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USTR Visits Textile Area To Promote Exports

James A. Morrissey, Washington Correspondent

U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Ron Kirk went to the heart of textile country last week to sell the Obama administration's export promotion efforts, and told the people of South Carolina that free trade serves their best interests. President Barack Obama's chief trade advisor visited Clemson University, where he heard students and faculty describe their research efforts, and then toured a nearby Glen Raven plant.

According to the Greenville News, Kirk, at a news conference following the meetings, said that boosting exports is the key to job creation and America must have the political will to embrace free trade. He told reporters that U.S. manufacturers cannot rely entirely on consumer spending at home and they must look overseas for markets.

The News reported that Kirk said he had heard that "everybody in South Carolina hates trade because it killed the textile industry," but he said that is not true, pointing out that one-quarter of South Carolina's manufacturing jobs currently are tied to exports, although many of them are not in the textile industry.

Kirk made a strong pitch for passage of the U.S./Colombia Free Trade Agreement, saying Colombia has signed 47 trade agreements in recent years, while the U.S. has stood on the sidelines. He warned that the United States "cannot be ambivalent on trade while the rest of the world is trading like crazy."

Kirk called on the United States to "create a public environment in which the American people have a greater sense that trade is a good thing for us, not just for consumers, but that it can help sustain jobs and our way of life."

March 9, 2010