Obama nominates Froman as new U.S. trade representative

By Agri-Pulse staff

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

WASHINGTON, May 2, 2013- President Obama announced the nomination of Mike Froman as U.S. trade representative today. Froman held a post as White House chief international economic affairs advisor since Obama took office in 2009.

During his announcement in the White House Rose Garden Thursday morning, Obama said Froman “has established himself as one of the world's foremost experts on our global economy.”

Noting that Froman attended law school with the president at Harvard, Obama added that “over the past four years, he's been my point person at global forums like the G-8 and the G-20,” and “he's really been the driving force, oftentimes, in organizing these incredible international summits in which huge amounts of business gets done.”

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The president said Froman acted as “a key negotiator” alongside former U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk on free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama.  

“He has won the respect of our trading partners around the world.  He has also won a reputation as being an extraordinarily tough negotiator while doing it,” Obama said.

Several industry officials reacted to the nomination this morning.

“Michael Froman is an excellent choice for the USTR position,” said Paul Drazek of DTB Associates, former trade policy adviser to the secretary of agriculture and one-time Farm Bureau trade hand. “He's already fully familiar with all of the important trade policy issues facing us and has been helping to direct the administration's trade agenda from the beginning. He is highly respected in the trade community, including by those of us who focus on agricultural trade matters, and having him lead the upcoming FTA negotiations with the EU as well as the Trans-Pacific Partnership talks, will ease concerns that agriculture's voice might not be heard.”

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., welcomed the nomination. “I look forward to continuing to work with him to promote a robust trade agenda, including bipartisan trade promotion authority legislation, to create good jobs in America. I am confident that his skills and experience will stand him in good stead as he leads the administration's trade policy and takes the helm at one of the most professional and productive agencies in the U.S. government.”

House Trade Subcommittee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., said he supported Froman's selection, saying that it “bolsters the administration's commitment to finalizing trade agreements that open up new markets and create strong enforcement mechanisms.”

Froman was a managing director at Citigroup, where he managed infrastructure and sustainable development investments. He spent much of his career in the Treasury Department on international economic policy. Froman volunteered to advise Obama on policy and introduced him to former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, whom Froman had followed from Treasury to Citigroup.

“With an ambitious trade agenda ahead, Mike Froman is the right choice for U.S. trade representative,” said Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont. By picking Froman, “the administration is sending a clear signal that trade is a top priority,” he said, adding that Froman has been instrumental in trade negotiations over the last four years “and will hit the ground running.” Baucus said that strengthening trade ties with Europe and across the Pacific “is one of my top priorities for the next year and a half” as he seeks agreements that “bolster our economy and create jobs, including through swift passage of trade promotion authority.” Baucus has announced that he will retire after his current term, which ends next year.


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