The U.S. has a new U.S. Trade Representative — former Dallas mayor Ron Kirk. Kirk was confirmed by the Senate today in a 92-5 vote. Although Kirk is from the top exporting state in the country and should know the economic value of open trade, in his confirmation hearings he vowed to “enforce” existing trade agreements and to push for more enforceable labor and environmental provisions is pending and future trade deals.
With all that talk about enforcement in his and President Obama’s trade agenda, sounds like free trade is being viewed more like extending U.S. government regulation to trading partners rather than the exchange of goods and services to countries’ mutual benefit. Watch non-tariff trade barriers gain even more traction if he carries through on the agenda.