BARSHEFSKY, CHARLENE (1950– ), U.S. lawyer and government trade representative. A native of Chicago, Barshefsky was born to Polish parents who did not speak English. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin, B.A. (1972) and the Catholic University, J.D. (1975). She was in private practice in the prestigious Washington firm of Steptoe and Johnson from 1975 and 1993 and was then appointed by President Bill Clinton to serve as deputy trade representative under the president's key political ally, Mickey *Kantor. She was nominated to the office of trade representative when Kantor was named commerce secretary. Her nomination generated considerable controversy because as a private attorney Barshefsky had represented foreign governments in trade agreements. She was confirmed and was instrumental in negotiating agreements in China and Japan regarding piracy and movies. As the United States trade representative and a member of the president's cabinet, Ambassador Barshefsky was at center stage in global economic policymaking and international relations. As the administration's leader in the opening of foreign markets and the elimination of regulatory and investment barriers around the world, and as the architect of U.S. trade policy, she was a central figure for international business.
Barshefsky is best known for negotiating the historic market opening agreement with China on its entry into the World Trade Organization, which helped lead to the voluminous trade between the United States and China. She was an essential actor in the opening of foreign markets at the World Trade Organization and throughout the world, overseeing the negotiations of hundreds of complex trade and commercial agreements with virtually every major market, from Japan and the European Union to the smallest states of Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East. She negotiated agreements for the emerging information age, concluding global agreements covering the world's telecommunications markets, global financial services, information technology products, intellectual property rights, and cyberspace.
In addition to the China agreements, she was the architect of the negotiations to create a hemispheric free trade zone, the Free Trade Area of the Americas. She negotiated historic market opening agreements with Vietnam and Jordan that transcend international economic relations and are used as a basis for further regional integration. She also initiated free trade negotiations with Singapore and Chile, which further extended the broad trade agenda that she shaped.
After leaving the government, she became senior international partner at Wilmer, Cutler, Pickering Hale and Dorr, llp and served on the corporate Board of Directors of the American Express Company; The Estee Lauder Companies Inc.; Intel, Idenix Pharmaceuticals, Inc., and Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc.
[Michael Berenbaum (2nd ed.)]