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May 26, 2014

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TOP 100 IMPORTERS AND EXPORTERS THE JOURNAL OF COMMERCE 71 By Alan M. Field G I L KE R LI KOWS KE OV E R S E E S t he la rg- est U.S. law enforcement agency and the second-largest revenue-collecting source in the federal government. But although the newly appointed commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection brings four decades of law enforcement and drug policy experience to the job, he had little experience in international affairs before being sworn into office in March. Kerlikowske served as director of the White House Office of National Drug Con- trol Policy, and also served nine years as Seattle's chief of police. How quickly could he get up to speed in his new post? And what kind of challenges will he face in the waning months of the Obama administration? Kerlikowske's lack of trade-related expe- rience isn't lost on some members of the U.S. international trade community, said Mari- anne Rowden, president of the American Association of Exporters and Importers. She said there was some initial skepticism about his inexperience in customs-related issues. But Kerlikowski has won over his new audience in his first few weeks as Customs' boss, she said. "We were impressed that he was not flanked by loads of staff members," and that he showed confidence in dealing with people, Rowden said. "He was in a true listening mood," focusing on ferreting out the genuine concerns of the trade com- munity, rather than giving them mere lip service. "He has shown a quiet confidence," Rowden added, along with considerable knowledge of the many issues and initia- tives in which Customs is involved. "There is less skepticism about him now. He has done a very good job of being proactive." Susan Kohn Ross, an international trade attorney at Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp in Los Angeles, agreed that Kerlikowske has gotten off to a positive start. "He has been in office for (only about) two months, and has been on the speaking and listening tour, where he seems like a good guy" to the various mem- bers of the trade community who have discussed their needs with him. However, "he will be able to do this for only another month or so," before getting down to tack- ling the menu of issues piling up on his plate. Kristin Isabelli, director for customs and trade facilitation at the United States Council for International Business, said the USCIB and its members have an ambitious customs pol- icy agenda this year. How so? Rob Mulligan, senior vice president at the USCIB, said the key goals of the trade community's agenda this year include reaching bipartisan agreement on Trade Promotion Authority legislation (also known as "fast track" authorization for free trade agreements); completing the Trans- Pacific Partnership negotiations with nearly a dozen countries in the Asia-Pacific region; finalizing agreement on expansion of the Information Technology Agreement; and making significant progress on the Trans- Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, which would open new mar- kets for U.S. shippers in the European Union. Trade Promotion Author- ity, which expired in 2007, would prevent U.S. law- makers from filibustering or amending trade deals such as the TPP and TTIP and force them into a strict aye or nay vote. Isabelli said the USCIB also hopes to work closely with Kerlikowske and his Kerlikowske Up at Bat Facing an agenda steeped with political and economic challenges, trade advocates hope for home run Gil Kerlikowske

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