US Senate Confirms Next Trade Representative

WASHINGTON (AP) -

The U.S. Senate has overwhelmingly confirmed President Barack Obama’s pick to be the next U.S. trade representative, landing senior White House economic adviser Michael Froman in two of the country’s most significant trade deals in recent history.

“In his new position, Mike will stay focused on our primary economic goals — promoting growth, creating jobs and strengthening the middle class,” Obama said in a statement. “And he will continue to help open new markets for American businesses, level the playing field for American workers, farmers and ranchers, and fully enforce our trade rights.”

Froman, nominated by Obama in May, succeeds Ron Kirk, who resigned in February after serving through Obama’s first term and finalizing free trade agreements with South Korea, Panama and Colombia.

Froman has been serving as deputy national security adviser for international economic affairs, and has been involved in coordinating White House policy on international trade, investments and energy.

One of Froman’s main responsibilities as USTR will be meeting a goal to complete negotiations this year on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an Asian-Pacific trading bloc that includes the U.S., Australia, Canada, Malaysia, Mexico, Vietnam, Chile, New Zealand, Brunei, Singapore, Peru and Japan.

The trade office will also be at the forefront of just-initiated trade liberalization talks with the European Union, known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.

Froman worked as Treasury Secretary Robert E. Rubin’s chief of staff during the Bill Clinton administration. He was a managing partner at Citigroup and a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations before joining the Obama administration.