Yesterday evening, the Senate confirmed Gilbert Kaplan to serve as Undersecretary of Commerce for International Trade, after his April 2017 nomination and September 2017 confirmation hearing. In this position, Mr. Kaplan will oversee Commerce’s trade remedy functions and export promotion activities. He arrives at Commerce at a particularly critical period as the Administration tackles a number of significant trade policy work streams and the International Trade Administration, in particular, faces a huge docket of trade remedies cases.
Mr. Kaplan, a trade attorney, brings decades of experience to this role, including as a longtime partner at King & Spalding. Previously, Mr. Kaplan served as Deputy Assistant Secretary and the first Acting Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Import Administration during the Ronald Reagan administration, at which time he oversaw hundreds of trade remedy cases, acted as a key negotiator of the U.S.-Japan semiconductor and the U.S.-Canada lumber agreements, and supervised the administration’s steel and machine tool programs. During his time in the private sector, Mr. Kaplan successfully brought the first ever countervailing duty cases against China (on coated paper and standard pipe) in 2007. He is also co-founder of the Manufacturing Policy Initiative at the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University, and the founder of the Conference on the Renaissance of American Manufacturing.
During his confirmation hearing, Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, praised Mr. Kaplan as “a knowledgeable and capable leader.” Ranking member Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) noted that Mr. Kaplan “ takes the right approach to vigorous, tough trade enforcement, and that is needed now more than ever.” Mr. Kaplan will bring to Commerce additional leadership and expertise in support of Secretary Ross.