Reaction to Trade Rep Kirk’s Strong Speech Supporting Trade

By April 24, 2009Energy

From Ambassador Kirk’s hometown newspaper, the Dallas Morning News, “In first speech since taking post, Ron Kirk again pushes for expanded global trade“:

WASHINGTON –The Obama administration’s embrace of free trade is angering some Democratic allies, and even trade ambassador Ron Kirk’s emphasis on “leveling the playing field” for U.S. workers and exporters isn’t enough to satisfy critics.

Kirk, the former Dallas mayor, offered a full-throated pitch for expanding global trade today, in his first speech since joining the Cabinet a month ago as U.S. trade representative.

The Hill, “Obama pushing Colombia, S. Korea trade
New York Times, “U.S. Trade Chief Says Obama Will Push Ahead on Pacts
CanWest News Service, “Harper delighted Obama won’t open NAFTA

Wall Street Journal editorial, “Austan Goolsbee’s Vindication,” giving President Obama three cheers and then cuffing him around.

Perhaps we should call this Austan Goolsbee’s revenge. Recall that last year the Obama economic adviser had told a Canadian diplomat to ignore Mr. Obama’s Nafta campaign rhetoric; the candidate was merely pandering to Big Labor. When that disclosure became news, Mr. Goolsbee was banished to the campaign’s isolation ward for imperfect spinners. Now we know Mr. Goolsbee — not the candidate — was the one telling the truth.

Mr. Obama got an earful on trade from his counterparts at the Summit of the Americas over the weekend and that might have something to do with his Nafta walkback. But three other trade issues to watch are the unilateral U.S. ban on Mexican long-haul trucks, which has sparked a trade war with that country, the U.S. failure to ratify a free trade agreement with Colombia, and the 54-cent per gallon U.S. import duty on Brazilian ethanol. Mr. Obama has promised to discuss each one. But the real test will be his willingness to spend political capital to defeat protectionists in Congress.

Ambassador Kirk’s actions this week suggest the President is indeed willing to spend that capital. The Trade Rep held a conference call with reporters on Monday, laying out a very pro-trade message. Between Monday and Kirk’s speech Thursday at Georgetown Law there was more than enough time to back away from trade, but the Administration did not.

Now, about those Mexican trucks…

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