In June Ambassador Kirk sat down with Black Enterprise Magazine for a feature in the September issue. The magazine hit newsstands yesterday and you can read part of the interview below.
"Kirk is the Obama administration's point man on international trade. In his cabinet-level position, Kirk develops and recommends trade policy to President Obama; conducts bilateral and multilateral negotiations; and seeks to open up new markets for American products and services. At his confirmation hearing, he maintained he didn't come to the job with "deal fever," seeking to fine-tune existing agreements and holding a philosophy that "when trade deals are done right, America's businesses and workers will be able to successfully compete with those anywhere in the world."
His task has been made tougher by the weakening of the global economy. In the first quarter, U.S. gross domestic product fell at an annualized rate of 6.3% (trade represents roughly 13%) while three of its largest trading partners - Mexico, Japan and Germany - plunged 21.5%, 15.2% and 14.4%, respectively. Kirk seeks to stave off isolationist and protectionist trade policies that will lead to higher tariffs and choke economic growth.
In your role as the nation's chief trade negotiator, how will your actions impact President Obama's overall economic program?
Ambassador Kirk: The United States represents about 5% of the world's consuming population now. So that means as a practical matter, 95% of our opportunities for expanding growth lie outside of our own borders. So whatever we can do to create new opportunities for America's goods, services and agricultural products is a way that we help to grow our economy and create jobs here at home. By having reciprocal trade agreements, we help consumers because you're now getting products that come to you from all over the world in a very competitive market and the price of those goods have come down.
So in which area do small businesses need the most help?
Ambassador Kirk: Since we deal more so with government-to-government, the practical thing we're going to do is educate businesses to how much they can grow by reaching out to this 95% that's not the United States. Secondly, we'll work with SBA to make sure that if it's an issue of finance, which it always is for us, there are opportunities that I think we can look at creatively to make sure that the financing mechanisms are there. There's a great Website, Export.gov, which is pretty simple to plug into to find out more information about how to get involved in international trade."
You can read the full article in this month's issue of Black Enterprise magazine.