Issue Date: March 28, 2005
Portman Picked For Trade Office
The chemical industry is welcoming President George W. Bush's nomination of Rep. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) to be the nation's chief trade negotiator.
Bush on March 17 tapped Portman to become the U.S. trade representative (USTR). That position was vacated in February by Robert B. Zoellick, who moved on to become deputy secretary of the Department of State.
The USTR job is of particular interest to the chemical industry because, as a leading U.S. exporter, the industry is concerned about trade policy.
"Rep. Portman is an excellent choice for USTR," says Thomas E. Reilly Jr., president and chief executive officer of the American Chemistry Council (ACC). "He has been a strong supporter of expanding U.S. trade during his distinguished tenure in the House."
Portman, 49, has served a decade in the House of Representatives and is a member of the powerful Ways & Means Committee.
"We think he'll do an excellent job," commented Daniel Cronin, spokesman for the Synthetic Organic Chemical Manufacturers Association. Cronin points to Portman's solid relationship with the Bush White House as well as his congressional experience.
"ACC members have long worked with Rep. Portman, and we look forward to continuing our cooperation with him at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative," Reilly adds.
The outlook for Portman's confirmation by the Senate is bright. Once Portman takes office, Bush says he wants Portman to pursue bilateral trade agreements and to finish work on the Free Trade of the Americas Agreement. That pact would create a free trade zone encompassing North and South America, except for Cuba.
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