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Report: Ron Kirk to be Obama Trade Representative

Posted by: Steve LeVine on December 18

The betting is that former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk will be appointed as U.S. trade representative by President-elect Barack Obama tomorrow.

The position is highly important because the representative — often a full member of the cabinet — negotiates the country’s trade agreements. In the midst of the global financial turmoil, there is much concern that the U.S. will adopt a protectionist trade policy that could slow down any economic recovery. Obama has said however that he is not protectionist, but simply seeks fairer trade with U.S. partners.

Kirk, who is a lawyer at Vinson & Elkins in Dallas, has been declining comment apart from acknowledging that he has been interviewed by the Obama transition team.

The latest word comes from Christopher Wenk, a plugged-in lobbyist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington. He just distributed an email saying, “Ron Kirk will be USTR pick. Hearing from GOOD sources it is official and will be announced tomorrow afternoon.”

Earlier, Washington seemed to have settled on word that Rep. Xavier Becerra of California would be the trade representative. But Becerra yesterday announced that he would stay in Congress, where he will be vice chairman of the House Democratic Caucus.

One surprising thing is that Kirk appears to hold significantly different views on trade from Becerra. Becerra had said that he regretted voting for NAFTA, and opposed the Central American Free Trade Agreement. But As Dallas mayor from 1995 to 2001, Kirk appeared to be more favorable toward free trade.

“Looking at his record, particularly as mayor of Dallas, he certainly understands the benefits of trade,” Wenk said in an email exchange.

Obama reportedly was considering Kirk either for trade representative or transportation secretary. Now, however, Congressman Ray Lahood, an Illinois Republican, is going to be designated as the transportation secretary.

Reader Comments


December 18, 2008 02:50 PM

We definitely need a strong and powerful team to regulate the outrageous games played by the wall street. Madoff's game is big but most people who lost their money are rich anyway. This, compared to the magic game played by the mighty wall street, is too small. For many years till 2008, the wall street make a huge "profit" from subprime mortgage and their employee collected billions of bonus. But their loss in 2008 is much more than they earned in the past decades. And they will still get huge bonus this year: Morgan Stanley: 260K; Goldman Sachs: 370k. And Merill Lynch's employee will get 50% of their bonus. The funny things are we taxpayers are bailing out them and paying for their bonus. Here is an interesting story:,-Bonuses,-Not-Profits,-Were-Real


December 18, 2008 08:56 PM

Vinson & Elkins is a heavily pro-GOP/pro-Bush firm. They also were part of Enron's legal army. I hope the Obamans wash the slime off this guy before they give him the desk.

Thank you for your interest. This blog is no longer active.


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Washington Bureau Chief Jane Sasseen and other BusinessWeek writers cover the run-up to the Nov. 4 presidential election, paying close attention to how the candidates will handle issues such as housing, the economy, unemployment, and immigration.

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