"As a leader, negotiator and principled proponent of trade," Obama said Friday during a news conference in Chicago, "Ron will help make sure that any agreement I sign as president protects the rights of all workers, promotes the interests of all Americans, strengthens American businesses and preserves the planet we all share."
The U.S. trade representative, which carries the title of ambassador, is responsible for developing and recommending U.S. trade policy to the president and conducting trade negotiations, among other things.
"I believe that trade can help us create jobs at home and encourage development abroad," Kirk said. "And like President-elect Obama, I believe a values-driven agenda that stays true to our commitment to America's workers and environmental sustainability is not only consistent with a pro-trade agenda, but it's also necessary for its success."
Kirk originally was thought to be a front-runner to lead the Transportation Department, but that post was offered to retiring Rep. Ray LaHood, R-Ill.