Jeff Weiss spent more than 15 years in senior legal, policy, diplomatic, negotiation, and political roles in the US government across three administrations – including at the White House, Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR), and the Office of the Secretary of Commerce – and now co-chairs Steptoe’s internationally recognized International Trade Policy practice and leads the firm’s Supply Chain team.
Drawing on the insights he gained while in government, Jeff helps clients effectively navigate complex global trade issues at the intersection of international trade, regulation, and standards, and develop and execute cross-cutting policy strategies. He advises and advocates for clients before the US congress and the administration, on a broad spectrum of matters related to international trade and investment, including: technical regulations, standards, permitting and infrastructure, conformity assessment procedures, digital economy, market access, and maritime and logistics. He provides counsel to clients, including governments, on issues arising under free trade agreements and in other international fora, the World Trade Organization (WTO), and under US trade and customs law. Given his strong background working on international regulatory and standards issues at three US agencies, he works closely with his colleagues and Steptoe’s foreign offices to help clients navigate and influence developments in those areas.
As lead of the Steptoe Supply Chain team, Jeff works with companies, trade associations, and coalitions to craft and implement advocacy plans to strengthen, build, or rebuild US supply chains. He also counsels companies looking to establish new, or shift existing, supply chains. His trade advocacy efforts have involved the full panoply of legal and policy tools, including: border measures, tax credits, changes to procurement policy, climate measures, patent protection, and creation of new structures within government.
Clients benefit from the regulatory and policy insights Jeff gained while serving in a number of trade-related positions across the US government. From 2013-2017, Jeff served as deputy director for policy and strategic planning at Commerce, where, as the second-ranking official in the policy office, he served as a senior advisor to the Commerce Secretary on a wide range of economic policy issues, including port and supply chain issues. He was the lead US digital economy negotiator at the G20 talks hosted by China in 2016 and Germany in 2017 – which included negotiations on the free flow of data, cybersecurity, standards, competition, and privacy – and led development of the US strategy for international cybersecurity standardization. Jeff also previously served as associate administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs at the White House Office of Management and Budget. In this role, he served as the political deputy to the administrator, led development of US regulatory and standards policy and White House review of significant executive branch regulatory actions, and served as the US co-chair of the regulatory cooperation councils with Canada, the European Union, and Mexico.
Earlier in his government career, Jeff served at the USTR as senior director for Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT), assistant general counsel, and assistant legal advisor at the Mission of the United States to the WTO in Geneva. While at USTR, Jeff served as the lead US negotiator and policymaker on technical barriers to trade at the WTO TBT Committee, non-agricultural market access negotiations, and in the Trans-Pacific Partnership talks. As the TBT negotiator, Jeff assisted US companies and trade associations in addressing dozens of foreign market access issues involving automobiles, chemicals, cosmetics, medical devices, wine, distilled spirits, information communications technology products, pharmaceuticals, appliances, children’s products, textiles and apparel, and food and agricultural goods, among others. Jeff also represented the United States in WTO disputes and the DSU negotiations during the Doha Round, served as the lead US lawyer on the 2006 Softwood Lumber Agreement, and was chief lawyer for NAFTA from 2004 to 2007.