Punke, 48, is USTR's permanent representative to the World Trade Organization in Geneva. His main focus is the Doha Round in trade negotiations at the WTO, which have been going on for 12 years. Punke's major challenge is trying to implement the U.S. goal of making the negotiating arm of the WTO "work" and turning the WTO into a "vibrant functioning institution." "It's definitely a place where change happens very incrementally, and that can be very frustrating," he said. But he credits the Obama administration for changing the way people look at the Doha negotiations in general, adding, "We've started to turn a very big ship." During the Clinton administration, Punke worked on the North American Free Trade Agreement and intellectual-property issues with China from positions both in the White House and at USTR. He served as an international trade counsel to Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., and maintains close ties. Punke said that studying the political history of Butte, Mont.— which he wrote a book about—taught him lessons he applies in Geneva, such as the political strategy that the Standard Oil Co. followed at the turn of the century to consolidate the Montana copper industry. Punke is from Lovell, Wyo., and graduated from George Washington University and Cornell Law School.
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