U.S. signals tougher trade policies

March 10, 2009 at 8:49 AM
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WASHINGTON, March 10 (UPI) -- Ron Kirk, President Obama's nominee for U.S. trade representative, has signaled a new, tougher direction for U.S. trade policies.

In confirmation hearing testimony before the Senate Finance Committee, Kirk said, "I do not come to this job ... with deal fever. We're not going to do deals just for doing so," The Washington Post reported Tuesday.

"Not all Americans are winning from (trade agreements)," he said. "Our trading partners are not always playing by the rules."

With a global economic crisis in the background, Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., at the hearing said: "Our consensus to advance international trade is frayed. Our faith in the international trading system is badly shaken."

Kirk said he would review previous agreements arranged by the Bush administration, including an agreement with South Korea he called "simply unfair."

The administration has signaled it will take a tougher stance on existing trade agreements, focusing on environmental and labor standards, the newspaper said.

As the trade representative's office begins drawing a line in the sand, a policy statement issued by Obama appointees said trade should be "part of the toolkit of solutions for addressing international environmental challenges."

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