Obama nominates 'pro-trade' Ron Kirk to lead USTR

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Today President-elect Barack Obama named former Dallas mayor Ron Kirk to be the next ambassador for the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. Leading up to the election, Obama trade comments implying protectionism concerned many players in agriculture. However, the National Pork Producers Council welcomed the nomination and called Kirk "pro-trade."

 "During his political career Ron Kirk has worked with both sides of the political aisle and was known as a coalition builder, attributes that will serve him well at USTR," said NPPC President Bryan Black, a pork producer from Canal Winchester, Ohio. "NPPC looks forward to working with Ambassador Kirk on many important pork trade issues, and we will continue to promote an aggressive trade agenda in Washington."

Ken Hobbie, president of the U.S. Grains Council said, "Mr. Kirk has been a proponent of a liberalized trade environment evident by his support of the North American Free Trade Agreement."

NPPC hopes to work closely with Kirk to keep open to U.S. pork exports important markets such as China, Mexico, Russia and Taiwan. The organization also looks forward to a successful conclusion to the World Trade Organization's Doha Round negotiations. NPPC's biggest objective in those multilateral trade talks is significant new market access for U.S. pork in the European Union and in Japan.

NPPC also will be urging the new USTR ambassador to press for congressional action on pending free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea. The Korean agreement alone will raise live hog prices by more than $10 per animal when fully implemented.

Kirk's nomination is expected to be considered by the U.S. Senate when the 111th Congress convenes in January.

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