Ambassador Charlene Barshefsky, Senior International Partner at WilmerHale in Washington, DC, chairs the firm’s International Trade, Investment and Market Access Group. She advises multinational corporations on their market access, investment and acquisition strategies across the globe. Long renowned in the US and around the world for her negotiating, policy, strategic, and legal skills in transactions with governments, state-owned enterprises and private parties, she joined WilmerHale after serving as the United States Trade Representative from 1997 to 2001, and acting and deputy USTR from 1993 to 1996.
As the USTR and a member of the President’s Cabinet, Ambassador Barshefsky was responsible for the formulation of US trade policy and the negotiation of hundreds of complex trade and investment agreements that significantly opened markets, removed regulatory barriers, and cemented protections for US investment from Europe to Asia, Africa to Latin America, and the Middle East. She also led the negotiation of global agreements to open the financial services and telecommunications sectors, remove global tariffs on information technology products, and protect intellectual property rights.
Ambassador Barshefsky is best known globally as the architect and negotiator of China’s WTO agreement, which opened China’s economy as a worldwide market. This historic agreement has helped to reshape the global economic landscape. Likewise, her agreement to open the Vietnamese market was the cornerstone of the normalization of relations between the US and Vietnam; and her pursuit of pro-growth trade policies in the Middle East – through the initial creation of special economic zones to integrate Israel with her neighbors, and a Free Trade Agreement with Jordan – has been recognized as a foundational element for subsequent free trade initiatives with the Muslim Middle East.
A renowned figure among governments and policymakers around the world and in the legal profession, and long at center stage in the development of international trade policy, Ambassador Barshefsky has been honored by both Harvard and Yale law schools. Her negotiations are the subject of several Harvard Business School case studies; and her negotiating skills and legal talent have been heavily profiled in a large number of books, magazines and newspapers. She is a frequent lecturer and op-ed contributor in the US and abroad on trade and international economic issues of importance, and is the recipient of a number of honorary degrees and numerous other accolades for lifetime achievement, including Chambers Lifetime Achievement Award and the Inaugural Legal 500 Hall of Fame Award. She has been formally recognized as one of the most influential lawyers in the United States, and is a member of a broad range of foreign policy-oriented and economic institutions devoted to public policy and international relations.
Ambassador Barshefsky serves on the Boards of Directors of the American Express Company and the Estee Lauder Companies, and formerly served on the boards of Intel Corporation and Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide. She is a Trustee of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and is a Member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Ambassador Barshefsky is also a Senior Fellow at Yale’s Paul Tsai China Center.