SSA professionals have a history of high-profile participation in the nation’s leading international trade committees, organizations and associations, where they have gained broad experience with foreign officials and policies. Our professionals have been recognized by U.S. presidents and cabinet level officials through appointments in federal agencies and offices, and have received many prestigious awards. They have also been selected repeatedly by their peers in the trade community to provide leadership, advice and counsel on trade matters. Firm professionals have held positions in the Office of the United States Trade Representative, the Departments of Labor, Treasury, and Commerce, and the U.S. Congress.
Akshay Sinha, Senior Advisor for Global Policy Development and Asia-Pacific Affairs
Nicole Schude, Of Counsel
William Houston, Senior Consultant
Adrianus Melkert, Senior Advisor for EU Affairs and Global Labor and Development Issues
Claire Buchan, Senior Advisor
Brian Staples, Canadian Trade Advisor
Zhaokang Jiang, Senior Advisor for East Asia
Ron Sorini, Principal
Andrew Samet, Principal
John Kingery, Principal, Kingery, Samet & Sorini
Megan Costello, Director, Trade Policy
& Legislative Affairs
Daniel Neumann, Director, Government Affairs
Chelsea Murtha, Director, Trade, Sustainability and Global Affairs
Andrea Curtis, Manager, Classification and Rulings
Ron Sorini, Principal
Ron Sorini manages the firm's business development, consulting, and lobbying practice, which focus on legislation, regulatory affairs and international trade negotiations. He represents a wide range of companies and trade associations before the U.S. Congress and various governments. Mr. Sorini's unique combination of government, political, and corporate experience enables him to offer well-rounded strategic advice and international market analysis to multinational corporations and foreign governments. A recognized expert in the areas of trade negotiations, international politics, and the economy, Mr. Sorini has been featured on NPR including All Things Considered and Planet Money, CNBC, Voice of America, and others.
Prior to founding Sorini, Samet & Associates, Mr. Sorini, ran a successful government affairs practice of an international trade law firm for eight years. Mr. Sorini created and developed this practice into a multi-million dollar business, where he served on the firm's operating committee and managed the practice's business development and trade negotiations.
After serving in the administration of President Georges H. W. Bush, Mr. Sorini served as Senior Vice President for International Development & Government Relations at Fruit of the Loom for six years. At Fruit of the Loom, Mr. Sorini conducted an intensive study on the Chinese market, identified potential business partners, and began negotiations on a manufacturing/marketing joint venture. He also analyzed new locations for manufacturing facilities in Mexico and Central America, and developed strategies for hedging in the international cotton market. He developed and advocated company positions on trade, tax, and regulatory issues before the U.S. Government. Mr. Sorini also started and managed the company's Political Action Committee.
Mr. Sorini has more than thirteen years of experience in high-level positions in the federal government at the Department of Commerce and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR).
In 1989, Mr. Sorini was appointed by President Bush and confirmed by the U.S. Senate to the position of Chief Textile Negotiator at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), holding the rank of Ambassador. Mr. Sorini advised the U.S. Trade Representative, the Cabinet, and the President on domestic and international economic issues. He developed and implemented policies to enhance the international competitiveness of the U.S. fiber, textile, and apparel industries. Mr. Sorini chaired U.S. delegations in the negotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the Uruguay Round, which lead to the creation of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and bilateral agreements with more than fifty nations. He developed U.S. negotiating positions, weighing the views of other government agencies, domestic industry, retailers and broader economic and foreign policy considerations. His successful negotiations opened foreign markets for domestic manufacturers, helped U.S. companies with trademark and design counterfeiting problems, and worked with the U.S. Customs Service to identify and eliminate fraud and circumvention of U.S. trade agreements. Back to Top
Andrew Samet, Principal
Andrew Samet develops, implements, and manages the firm’s consulting and lobbying practice on international trade negotiations and legislation. He counsels U.S. and foreign clients on trade agreements, legislation in the Congress, and decisions by the Executive Branch that impact their global interests. He also provides strategic advice on global markets, and crisis management on international labor and social responsibility issues. He has worked for clients throughout Asia, Latin America and Africa – and in various industrial sectors including apparel, footwear, and agriculture.
Mr. Samet has more than three decades of experience in law practice, government policy development, international negotiations, and program implementation related to international trade issues. He has also served as a consultant to the Inter-American Development Bank and the Ministers responsible for trade and labor from the countries of Central America, the Dominican Republic, Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia on the complex labor issues linked to free trade agreements. Most recently, Mr. Samet has worked on labor complaints under free trade agreements with Jordan, Costa Rica, Bahrain and the Dominican Republic.
Prior to co-founding Sorini, Samet & Associates, Mr. Samet served as Deputy Under Secretary of Labor in the Clinton Administration, where he was responsible for all international activities of the Department of Labor, and was a member of the senior sub-cabinet deputies group of the White House National Economic Council for international policy decisions. He also represented the United States on the Governing Body of the International Labor Organization. Among his accomplishments within the organization was his negotiation of the 1999 ILO Convention 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labor and the 1998 ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. In addition, he was responsible for the implementation of the North American Agreement on Labor Cooperation, the labor agreement that accompanied NAFTA. He also represented the Department of Labor at meetings of the OECD and the WTO, including the Singapore and Seattle ministerial meetings.
Mr. Samet joined the Clinton administration in 1993 after serving on the staff of Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York for six years, primarily as Legislative Director. In that capacity, he worked on the 1988 and 1990 Trade Acts and the 1991 fast track legislation, as well as clean air and surface transportation bills. Mr. Samet has also served as a professional staff member on the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations. Before joining the staff of Sen. Moynihan, Mr. Samet practiced international trade law. Back to Top
John Kingery, Principal, Kingery, Samet & Sorini PLLC
John Kingery has over 30 years of experience in international trade law. Among other positions, he has served as Associate General Counsel in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and as senior legal advisor at the World Trade Organization. Most recently he was Vice President and General Counsel, North America, for Samsung Electronics America. He also previously was a senior counsel for trade and antitrust at United Technologies Corporation.
During his time in private practice, John served as primary legal advisor to the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Korean Embassy on the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement. He also served as primary litigation counsel for the Korean government on WTO disputes for several years. In addition, he was counsel to Japan’s Ministry of Economy Trade and Industry on a number of WTO cases as well as advising the government of Mexico on NAFTA and WTO disputes and other trade matters. Over many years of GATT and WTO litigation, John has served as chief litigator on cases both for the U.S. Government and foreign governments as well as advising private companies about their rights and obligations under international and domestic trade rules.
John joined with Ron Sorini and Andrew Samet as a legal advisor to the governments of El Salvador and the Dominican Republic during the negotiations for the U.S.-CAFTA–DR Free Trade Agreement. He also was the legal advisor on a team advising the government of Panama, and industries in Colombia during their FTA negotiations.
At the WTO, John served as legal adviser to many dispute settlement panels in addition to supervising other legal officers. The dispute settlement panels involved virtually all sectors of international trade, including intellectual property rights, taxation, government procurement, safeguards, textiles, agriculture and tariffs. John was legal adviser to the WTO Dispute Settlement Body and to the Special Session of the DSB working under the Doha mandate to revise the WTO dispute settlement system. In addition, John was legal adviser on WTO institutional issues and legal adviser to the Council for Trade in Goods as well as to the Market Access Division of the WTO Secretariat. Back to Top
Our team of professionals:
Megan Costello, Director of Trade Policy and Legislative Affairs
Megan provides analysis and strategic trade advice on a wide range of issues, including tariffs imposed on China, trade agreements and negotiations, preference programs and federal regulations. Key initiatives include crafting miscellaneous tariff bills (MTBs), extending the Haiti HOPE/HELP program, and creating new permanent tariff classifications for recreational performance outerwear and also lowering duties on protective active footwear. Currently Megan is spearheading a coalition to level the e-commerce playing field for U.S. Foreign Trade Zones (FTZs).
Before joining SSA, Megan was the Manager of Government Affairs for Samsung Electronics America, Inc. Megan earned her Bachelors of Arts in International Affairs from James Madison University and a Masters in Public Administration from George Mason University. Back to Top
Daniel Neumann, Director of Government Affairs
Daniel Neumann provides comprehensive analysis of international trade issues and advises clients on media strategy.
Mr. Neumann most recently served two years on the Democratic staff of the Joint Economic Committee, working for Chairman Robert Casey and Vice Chair Amy Klobuchar. During his time on the committee, Mr. Neumann organized hearings examining the U.S. manufacturing sector, wrote committee reports and floor statements, and provided voting recommendations on free trade agreements.
Prior to his service on the Committee, Mr. Neumann served a one-year appointment on the congressionally chartered U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission as an economic policy analyst. In that role, Mr. Neumann contributed to the Commission’s annual report on the U.S.-China relationship, planned hearings and field hearings, briefed Congressional staff, and traveled to China to conduct field research.
Mr. Neumann began his career in international trade as a journalist with Inside U.S. Trade, the premiere publication covering trade policy. During his four and a half years with the publication, he covered trade developments in Washington and abroad. His work focused on the U.S-China relationship. His extensive reporting covered China’s currency policy, product safety, trade remedies, WTO disputes, bilateral trade negotiations, export controls, sovereign wealth funds, safeguards, trade with Taiwan, and Congressional trade legislation. Back to Top
Chelsea Murtha, Director, Trade Sustainability, and Global Affairs
Chelsea Murtha consults on international trade developments across the globe and, in particular, she focuses on policy developments and civil society trends related to sustainability and labor compliance. Ms. Murtha advises clients across various sectors about the impact of new legislation and initiatives on FTAs, trade preference programs, bilateral and multilateral negotiations, and federal regulations.
Before joining SSA, Ms. Murtha worked at The Stern Group, Inc. as an Executive Research Associate for former Chairwoman of the U.S. International Trade Commission Paula Stern. There Ms. Murtha managed a variety of consulting assignments involving AD/CVD investigations before the USITC, as well as several labor market and economic competitiveness projects. Ms. Murtha also served as Dr. Stern’s primary speechwriter.
Ms. Murtha began her career in Washington, D.C. at the U.S. Department of Labor in the Employment and Training Administration. She also interned for the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee in the Labor Policy office.
Ms. Murtha earned an MSc in Philosophy and Public Policy with Distinction, London School of Economics and Political Science and a BA in Political Science and Philosophy (Honors), The George Washington University. Back to the Top
Andrea "Andi" Curtis, Manager, Classification and Rulings
Andi provides our clients with expert advice on all matters related to classification of imports under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule, both for finished products, parts, and raw materials. Andi helps our clients understand the requirements for meeting rules of origin, including under free trade agreements and preference programs.
Andi joined the firm after several years at Cabela’s Inc., leading a team of classification specialists in their Global Trade department. Prior to joining Cabela’s Global Trade team in 2013, she held various roles in apparel product development for 15 years. This knowledge and experience provided the perfect background to perform true tariff engineering – bridging the gap between design and import classification and enabling designers and product developers to understand how design, materials and construction affect duty rates. She helped achieve lower duty rates in apparel, footwear and hardgoods through education and training of the product development team, developing a process to review design concepts and perform pre-classification during initial development and submitting successful Customs ruling requests.
In her unique role at Cabela’s, Andi ensured that Cabela’s products complied with Customs and Border Protection guidelines by setting up product development testing protocols, maintaining pre-qualification paperwork for Free Trade Agreements and conducting audits of existing classifications.
Andi earned an MS in Textile Science from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL), and maintains memberships in both ASTM International and the American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists (AATCC ). In 2016, she became a Certified Classification Specialist®. Andi served two terms in the Professional Advisory Council for the UNL Textile, Merchandising and Fashion Design department.
In her free time, Andi enjoys sewing, doing home improvement projects and volunteering with children in her community. Back to Top
Nicole Schude, Of Counsel
Nicole Schude has practiced Ms. Schude has practiced for eleven years in statutory and regulatory compliance, including internal audits, supply chain security, corporate manuals and training, Customs audits and seizures, ICE Investigations, Prior Disclosures, penalty mitigation, protests, tariff classification, Customs valuation, product marking and labeling, duty preference programs and trade remedies.
Ms. Schude has broad expertise in the complex world of U.S. export control laws. She has represented clients before the Bureau of Industry & Security, the Directorate of Defense Trade Controls, the Office of Foreign Assets Control and the Bureau of the Census for such issues as commodity jurisdictions, export licenses, and seizures. Ms. Schude works with her clients to comply with ITAR and Dual-Use product requirements, including advising on the impact of changing U.S. sanctions and embargo restrictions on her clients and their affiliates. She regularly conducts self-assessments of companies' existing export compliance programs and policies and develops comprehensive, individual export programs.
She has developed and implemented trade compliance programs across several manufacturing sectors, including autos, air and gas filter manufacturing, and other high technology products. She has experience in representing clients on topics including valuation, classification, country of origin determinations, FTA eligibility, and OFAC and BIS licenses.
Ms. Schude also facilitates the imports and exports to and from foreign jurisdictions; coordinate foreign counsel to consult clients on foreign import and export laws; develop and implement import/export global compliance programs; assist client compliance with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. As a bilingual professional with contract negotiation and draft experience in Spanish, Ms. Schude works closely with Mexico compliance professionals to assist clients in complying with Mexican import and tax laws and NAFTA requirements.
In the area of government contracting, Ms. Schude assists clients in qualifying for U.S. government procurement contracts, including determining product eligibility according to the Buy American Act, Trade Agreements Act, and Buy America regulations. Ms. Schude also determines the applicability of specific agency rules as part of implementing government procurement compliance policies, procedures, and training. Requests Internal Advice and Binding Determinations from CBP to ascertain the country of origin for products to qualify for U.S. government procurement. She has experience in establishing merchandise on the GSA Schedule.
Ms. Schude has represented clients before the Circuit Court of Cook County and the Court of International Trade for matters relating to transportation litigation, collections, and regulatory compliance disputes. Prior to her practice in international trade law, Ms. Schude’s professional experience included positions as an economic analyst for a major accounting firm, focusing on transfer pricing issues, and as a business strategy consultant for an international consulting firm. Back to Top
Senior Consultants and Advisors, Worldwide:
William Houston, Senior Consultant
William Houston serves as Senior Consultant to SSA, and he is also the founder of World Trade Link, an international business consulting firm.
Prior to joining the Firm, Mr. Houston enjoyed a successful career in federal government. He was confirmed by the U.S. Senate and served as Ambassador & Chief Textile Negotiator at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, where he was actively engaged in and responsible for all textile and apparel negotiations. Prior to that, he served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Textiles & Apparel and Chairman of the Committee for the Implementation of Textile Agreements (CITA).
Before entering government service, Mr. Houston was involved with an agricultural operation in Mississippi. He was actively engaged in the production of cotton, soybeans, rice and wheat. During this period, he served in numerous appointed and elected civic and political positions, including Vice President of the National Cotton Council, President and Chairman of the Cotton Foundation and member of the board of directors of Cotton Council International. He also served on the board of directors for both the First Tennessee National Corporation in Memphis and the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation in Washington. In addition, he was president of the Delta Council of Mississippi. Back to Top
Adrianus Melkert, Special Advisor for EU Affairs and Global Labor and Development
Adrianus “Ad” Melkert is affiliated with Sorini, Samet & Associates LLC as a Special Advisor for European Union Affairs and Global Labor and Development Issues. This relationship provides clients with a range of expertise based upon his impressive career as a senior political leader in the Netherlands and in senior management positions involving the World Bank, the UN Development Prorgamme and the Office of the Secretary General of the United Nations.
Through his firm Independent & International Counsel & Connection Inc., Mr. Melkert advises private corporations and public institutions on global issues, business opportunities and social & ecological responsibilities. His areas of expertise include government relations and public affairs, with particular emphasis on the United Nations, World Bank, and European Union, as well as corporate governance and corporate social responsibility, economic, social and trade policies and employment strategies.
In addition, Mr. Melkert is Founder of WorkPact, a project management initiative to enhance coherence, coordination and implementation of national employment policies for jobs results.
Mr. Melkert served as UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Iraq from July 2009 until September 2011. Before that he was UN Under-Secretary-General and Associate Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in New York. He was appointed by Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon as the first chair of the MDG Gap Task Force, charged with preparing an annual progress report.
From November 2002 until March 2006 he served as a member of the Board of Directors of the World Bank Group, which includes the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, International Finance Corporation, and Multilateral Investments Guarantee Agency. In that role, Mr. Melkert represented as Executive Director the Netherlands and eleven other shareholding member states.
Mr. Melkert joined the World Bank after a long and prominent political career in the Dutch Labour Party (PvdA). He was Member of Parliament (first elected in 1986) and Minister of Social Affairs and Employment (1994-1998), becoming the party’s parliamentary leader thereafter. In 2001, he was elected party leader and candidate for Prime Minister in the elections of 2002.
Throughout his career he has been engaged with the International Labor Organization (ILO) and with the Global March Against Child Labour. He served as the Special Rapporteur at the 2010 Global Child Labour Conference organized by the Government of the Netherlands and the ILO.
Born in 1956 in Gouda, Netherlands, Ad Melkert holds a Master’s Degree in Political Sciences/International Relations from the University of Amsterdam (1981). Back to Top
Claire Buchan, Senior Advisor
Claire Buchan is a veteran strategic communications professional. She has expertise with complex public policy and communications issues stemming from hands-on experience at the highest levels of government and the private sector. She focuses on financial, energy and trade issues. Claire ran public relations for two Fortune 500 companies and served three Presidents of the United States.
Today, Claire is the principal of CB Communications, a firm that delivers strategic counsel and public relations programs to companies and individuals. The firm specializes in public affairs strategy, crisis communications, issues management, media training, executive positioning, legal public relations and media relations.
As Chief of Staff to U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, Claire was part of the senior management team. She was responsible for strategic counseling, crisis communications, media relations, speechwriting, business outreach, policy development and event planning. She successfully positioned and developed the Secretary’s reputation with all stakeholders, including Congress, the media and the public. Under her leadership, the Department managed crises, including a plutonium spill and the loss of thousands of laptop computers containing Census information, and was involved heavily with the auto industry rescue package.
Claire served for four years as Deputy White House Press Secretary under President George W. Bush. She worked closely with the President, Cabinet members and senior White House staff to formulate messages and media plans, with an emphasis on economic policy. She dealt daily with high profile media on issues such as the 9/11 and anthrax attacks, two wars, Enron and the financial scandals, three economic stimulus packages, energy policy, and criminal justice.
Claire has extensive corporate experience. She held executive positions at a Fortune 200 company, Constellation Energy, including vice president for corporate communications and vice president for public strategy. She managed internal and external communications, grassroots development and communications strategy and execution. For eight years, Claire led corporate communications for ServiceMaster, then a $7 billion Fortune 500 company, reported to the Chairman and CEO, provided strategic counsel to senior executives, spearheaded a rebranding and repositioning initiative, and managed crisis and investor communications.
Claire served Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush as Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Public Affairs, Press Secretary to the U.S. Trade Representative and Deputy Director of Public Affairs at the Commerce Department’s International Trade Administration. She also was Deputy Communications Director of the Republican National Committee. Earlier in her career, Claire worked on Capitol Hill and on various political campaigns. Back to Top
Brian Staples, Canadian Trade Advisor
“Brian Rankin Staples serves as a/the Canadian Trade Advisor for SS&A. Mr. Staples moved to Ottawa in 1981 and since then has been solving international trade and customs problems for a wide range of North American and international clients. In 1998 Mr. Staples established Trade Facilitation Services and more recently became the founding director of the Origin Institute (see www.theorigininstitute.org).
Mr. Staples assists companies in securing compliance through a broad range of advisory and verification services in technical trade fundamentals such as rules of origin, tariff classification, valuation and customs procedures which are complemented with significant activity in policy matters including preferential trade management and trade facilitation initiatives. A particular area of experience and expertise lies in designing and developing single-issue coalitions to amend and improve trade regulations. Mr. Staples has been a longstanding member of the Canadian Apparel Federation and has extensive experience in working collaboratively with them in securing tariff relief on imported fabrics and other. He has also worked extensively to help food and grocery product suppliers to import their products into Canada.
In addition to resolving trade problems for private sector clients, Mr. Staples has worked on a wide range of trade and customs related technical assistance and capacity building projects for various international and regional development institutions including the Canadian International Development Agency, the Inter-American Development Bank, the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the International Trade Center and UNCTAD.
Mr. Staples is a member of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and serves on the International Chamber of Commerce’s Commission on Customs and Trade Regulations.” Back to Top
Zhaokang Jiang, Senior Advisor for East Asia
Zhaokang Jiang is a specialist in customs and international trade compliance issues as well as supply and trade chain compliance and efficiency strategies in China and the Asia-Pacific region. Mr. Jiang has represented several major international corporations before government agencies on numerous customs and trade issues.
Mr. Jiang is a former officer of the Chinese Customs Services where he led the task force for the 2000 Customs Law revisions, and drafted the regulations on Customs Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights and other major Chinese Customs and trade regulations. Mr. Jiang has served as an international consultant with the U.S. Customs service, the Asian Development Bank and the United Nations Development Program. He has also worked for a US-based law firm in Washington, DC and Beijing and as a Customs and Trade Counsel in a major multinational corporation.
Mr. Jiang is the founder and former chair of the Customs and Trade Committee of the American Chamber of Commerce in China and was also the director of the China Chamber of International Commerce. He is currently an advisor to the Project of Trade Facilitation and International Trade Center Expansion of the Shanghai Municipal Government. Back to Top
Akshay Sinha, Senior Advisor for Global Policy Development and Asia-Pacific Affairs
Akshay Sinha focuses on consulting and government relations and provides strategic advice related to policy and legislative developments in supply chain management across the world. He undertakes research and advises clients on the impact of free trade agreements, with particular emphasis on labor issues and industrial relations. He also monitors upcoming trends and recent initiatives undertaken by governments, international organizations, trade associations and civil society organizations to improve supply chain efficiencies and labor compliance around the world.
Previously, Mr. Sinha has worked for KPMG Advisory Services Private Limited in South Asia as a management consultant and subject matter expert specializing in business process improvement, institutional strengthening and organization structuring. He has advised both public and private sector clients across industries such as energy, mining, infrastructure, textiles and pharmaceuticals. He has also led business development initiatives and has articulated thought leadership articles in the areas of business process improvement and workforce optimization. Through his academic and professional career, Mr. Sinha has maintained an avid interest in qualitative and quantitative research, and is currently working on papers related to governance and regulation in the energy sector around the world. Back to Top