Home » important » Top trade official leaving White House
Top trade official leaving White House

Top trade official leaving White House

Clete Willems, a senior White House trade official who has been actively involved in U.S. trade talks with China, is leaving the Trump administration.

Willems, deputy director of the National Economic Council, has played a key advisory role on trade since the start of the administration.
“It has been a great honor to serve the president in this White House for the last two years,” Willems said in a statement provided by the White House. President Donald Trump’s “leadership on trade has entirely changed the global conversation and will lead to an international system that is more free, fair, and reciprocal.”

Willems has served as deputy to National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow since last year. He replaced Everett Eissenstat, who left the White House in July and is now a top executive at General Motors.
Willems’ departure poses a significant loss of trade policy knowledge for the White House, given his role in helping shape the president’s trade policy on China and his presence at major international meetings, such as the G-20. Earlier this month, he said there was “still much work left to be done” in negotiations with Beijing.

“As my top international deputy, Clete has helped the president change the global conversation on trade and make exceptional progress in negotiations with China, the EU, Korea, and reform of the international trading system,” Kudlow said in a statement. He added that Willems played a “key role” in negotiations for Trump’s new North American trade pact.

Prior to joining the administration, Willems served as a chief counsel at the U.S. Trade Representative’s office. He also served as a legal adviser to the U.S. Mission at the World Trade Organization and legislative director for the office of former House Speaker Paul Ryan.

Willems will leave the White House for a private-sector job. The White House did not provide an exact date for Willems’ departure nor specify what company he will join.

Kudlow said Willems’ move was “to be able to spend time with his family of four.”

Kelly Ann Shaw, a senior director for international trade, investment and development at the White House, will replace Willems, Kudlow said. Shaw has extensive trade experience; she was trade counsel for the House Ways and Means Committee and assistant counsel at USTR.