Impact Player: Kim Hyun-chong
January 31, 2017
Who is he?
On January 25, 2017, Kim Hyun-chong was formally sworn in as a member of the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Appellate Body. Kim returns to the WTO where from 1999 to 2003 he was a senior lawyer at the Appellate Body Secretariat and Legal Affairs Division.
During his career Kim has worked in government, the private sector, and academia. In 2003, he joined the Republic of Korea (ROK)’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade as deputy trade minister where he played a central role in the formulation of South Korea’s trade policy. From 2004 to 2007, as the ROK’s trade minister, he spearheaded over 40 free trade deals with key partners. Kim is noted in particular for his leadership during negotiations with the U.S. that culminated in the signing of the KORUS FTA in June 2007. From July 2007 to May 2008, Kim served as the ROK’s ambassador to the United Nations. His term coincided with North Korea’s decision to begin disabling the Yongbyon nuclear reactor and reopen to international inspections.
Kim was appointed president and chief legal officer at Samsung Electronics in 2009. In this role, he led and developed the multinational electronics corporation’s intellectual property strategy, and oversaw patent and trade litigation. In the academic realm, Kim taught international trade at Hongik University in Seoul from 1993 to 1998, and most recently at the Hankuk University of Foreign Studies. Kim received his B.A. (1981) and M.A. (1982) in Political Science from Columbia University, and a J.D. (1985) from Columbia Law School in New York.
Why has he been in the news?
On November 23, 2016, the WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body appointed Kim as a new member of the Appellate Body, an organ of the WTO responsible for trade dispute settlement and adjudication. Kim was formally sworn in on January 25 at WTO headquarters in Geneva, but his four-year term officially began on December 1, 2016. He replaces another South Korean national, Chang Seung-hwa, who served as an Appellate Body member from 2012 to 2016.
In congratulatory remarks, the chair of the Dispute Settlement Body, ambassador Xavier Carim of South Africa, noted Kim’s wealth of experience in the private and public sectors, his involvement in negotiating trade deals, and his role as facilitator to the services negotiations at the WTO Ministerial Conference in Hong Kong.
What can we expect from him?
Kim could be involved in one of the four current appeal cases before the Appellate Body: A European Union (EU) complaint regarding conditional tax incentives for U.S. large civil aircraft, a U.S. complaint regarding EU Airbus subsidies, an EU complaint regarding Russian import restrictions of EU pigs, and a Chinese complaint regarding the methodologies used by the U.S. in anti-dumping investigations involving Chinese products.
In this new role, Kim can draw from his earlier experience at the Appellate Body where he worked on cases ranging from intellectual property rights to Trade-Related Investment Measures (TRIMs). We can expect Kim to utilize his wealth of knowledge and expertise in law, international trade, and litigation towards ensuring that all WTO member countries live up to their obligations and engage in fair trading practices.
Photo Credit: World Trade Organization Flickr