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U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk will step down in February. (AP)

Trade Representative Ron Kirk To Leave Next Month

Jan 23, 2013

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Reported by

Korva Coleman

The Obama Administration is losing another top official. Trade Representative Ron Kirk says he'll leave at the end of February.

President Obama issued a statement of thanks to the former mayor of Dallas, Texas. "From bringing home new trade agreements with Korea, Colombia and Panama and negotiating to open up new markets for American businesses, to cracking down on unfair trade practices around the world, he has been a tremendous advocate for the American worker. As a former mayor, Ron was relentless in making the case to the American public that a balanced, thoughtful trade policy can contribute to a stronger economic future for America."

Congress passed the trio of trade agreements in mid-October, 2011 which had been debated for years. As our pal Frank James discussed on It's All Politics, the pacts lift trade barriers to help the U.S. boost exports with an eye toward creating more jobs.

But organized labor opposed the agreements, saying new imports, particularly from South Korea, could wipe out American textile companies. NPR's Jim Zarroli reports also U.S. labor officials were incensed with the Colombia pact, because that country has many unsolved murders of labor leaders.

Kirk will leave to the next representative issues such as a wider trade agreement with Pacific nations and enforcement of current trade rules with China, according to Businessweek. The trade representative is a member of the President's cabinet and must be confirmed by the Senate to take office.

In addition to serving two terms as the first African-American mayor in Dallas, Kirk also served as Texas Secretary of State. As Politico notes, he also ran for the Senate against John Cornyn (R) in 2002 but lost.

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