Ron Kirk, Up for Confirmation Hearing; Trading Partners Watch

By March 9, 2009Trade

Here’s a good topic for Ron Kirk’s confirmation hearing this evening to be U.S. Trade Representative: The fate of trade talks with New Zealand and/or potential Trans-Pacific free trade partners.

The Senate Finance Committee will hear from Kirk, the former mayor of Dallas, at a 5 p.m. hearing today. (Details here.)

In December, the NAM praised President Obama’s nomination of Kirk to the USTR post. The Consumer Electronics Association — very, very pro-trade — issued a release today endorsing Kirk.

There was real, if procedural, news in the trade world last week: The United States asked for a delay in what are known as the P-4 trade talks, for what we gather were administrative reasons — i.e., no Ambassador Kirk yet.

From Radio New Zealand:

National and Labour politicians remain hopeful that free-trade talks with the United States will resume despite a halt in Washington.

The US signed up under previous president George W Bush to talk to New Zealand, Chile, Singapore and Brunei, and possibly to Australia, Peru and Vietnam.

Trade talks on a trans-Pacific partnership deal which includes New Zealand were scheduled to take place in March, but US President Barack Obama has postponed discussions.

Mr Obama’s nominee as trade representative has yet to be approved by Congress as the country’s overall trade policy undergoes a review.

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key says he is disappointed the deal has hit a road block but hopes the talks will continue once the economic review is completed.

More from the New Zealand Herald. New Zealand is the most active and interested of the negotiating partners in the Trans-Pacific talks.

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