U.S. Trade Representative Kirk Addresses International Affairs Committee
By Kay Scrimger
January 30, 2012
Led by International Affairs Committee Chair Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, the committee met January 20. Mayor Quan welcomed the committee members to the meeting.
Ambassador Ron Kirk, United States Trade Representative and Cabinet Member, is the Administration's principal trade advisor, negotiator, and spokesperson on trade issues. Kirk, who served two terms as mayor of Dallas, Texas, expressed his pleasure at addressing the committee. "Once a mayor, always a mayor!" he said.
The Ambassador stressed the strong relationship of trade and jobs. He noted that the U.S. has had 22 straight months of private sector new growth, resulting in new jobs, and is pursuing the Administration's National Exports Initiative (NIE), which is "well on pace" to meet the President's goal of doubling U.S. exports by the end of 2014,
The last quarter of 2011 was "explosive," with Congressional passage of bilateral free trade agreements with Korea, Colombia, and Panama; advancement of the ambitious regional Trans'Pacific Partnership talks; continuing strong assistance to American small businesses seeking opportunities in international markets; and other successful Administration efforts to bolster the economy and create jobs.
Kirk projects that the three trade agreements have the potential of adding $12 billion in trade.
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State
Lawrence J. Gumbiner is Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of Oceans, International Environmental and Scientific Affairs (OES). His major focus at this time is coordinating the State Department's preparation for the 2012 U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio - 20), in Rio de Janeiro, June 20–22.
"Rio - 20," he emphasized is "not a meeting on the environment or climate change but on the broader issue of sustainability. Because the most progressive and sustainable progress is in cities, the conference will have a strong urban emphasis.
The objective of the conference is to stimulate renewed political commitment for sustainable development, assess the progress to date, and address new and emerging challenges.
Mayors for Peace North American
Jackie Cabasso, North American Representative for Mayors for Peace, gave an update on the membership of the organization, now more than 5,000 mayors in 153 countries and regions. The United States has 204 mayors who are members.
The 2020 Vision Campaign of Mayors for Peace is working for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons by the year 2020.
Cabasso urged mayors who are not yet members to join and provided two websites: www.2020visioncampaign.org and www.mayorsforpeace.org.
The Conference of Mayors has strong policy over several decades in support of nuclear disarmament and most recently in support of the complete elimination of nuclear weapons by 2020.
Gainesville (FL) Mayor Craig Lowe briefly described a trilateral relationship in which his city serves as a bridge for the Israeli city of Kfar Saba and the Palestinian city of Qalqilya, thus assisting them in developing normal relationships.
Lowe pointed out that the "elected leaders in all three communities provided the legitimacy and credibility for residents to comfortably take on the role of citizen diplomats, leading to relationships that have endured and continue to strengthen, despite political and physical barriers."