U.S. Senate confirms Pagán as top trade official at WTO

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WASHINGTON – The U.S. Senate on Thursday voted 80 to 19 to confirm Maria Pagán as the top U.S. trade official in Geneva and Washington’s representative at the World Trade Organization.

Pagán, who was born and raised in Puerto Rico, spent almost three decades as a trade lawyer in the U.S. government and served as the deputy general counsel at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative before her nomination.

U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai said Pagán was well-suited for the role given her experience in trade.

“This job requires an ability to negotiate effectively, tell hard truths, and bring together diverse coalitions around shared values and ideals to advance U.S. economic and strategic interests,” she said. “There is no better person to serve as USTR’s representative in Geneva right now than Maria Pagán.”

Pagán will assume her new role ahead of the first meeting of global trade ministers in June in Geneva, where they will try to break deadlocks on issues from fishing subsidies to intellectual property rights for vaccines.

During her confirmation hearing in October, Pagán said she would work towards a high-standard and meaningful WTO agreement on fisheries subsidies that is not “riddled with loopholes.”

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Sandra Maler)