Can New U.S. Trade Rep Ease Tensions?
March 10, 2009 (InfoPowa News) — U.S. President Barack Obama's nomination for U.S. Trade Representative, former Dallas mayor Ron Kirk, has made an encouraging first impression, telling Senate confirmation hearings considering his appointment that he will push for strict enforcement of global trade rules.
That could be a refreshing change from his predecessor, Susan Schwab, who presided over a regime that went to extraordinary lengths to do just the opposite as far as online gambling was concerned, embroiling her country in serious and long-running World Trade Organization (WTO) disputes with a list of countries that includes the European Union and Antigua and Barbuda.
"This [Obama] administration's starting point on trade will be to ensure the strongest possible enforcement of existing rules and increase the transparency of current and future trade agreements," Kirk said at his confirmation hearing in the Senate. "As I've said to many of you in private, I don't come to this job with deal fever, and we're not going to do deals just for the sake of doing some," he said.
Kirk, the first black mayor of Dallas from 1995 until 2001, will also become the first black trade representative if approved by the Senate.
The current USTR, Susan Schwab, has presided over lost legal tussles, an abandonment of global trade obligations, WTO penalities against the U.S., missed deadlines and a negotiating process that has taken an excruciatingly lengthy time to deliver minimal progress, doing little for the reputation of the U.S. with its trading partners in the process. In the world of online gambling, few will be dismayed to see her go.
Nevertheless, she found it necessary to issue a "we did good" press release welcoming Kirk's nomination and urging him to carry on what she clearly perceives to have been her stellar career in international trade.
“The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) plays a critical role in the U.S. economy by promoting the open and fair trade of goods and services around the globe," Schwab crowed. "Ron Kirk is an excellent choice and I hope that he continues the work that we have done to benefit U.S. workers, farmers and entrepreneurs. As a former mayor of Dallas, which is a major hub of international business, he understands the importance of trade.
"I am proud of USTR’s accomplishments in opening markets, as well as its excellent record of enforcing our trade agreements,” Schwab said. “This [Bush] Administration will leave behind an exceptionally strong, pro-trade organization that will support the new U.S. Trade Representative as he continues to build on those accomplishments.”
She did not mention her WTO tribulations with the Antiguans and the EU.