Washington International Trade Association

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The Washington International Trade Association (WITA) is a non-profit, independent organization committed to providing a neutral forum in the Washington, D.C. area for the open and dynamic discussion of international trade policy and other related issues.

Through a widespread series of informational programs, WITA keeps its members up-to-date about the latest actions taken by the Administration on trade policy, rules and regulations governing U.S. trade with its trading partners, and viewpoints of U.S. trade policy from abroad.

“WITA is widely regarded as ‘Washington's premier trade network.’” [1]

WITA is committed to hosting a series of educational programs that address the full range of trade policy issues -- executive branch initiatives, trade legislation, regulatory developments, the operation of existing international trade agreements, the activities of international economic organizations, and pertinent developments in international law. WITA supplements its educational mission by providing networking opportunities through our series of embassy events and informal gatherings, and by providing professional development opportunities through our Career Roundtables and website Career Center. The WITA Annual Awards Dinner is a signature event that offers an opportunity for WITA members to honor those individuals who have made a significant contribution to international trade over the past year, and our newest event--the unique Governors and Ambassadors World Trade Reception--brings together the worlds of state affairs and global affairs.[2]

WITA logo


"WITA was founded in 1982 by a group of Washington area trade professionals who found a need to stay abreast of developments in trade policy, make and maintain professional contacts, and exchange information and ideas concerning world trade and international business opportunities." [3]' By 2006 WITA had grown to include 1400 individual members and over 90 corporate sponsors and group members. WITA’s membership is a unique blend of federal officials, representatives of businesses and NGO’s, academics, diplomats, consultants and lawyers, and others interested in international trade. Currently, WITA members exceed 1,800 and is growing in numbers everyday.

WITA does not take positions on trade issues or lobby Congress or the executive branch on legislative, regulatory, or enforcement issues. WITA maintains its neutrality through a balanced, bipartisan board that represents the various segments of the trade community; and by ensuring that multiple views of an issue are represented in our programs.

Specially, what WITA does is sponsor “events” (such as panel discussions, featured speakers, roundtables, and networking events) that give members of Washington DC’s trade community a chance to hear what policy makers are planning, to give access and the chance to give input and ask questions, and to connect the members of the trade community with each other to promote their personal and professional growth. WITA educates, informs, and connects the Washington DC trade community.


WITA has been recognized as "One of Washington's Top 20 Networking Groups"[4] Today, WITA's steadily growing membership is over 1,800 strong, including more than 150 corporate sponsors and group memberships. WITA keeps its members informed through an extensive series of programs and special events (such as our Annual Awards Dinner and Congressional Trade Agenda program) that focus on the latest positions taken by the Administration and Congress on trade policy, rules and regulations governing international trade, views of US trade policy from abroad, current issues in trade, and the latest developments in the ever-changing trade landscape. WITA members include business executives, consultants, lawyers, federal government officials, diplomats, academics, and others interested in the sphere of international trade.[5] WITA prides itself on adapting to changing times and new trends in thinking by offering programs of topical interest, special events, and co-sponsored activities of importance and concern to our membership. Trade Policy and Professional Development programs provide a neutral forum for idea exchange and policy review, while our Diplomatic series offers unsurpassed access to pivotal international players. WITA programs are held at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center and other prestigious venues. WITA offers both individual and group memberships with a variety of benefits. Some of these benefits include:

  • Discounts on WITA events, including the Annual Awards Dinner, Congressional Trade Agenda, and Governors and Ambassadors World Trade Reception
  • Unparalleled networking opportunities
  • On-line membership directory and business directory—work that network!
  • On-line Career Center- job postings, resume uploads, search agents, & more
  • Access to Members-only events and Members-only areas and tools on WITA's website
  • Leadership and volunteer opportunities
  • Discounts and special offers
  • Ancillary benefits of WITA's membership in the Federation of International Trade Associations (FITA) such as merchant discounts, research tools, liability insurance, and more!
  • Support of WITA's incomparable year round trade programs
  • Support of and membership in Washington DC's international trade community
  • and much, much more!

Past events[edit]

In addition to an Annual Awards Dinner,[6][7] WITA holds approximately 30-40 international trade related events every year. Many of the events take place in the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center. Congressmen, trade ministers, and other notable figures in the international trade sphere have been part of panels and informational sessions regarding international policy. Previous event speakers at WITA have been Senator Max Baucus (D-MT), Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA),[8] and Representative Kevin Brady (R-TX).[9] In 2010, the South Korean Trade Minister spoke at an event sponsored by WITA.[10] In addition, WITA hosted an event that was held on June 8, 2010 in honor of the FIFA World Cup 2010.[11] The trade event featured a Trade in the Americas Panel and A World Cup Kickoff Celebration afterward.[12]

A recent event at WITA; a Trade in the Americas Panel and World Cup Kickoff Celebration was hosted in the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center on June 8, 2010.

In 2011, Senator John Kerry (D-MA) and Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) were honored at the WITF/WITA Annual Dinner for their extraordinary contributions toward the facilitation of international trade. The following year, on July 18, 2012 at the WITA/WITF Annual Awards Dinner, United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk and Congressman David Dreier (R-CA) were honored. Often, events held by WITA are mentioned in the Washington Tariff & Trade Letter and other trade publications [13]

On October 11, 2012, WITA was the host of a prestigious reception in celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Office of the United States Trade Representative. The event was held 50 years to the day that President John F. Kennedy signed the Executive Order creating the Office of the Special Trade Representative - Oct. 11, 1962.

Beginning in 2010, WITF and WITA began to organize the Governors and Ambassadors World Trade Reception. This reception is a unique gathering of Governors and other top state officials, select US trade officials, Ambassadors and key embassy personnel from large US trading partners, and businesses reliant on the expansion of international trade. This reception is designed to establish and strengthen the critical personal connections at the highest levels of state government with embassy and industry representatives to lay the foundations for growth in two-way trade, foreign direct investment, strengthened economic ties and jobs. The World Trade Reception is held the evening prior to the NGA Winter Meetings at the historic Willard InterContinental Hotel in downtown Washington DC. State, federal, embassy, and business leaders gather to make personal connections needed to lay the foundations for growth in two-way trade, foreign direct investment, and job creation. In 2013, the World Trade Reception featured the Kentucky Bourbon Trail bar, with exclusive and rare bourbons from master distillers of Kentucky. Participants learned how bourbon is made, enjoyed, mixed and savored.

Past honorees & speakers at the WITA/WITF Annual Awards Dinner[edit]

2013 Chairman Dave Camp, 2013 WITA/WITF Award for Distinguished Leadership in International Trade

Ambassador Michael Froman, 2013 WITA/WITF Award for Distinguished Leadership in International Trade

Congressman Gregory Meeks, 2013 WITA/WITF Award for Distinguished Leadership in International Trade

Ed Gresser, Lighthouse Award

MC: Ambassador Peter Allgeier

2012 United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk, Distinguished Service Award

Congressman David Dreier, Lifetime Achievement Award

Jutta Hennig, Lighthouse Award

MC: Grant Aldonas

2011 Senator Rob Portman

Senator John Kerry

Angela Ellard and Viji Rangaswami, Lighthouse Award

Keynote address by USTR Ron Kirk

MC: Frusina Harsanyi

2010 Senator Max Baucus, Lifetime Achievement Award

Ambassador Jon Huntsman, Distinguished Service Award

R. Scott Miller, Lighthouse Award

Keynote address by former USTR Susan Schwab

MC: Dan Glickman

2009 Congressman Kevin Brady, Distinguished Service Award

Congressman Joe Crowley, Distinguished Service Award

Frank and Regina Vargo, Lighthouse Award

Keynote address by Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke

MC: Jim Kolbe

2008 United States Trade Representative Susan Schwab, Distinguished Service Award

R.K. “Judge” Morris, Lighthouse Award

Keynote address by former USTR Rob Portman

MC: Cal Dooley

2007 WITA’s 25th Anniversary: Celebrating of a Quarter Century of Trade Leadership

Keynote address by Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez

MC: John Castellani, Business Roundtable

2006 Congressman Charles Rangel, Distinguished Service Award

Congressman Jim Kolbe, Lifetime Achievement Award

Keynote address by Senator Hillary Clinton

2005 Congressman William Thomas, Distinguished Service Award

Congressman Robert Matsui, Lifetime Achievement Award

Keynote address by Congressman Jim Kolbe

2004 Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Grant Aldonas, Distinguished Service Award

Deputy United States Trade Representative Peter Allgeier, Distinguished Service Award

Keynote address by Congressman Cal Dooley

2003 United States Trade Representative Robert Zoellick, Distinguished Service Award

Keynote address by Jack Valenti, CEO, Motion Picture Association of America

2002 Congressman Amo Houghton, Lifetime Achievement Award

Congressman William Jefferson, Distinguished Service Award

Congressman John Tanner, Distinguished Service Award

2001 Congressman Phil Crane, Lifetime Achievement Award

Senator Charles Grassley, Distinguished Service Award

Congressman Sander Levin, Distinguished Service Award

2000 Secretary of Commerce William Daley, Lifetime Achievement Award

Congressman Calvin Dooley, Distinguished Service Award

Congressman David Dreier, Distinguished Service Award

1999 Senator Max Baucus, Distinguished Service Award

Senator Chuck Hagel, Distinguished Service Award

1998 Secretary of Treasury Robert E. Rubin, Distinguished Service Award

Senator William V. Roth, Distinguished Service Award

1997 United States Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky, Distinguished Service Award

Congressman William Archer, Distinguished Service Award

1996 Congressman Sam Gibbons, Lifetime Achievement Award

Undersecretary of Commerce for International Trade Stuart Eizenstat, Distinguished Service Award

1995 Congressman James Kolbe, Distinguished Service Award

Congressman Robert Matsui, Distinguished Service Award

Past host governors & host ambassadors at the Annual Governors & Ambassadors World Trade Reception[edit]


Host Ambassador: João Vale de Almeida of the European Union Delegation

Host Gov. Steve Beshear of Kentucky

Host Gov. Terry Branstad of Iowa

Featuring Ambassador Miriam Sapiro, Deputy USTR

MC: Governor Matt Blunt, President of the American Automotive Policy Council; Former Governor of Missouri


Host Ambassador Michael Moore of New Zealand, on behalf of the 8 TPP Host Ambassadors

Host Gov. Steve Beshearof Kentucky

Host Gov. Terry Branstad of Iowa

Host Gov. Christine Gregoire of Washington

Host Gov. Gary Herbert of Utah

United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk

MC: John Engler, CEO, Business Roundtable, Former Governor of Michigan


Host Ambassador Gary Doer of Canada

Host Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey

Host Gov. Jack Markell of Delaware

Host Gov. Bev Perdue of North Carolina

Keynote by Undersecretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco Sanchez

MC:John Engler, CEO, Business Roundtable

Past sponsors[edit]

Some major sponsors include:

Related organizations[edit]

The Washington International Trade Foundation (WITF) is a sister organization to WITA and supports its educational activities in addition to being a 501(c)(3) charitable non-profit educational organization. Young Trade Professionals [14] is another organization, founded as an offshoot of WITA, to help young professionals interested in international trade network with other trade professionals and provide opportunities for professional growth.

Association of USTR Alumni (AUSTRA)[edit]

In 2013, WITA was proud to announce the formation of an Association of USTR Alumni (AUSTRA). This entity will recognize the contributions and achievements of current and past employees of the Office of the United States Trade Representative and promote networking among its members.

Young Trade Professionals[edit]

Young Trade Professionals (YTP) is an organization founded through WITA that provides a place for young professionals in Washington, D.C. to discuss trade issues from a multitude of different backgrounds and areas of expertise, as well as learn about the careers and positions of accomplished officials in the international trade policy sphere. YTP allows its members to network with current trade officials and the next generation of accomplished trade officials.

YTP offers:

  • Regular trade forums featuring both senior and mid-level professional guests. Forums are structured to elicit discussion that is as much career-oriented as it is content-oriented, acting as a resource for young professionals to acquire both advice and insight into professional development in addition to trade-related issues
  • Happy hours to network and socialize with other young professionals who share a similar interest in trade. YTP also will feature quarterly happy hours in which senior/mid-level special guests are invited
  • Opportunities to exhibit leadership and build practical experience in a number of ways by participating with leadership and volunteering talent and resources to conceive innovative ways to build and enhance YTP
  • Membership and all events are free, which allows a level of accessibility otherwise unavailable to young professionals


  • Communications
  • Organizational Development
  • Programming
  • Membership Outreach


  1. ^ Washington International Trade Association, "Frequently Asked Questions-What is WITA?", 2008, "[1]," May 27, 2010
  2. ^ WITA, Website. "Overview". Retrieved 11 March 2013. 
  3. ^ Washington International Trade Association, "All About WITA-the Washington International Trade Association", 2008, "[2]," May 27, 2010
  4. ^ Washingtonian, Magazine (2004). "Top 20 Networking Groups". 
  5. ^ Washington International Trade Association, "All About WITA, the Washington International Trade Association", 2008, "[3]," May 27, 2010
  6. ^ Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, "Tradewinds:Newsletter of the International Trade Center," 2007 "[4]," May 27, 2010
  7. ^ Tradewinds Autumn 2010. Viewer.zmags.com. Retrieved on 2013-08-12.
  8. ^ Washington International Trade Association, "Senator Chuck Grassley: Remarks Before the Washington International Trade Association (WITA)," 18 June 2009, "[5]," May 27, 2010
  9. ^ Washington International Trade Association, "Washington International Trade Association-U.S. Congressman Kevin Brady," 31 March 2009, "[6]," May 27, 2010
  10. ^ Tom Barkley, "South Korea Trade Minister: Won't Renegotiate US Free Trade Deal," 27 May 2010, "[7]," May 27, 2010
  11. ^ "[8]," June 17, 2010
  12. ^ "World Cup of soccer moves into trade policy event in Washington DC" June 11, 2010, "[9]," June 17, 2010
  13. ^ Washington Tariff & Trade Letter, "WTTL," 2010 "[10]," May 24, 2010
  14. ^ Washington International Trade Association, "YTP Overview", 2008, "[11]," May 27, 2010

External links[edit]