Ambassador Ron Kirk this week announced that after nearly four years of service as United States Trade Representative, he intends to depart the position in late February.
"It has been no less than my greatest professional privilege to serve President Barack Obama alongside the dedicated professionals of USTR," said Ambassador Kirk. "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."
Among the hallmarks of the last four years at USTR have been the completion, passage through Congress, and implementation of long-pending trade agreements with Korea, Colombia, and Panama, as well as the launching of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade negotiations.
"In President Obama's first term, trade has been a major part of this Administration's efforts to support American jobs right here at home. I am proud of USTR's contribution to America's ongoing economic recovery."
Kirk also facilitated the revitalization of American trade enforcement and the standing up of the Interagency Trade Enforcement Center; the renewal and strengthening of Trade Adjustment Assistance; and the termination of the Jackson-Vanik amendment's application to Russia and the full application of the WTO agreement between Russia and the United States.
National Corn Growers Association President Pam Johnson said Kirk was appreciated for his hand in improving agricultural trade.
"We applaud his efforts to pass and implement the three free trade agreements with Korea, Colombia and Panama. In addition, we appreciate the pivotal role he played in lifting the outdated Jackson-Vanik amendment," Johnson said.
NCGA says full implementation of the free trade agreements with Korea, Colombia and Panama will result in an estimated $2.3 billion in additional agricultural trade in 2012 and beyond and support nearly 20,000 domestic jobs.
"NCGA remains committed to the development and maintenance of fair and open global trade practices, including advancing the Trans Pacific Partnership," Johnson said. "We congratulate Trade Representative Kirk's ability to lead in TPP negotiations and raise the bar for a new 21st century trade agreement. We look forward to working on these and other issues with his successor."