On Friday, February 27, Ambassador Kirk attended the Washington International Trade Association’s annual Governors and Ambassadors Reception. Billed as the event where “state affairs meet global affairs,” the evening offered opportunities for state leaders to interact with representatives from countries around the world. Ambassador Kirk spoke with several governors in attendance including Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear and Washington Governor Christine Gregoire.
Ambassador Kirk thanked everyone in the audience for supporting the Obama Administration’s historic trade achievements in 2011 including passage of legislation approving trade agreements with Korea, Colombia, and Panama as well as the renewal of Trade Adjustment Assistance and trade preference programs. The Ambassador also highlighted a busy trade agenda for 2012 with goals such as concluding an ambitious Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, securing legislation to authorize permanent normal trade relations for Russia as it joins the World Trade Organization (WTO), and a continuing a strong focus on trade enforcement.
Ambassador Kirk also honored Singapore Ambassador Chan Hang Chee, who will be returning home this summer after 16 years representing Singapore in the United States. “Ambassador Chan was integral to the successful negotiation and passage of the United States-Singapore trade agreement in 2003 and is playing a similarly key role in the TPP negotiations,” said Ambassador Kirk. “Here in Washington, she is one of the brightest stars of the diplomatic corps. She is well-known around town as an extraordinarily effective and capable envoy. And she is highly respected as an intellectual leader on all issues related to the Asia-Pacific, including trade.”
New Zealand Ambassador Michael Moore spoke on behalf of TPP countries Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam. He stressed that there is consensus among TPP partners to set high standards for market access across all major sectors. At the same time, he said, TPP partners envision and welcome the potential for TPP to grow as new partners demonstrate a willingness and ability to meet the high standards for TPP.