Nearly three months after her confirmation by the Senate, Manisha Singh was sworn in as assistant secretary of state for economic and business affairs. The Jan. 20 swearing-in was conducted by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
Singh said in her first tweet after the swearing-in that it was “my honor and privilege to be sworn in by Secretary Tillerson,” and pledged “We will promote American growth and secure our future.”
Administration sources told India Abroad that immediately after her Senate confirmation last November, Singh “hit the ground running” and “has been actively leading the bureau.” They recalled that she was involved “in a major way” in putting together the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Hyderabad that same month. The summit was jointly hosted by India and the U.S.
According to the sources, Singh–the first Indian-American nominated to a senior State Department position by President Donald Trump– was also part of the interagency team, which included White House officials who had prepared the briefs for first daughter Ivanka Trump. Ivanka Trump had led the U.S. delegation to the summit and inaugurated it with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The Uttar Pradesh-born Singh, 45, who moved to the U.S. with her parents when she was a child, is the first woman appointed to this position. Her role makes her the State Department’s point person for economic diplomacy and the highest ranking Indian-American in Foggy Bottom. State Department spokeswoman
Heather Nauert said at a daily briefing that “she comes to the department with a wealth of experience that will benefit our economic and business efforts abroad.”
“We are pleased to have her back again at the State Department as she will now lead our efforts to promote prosperity for Americans at home and abroad,” she added, a nod to Singh’s earlier incarnation in the department’s Bureau of Economic, Energy and Business Affairs, where she served as the deputy assistant secretary in the Bush administration. Singh replaces Obama administration appointee Charles Rivkin, who resigned on Jan. 20, 2017 following Trump’s swearing-in.
She has also served as a senior congressional staffer, working as chief counsel and senior policy adviser to Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), himself a former assistant secretary of state for economic affairs. Before working for Sullivan, Singh had a stint on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and prior to that served as deputy chief adviser to Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Indiana), who was chairman of the powerful committee.
During both of her administration and congressional stints, she handled a wide and diverse trade and economic portfolio, handling international trade agreements and treaties and being part of and on occasion, leading missions in Paris, Rome, Vienna and Geneva.
She graduated from American University’s Washington College of Law, from where she received an LLM in International Legal Studies with a special emphasis on foreign trade. She received a JD from the University of Florida College of Law. While pursuing her LLM degree, Singh did an internship at the U.S. International Trade Commissions General Counsel Office and immediately following the completion of her yearlong internship, landed a job as judicial clerk in the Second District Court of Appeal in Florida. Her bachelor’s degree is from the University of Miami.
According to the White House, her public service career was punctuated by several private sector stints at multinational law firms and also at an investment bank and was also resident counsel at an investment bank.
Singh, who speaks fluent Hindi, is licensed to practice law in Florida, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C. She is a member of the South Asian Bar Association and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.