Daily Archives: February 27, 2017

White House National Economic Council Director Announces Senior Staff Appointments

“We have assembled a best-in-class team of policy advisors to drive President Trump’s bold plan for job creation and economic growth,” Cohn said. “With their diverse backgrounds and deep knowledge of key policy issues, they will make significant contributions to the Nation.”

Kenneth I. Juster will serve as Deputy Assistant to the President for International Economic Affairs and Deputy Director of the NEC. He is the President’s representative and lead United States negotiator (“Sherpa”) for the annual G-7, G-20, and APEC Summits. Juster previously served as Under Secretary of Commerce, Counselor (Acting) of the Department of State, and Deputy and Senior Advisor to the Deputy Secretary of State. In the private sector, Juster has been a Partner at the global investment firm Warburg Pincus, Executive Vice President of salesforce.com, and Senior Partner at the law firm Arnold & Porter. Juster is the recipient of the William C. Redfield Award from the Secretary of Commerce and the Distinguished Service Award from the Secretary of State. Juster holds a B.A. in government from Harvard College, an M.P.P. from Harvard’s Kennedy School, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School.

Jeremy Katz will serve as Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy Director of the NEC. Katz was formerly a Managing Director and member of the Office of the Chairman at GCM Grosvenor, a global investment and advisory firm headquartered in Chicago. He previously served in the White House Chief of Staff’s office as Special Assistant for Policy to President George W. Bush and Senior Policy Advisor to Commerce Secretary Donald Evans. Prior to his time in the United States Government, he worked at William Blair & Company. Katz holds a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania and an M.B.A. from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

George David Banks will serve as Special Assistant to the President for International Energy and Environment. Banks was previously Executive Vice President of the American Council for Capital Formation, a business association based in Washington, D.C. Banks also served as GOP Deputy Staff Director of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and Senior Adviser on International Climate at the Council on Environmental Quality under President George W. Bush. He also worked as a diplomat for the U.S. State Department and analyst for the Central Intelligence Agency. Banks holds a B.A. in economics, history, and political science and an M.A. in economics from the University of Missouri, as well as a J.D. from George Mason University.

Brian Blase will serve as Special Assistant to the President for Healthcare Policy. Blase was previously a senior research fellow with the Spending and Budget Initiative at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. During that period, he researched the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Medicaid, writing regular studies and commentaries. From 2011 through 2015, Blase worked as a senior health care staffer on Capitol Hill for both the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and the Senate Republican Policy Committee. Blase received his Ph.D. in economics from George Mason University in 2013, with a dissertation on the Medicaid program. Blase holds a B.S. in mathematics and B.A. in political science from Pennsylvania State University.

Michael Catanzaro will serve as Special Assistant to the President for Domestic Energy and Environmental Policy. Catanzaro served on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and on the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign as a top staffer on energy and environmental policy. He was Associate Director for Policy in the White House Council on Environmental Quality and Associate Deputy Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. He also worked for then-Speaker John Boehner as senior adviser on energy and environmental policy. He was most recently a partner at the CGCN Group in Washington, D.C. He holds a B.A. in political science and philosophy from Fordham University and an M.A. in government from Johns Hopkins University.

DJ Gribbin will serve as Special Assistant to the President for Infrastructure Policy. Gribbin previously headed government advisory for Macquarie Capital, a role in which he led advisory teams structuring public-private partnership transactions for governmental clients. He has also worked for Koch Industries and HDR helping clients develop innovative ways to deliver infrastructure. Gribbin has served as the Chief Counsel for the Federal Highway Administration and the General Counsel for the U.S. Department of Transportation. He holds a B.A. and J.D. from Georgetown University and is a member of the Virginia Bar and licensed broker dealer, holding Series 7, 24, and 63 licenses.

Mathew Haarsager will serve as Special Assistant to the President for Global Economics and Finance. Haarsager has worked at the U.S. Department of Treasury since 1998, serving as Director of the Office of International Monetary Policy, Acting U.S. Executive Director of the International Monetary Fund, U.S. Treasury Representative for Europe, Director of the Office of East Asia, U.S. Treasury Representative for South America, U.S. Treasury Representative for Mexico and Deputy Director of the Office of Russia, Eastern Europe and Central Asia. He previously worked in international capital markets in New York, Frankfurt and Zurich. Haarsager holds a B.A. from Occidental College, an M.S. from the London School of Economics and an M.P.P. from Harvard University.

Shahira Knight will serve as Special Assistant to the President for Tax and Retirement Policy. Knight was previously Vice President in the Public Affairs and Policy Group at Fidelity Investments. Knight formerly served on the Ways and Means Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives. In her last role at the committee, she was the Senior Advisor to the Chairman, where she led the Committee’s legislative and policy operations. Knight also worked at the Joint Economic Committee, where she was responsible for writing policy papers on various tax and budget issues. Her research has been cited in a wide range of publications. Knight holds a B.A. in economics from the University of Virginia and an M.A. in economics from George Mason University.   

Grace Koh will serve as Special Assistant to the President for Technology, Telecom, and Cyber-Security Policy. Koh previously served as Deputy Chief Counsel to the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology of the Energy and Commerce Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives. Her primary role was to advise the chairmen and committee members on policy and legal issues arising in the telecommunications and technology sectors. She was previously Policy Counsel at Cox Enterprises, Inc.’s Public Policy Office, working on technology policies affecting the enterprise’s Internet, cable, and broadcast properties. Koh came to Cox Enterprises after working in the communications group at Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP. She holds a B.A. from Yale University and a J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School.

Ashley Hickey Marquis will serve as Special Assistant to the President for Economic Policy and Chief of Staff. Marquis was previously Vice President for Strategic Communications at the Glover Park Group, where she executed complex integrated communications campaigns and reputation management for leading national and global corporations across a range of industries. She was formerly Policy Director and Chief of Staff at (RED), a division of the campaigning and advocacy organization, ONE. Marquis served in Oval Office Operations at the White House under President George W. Bush and as Special Assistant to President Bush during his post-presidency. She holds a B.A. in government from Georgetown University and an M.S. from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism.

Andrew Olmem will serve as Special Assistant to the President for Financial Policy. Olmem was previously a partner at Venable, LLP in Washington, D.C. He served as the Republican Chief Counsel and Deputy Staff Director at the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs and was on the staff of the Committee from 2005 until 2013. Olmem began his legal career practicing corporate and securities law at Mayer Brown. Prior to attending law school, he served as an Assistant Economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond. He holds a B.A. in economics from Washington and Lee University and a J.D. from the Washington and Lee University School of Law. He is the past Chair of the Subcommittee on Legislation and Regulation of the American Bar Association’s Banking Law Committee.

Andrew Quinn will serve as Special Assistant to the President for International Trade, Investment and Development. Quinn previously worked at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, where he served as Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative and worked on a number of trade negotiations and agreements, principally with countries in Asia and the Western Hemisphere. He also served on the National Security Council as Director for Asian Economic Affairs. Quinn worked at the State Department as a member of the Senior Foreign Service, serving at a number of United States embassies abroad, and also served as a Legislative Assistant for Trade and Foreign Affairs at the U.S. Senate. He holds a B.A. from Dartmouth College.

Ray Starling will serve as Special Assistant to the President for Agriculture, Trade and Food Assistance. Starling was previously Chief of Staff for U.S. Senator Thom Tillis. He also served as Senator Tillis’ Chief Counsel and then-Speaker Tillis’ General Counsel and Senior Agriculture Advisor in the N.C. General Assembly. He has been the General Counsel for the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, has private practice experience from several years at Hunton & Williams and has taught numerous agricultural and food law courses. After growing up on a Century Family Farm in southeast North Carolina, Ray received a B.S. in Agricultural Education from N.C. State University and a J.D. from UNC-Chapel Hill.  

Refugees and migrants taking 'enormous risks' to reach Europe – UN agency

27 February 2017 &#150 Increased border restrictions and lack of accessible legal ways to reach Europe have caused refugees and migrants to take more &#8220diversified and dangerous journeys,&#8221 such as relying on people-smugglers or using flimsy boats to cross rough seas, a new report by the United Nations refugee agency has revealed.

&#8220This report clearly shows that the lack of accessible and safe pathways leads refugees and migrants to take enormous risks while attempting to reach Europe, including those simply trying to join family members.&#8221 said Vincent Cochetel, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Director of Europe Bureau, in a news release announcing the report.

According to Desperate Journeys, issued today by UNHCR, the &#8220closure&#8221 of the Western Balkan route and the European Union (EU)-Turkey Statement in March 2016, caused a drastic decrease in the number of people reaching Greece via the Eastern Mediterranean route.

However since then, the Central Mediterranean route from North Africa to Italy become the primary entry point to Europe and arrival trends in Italy show that the primary nationalities who crossed to Greece had not switched in significant numbers to the Central Mediterranean route.

In addition to drowning, migrants and refugees also risk of being kidnapped, held against their will for several days, physical and sexual abuse, torture and extortion by smugglers and criminal gangs at several points along key routes.

The Central Mediterranean route

The UN agency pointed out that in 2016, some 181,436 arrived in Italy by sea in need of international protection, and also victims of trafficking and migrants seeking better lives. About 90 per cent of them travelled by boat from Libya, and the top two nationalities of those arriving were Nigerians (21 per cent) and Eritreans (11 per cent).

This route is particularly dangerous and, in 2016, recorded more deaths at sea than ever before.

Furthermore, children making this journey are especially vulnerable, and the number of unaccompanied and separated children arriving is increasing. Last year more than 25,000 came, representing 14 per cent of all new arrivals in Italy.

&#8220Their number more than doubled compared to the previous year,&#8221 said UNHCR.

The Western and Eastern Mediterranean routes

The report also showed that in the last part of 2016, more people reached the continent through the Western Mediterranean route, either by crossing the sea to Spain from Morocco and Algeria, or by entering the Spanish enclaves of Melilla and Ceuta.

Similarly, people continued to leave Turkey along the Eastern Mediterranean route from April onwards, but in much smaller numbers. Most crossed the sea to Greece or Cyprus, others also crossed via land into the country or into Bulgaria.

Most who arrived by sea to Greece (87 per cent) came from the top ten refugee producing countries.

This was also the case for those who continued to move along the Western Balkans route: in Serbia, for instance, 82 per cent of those who arrived came from Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria and almost half are children &#8211 20 per cent of those unaccompanied.

These numbers, however, numbers have reduced since April 2016, noted UNHCR.

Additionally, according to the study, tens of thousands of people also have been reportedly pushed back by border authorities in Europe, including in Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Hungary, Serbia, Spain, and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, with many cases of alleged violence and abuses in an apparent attempt to deter further entry attempts.

Written question – Assistance to the population of Nagorno-Karabakh – E-000951/2017

Parliament has repeatedly stated that the EU should engage with and provide assistance to the population of Nagorno-Karabakh.

However, no Commission or Council official, not even the EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus, is known to have visited this territory in decades. The EU has provided no assistance to the people of this region, in spite of the terrible toll of war.

This treatment is markedly different from that of other non-recognised territories in Europe. Though not internationally recognised, Northern Cyprus, Abkhazia and Transnistria have all benefited from the EU’s engagement and their populations have received EU assistance.

The population of Nagorno-Karabakh is severely affected by its enforced isolation. With no route to the outside world and no international assistance, the economy of Nagorno-Karabakh is being stifled, while its people are suffering from poverty and living under the constant threat of war.

— In view of these considerations, is the Commission prepared to allow EU officials to travel to the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh?
— Is the Commission willing to support the basic needs of the most vulnerable people in the region?

Written question – EAC-EU Economic Partnership Agreement – E-000940/2017

The Partner States of the East African Community (EAC) have negotiated an Economic Partnership Agreement with the EU.

Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda have already signed the agreement, but Burundi is refusing to do so because the EU suspended its development aid following the political crisis that occurred in 2015. Tanzania is opposed to the deal, as it believes that trade liberalisation will hinder its development and undermine its industrial sector. The EAC is an economic and fiscal union, meaning that all five Partner States are obliged to sign agreements with the EU in order for them to come into effect.

The ACP Secretary-General, Patrick Gomes, has said that States ‘could end up losing important development aid from the EU’ if they do not sign the agreement.

In 2016, the EU concluded trade agreements with five of the fifteen member states of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), signed a separate agreement with South Africa and entered into negotiations with the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas).

1. Can the Commission say precisely what the agreements with the SADC, South Africa and Ecowas entail?

2. How will it protect EU manufacturers against competition from imported African products?

3. Does it have any explanation for the worrying statements made by the ACP Secretary-General?

Written question – VP/HR – Genocide in South Sudan – E-000871/2017

Complete chaos reigns in South Sudan. The country is bankrupt, with inflation at 900%, industry has shut down, there is barely any drinking water, hospitals have no medicines or fuel to run operating theatres and many people are going desperately hungry.

Arms sales have shot up, the arms lobbies are pushing to avoid an embargo, and more than 17 000 children have been recruited by the army and militia forces involved in the conflict. The expulsion of journalists, foreign humanitarian workers and NGOs is making it harder for international aid to reach the country and for information about the conflict to get out.

Genocide is a real and imminent possibility. The Dinka and Nuer minority have been subject to ethnic cleansing since 2013, with violence aimed at women and children in particular, while the United Nations has remained passive. This is reminiscent of the period leading up to the Rwandan genocide in 1994.

1. Does the High Representative think that there is a short-term risk of genocide in South Sudan?

2. Does she plan to push for an intervention of the European Union-led Forces (EUFOR) to avoid genocide and a repetition of the mistakes that the international community made in Rwanda?