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Washington Outlook Archive
James A. Morrissey, Washington Correspondent

Portman Nominated As US Trade Representative

By James A. Morrissey, Washington Correspondent

Rep. Rob Portman (R-OH), a strong supporter of free trade with a reputation for bringing people with differing views together to achieve goals, has been nominated by President Bush to serve as US Trade Representative. If confirmed by the Senate, and that is pretty much a foregone conclusion, he will replace Robert B. Zoellick, who has been named deputy secretary of state.

In announcing the appointment, President Bush said: "As a member of the House leadership, Rob has been a tireless advocate for America's manufacturers and entrepreneurs. As a former international trade lawyer, he has shown a deep dedication to free and fair trade, and now he will bring that commitment to his new role as US Trade Representative."

The president said he has asked Portman to take on a bold agenda that will include congressional approval of the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) and completion of the Doha Round of trade liberalization negotiations. CAFTA is likely to be a hard sell in view of strong opposition from labor unions and textile, sugar and other interests. Textile and apparel importers, however, support the pact, which is expected to be sent to Congress soon.

March 2005