US official optimistic about chances of progress on free trade
By Doug Palmer, ReutersWASHINGTON -- A senior U.S. official said on Monday he was optimistic progress can be made on a number of trade fronts in President Barack Obama's second term, but declined to say whether he was on a short list to be the next U.S. Trade Representative.
February 6, 2013, 11:55 am TWN
“This is an exciting time to be engaged in trade policy, in trade promotion,” U.S. Commerce Under Secretary Francisco Sanchez told reporters after a speech to the Information Technology Innovation Foundation, a technology policy group.
Sanchez said the administration was pushing to wrap up talks on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a proposed free trade pact covering the United States, Australia, Vietnam, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand and five other countries in Asia and Latin America.
The United States and European Union are also discussing the possibility of launching trade talks, and the Obama administration has “reinvigorated” trade enforcement efforts to make sure other countries play by the rules, Sanchez said.
“I, for one, get the importance of business, not only to our economy, but to our overall way of life,” Sanchez said in his remarks to the group.
Current U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk has said he plans to step down by the end of the month. Sanchez, who is Hispanic, has been mentioned as a possible successor along with U.S. Export-Import Bank President Fred Hochberg and others including current acting White House budget director Jeffrey Zients.
Obama is under pressure to bring more women and minorities into his Cabinet after nominating white males to a number of prominent posts. Obama also raised the expectations of gays in his second inaugural address.