Froman, 50, has been the behind-the-scenes trade leader in the White House for the past four years. As the deputy national security adviser for international economics, he was instrumental in negotiations that helped push 2011 free-trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea over the finish line.
Froman is well-known internationally and has strong relationships with trade leaders in both political parties on Capitol Hill. Bono, the lead singer of the band U2 and the cofounder of the ONE campaign to fight extreme poverty, gave kudos to Obama's selection of Froman to be the USTR. "Mike is an inspired choice for America's top economic negotiator," Bono said in a statement. "He brings a head for business and a heart for humanity. Mike is fully behind the critical role of trade in combating extreme poverty, and very involved in President Obama's global development agenda."
Froman has front-line responsibility in carrying out the top goals of the U.S. Trade Representative's Office, including completing the Trans-Pacific Partnership and opening negotiations this summer on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. Besides shepherding the administration's trade agenda, he will be expected to turn around USTR's morale problems. Employee satisfaction at the agency tumbled from 74.2 out of 100 in 2009 to a failing grade of 32.7 in 2012, according to a survey of federal employees by the Office of Personnel Management; USTR came in last place among 29 small agencies.
As a presidential adviser and assistant, Froman has been responsible for coordinating administration priorities on international finance, energy security, climate change, and development issues, in addition to trade. He oversaw the development of the Interagency Trade Enforcement Center, to target unfair trade practices and protect American workers. He has led economic negotiations with China, India, Brazil, Russia, Japan, and the European Union, and the development of economic strategies for the Middle East and Africa.
Froman, a native of San Rafael, Calif., has a bachelor's degree from Princeton University, a J.D. from Harvard Law School, and a Ph.D. from the University of Oxford. He held several senior economic positions in the Clinton administration and was a managing director at Citigroup before joining the Obama administration.
In a display of bipartisanship, the Senate approved his confirmation as the USTR on a 93-4 vote in June.