Remarks by Ambassador Ron Kirk
United States Trade Representative
Washington International Trade Association Annual Awards Dinner
July 20, 2011
** As Prepared for Delivery **
“Thank you, Dr. Harsanyi. Thanks also to Steve Lamar, James Wilkinson, and everyone else at WITA for putting together this wonderful event.
“Tonight, WITA continues its tradition of bringing people together to find common ground and advance shared goals in pursuit of more free and open international trade.
“Tonight, we celebrate the collaborative spirit that has sustained U.S. leadership in the global trading system for over six decades.
“And tonight, we honor two of America’s finest public servants, Senator John Kerry and Senator Rob Portman.
“Both of these outstanding leaders have dedicated their lives to building a stronger, more prosperous America. And both have played key roles in cultivating robust relationships among the United States and our global trading partners.
“Senators Kerry and Portman understand how to work across party lines to get things done. And so it is fitting that we should honor them this evening, because bipartisan compromise and cooperation has been critical to every major trade policy achievement over the past twenty years. Congratulations to both of them.
“Frankly, we need leaders who can put politics aside, and come together to do big things for our country.
“That’s why President Obama is working to get the nation’s business done. He is focused on doing everything we can to ensure America’s economic recovery and enhance U.S. competitiveness.
“Over the past few weeks, the President has made it clear he is ready to make the tough decisions necessary to get America’s fiscal house in order. He is working with Congressional leaders every day, offering ideas and seeking solutions.
“The Administration is also working with Congressional leaders to pass our pending trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama, as well as to renew Trade Adjustment Assistance, because we want to bring home the job-building benefits of these agreements as soon as possible.
“Leaders on both sides of the aisle have consistently affirmed that these trade agreements will support additional jobs, and build a more prosperous future for America.
“Of course, I’m probably preaching to the choir here. Or should I say, more accurately, a conference of choir directors. After all, WITA members have been a driving force behind the momentum to pass these game-changing trade deals.
“Today is Colombia’s Independence Day. As we celebrate with our Colombian friends and colleagues, I think this special occasion should also remind us that, as President Obama has said, we have a historic opportunity to do something big. We should seize this opportunity as soon as possible.
“Before I close, I want to note that even as we step up efforts to complete pending trade agreements, we are continuing to move forward with robust efforts to open markets and enforce U.S. trade rights around the world.
“We’re making good progress at the regional level through TPP and APEC; and at the multilateral level we still seeking a way forward in the Doha Round.
“And enforcement remains a priority for this Administration. We are reaping the rewards of what we bargained for in our agreements. And we are bringing home the benefits to American businesses, workers, and families.
“For example, the WTO recently found in our favor against China with respect to industrial raw materials. And earlier this year, we won the largest commercial victory in the history of trade against illegal EU subsidies in the Airbus case.
“Now since this is sort of like the Oscars for trade, I’m going to get off the stage before the orchestra starts playing. And so you can start your dinners.
“Let me just say that the bottom line is President Obama and I are committed to giving U.S. businesses and entrepreneurs every chance to compete in global markets and to bring home all the benefits of trade to the American people.
“We know you share these goals and we look forward to continuing our work together. Thank you.”