19 Mar 2009

Senate approves new US trade representative

8:59 am on 19 March 2009

The US Senate voted on Wednesday to approve former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk to be U.S. trade representative.

The Texas Democrat told senators he would focus more on making sure other countries live up to commitments they have made under existing trade agreements than on negotiating new deals to open markets to US exports.

The Senate voted 92-5 to approve Mr Kirk, despite errors in his tax returns that required him and his wife to write checks to the Internal Revenue Service this month for $US7,785.

He has promised to work with Congress to win approval of three free trade agreements negotiated by the administration of former President George Bush with Panama, South Korea and Colombia.

Mr Kirk is a supporter of the North American Free Trade Agreement. He was mayor of Dallas from 1995 to 2001.