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Biden nominates Markell to international trade post

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Former Gov. Jack Markell | PHOTO COURTESY OF THE OFFICE OF THE GOVERNOR 

WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden nominated former Delaware Gov. Jack Markell for an ambassadorship to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development on Wednesday evening, marking perhaps the most high-profile state appointment to the president’s administration.

The OECD is a 60-year-old, Paris-based intergovernmental economic organization tasked with stimulating economic progress and world trade. It currently has 38 members, including all of North America, western Europe, Australia, Japan, and South Korea, among others, which represent more than 60% of the world’s gross domestic product.

Markell’s appointment as the U.S. representative to the body would come at a prominent time, as the OECD is leading discussions for a global minimum corporate tax rate. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has advocated for the measure, which would prevent companies from relocating to wherever they can find the lowest rates, exacerbating a so-called “race to the bottom” for countries looking to land employers.

The OECD has been negotiating the measure for several years, but was aiming to conclude talks as early as this summer, especially with a supportive administration now in the White House. Any brokered agreement, however, would still need to be approved by Congress, which could prove to be a tall task considering the slim Democratic majorities.

Markell served as governor from 2009 to 2017, overseeing Delaware’s response to the Great Recession. While governor, he also served as chair of the National Governors Association, president of the Council of State Governments, and chair of the Democratic Governors Association. Prior to being elected governor, he served as state treasurer for a decade from 1999 to 2009.

Since leaving elected office, Markell has operated his own consulting firm, raised money for charity via his passion for bike riding, and even dabbled in poetry and music production. His professional career before public office included stints as senior vice president at both Comcast Corp. and Nextel Communications. He earned a bachelor’s degree in development studies and economics at Brown University and an M.B.A. at the University of Chicago.

Markell will need to be approved by a U.S. Senate vote before he can assume office.

U.S. Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), chairman of the Senate Finance Subcommittee on International Trade, Customs, and Global Competitiveness and also a former governor of Delaware, also praised Markell’s nomination.

“I am thrilled with President Biden’s nomination of former Gov. Jack Markell to this post, which is crucial to American economic leadership and our broader diplomatic efforts. As the governor who led Delaware’s recovery from the 2008 financial crisis, Jack put in place policies and made investments that helped the First State become a more nurturing environment for job creation and job preservation. Combined with his experience as treasurer and his leadership in the private sector, I have every confidence that he will represent American economic interests well and build partnerships that will help reassert U.S. leadership on the world stage,” Carper said.

New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer, who served in the Markell administration before being elected to office, applauded the president’s choice in a Wednesday statement.

“While serving under Gov. Markell as economic advisor, I learned invaluable lessons about Delaware’s place in the national and world economy. His experience as governor, state treasurer and business leader has uniquely positioned him to lead OECD in promoting American economic interests,” Meyer said.

Markell is the latest of some Delaware faces to be nominated by the president to join his administration. Richard Holloway, vice president at Bernardon, a regional architecture, interior design and landscape architecture firm, was recently nominated to the Board of Directors of the National Institute of Building Sciences, while native Delawarean Sandra Bruce was nominated to be inspector general of the U.S. Department of Education.

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