WTO JurisPrudence – Were the National Security Cases Prudent Even if they were Permitted?




The World Trade Organization recently ruled that U.S. tariffs imposed by then President Donald Trump on steel and aluminum imports were inconsistent with WTO rules. Trump imposed the tariffs using Section 232 of a 1962 act that allows the president to restrict imports if they are threatening national security.

On March 7, panelists discussed the WTO ruling, and whether bringing the cases was a prudent use of WTO jurisprudence even if they were permitted under the WTO’s Dispute Settlement Understanding.

Featured Speakers:

Bruce Hirsh, Principal, Tailwind Global Strategies LLC

Timothy Keeler, Partner, Mayer Brown

Simon Lester, President, WorldTradeLaw.net

Moderator: Stacy Ettinger, Partner, K&L Gates


Speaker Biographies:

Bruce Hirsh

Bruce Hirsh is the founder of Tailwind Global Strategies LLC, which provides strategic advice on global government relations matters, with a focus on international trade and regulatory issues. He also serves as Of Counsel to Capitol Counsel LLC. Mr. Hirsh has held high-level positions at the Senate Finance Committee and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and has extensive experience negotiating a broad range of trade agreements and issues in bilateral, regional, and multilateral settings in the Far East and Europe. 

Among other roles, Mr. Hirsh served as Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Japan, Korea, and APEC in the Obama Administration and as Chief International Trade Counsel for the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance. He negotiated the Baucus-Camp trade promotion authority legislation and was lead U.S. negotiator for the World Trade Organization Trade Facilitation Agreement. Earlier in his career, he was USTR’s Chief Counsel for Dispute Settlement and Legal Advisor to the U.S. Mission to the WTO in Geneva, Switzerland.

Mr. Hirsh also has practiced law in Washington, DC and Tokyo, Japan. He is a graduate of Brown University and Stanford Law School.

Timothy Keeler

Timothy Keeler is a partner and Co-Lead of Mayer Brown’s International Trade Product Team, as well as heading the firm’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the US (CFIUS) practice. He is also a member of the firm’s Public Policy, Regulatory & Government Affairs group.

Tim advises and advocates for clients on high-profile International Trade law and policy, including investigations and tariff actions by the USTR under Sec. 301 of the Trade Act of 1974; safeguard investigations and tariff remedies by the International Trade Commission (ITC) and the USTR under Sec. 201 of the Trade Act of 1974; the consistency of various legal regimes – or proposed laws – with World Trade Organization (WTO) rules and other international legal obligations; international trade negotiations in the WTO, Free Trade Agreements, and other arrangements; and WTO and other trade agreement litigation.

Prior to joining Mayer Brown, Tim served in a variety of senior positions in the US Government for almost 12 years. He was the Chief of Staff in the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) from 2006 – 2009, where he oversaw implementation of US policy, strategy and negotiations involving all aspects of international trade and investment matters.

Before working for USTR, Tim spent more than five years at the Treasury Department from 2001 – 2006. He joined the Office of Legislative Affairs in 2001 as a Deputy to the Assistant Secretary for International Issues, where he was responsible for Treasury’s legislative strategy on issues including CFIUS, foreign exchange rate policy testimony, appropriations for US funding of the World Bank, and US participation in the International Monetary Fund. He later managed the Office of Legislative Affairs from 2002 – 2006 and assisted on all policy and personnel issues in the Office.

Tim also served on the Presidential Transition Team in 2000–2001 as a policy coordinator on export control and trade remedy policy, handling the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Export Administration (now called the Bureau of Industry and Security) and the International Trade Commission (ITC). Earlier in his career (1998-2000), Tim served as a professional staff member for international trade on the US Senate Finance Committee under Chairman William V. Roth (R-DE).

Tim is a member of the Board of Directors of the Washington International Trade Association. He was also an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University in both the School of Law (2010 – 2017)—co-teaching a course on US and WTO law, policy, and politics, and the School of Foreign Service (2018).

Stacy J. Ettinger

Stacy J. Ettinger is a partner in the Washington DC office of the global law firm K&L Gates and co-leads the firm’s international trade practice. She has over 25 years of experience advising U.S. and foreign businesses and foreign governments on trade and investment legal, regulatory and policy matters. 

Stacy advises companies operating across a diverse range of sectors including manufacturing, energy (solar, wind, energy storage, LNG), and infrastructure, in the United States and in various geographic regions including Europe, Asia and South America. She also represents clients in regulatory matters before federal agencies, and advocates on behalf of clients before Administration officials and on Capitol Hill. 

Stacy joined K&L Gates in 2016 after serving for over nine years as senior legal and policy advisor to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on trade, investment and regulatory matters, as well as consumer protection issues. She also served as Chief Counsel of the Senate Rules Committee.

Prior to her work in the United States Senate, Stacy was Associate Chief Counsel at the U.S. Department of Commerce and served for 15 years as a trade negotiator, legal and policy advisor, and litigator. During her time at Commerce, she represented the United States in bilateral and multilateral trade negotiations, investigated and litigated unfair trade practices (dumping, subsidies) and managed complex federal rulemaking projects. Stacy also represented the United States in more than 30 appearances in WTO dispute settlement proceedings.

Stacy is a member of the KITA Washington Trade Advisory Committee, on the U.S. roster for USMCA Chapter 10 disputes, a Board Member of the Trade Policy Forum, and Trade Advisor to the Trans-Atlantic Business Council. Stacy was an Adjunct Professor of Law at Georgetown University between 2007-2021.

Simon Lester 

Simon Lester is the co-founder of the websites WorldTradeLaw.net and China Trade Monitor. Previously, he worked for the trade law practice of a Washington, DC, law firm; as a legal affairs officer at the Appellate Body Secretariat of the World Trade Organization; and as the Associate Director of the Cato Institute’s trade policy center. He has taught courses on international trade law at American University’s Washington College of Law, the University of Michigan Law School, and Melbourne Law School.

Simon is a graduate of Georgetown University and Harvard Law School.