The Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing September 7 to consider the nomination of Ambassador Islam Siddiqui who has also been serving since March 2010 as chief agricultural negotiator at the U.S. Trade Representative Office. Siddiqui was previously vice president for science and regulatory affairs at CropLife America.  Earlier in his career, he served in various capacities at USDA including under secretary for marketing and regulatory programs and senior trade advisor to Secretary Dan Glickman.

Other nominations to be considered at the hearing are Michael Punke who has been serving as deputy U.S. trade representative and U.S. ambassador to the World Trade Organization since March 2010, and like Ambassador Siddiqui, has not yet been formally confirmed by the Senate.

Paul Piquado, who was nominated in March 2011 to head the import administration within the Department of Commerce, is also up for consideration as well as David S. Johanson who was nominated in April as a member of the International Trade Commission. Johanson is currently international trade counsel on the Republican staff of the Senate Finance Committee.

Earlier this year 44 Republican senators sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid stating that they will block Senate approval of any nominees for trade-related executive branch positions until President Obama submits the Colombia and Panama free trade agreements for congressional approval and commits to signing implementing legislation into law.  While Senate leaders said August 4 that they have agreed on a “path forward” for advancing the Colombia and Panama free trade agreements, the agreements are not expected to be submitted to Congress until at least early September and possibly later.