Clete Willems

Clete Willems

Formal First Name

Clete Willems is a Partner at Akin Gump, a global law firm headquartered in Washington, D.C. He provides global companies, trade associations, and investors with strategic guidance and legal representation on international economic law and policy matters, including trade, economic development, finance, and energy, among other issues. Prior to this, Willems dedicated over 16 years to the government, where he served in The White House, U.S. Trade Representative, and House Budget Committee. He had significant participation in negotiations with major U.S. trading partners, including China, Japan, Canada, Mexico, and the European Union.

Professional Experience

Academic History


The White House

  • Willems was the lead U.S. negotiator at multilateral summits.
  • He served as the President’s Sherpa at the G-7 and G-20 Summits.
  • He was the lead negotiator at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum. 

Office of the U.S. Trade Representative 

  • Willems was heavily involved in both trade policy issues and WTO litigation.
  • He served as chief counsel for negotiations, legislation, and administrative law and legal advisor to the U.S. Mission to the World Trade Organization.

House Budget Committee

  • Willems was successful in helping pass multiple pieces of trade and energy-related legislation into law.
  • He worked closely with the international trade team on issues related to the WTO, CFIUS, and sanctions. 
  • Has helped litigate over 30 WTO disputes on behalf of the United States.