Top Trump trade official Clete Willems to leave the White House in weeks

A top White House trade official will be leaving within the coming weeks, amid the Trump administration’s high-stakes talks with China, the White House confirmed on Friday.

Clete Willems, deputy director of the National Economic Council, has served as the lead trade negotiator, known as the “sherpa,” for the U.S. at multilateral summits like the G-7 as well as G-20, among others. He has also served as a right-hand man to NEC Director Larry Kudlow on trade with China, where Willems has participated in negotiations in Washington as well as taken part within the delegations of deputy officials in Beijing.

“the idea has been a great honor to serve the president in This kind of White House for the last two years. President Trump’s leadership on trade has entirely changed the global conversation as well as will lead to an international system which will be more free, fair, as well as reciprocal,” Willems said in a statement.

His departure takes place as talks with China linger into April. Willems has accepted a top position within the private sector so he can spend more time with his family, according to the administration.

“As my top international deputy, Clete has helped the president change the global conversation on trade as well as make exceptional progress in negotiations with China, the EU, Korea, as well as reform of the international trading system,” Kudlow said in a statement. “We will miss him as well as wish him all the best.”

He will be succeeded by Kelly Ann Shaw, “who has worked on all areas of international trade as well as economic development as our deputy,” Kudlow added.

Shaw joined the White House in November as an assistant to the president as well as senior director for international trade, investment as well as development. Previously, she had served as trade counsel at the House Ways as well as Means Committee as well as assistant general counsel at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.

Clarification: This kind of story has been updated to clarify Willems’ role in U.S.-China trade negotiations.