Ira Shapiro is the President of Ira Shapiro Global Strategies, LLC, a consulting firm specializing in international trade, U.S.-Japan relations, and American politics, which he founded in 2014. He brings to the firm 40 years of experience in senior staff positions in the U.S. Senate, the Clinton administration, and private law practice. He is also the author of the critically acclaimed book, The Last Great Senate: Courage and Statesmanship in Times of Crisis, published in 2012.
Mr. Shapiro came to Washington, D.C., in October 1975, to work as Legislative Legal Counsel to Senator Gaylord Nelson (D.-Wisconsin), probably the greatest environmentalist ever to serve in the Senate. In his 12 years working in the Senate, Mr. Shapiro also worked for other Senators. He served as Minority Staff Director to the Governmental Affairs Committee, Staff Director and Chief Counsel to the special Senate Committee on Official Conduct, counsel to Senator Majority Leader Robert Byrd, and the first chief of staff for Jay Rockefeller.
During the deep recession of the early 1980’s, Mr. Shapiro began to focus on America’s position in international trade. He became one of a handful of Senate staffers seeking to define a new U.S. trade and competitiveness policy, working closely with leaders in business, labor, and academia concerned about the same issues. When Bill Clinton became president, Mr. Shapiro became General Counsel to United States Trade Representative Mickey Kantor in February 1993. As General Counsel, he played a central role in the negotiation and legislative approval of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the multilateral Uruguay Round that created the World Trade Organization and the current trade rules.
In 1995, President Clinton nominated Mr. Shapiro for Ambassadorial rank, which the Senate rapidly and unanimously approved. Ambassador Shapiro served as the principal U.S. trade negotiator with Japan and Canada, helping to successfully resolve some of the most contentious bilateral disputes with America’s two leading trading partners: autos and auto parts, semiconductors and insurance with Japan, and softwood lumber with Canada.
Mr. Shapiro has experience in dealing with the European Union, Canada, Mexico and China, but he has focused particularly on Japan, and U.S-Japan relations. He has 30 years of extensive and diverse experience in dealing with the Japanese government and business community. He first worked with Japan as Chief of Staff to Senator Rockefeller and played a key role in the efforts to save Wheeling Pittsburgh Steel through a joint venture with Nisshin Steel of Japan. After his work in the Clinton administration, as many other trade lawyers and consultants shifted their focus to China, Mr. Shapiro continued to concentrate his work on U.S.-Japan relations. In September 2012, Mr. Shapiro became the Chairman of the National Association of Japan-America Societies (NAJAS), the Washington-based organization that supports the activities of 36 Japan-America Societies around the country. As Chairman, he speaks frequently about U.S.-Japan relations and the importance of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations, appearing in Dallas-Ft. Worth, Atlanta, Houston, Philadelphia, San Diego, Cincinnati, Chicago, Denver, Seattle and San Francisco. On December 10, 2015, during a celebration of the 70th anniversary of the end of the War, Japanese Ambassador to the U.S., Ken-Ichiro Sasae, gave Mr. Shapiro the Foreign Minister’s Commendation, an award from the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs in recognition of his outstanding achievements in promoting friendship between Japan and the United States.
Mr. Shapiro is well known in Tokyo, where he has spoken regularly and been received considerable press coverage. In February 2014, he came to Tokyo at the invitation of the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), and spoke to several leading business organizations, including Keidanren, the Japan Electronics Association (JEITA), and the Japan Foreign Trade Council. In September 2013, his remarks at the Japan National Press Club attracted 45 reporters. Mr. Shapiro’s interviews have appeared in Asahi Shimbun, Japan Times, Nikkei, and on NHK, where Tokyo’s best known interviewer, Kaori Iida, interviewed him for 30 minutes.
Mr. Shapiro has considerable experience working at the intersection of trade and health. From 2001-2003, representing the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, he played a prominent role in the negotiation of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), the first global treaty negotiated under the auspices of the World Health Organization. He authored an article contending that cigarettes should be treated as an exception to the normal trade rules, because of their lethal nature. Most recently, Mr. Shapiro served on a Council on Foreign Relations task force studying the spread of non-communicable diseases in the developing world.
Since leaving government, Mr. Shapiro has practiced international trade law in Washington, D.C., and been a partner in several major law firms, most recently Greenberg Traurig, LLP. In August 2015, while continuing his own law work, he became a Senior Advisor to the Albright Stonebridge Group (ASG), a premier consulting firm with tremendous global reach co-chaired by Madeleine Albright, Sandy Berger and Carlos Gutierrez. He has specialized in WTO disputes, and played an important role in the landmark cases brought by the United States against China for copyright piracy, representing the motion picture, recording and publishing industries.
Mr. Shapiro has a long history of deep involvement in Democratic presidential campaigns, and was part of the legal teams that helped Bill Clinton and Al Gore make their vice presidential choices. Mr. Shapiro ran an unsuccessful, but widely admired, race for Congress in Maryland in 2002. A local newspaper described his campaign as the “antidote to cynicism that he promised to deliver.”
He writes and speaks frequently about U.S. politics, and particularly the U.S. Senate. After the publication of his book in 2012, Mr. Shapiro spoke in 19 states, including appearances at four Presidential Libraries (Kennedy, Ford, Carter and Clinton). His articles have been published in the New York Times, Bloomberg Review, ccn.com, and local newspapers in Seattle, Detroit, and Portland, Maine.
Mr. Shapiro graduated from Brandeis University, magna cum laude with honors in politics, in 1969, received his Master’s degree in political science from the University of California at Berkeley in 1970, and his law degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1973. Before coming to Washington to work in the Senate, Mr. Shapiro clerked for a federal district judge in Philadelphia and practiced law in Chicago.
Short video featuring James Lankford and Ira Shapiro
Is an excessive amount of post-cloture debate in the Senate holding up the executive nomination...