Washington: Amid major reshuffling in US President Barack Obama's cabinet for the second term, America's top trade negotiator Ron Kirk Tuesday announced that he will leave the administration by next month.
Kirk, US Trade Representative, is the latest member of Obama's economic team to announce his departure. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Labour Secretary Hilda Solis have already announced that they are leaving.
Kirk today announced his decision to leave the Obama Administration by late February.
Obama has accepted Kirk's resignation, noting that there is no question that he delivered results for the American people and for the US economy.
"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," Obama said.
"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," he said.
Trade has been a major part of this Administration's efforts to support American jobs right here at home, Kirk said in a statement.
"Together, we have made great strides to bring about the President's vision of a more robust, responsible, and responsive trade policy that opens markets to products stamped 'Made-in-America' and enforces Americans' trade rights around the world ? and does so in a way that is more consistent with America's core values on issues like the rights of workers and the environment," Kirk said.
Among the hallmarks of Kirk's last four years as the US Trade Representative have been the completion, passage through Congress, and implementation of long-pending trade agreements with Korea, Colombia, and Panama; the launching and significant advancement of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade negotiations; and the revitalisation of American trade enforcement and the standing up of the Interagency Trade Enforcement Center (ITEC).
During his tenure, the US-led "turning of the page" at the World Trade Organisation to revitalise Members' work in Geneva, including the exploration of a new International Services Agreement and negotiations toward expansion of the International Telecommunications agreement and an agreement on trade facilitation.
Kirk's tenure also saw the renewal and strengthening of Trade Adjustment Assistance, the termination of the Jackson-Vanik amendment's application to Russia, the full application of the WTO agreement between Russia and the US, the renewal of the Generalised System of Preferences and the Andean Trade Preferences Act.
House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer said that under Kirk's leadership, the Office of the US Trade Representative oversaw the opening of new markets for US businesses and the implementation of tougher trade enforcement rules that help ensure a level playing field for American products overseas.
"Throughout this tenure, Kirk has stressed that when American businesses can compete fairly, they will prosper and create new opportunities for jobs here at home," Hoyer said.
First Published: Wednesday, January 23, 2013, 10:28