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Robert Portman receives Gallatin Award 2008 in Geneva


On January 22nd, 2008 State Secretary Jean-Daniel Gerber presented the prestigious award to the former Director of the Office of Management and Budget of the U.S. and former USTR. The Swiss-American Chamber of Commerce has selected Robert Portman, former Congressman, US Trade Representative and Head of the White House’s Office of Management and Budget as the 2008 recipient of the prestigious Gallatin Award. On Tuesday, January 22, State Secretary Jean-Daniel Gerber presented the laureate in Geneva with the award. Over 100 guests attended the award ceremony, many of them members of the Federal and Cantonal Parliament as well as of the Geneva Government, Representatives of the U.S. Embassy in Berne and Geneva and the different organizations that supported the preparation of the award: the Economic Development Office of Geneva, the Geneva Chamber of Commerce and Industry, American Citizens Abroad, the Geneva Financial Center and the Foundation for Geneva. Amb. Peter R.Coneway, US Ambasador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein, and Urs Ziswiler, Swiss Ambassador to the USA, were both present for the ceremony.

The host of the evening, Rudi P. Huber, Board member of the Swiss-American Chamber of Commerce and President of the European Region of Alcoa Europe, pointed out that the Albert Gallatin Award was created to recognize exceptional contributions of individuals and firms to furthering a better understanding between the people of Switzerland and the United States of America.

The Gallatin Award took place in Geneva - the most international and cosmopolitan city of Switzerland, representing itself a symbol of the friendship and economic ties developed through centuries between the two nations. Pierre-François Unger, Minister of economy and health of the canton of Geneva, underlined that the life and work of Albert Gallatin perfectly illustrate the "Spirit of Geneva" based on a tradition of hospitality, respect and orientation on progress, all being values shared by Americans and Swiss. Pierre Jaquier, Director of the Geneva Economic Development Office, pointed out the special role Geneva plays for American companies in Europe, offering a highly international environment, coupled with the traditional Swiss assets.

Albert Gallatin was born in Geneva in 1761 into a cultured and aristocratic family. He emigrated to the U.S.A. in 1780 where he started his career as a French teacher at Harvard University. A financier from Philadelphia introduced him to the worlds of finance and politics. Gallatin began his political career as a member of the House of Representatives. As Secretary of the Treasury under President Jefferson, Gallatin undertook changes in the country's financial policies, thereby reducing the country's debt despite the Louisiana Purchase. He also was a co-founder of the New York University (NYU).

Ambassador Robert J. Portman is an American lawyer of Swiss heritage and was Director of the Office of Management and Budget until June 19, 2007. Prior to this appointment, Ambassador Portman was the United States Trade Representative, a cabinet post carrying the rank of Ambassador. In this position, he played a key role in the discussions on a possible Free Trade Agreement between Switzerland and the USA. After the demise of the FTA, he and then-Federal Councilor Joseph Deiss successfully concluded the U.S.-Swiss Trade and Investment Cooperation Forum Agreement in 2006. During his 12 years in Congress (1993 – 2005), Ambassador Portman co-founded the “Friends of Switzerland Caucus” to strengthen the relationship with the Parliament of Switzerland and to encourage a mutually beneficial dialogue between Switzerland and the USA, together also known as the “Sister Republics”.

The laureate and Albert Gallatin – each in his own period – accentuate the importance of excellent bilateral relations between Switzerland and the United States, which the Swiss-American Chamber of Commerce and its 2500 members have strived to support in the last four decades.

To learn more about the Gallatin award, please use the following link:

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