On Thursday, June 9, WITA discussed what we might expect to see at the upcoming US-EU summit, and whether two of the three largest economies in the world can find common ground on these and other critical trade issues.
WITA Webinar Featuring:
Dr. Sonat Birnecker, President, KOVAL Distillery
Ambassador David O’Sullivan, Senior Counsellor, Steptoe; former European Union (EU) Ambassador to the United States
Matthew Schruers, President, Computer & Communications Industry Association
Ambassador Dennis Shea, Principal, Shea Public Strategies LLC; Fellow, Bipartisan Policy Center; Adjunct Fellow (non-resident), Center for Strategic & International Studies; former Deputy United States Trade Representative
Moderator: Marjorie Chorlins, Senior Vice President, European Affairs, U.S. Chamber of Commerce; Executive Director, U.S.-UK Business Council
Dr. Sonat Birnecker is the President of KOVAL Distillery. Prior to opening KOVAL Distillery, one of the largest independent and female-owned craft distilleries in the US, Dr. Sonat Birnecker Hart spent over a decade as a full professor in both the United States and Germany. In 2008, she gave up tenure in hopes of a different quality of life; one that would afford an opportunity for her to work with her husband, give up commuting, and return to the city she loved: Chicago.
As President of KOVAL, she has spearheaded product development, distribution, and marketing, turning her family business into an international presence with availability in over 55 export markets. In addition to her leadership at KOVAL, Sonat is also involved in a number of philanthropic and public service organizations, and serves on the board of the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority (MPEA) of Chicago. She was recently named Illinois Business Person of the Year by the National Small Business Association, is a federally appointed member of the Illinois Export Council (DEC), and has been inducted into the prestigious Disciples d’Escoffier.
Matt Schruers is President of the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA). He represents the Association before Congress, courts, and the Administration and advises industry on matters including internet law, intellectual property, competition and international trade. He joined CCIA from private law practice in 2005 and has previously served as Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. He has also been an adjunct professor for over 10 years, teaching courses on intellectual property and internet law at the Georgetown University Law Center and Graduate School, and American University Washington College of Law.
Mr. Schruers received his J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law, where he served on the editorial board of the Virginia Law Review, and received his B.A. from Duke University.
David O’Sullivan is a Senior Counselor at Steptoe, and former European Union (EU) Ambassador to the United States. He advises clients on high-profile international trade matters with complex legal issues, policy dimensions, and political sensitivities. He also advises companies on the formulation and application of EU trade policy and offers clients effective advice on their trade interests in both the EU market and third country markets. In addition to his work on trade policy and advocacy matters, David advises companies on international regulatory and compliance matters.
As EU Ambassador to the United States, David oversaw the EU’s bilateral relationship with the United States including political, economic, and commercial affairs.
A long-time and distinguished EU official, David has served in several senior official posts in the European public service. In these roles, he developed a deep understanding of the trade and diplomatic relationships of the EU and its member countries and the full range of transatlantic business relationship issues, including trade policy, cybersecurity, and Brexit, among others.
Before his appointment as ambassador, David helped establish the EU’s European External Action Service, one of the largest diplomatic networks with 140 delegations across the globe. For his work with the EEAS, David was awarded the EU Transatlantic Business Award by the American Chamber of Commerce in 2014. Prior to his role with EEAS, David has held several notable, senior positions within the European Commission including director general for trade, secretary general of the European Commission and chief of staff to Commission President Romano Prodi.
Ambassador Dennis Shea is the Founder of Shea Public Strategies LLC, a consulting firm based in Arlington, Virginia. He is currently a fellow at the Bipartisan Policy Center and an adjunct fellow (non-resident) at the Center for Strategic & International Studies.
From 2018-2021, Dennis served as Deputy U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) and U.S. Ambassador to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Geneva, Switzerland. At the WTO, Dennis led an interagency team charged with advancing U.S. interests on issues ranging from trade in goods and services to ecommerce, intellectual property protection and agriculture. He also spearheaded U.S. efforts to achieve meaningful WTO reform. As Deputy USTR, Dennis represented the U.S. as head of delegation at the G20 Trade Ministers meetings in Argentina (2018) and Japan (2019).
During his career, Dennis has served as one of the top staffers in the United States Congress (deputy chief of staff and counsel to Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole), as a high-level presidential campaign aide (policy director for the 1996 Dole for President campaign), and as a leading member of a Cabinet department (Assistant Secretary for Policy Development and Research at HUD). Dennis also served as senior advisor to the chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee during the 2006 election cycle and, in 1992, was the Republican and Conservative Party candidate for Congress from New York’s 7th Congressional District.
For more than 10 years, Dennis was a member of the influential U.S.–China Economic and Security Review Commission and served as either Chairman or Vice Chairman of the Commission from 2012 to 2017. As a Commissioner, Dennis testified before Congress on issues ranging from China’s energy engagement with Central Asia, China’s maritime disputes in the East and South China Seas, the impact of international technology transfer on American research and development, and China’s space program.
Dennis began his career in Washington, DC as a corporate associate at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom.
Dennis received a J.D., an M.A. in History, and a B.A. in Government, all from Harvard University. He is admitted to the bar in New York and currently resides in Arlington, Virginia with his wife Elizabeth and daughter Juliette.
Marjorie A. Chorlins is the Senior Vice President for European Affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and leads the organization’s policy development and advocacy related to trade and investment with Europe. She is also executive director of the U.S.-UK Business Council.
With more than 30 years of experience in the private, public, and nonprofit sectors, Chorlins has focused on forging consensus among competing points of view. She has represented the U.S. government in multilateral trade negotiations, advocated in support of global sales, consulted with multinational corporations on corporate responsibility, and helped foster a robust transatlantic relationship.
Chorlins began her federal government service in the office of former Sen. John C. Danforth (R-MO), where she participated in drafting the 1988 Trade Act and the 1989 implementing legislation for the U.S.-Canada Free Trade Agreement. She continued her government service as principal deputy assistant secretary for Import Administration at the Department of Commerce, representing the U.S. in the GATT Uruguay Round and NAFTA negotiations.
Chorlins then became director for international trade relations at Motorola Inc. She played a leadership role in early business community efforts to normalize U.S.- China commercial relations and was an early proponent of a balanced approach in addressing commercial, human rights, and environmental priorities.
Subsequently, Chorlins served as executive vice president of Business for Social Responsibility, which provides technical assistance on socially responsible business practices.
She later rejoined Motorola’s government relations organization as senior director of advocacy & global strategy, leveraging political resources to support the company’s international sales and resolve matters of strategic importance to the corporation.
Chorlins also served as director of government & regulatory affairs at Lockheed Martin, where she managed the international portfolio and focused on export control reform and defense trade policy.
Chorlins holds an M.A. in international relations and economics from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and a B.A. in French from Wellesley College.
Co-Hosted with the Institute for International Economic Policy at The George Washington University