Michael Punke


Michael Punke



B.A. ’86

Writer, Diplomat, Policy Analyst

Monumental Achievement: Michael Punke holds many titles: writer, novelist, professor, policy analyst, policy consultant, attorney, and, from 2010 to 2017, Deputy United States Trade Representative and U.S. Ambassador to the World Trade Organization. A former partner in a Washington law firm, he has more than 25 years of experience in international trade and regulatory issues having worked on the White House National Security Council and on Capitol Hill. One of his most well-known novels is The Revenant: A Novel of Revenge, which was adapted into the Academy Award–winning film The Revenant. He currently serves as vice president for global public policy for Amazon Web Services.

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Michael Punke is vice President for global public policy at Amazon Web Services. He has more than three decades of experience in international trade and regulatory issues.

Punke served from 2010 to 2017 as Deputy U.S. Trade Representative and U.S. Ambassador to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Geneva. He had lead responsibility for international trade negotiations including the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, the Trade in Services Agreement, the Environmental Goods Agreement, and all negotiations under the auspices of the WTO. Punke led the negotiations resulting in the 2013 Trade Facilitation Agreement, the first fully multilateral agreement in the WTO’s 20-year history, and the 2015 Information Technology Agreement, the first WTO tariff reduction agreement in 17 years. 

Punke served previously in government as senior policy advisor at the Office of the United States Trade Representative (1995-1996); director for international economic affairs at the White House National Security Council/National Economic Council (1993-1995); and international trade counsel to Senator Max Baucus (1991-1992), then chairman of the Senate finance subcommittee on international trade.

Punke is the author of the novel, The Revenant, basis for the Academy Award-winning film, as well as two works of narrative nonfiction and several screenplays. The Revenant has been translated into more than 20 languages and was an international bestseller, including four weeks as a #1 New York Times bestseller. A new novel, Ridgeline, is forthcoming in June 2021.

Punke received his B.A. with distinction in international relations from the George Washington University and his J.D. with specialization in international legal affairs from Cornell Law School, where he was elected editor-in-chief of the Cornell International Law Journal.

Punke lives in Montana and is married to Traci Silk Punke. They have two children. Punke is an avid outdoorsman.