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Champion of Free Trade Award

The Board of the Directors of the Economic Club of Minnesota instituted the Champion of Free Trade Award in 2014. In 2015, to honor the late congressman, the award was renamed the Bill Frenzel Champion of Free Trade Award. This is the only national award for contributions to expanding free trade.

The award recognizes national and international leaders who have made significant contributions to the expansion of international trade. The award highlights the importance of free trade for global prosperity and security.

The award was first presented in Washington, D.C. on January 28, 2014, to former Congressman Bill Frenzel in conjunction with the Economic Club of Minnesota’s celebration of the 20th Anniversary of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). During his time in Congress, Bill Frenzel was a member of the House Ways and Means Committee and its trade subcommittee. Congressman Frenzel was also a congressional representative to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) in Geneva for fifteen years. In 1993, he served as Special Advisor on Trade to President Clinton and was instrumental in securing passage of the authority the President needed to conclude NAFTA.

The Economic Club of Minnesota convenes a Champion of Free Trade Advisory Panel of respected trade negotiators, scholars, and business leaders to select the award recipients.

Champion of Free Trade Award
Advisory Panel Members

Chair, Devry Boughner Vorwerk
CEO, DevryBV Sustainable Strategies  

Ambassador Bob Zoellick
Former U.S. Trade Representative and former President of the World Bank

Ambassador Jim Jones
Former U.S. Trade Representative and former U.S. Ambassador to Mexico

Dr. Gary Hufbauer
International Trade Scholar at the Peterson Institute for International Economics

Jim Bacchus
Former Congressman and former Chairman of the appellate of the World Trade Organization

Thomas F. “Mack” McLarty, III
Chairman of McLarty Associates, and former Chief of Staff to President Bill Clinton

Phil Levy
Chief Economist at Flexport; Senior Fellow, Chicago Council on Global Affairs (2012-2019)

Mike Fernandez
SVP & Chief Communications Officer at Enbridge

Arancha González Laya
Dean, Paris School of International Affairs, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, European Union, and Cooperation (2020-2021), Executive Director, International Trade Centre (2013-2020)

Former Congressman Mark Kennedy
Co-Founder & Director Emeritus of the Economic Club of Minnesota

Recent Recipients of the
Free Trade Award

2023 – Senator Pat Toomey
U.S. Senate (2011 – 2023)

2022 – Arancha González Laya
Dean, Paris School of International Affairs at Sciences Po

2021 – Ambassador Jon M. Huntsman, Jr.
Vice Chair, Policy, Ford

2019 – Congressman Mike Gallagher
U.S. House of Representatives (2017 – present)

2019 – Congressman Ron Kind
U.S. House of Representatives (1997 – 2023)

2018 – Secretary Carlos Gutierrez
U.S. Secretary of Commerce (2005 – 2009)

2017 – Ambassador Robert Zoellick
President, World Bank (2007 – 2012) and U.S. Trade Representative (2001 – 2005)

2017 – Honorable José Ángel Gurría
Secretary-General, OECD (2006 – 2021)

2016 – Ambassador Michael Froman
U.S. Trade Representative (2013 – 2017)

2015 – Ambassador Carla A. Hills
U.S. Trade Representative (1989 – 1993)