Stephen Kho focuses on international trade policy and international dispute resolution. He represents companies and governments on matters ranging from market access and investment to public international law.

Practice & Background

Mr. Kho joined Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP after nine years at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) in the Executive Office of the President. At USTR, he was associate general counsel and acting chief counsel on China enforcement. As the principal attorney on China matters, he was responsible for developing dispute and advocacy positions related to China’s obligations in the World Trade Organization (WTO). He formulated policy and legal strategy, consulted Congress and industry and coordinated interagency efforts on these matters. His substantive experience covers the range of trade issues, including services and financial services, trade in goods, intellectual property rights, investment, electronic commerce, subsidies, trade remedies, government procurement and non-tariff trade barriers.

Previously, Mr. Kho was the lead USTR attorney on intellectual property and government procurement matters. In that capacity, he led the U.S. delegation in related WTO and NAFTA dispute resolution proceedings. He participated in administering the Special 301 process, the presidential review of Section 337 and the granting of waivers under the Buy America Act, as well as in numerous free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations, including the U.S.-Singapore FTA, the U.S.-Chile FTA, the CAFTA-DR and the U.S.-Korea FTA.

From 2002 to 2005, Mr. Kho was legal advisor at the U.S. Mission to the WTO in Geneva, Switzerland, where he managed the WTO dispute settlement portfolio for the U.S. government. He was involved in formulating litigation strategies for cases involving the United States and has participated in every stage of the WTO dispute settlement process. Mr. Kho appears on the WTO’s indicative list of panelists for dispute settlement.

In addition to Geneva, Mr. Kho lived in China for three years teaching international trade law at various universities in Beijing, Suzhou, Changsha and Zhenjiang. He speaks Mandarin Chinese and Taiwanese.

Representative Matters

Examples of Mr. Kho’s representative matters include:

  • advising U.S. companies on foreign market access barrier issues, such as tariff misclassifications, technical standards, pricing and reimbursement restrictions and licensing requirements
  • assisting U.S. companies in the enforcement of international investor-state arbitration awards and other investment rights pursuant to FTAs and bilateral investment treaties
  • advising and representing companies and sovereign entities with regard to:
    • FTA negotiations and tariff acceleration
    • WTO accession processes
    • WTO dispute settlement proceedings
    • investment treaty negotiations
    • international border disputes and civil nuclear agreement negotiations
    • Generalized System of Preference (GSP) proceedings, Section 301 investigations and Special 301 and Notorious Market List proceedings
  • creating and implementing strategies to enforce the intellectual property rights of U.S. companies in foreign jurisdictions
  • advocating before the U.S. Congress, the U.S. executive branch and foreign governments with respect to draft legislation and regulation in the areas of climate change, intellectual property rights, agriculture, cybersecurity and financial services
  • advising companies on U.S. government contract opportunities.

Community Involvement

  • Board of the University of Virginia Asian and Asian Pacific American Alumni Network

Awards & Accolades

  • Ranked in Chambers Asia-Pacific for International Trade/WTO in the Asia-Pacific Region and China (2009–2019)
  • Ranked in Chambers Global for International Trade/WTO for the Asia-Pacific Region and China (2009–2018)
  • Ranked in Chambers USA for International Trade: Trade Remedies & Trade Policy (2017-2018)
  • Listed in Who’s Who Legal for Trade & Customs (2013–2018)
  • Selected as a Law360 MVP (2012) for International Trade
  • Ranked in Chambers Global for International Trade: Trade Remedies & Trade Policy for the USA (2018)

Speaking Engagements

  • Speaker, “Trade Disputes: What You Need to Know,” 2018 International Trade Update at Georgetown Law School, Washington, D.C., March 9, 2018
  • Speaker, “The Broken Multilateral Trade Dispute System” the Asia Society Washington Center, Washington, D.C., February 7, 2018
  • Speaker, “Adapting and Implementing International Trade Strategies in a Time of Uncertainty" IBA's Investing in Asia Conference, New York, NY, December 7, 2017
  • Panelist, “The Impact of Economic Nationalism on International Trade, Investment and M&A” Seminar, Geneva, Switzerland, November 9, 2017
  • Panelist, “The Impact of Economic Nationalism on International Trade, Investment and M&A” Seminar, London, U.K., November 7, 2017
  • Speaker, “Trade and Trade Agreements, Europe, UK, and U.S.,” The Global Series – Europe 2017, London, U.K., September 26, 2017
  • Speaker, “Next Steps on NAFTA – The Process & Politics of Renegotiation," United States Fashion Industry Association webinar, June 6, 2017
  • “Global Trade Academy: Legal Foundations and New Directions, the WTO and Beyond, Institute of International Economic Law,” November 17, 2016