BANGOR, Maine — United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk will visit Maine on Thursday and Friday to tout, among other things, President Barack Obama’s National Export Initiative.
Kirk will tour the G.M. Allen and Son blueberry farm and processing center in Orland at 9 a.m. Thursday and then will visit with 4-H students at the Bangor State Fair that afternoon.
On Friday, Kirk is set to visit the Verso Paper Mill in Bucksport at 9 a.m. and participate in a round-table discussion on trade at noon in Bangor. Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud of the 2nd District, who has opposed some recent trade initiatives, will accompany Kirk at both events on Friday.
The National Export Initiative, introduced by Obama in March as an executive order, aims to double American exports and help create 2 million jobs over the next five years. In a broad speech earlier this month on economic recovery, the president announced that significant progress has been made already. Exports in the first four months of 2010 grew almost 17 percent from the same period last year.
“Ninety-five percent of the world’s customers and fastest-growing markets are beyond our borders,” Obama said in his speech. “So if we want to find new growth streams, if we want to find new markets and new opportunity, we’ve got to compete for those new customers — because other nations are competing for those new customers.”
Kirk also plans to discuss the potential for a U.S.-Korea trade agreement and update progress on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a multilateral trade deal involving Australia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Chile, Vietnam and Brunei.
In addition to Michaud, others have expressed displeasure with the Obama administration’s stance on trade.
Demonstrators representing the Maine Fair Trade Campaign plan to protest Kirk’s visit at 12:30 p.m. Thursday in downtown Bangor’s Pickering Square. Campaign representatives said Kirk’s support of the North American Free Trade Agreement and other trade deals has cost Maine tens of thousands of jobs through outsourcing.
More information about the president’s National Export Initiative is available online at www.export.gov.