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Assistant United States Trade Representative for Africa Florizelle B. Liser

Florizelle (Florie) Liser is the Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Africa in the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR). In this position, she leads U.S. trade efforts in sub-Saharan Africa, oversees implementation of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), and serves as chief U.S. negotiator for a free trade agreement with the five member countries of the Southern African Customs Union.

Ms. Liser has an extensive background in trade negotiations and Africa. She previously served as Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Industry, Market Access, and Telecommunications. In that position, she was responsible for developing and coordinating U.S. trade policy as it affects industrial and manufacturing interests . including telecommunications, electronic commerce, steel, chemicals, forest products, semiconductors, aircraft, and shipbuilding, among others. Ms. Liser was responsible for negotiating the resolution of bilateral trade issues in these sectors, and traveled, among other places, to South Africa to consult with South African telecom officials and regulators.

As head of USTR's Office of Industry, Market Access and Telecommunications, Ms. Liser also coordinated industrial market access negotiations in bilateral and regional free trade agreements and in the WTO. As part of the ongoing WTO market access negotiations of the Doha Development Agenda, Ms. Liser met with the African diplomatic community and African Ambassadors to the WTO, and held various bilateral consultations with African nations to discuss market access proposals presently being considered.

Prior to serving as Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Industry, Market Access and Telecommunications, Ms. Liser worked at the Department of Transportation and served as senior trade policy advisor to the Secretary in the Office of International Transportation and Trade. In this capacity, Ms. Liser coordinated trade and transportation issues of importance to developing countries, with a particular focus on Africa. She organized the first U.S.-Africa Transportation Ministerial, helped in developing the Safe Skies for Africa initiative, and played a key role in preparing former Secretary Rodney Slater for a number of trips to Africa.

From 1980 to 1987, Ms. Liser worked in the USTR GATT Affairs office on WTO developing country trade issues, including the Committees on Trade and Development, Least Developed Countries, and Balance-of-Payments, and coordinated USG participation in a number of balance-of-payments consultations . including the first-ever Nigeria balance-of-payments consultations.

As an Associate Fellow at the Overseas Development Council (ODC) from 1975-1980, Ms. Liser served as the ODC source person on Africa and organized seminars on relevant African issues related to ODC's mission of increasing official development assistance to and improving U.S. trade relations with developing countries.

Ms. Liser was a founding member of TransAfrica (participating in the early planning sessions for its national launch), co-chair of the Education Committee of the Washington, DC Chapter of TransAfrica, and has over many years been actively involved in promoting trade and development policies that recognize Africa's growing importance to the U.S. and its African-American citizens.

Ms. Liser holds a M.A. in International Economics from Johns Hopkins University, School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), and a B.A. in International Relations and Political Science from Dickinson College. She was born in Colon, Republic of Panama and raised in Brooklyn, New York.

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