- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 8, 2006

The Senate yesterday approved President Bush’s choice for the country’s trade ambassador.

Susan Schwab, 51, a former dean at the University of Maryland, takes over as U.S. trade representative following a voice vote in the Senate.

“She is the right person for the job,” Sen. Charles E. Grassley, Iowa Republican, said before the vote.

Ms. Schwab will oversee the Bush administration’s last-ditch effort to salvage World Trade Organization negotiations this summer, try to wrap up by the end of the year free-trade negotiations with South Korea and other countries, attempt to usher completed trade deals through Congress, and manage disputes with China, Europe and other economic rivals.

“Trade is one of President Bush’s top priorities. He has championed a compelling vision that will increase trade flows, create new economic opportunities for all countries, alleviate poverty in the developing world and promote democratic reform,” Ms. Schwab said.

Supporters, citing her background as a Capitol Hill aide, corporate executive and academic administrator, said Ms. Schwab would be an able trade representative.

But the nomination did not proceed without any hitches.

Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, held up her nomination for more than a week out of concern that she would not be tough enough when pushing China to open its market.

Other Democrats also lashed out at Ms. Schwab as a proxy for Bush administration trade policy and a trade deficit that has more than doubled since 2001 to almost $726 billion last year.

“She is well qualified for the position. She is a lovely person. She is well educated and well trained,” said Sen. Kent Conrad, North Dakota Democrat. “But this trade policy is proving to be a disaster for the financial health of the United States.

“I cannot support somebody as our trade ambassador that clearly believes this is a success,” Mr. Conrad added.

The Senate in November 2005 confirmed Ms. Schwab as deputy U.S. trade representative. She completed free-trade talks with Peru and Colombia and solved a long-running dispute over lumber with Canada.

Immediately before joining the office, she was president and chief executive of the University System of Maryland Foundation and the system’s vice chancellor for advancement. She served as dean of the University of Maryland School of Public Policy from 1995 through 2003.

She also has worked for electronics manufacturer Motorola Inc. as director of corporate business development, as director general of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service, and as an aide to Sen. John C. Danforth, Missouri Republican.

She takes over from Rob Portman, a former member of Congress from Ohio. Mr. Bush tapped Mr. Portman to head the White House’s Office of Management and Budget.

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