This year’s USTR trade agenda hearing at the senate finance committee is quite interesting. Ron Kirk just stepped down and Demetrios took the testimony as the acting USTR. Demetrios looks both young and smart. I am not sure whether he is among the top candidates to be considered for the USTR position but his congressional working experiences and legal background make him at least a qualified candidate in my view. Nevertheless, USTR usually is a political appointee. More interesting to watch is Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman now serve in the same committee. Sherrod obviously holds a very suspicious view about trade liberalization. As I remember he was the only senator who raised question focusing on import restrictions. Demetrios looked like a student before Rob Portman understandably. Attending such a hearing should make Portman feel quite special too. “Unfortunately”, now he has to speak more for Ohio than for globalization. TPA (Trade Promotion Act) turned out to be the No.1 hot topic in today’s hearing. Japan & TPP raised grave concerns as well. I am not sure whether it is the best timing to accept Japan into the TPP. This unavoidably will make the agriculture & auto related negotiations much more challenging than otherwise. Something a little surprising to me is China was not targeted very often today.
By Sheng Lu