Obama to unveil trade policy agenda ahead of G-20 summit

Written by AFP | Washington | Updated: Sep 4 2009, 03:14am hrs
US President Barack Obama is to unveil his administrations trade policy agenda ahead of a meeting of leaders of the Group of 20 developed and emerging nations, his top trade envoy said.

Obama will elaborate on his trade policy before the G-20 summit to be held September 24-25 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, US Trade Representative (USTR) Ron Kirk told reporters.

I will not prejudge what the president might do, Kirk said when asked to give a glimpse of Obamas expected trade statement.

I think it would be more an illumination of how this president, this administration sees trade as in the integral part our overall economic strategy, he said.

Kirk said that Obama had already laid a broad framework for US trade policy but added, I do think the president will have more to say about the role trade will play in our overall economic recovery sometime between now and the G-20 summit.

Since taking office in January, Obama has not made any major trade policy decisions, including pushing ahead with legislative steps to implement free trade agreements with key partners that had already been signed.

His administration is still trying to finalise a trade pact with Panama and resolve outstanding issues over similar long-delayed pacts with Colombia and South Korea.

Meanwhile, Barack Obama on Tuesday hailed the first growth in the US manufacturing sector after 18 punishing months of decline as a sign of recovery and proof his economic policies were working.

Obama spoke after the Institute of Supply Management said its index of the factory sector, also known as the purchasing managers index, jumped to 52.9% from 48.9% in July. Any number above 50 indicates growth.

It is a sign that we are on the path to economic recovery, Obama said in remarks in the White House Rose Garden. But the president, who has seen his approval ratings decline in recent weeks, partly as a result of worries about the economy, warned there is no doubt we have a long way to go.

I and the other members of this administration will not let up until those Americans who are looking for jobs can find them. This is another important sign that we are heading in the right direction and that the steps we have taken to bring our economy back from the brink are working.

The ISM figure was stronger than the average economist estimate of 50.5% and positive news for an economy struggling to emerge from a sharp recession that began in December 2007.