Obama’s trade pick hailed as India’s friend

Washington, May 3 (IANS) The US-India Business Council (USIBC) has welcomed President Barack Obama’s nomination of a “friend of India”, Michael Froman, to the position of US Trade Representative (USTR).

“There is no individual better qualified to fill this important position at this crucial time than Mike Froman,” said Ron Somers, President of the business advocacy association comprising nearly 400 of America’s and India’s top companies.

“Froman has played a vital role in the US-India trade and commercial relationship as the US Government’s chair of the US-India CEO Forum, and as the US ‘Sherpa’ for the G20,” he said.

“Mike has been pivotal in his role at the White House facilitating the first state visit of the Obama Administration, featuring the Prime Minister of India, and in planning President Obama’s historic visit to India in November 2010,” Somers noted.

Earlier, announcing Froman’s nomination in the Rose Garden at the White House Thursday, Obama described him as “one of the world’s foremost experts on our global economy.”

“And I’m not surprised, by the way, because we went to law school together — he was much smarter than me then, he continues to be smarter than me now,” he said.

The president said he’s confident that his pick will help lead trade negotiations that ensure a level playing field in the international market for American workers.

Froman, who currently serves as an assistant to the president and deputy national security adviser for international economics, has been deeply involved in the Obama administration’s trade agenda for the past four years.

He has worked from the White House on the finalisation of trade deals with South Korea, Colombia and Panama, and led the administration’s preparations for major economic summits.

Obama also Thursday nominated Penny Pritzker, a longtime Chicago-based Obama fundraiser, as his new Commerce secretary.

Obama called Pritzker, a businesswoman worth an estimated $1.85 billion who sits on the board of her family’s Hyatt Hotels empire, “one of our country’s most distinguished business leaders” and “an extraordinary civic leader.”

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at [email protected])

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