want: American Liberalism and the Global Economy (2007).  He has published in a variety of journals and newspapers, and his research has been cited by leading academics and international organizations including the WTO, World Bank, and International Monetary Fund. He is a graduate of Stanford University and holds a Master’s Degree in International Affairs from Columbia Universities and a certificate from the Averell Harriman Institute for Advanced Study of the Soviet Union.

Beth Hughes is the Vice President of Trade and Customs Policy at American Apparel and Footwear Association. She is responsible for supporting the association’s efforts on international trade and customs issues. Beth oversees AAFA’s Trade Policy Committee, as well as AAFA’s Customs Group. Before joining AAFA, Beth served for six years as senior director, international affairs at the International Dairy Foods Association. Beth earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science at George Washington University and received a Master of Arts in international affairs from Florida State University.

Olawunmi Osholake is the Deputy Managing Director of the Global Shea Alliance. Wunmi drives the development and growth of the Alliance in areas of sustainability, promotion, finance and administration. Specifically, she oversees the implementation of the GSA’s (Global Shea Alliance) sustainability program, develops and maintains relationships with international stakeholders, and manages GSA’s (Global Shea Alliance) external communications.

Nicole Bivens Collinson is a Managing Principal, Operating Committee, and International Trade and Government Relations Practice Leader with Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg, P.A. She is located in the Washington, D.C., office. Ms. Collinson is a commentator on trade matters on MSNBC, NPR, and BBC and is the lead professional on ST&R’s engagement as legislative counsel to the National Customs Brokers & Freight Forwarders Association of America (NCBFAA).

Prior to joining ST&R Ms. Collinson served as assistant chief negotiator for the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, responsible for the negotiation of bilateral agreements with Latin America, Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia, the Sub-Continent, and Africa. She also served as a country specialist in the International Trade Administration at the Department of Commerce, where she was responsible for the preparation of negotiations on specific topics between the U.S. and Latin America, Eastern Europe, China, and Hong Kong as well as the administration of complex textile agreements.

Ms. Collinson holds a master’s degree in international relations from The George Washington University and a triple bachelor’s degree in political science, European studies, and French from Georgetown College. She also studied at the Université de Caen in France. She is past chair of the Women in International Trade Charitable Trust, past president of Women in International Trade, an advisory board member of America’s, treasurer and board member of the Washington International Trade Association, and a member of the Washington International Trade Association Foundation and Women in Government Relations. She serves on the board of trustees for Georgetown College and is the past executive director for the U.S. Hosiery Manufacturers Coalition, the U.S. Apparel Industry Coalition, and the U.S. Sock Distributors Coalition. She is conversant in both French and Spanish.

Ken Levinson serves as the Chief Executive Officer of the Washington International Trade Association (WITA) and Washington International Trade Foundation.

WITA is the world’s largest non-profit, non-partisan membership organization dedicated to providing a neutral forum for the open and robust discussion of international trade policy and economic issues. WITA and its affiliated groups have over 10,000 members, and more than 160 corporate sponsors and group memberships.

Ken has over 30 years of experience working with companies, associations, NGOs and governments, advocating innovative solutions to complex public policy challenges. Over the years, Ken has worked with clients in the technology, telecommunications, biopharmaceuticals, agriculture and food, financial services, retail, apparel, energy, and consumer products sectors.

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 joined Fontheim after spending six years on the staff of U.S. Senator John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV. Ken advised the Senator on foreign policy and national security matters, and served as the Senator’s chief advisor on the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, dealing with issues related to international trade and tax policy.

Ken received his Master’s Degree 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.