Coalition urges Senate vote on U.S.T.R. nominees

by Bryan Salvage
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WASHINGTON – An ad-hoc coalition of food and agricultural organizations, led by the National Pork Producers Council urged quick Senate confirmation for two key positions with the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.

The coalition, in a letter signed by 42 organizations and delivered to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and the other 98 members of the Senate, asked the Senate to vote to approve Michael Punke as deputy U.S. trade representative based in Geneva, Switzerland, and Dr. Isi Siddiqui as chief agricultural negotiator for U.S.T.R.

“The U.S. needs strong leadership in these key positions, and these gentlemen are eminently qualified to provide it,” the coalition wrote.

Both nominees have already been approved by the Senate Finance Committee.

Mr. Punke served as international trade counsel for the Senate Finance Committee, followed by four years dealing with international affairs in the Clinton administration, including two years as senior policy adviser for then-U.S.T.R. Ambassador Mickey Kantor.

Mr. Siddiqui also served in the Clinton administration, working in the U.S. Department of Agriculture as deputy undersecretary and as undersecretary for marketing and regulatory programs and as senior trade adviser to then-Sec. Dan Glickman. He also worked with U.S.T.R. and represented U.S.D.A. on bilateral, regional and multilateral agricultural trade negotiations and served for 28 years with the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

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