MICKEY KANTOR was appointed US Special Trade Representative as a reward for his work in getting Bill Clinton elected, writes Sarah Lambert. A personal friend of the President, he has spent most of his professional life as a Los Angeles lawyer, hence his links with the all-powerful Californian and Hollywood lobbies. His determination to 'punish' what the US termed European protectionism when he first took office raised the spectre of a damaging all-out trade war and momentarily harmed relations. European leaders gave him the benefit of the doubt and decided he had been slow to master the brief.
He quickly made up lost ground and has been at least as tough in defending US interests as his predecessor, Carla Hills, but with greater charm and a sense of humour. His direct line to Mr Clinton and successful Nafta negotiations made it possible to clear remaining Gatt hurdles. He has relished the intellectual battle with an adversary whose background and language he could understand.