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WIIT Fall 2019 Communiqué
International Perspectives
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Articles

Yuri Unno

Current WIIT President
Director, International Trade Policy at Toyota Motor North America, Inc.

In this issue of WIIT Communiqué, we wanted to focus on our members with international upbringings to learn how their multicultural backgrounds influenced their careers in trade.

For a start, take a look at me. I grew up in Japan, studied in Great Britain and live in Washington D.C., working for a Japanese headquartered company, Toyota Motor North America, Inc. This is a prime example of the stories we want to share!

I grew up in a city called Shizuoka. It has a population of over 700,000, which is roughly the same as Washington, D.C. Shizuoka is a beautiful city with majestic mountains and breathtaking views of the ocean. In fact, it is so close to the legendary Mt. Fuji, you can view it from nearly anywhere within the city. The Port of Shimizu, in Shizuoka City, is world renowned for its seafood - the freshest and most delicious in Japan. Of, course, as a carnivore, I did not appreciate this fact growing-up, but when I visit there now, I always enjoy some world class seafood.  
 
My mother did a lot of volunteer work in our hometown, helping foreigners who were visiting or living in Shizuoka City.  She would invite them to our home all the time, so I was exposed to people from around the world. I enjoyed this very much, especially the opportunity to help our guests bridge the cultural and linguistic barriers they were experiencing. This experience inspired my lifelong passion to work in international relations in a way that connected to my native Japan. 
 
I came to the United States for the first time when I was fourteen years old via a homestay program. I stayed with a family of four in Chillicothe, Ohio, for one month. They had two girls and one was my age, so I went everywhere she went, being exposed to what an American teenage girl did. This completely opened my eyes to a whole new world that I wanted to be a part of. And literally, everything in the U.S. was so big compared to Japan, from a meal portion to endless farmland, it was quite a shock.
 
My first step towards entering this new world was to learn English. I told my parents that I wanted to go back to the U.S. for high school. They thought going to the States when I was that young was not a good idea. They said I was either going to get killed by guns (only police officers can carry guns in Japan, so they overreacted to the right to bear arms), become a drug addict (illegal drugs were uncommon in Japan back then) or become pregnant (not sure why the odds would be higher in the U.S.). So, they sent me to England instead. Of course, British kids did drugs and had sex, but I guess they didn’t carry as many guns.   
 
Maybe it was the fact that I was in a strict British boarding school, or maybe it was the gloomy weather, but I did not think England was the place for me. After finishing high school, I decided to come to the U.S. for university.
 
After graduating from Penn State (go Nittany Lions!), I decided to pursue a graduate degree in Washington D.C. I attended the Elliott School of International Affairs at GWU. After earning my masters, I worked for a consulting firm for two years before joining Toyota’s Government Affair’s team.  
 
So, here I am, 30 years later, still living in the States, working for a Japanese headquartered company as the director for international trade policy, bridging different cultures as I always wanted. 
 

Yuri Unno
President, WIIT
Director, International Trade Policy at Toyota Motor North America, Inc.
 

Yuri Unno represents interests of Toyota on trade issues in front of the Executive Branch and to Congress, as well as Embassies in Washington and other key diplomatic places such as Geneva.

She also provides creative and precise advice and analysis to the company executives on international
issues that could affect Toyota’s U.S. and global operations.

Prior to joining Toyota in 1999, she worked as an Asia Analyst at G7 Group, a consulting firm providing policy analysis affecting financial investment. She wrote an analytical piece on the Japanese financial market, Nikkei and Yen trends for daily briefings, and managed publication of Japanese daily briefings to the international clients.

Ms. Unno received a Master of Arts from the Elliott School for International Affairs at George Washington University and Bachelor of Arts in Economics, and Bachelor of Arts with honors in Political Science from Penn State Erie, the Behrend College.

Moushami P. Joshi

Vice President of Programming, WIIT
Attorney, Pillsbury, Winthrop, Shaw, Pittman LLP

How does your international background influence your work in trade?

I moved to Washington DC in 2014 and started with Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman’s international trade law practice. Prior to my move I was based out of New Delhi, India where I was partner at Luthra & Luthra Law Offices, one of India’s largest law firm practicing international trade law with a focus on trade remedies and WTO litigation.

I believe my background as a trade lawyer from India shapes how I view international trade developments or the implications of trade actions particularly as they affect developing countries. India while being one of the fastest growing economies of the world and providing the world with its pool of engineers is still a very poor country. Poverty is everywhere in India, from its gleaming cityscapes to dusty villages and towns just outside cities. One sees how a technology boom which lifted scores of people from poverty to middle class status, has left untouched those that feed the nation- namely India’s farmers who live on subsistence wage and count on the government to protect their lot. I see why for instance, despite being a founding member of the WTO and adopting ambitious commitments in several new areas like intellectual property, India continues to need flexibilities available for developing countries. These are not dole-outs that developing countries like India have used to exploit the international trading system, but limited flexibilities that help resource starved countries meet their WTO commitments.

At the same time, being in DC provides incredible access to scores of view-points, including on trade, which help me look at developments within India, from the outside-in and has led me to question several long held assumptions. For instance, it has helped me understand how foreign investors view India and the growth opportunity it provides and recognize that certain challenges identified by the international community can be real stumbling blocks for India’s growth. Being in DC has other advantages- one gets a close look at how different constituencies whether exporters, industry or governments use tools of international trade to leverage negotiating positions, providing valuable lessons.  

On the whole I think working in a city which imbibes several different viewpoints acts as good counter-balance to one’s own perspective. And I think WIIT embodies that character perfectly because we strive to maintain a balance of viewpoints by presenting opinions across the spectrum on any given trade issue.

Moushami P. Joshi
Vice President of Programming, WIIT
Attorney, Pillsbury, Winthrop, Shaw, Pittman LLP
 

Moushami Joshi is an attorney at Pillsbury, Winthrop, Shaw, Pittman where she has worked since January 2014. She advises clients on WTO disputes, trade remedy proceedings, export controls and FCPA compliance issues. In a previous capacity, Moushami represented and advised the Government of India in WTO disputes and on a host of WTO policy matters.Prior to joining Pillsbury she was an attorney at Luthra & Luthra.She is also the Vice President of Programming for WIIT.

She co-authored “Trading Charges,” The Hindu, April 20, 2016 and“A Reality Check on Intellectual Property Concerns,” The Hindu, November 15, 2014 as wells as numerous client alerts.

Moushami pursued B.A./LL.B. (Hons.) from the National Law School of India University, Bangalore, in 2001, followed by LL.M. from the George Washington University Law School, 2002, with Highest Honors where she was awarded the Rule of Law Fellowship.

 

Alina Zarr

Vice President of Special Events and Board member, WIIT
Manager of Operations, CoreSphere

There is no better American immigrant story than that of Alina Zarr. Alina was born in the Soviet Union at the end of its inglorious reign. In 1991, the territory she was living in became the country of Kazakhstan. In the chaos of the post-communist era, her family experienced hardship. In 2001, she won a scholarship to attend St. Catherine’s School in Richmond, Virginia. Coming to America, Alina got her first taste of freedom and she excelled at the opportunity. She graduated in 2003 and she again won another scholarship to attend the University of Texas in Austin where she graduated in 2006 with a BA in Government and Business.  

Her first summer job was being an American Farmer. Her sister and brother-in-law had bought an old dairy ranch in Sonoma County, California. After they ran out of money, Alina, at the age of 15 came to live on the farm during her summer break and help them. The farm was on a verge of failure. From sun up to sun down, she along with her family, worked to take care of 33,000 grape vines. Training, suckering, irrigating, anything to keep these young vines alive.  She succeeded and today Terra de Promissio vineyard has become the most vineyard designated pinot noir in the United States.  

Upon graduation, Alina leveraged her Longhorn degree, her ability to speak 3 international languages and her understanding of living in multiple countries to work in Washington, DC. She began her career working for her local Sonoma County Congresswoman, Rep. Lynn Woolsey. After her stint on Capitol Hill, she went to work for leading wine international trade organization, under the leadership of Jim Clawson (JBC International). She helped co-author trade reports on Eastern Europe and South America. Alina then went to work as an associate at the Public Policy group of Grant Thornton and now she works at CoreSphere, leading company-wide operations of an IT consulting company.  

In addition to her current role at CoreSphere, Alina is now a Trustee at Terra de Promissio and in 2015, she became a founding partner in Land of Promise winery which makes pinot noir from the vineyard. Land of Promise now makes 5 wines: Deo Favente (with God’s Favor) is a tribute to the Almighty God. E Pluribus Unum (Out of Many, One) is a tribute to immigrants, past and present. Patriae Fedelitas (Loyalty to Country) is dedicated to brave men and women of the US armed forces who defend our freedom. Terra de Promissio is a tribute to our land and its history. And finally, Rosé is dedicated to the everyday heroes: Women!
 

Alina Zarr
Vice President of Special Events and Board member, WIIT
Manager of Operations, CoreSphere

Alina Zarr is the Manager of operations at CoreSphere, LLC an information and technology services firm in Bethesda. She is also a founding partner in the Land of Promise Winery in Petaluma, California and is a trustee of Terra de Promissio, a vineyard in Sonoma Coast, California. Alina also serves as a board member of WIIT and is WIIT’s Vice President for Special Events.After graduating with a degree in Government and Business from the University of Texas in Austin, Alina worked for Rep. Lynn Woolsey of California.Following her work on Capitol Hill she worked with an international wine trading company and as an associate for the Public Policy group of Grant Thornton.

Jing Zhu

Co-Chair of Trade Remedies Program Topic
WIIT International Trade Analyst, Baker Hostetler, LLP

Learn to Pitch

Before I left China to attend SAIS, John Hopkins University, I was an enthusiastic basketball player. However, at 5 feet 3 inches, I am a midget on a U.S. court and was eager to find a team sport that I could join. Shortly after I joined BakerHostetler, I was dragged into the firm’s softball team simply because it needed three female players.

A Curveball

This experience was similar to my first assignment at BakerHostetler – assisting international trade practice in developing China-related business. At the beginning of 2006, the United States and Canada were busy negotiating an agreement to end softwood lumber disputes. As counsel to major producers in Québec and Ontario, the trade practice was under pressure to find new clients.

China was obviously the next major target. After almost two years with Inside U.S. Trade, I knew the major issues between the two countries. However, I never worked in China, had no business contacts there, and had no idea how to develop business in either country.

I was also asked to develop contacts at the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (“MOFCOM”). Because government policies are targets of U.S. subsidy (“CVD”) investigations, and the only contact the firm had was a retired MOFCOM official. Nevertheless, my former colleagues and I were never able to get hold of either Chinese Embassy officials in D.C. or MOFCOM officials in Beijing. At Inside U.S. Trade, we relied on our U.S. contacts who were on top of everything. 
 
Woman on Deck

The challenges we faced were more than lack of connections in China. As one of several law firms named after Baker, we were often remembered as Baker McKenzie, one of the first U.S. law firms that set up a China office. Additionally, it was difficult for non-native English speakers to pronounce “Hostetler.”

So, my first initiative was to pick a Chinese name for the firm. In my proposal, I listed four criteria in selecting the Chinese name. First, a transliteration does not connect with local audience well, but there must be some similarities between the two names so that the Chinese one could remind people of our U.S. origin. Second, the Chinese name must be easy to pronounce for both Chinese and English speakers. Third, all Chinese names have meanings, and our name must have an auspicious meaning for good luck. And, fourth, the Chinese name must be appealing in calligraphy, both in simplified and traditional Chinese.    

This was very much like picking a baby’s name, except the parents – members of the firm’s policy committee did not read or write Chinese. After weeks’ of deliberation, a first-year IP associate and I finished a long memorandum with eight recommendations. With my boss’ support, the firm adopted “贝(Bei)克(Ke)豪(Hao)思(Si)” as its unofficial Chinese name. “贝克” is the transliteration of “Baker,” and “豪思” means extraordinary thinking and great strategies.

Get on Base

After we picked a Chinese name, which helped our Chinese friends remember who we are, I was under pressure to make solid connections. Potential Chinese clients always asked me where our China office was located, but the firm was reluctant to open an office abroad. Also, there was not enough budget for me to visit China on a regular basis.

Suddenly, my limited softball experience gave me some inspiration. Hitting the ball was difficult enough, not to mention hitting a homerun. The best I could do is a bunt, which may give me enough time to get on base. Indeed, I was a fast runner and managed to dash to the first base a couple of times.

Not surprisingly, my colleagues jokingly called me a social butterfly because I attended almost all China-related events in D.C. I met lots of very knowledgeable and interesting people, but none of them could give us business.

Momentum finally arrived when I ran into a Hopkins-Nanjing Center alumnus – a prominent Chinese antitrust lawyer and a former MOFCOM official. His British law firm had no trade practice, and he was happy to help. Through him, I got to know MOFCOM officials at the Chinese Embassy, such as China’s first IPR attaché to the U.S. To my surprise, they told me that Inside U.S. Trade was well respected at MOFCOM and was translated into Chinese every week. Also, U.S. trade disputes were new to them, and they were eager to learn how the system works in the United States.

Long story short. On August 21, 2007, my boss and I received an e-mail from MOFCOM: “We have made a preliminary decision that your law firm represents the Chinese government to defend against the Laminated Woven Sacks CVD investigation. Therefore, we think you can start with this case immediately.” This meant we were selected as one of the four U.S. law firms to defend China in the first wave of CVD cases against non-market economies.
 
A Double

In retrospect, representing the Chinese government in this CVD investigation was a two-base hit for me. Through this case, I learned that MOFCOM was often caught in the middle between their U.S. counterparts and other Chinese government agencies. Our client had limited power in many areas within China, and needed me to explain the dynamics to partners at my firm. At the same time, I found approaching foreign officials is not as difficult as I thought. Just like me, they are eager to learn more about U.S. trade policies and always give me a different perspective.

As winners of the WIIT’s program section of the year, my co-chair and I have not had the opportunity to acknowledge the contribution of the Delegation of the European Union yet. I would also like to thank the MOFCOM officials I have met in D.C. Without the experience working with them, I probably would have never found out how challenging and fun it is for a U.S. company to work with a foreign government.

Jing Zhu
Co-Chair of Trade Remedies Committee, WIIT
International Trade Analyst, Baker Hostetler, LLP


Jing Zhu is an international trade analyst at BakerHostetler LLP and Co-Chair of the WIIT’s Trade Remedies Committee. She started her career at Inside U.S. Trade, and then joined BakerHostetler LLP in 2006. With her assistance, her firm added the Chinese government as a client in 2007 and represented China in one of the first CVD cases against non-market economies.  

In 2014, while doing research at the U.S. International Trade Commission (“ITC”), she noticed that the U.S. industry was planning to bring trade actions against superclanedered paper from Canada. Since April 2015, she and her firm have been busy assisting the largest Canadian lumber and paper producer as well as industry associations at various forums: the U.S. Department of Commerce, ITC, NAFTA and WTO. Earlier this year, BakerHosteler trade practice was recognized by Law360 as International Trade Practice Group of the year for obtaining a unanimous 5-0 negative ITC final determination terminating duties on uncoated groundwood paper from Canada. 
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