USTR’s Kirk: A Pro-Trade Speech for a Pro-Trade Administration

By April 23, 2009Trade

U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk is giving what was billed as a major address on U.S. trade policy at the Georgetown University Law Center, and the prepared remarks are here. We’ll leave the detailed policy analysis to our NAM trade colleagues, but in general terms: It’s a pro-trade speech representing a pro-trade Obama Administration, and in that, is very, very welcome.

There’s the expected talk about rethinking trade, charting a new path, etc., but the basic thrust is more trade is good:

To get our economy back on track, we need to increase exports. That means we need access to growing economies abroad.

The rational response is to reach out and do more.

But in times of extraordinary crisis, it’s hard for people and for nations to remain objective.

The temptation is to turn inward.

People worry that trade will cost them their jobs – and no wonder!

The closure of a plant due to international competition usually makes a lot more news than the hiring of additional workers because of new markets overseas.

But the truth is that jobs do come when trade policy is done right.

While the pain of trade can be concentrated at times – its benefits are lasting and widespread.

These are sentiments that have marked the bipartisan, pro-trade consensus since the 1980s, a consensus on which the Obama Administration has now placed itself fully on the side of.

There’s welcome support for using existing enforcement mechanisms to go after barriers to U.S. exports, an endorsement of the merits of the Panama, Colombia and South Korea trade agreements as having merit (in that order), and a lengthy passage about Doha. If anything, that emphasis on the Doha Round was the surprising part of the speech.

Taken as a whole, Ambassador Kirk’s remarks reflected a strong reaffirmation of a trade as an economic benefit to the American people and the economy. Good!

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