WASHINGTON — U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said Tuesday he is leaving the post in late February, and trade experts are speculating who might take his place.
Among the possible contenders are Michael Froman, deputy assistant to President Obama and deputy national security advisor for international economic affairs; Lael Brainard, undersecretary for international affairs at the Treasury Department, and Francisco Sanchez, undersecretary for international trade at the Commerce Department, according to industry sources.
Kirk’s departure, after more than four years at the helm of the President’s lead trade agency, wasn’t unexpected, as many cabinet officials are choosing to leave as the second term begins.
“Together, we have made great strides to bring about the President’s vision of a more robust, responsible and responsive trade policy that opens markets to products stamped Made in America, and enforces Americans’ trade rights around the world, and does so in a way that is more consistent with America’s core values on issues like the rights of workers and the environment,” said Kirk.
As USTR, Kirk is credited for helping finalize free-trade negotiations with Colombia, Panama and South Korea and ushering them through Congress, as well as advancing the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations between the U.S. and 10 other countries. He also helped establish the Interagency Trade Enforcement Center, which enforces trade agreements and facilitates filing unfair trade practices cases at the World Trade Organization.
The top contender for Kirk’s position appears to be Froman.
“He has been in trade policy circles for a long time,” said David Spooner, an international trade lawyer at Squire Sanders. “By all accounts, he’s a hard driver, is supersmart and is close to the President. All three things are key in a U.S. Trade Representative.”
Froman has been involved in guiding trade policy from the White House for some time, often participating in press calls with Kirk on trade policy matters.
Julia Hughes, president of the U.S. Association of Importers of Textiles & Apparel, said, “Froman is well respected in town and particularly for the recognition of his close relationship with the President. That is always a very important element to be a successful USTR,” adding that the consensus is the job is his if he wants it.
Taking the final spot on the mens’ portion of New York Fashion Week calendar next month will be none other than @tomford. Though he’s shown his men’s wear in New York in the past, this will mark the first time the designer has shown his men’s collection alone during New York Fashion Week: Men’s. His runway show will debut on February 6 at the Park Avenue Armory. #wwdfashion
London-based couture house @ralphandrusso has certainly been in the spotlight, having its dresses worn by @beyonce, Angelina Jolie, Meghan Markle in her engagement photos and more. For couture, Tamara Ralph focused on ornamentation — think: feathers with chain mail, jet embroidery and clusters of pearls and crystals. See the rest of the collection on WWD.com #wwdfashion #couture (📷: @giovanni_giannoni_photo)
Minnie Mouse celebrated her 90th birthday by getting her own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. For her celebratory luncheon, @coach’s creative director @stuartvevers dressed her in a custom made prairie dress, complete with Vever’s take on the polka dot – black sequined versions – under a cropped motorcycle jacket. The designer also put his own mark on Minnie’s classic red shoes, infusing the color with sparkles and adding some Coach crystals. “We chose colors that were very Minnie and also represented quintessential Coach elements,” said Vevers. #wwdfashion #nationalpolkadotday (📷: George Chinsee)
@nickjonas is unveiling his first-ever apparel collection through a partnership with John Varvatos. The limited-edition capsule, which makes its debut in spring, also marks the first time the designer has collaborated with anyone on a line. “The process in working with Nick is amazing. It’s inspiring to be around someone who is not only connected with the trade that they do, but also with what’s happening in the environment around him, and how that connects to what we do with style,” said Varvatos. (RG: @johnvarvatos) #wwdfashion
@margotrobbie steps out onto the red carpet wearing @miumiu. The actress is nominated for “Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role” in “I, Tonya” at the #SagAwards. (📷: Stewart Cook) #wwdfashion
For @massimogiorgetti of @msgm, the Nineties are his favorite decade. “They had a huge impact on my personal growth. What I like of the Nineties is that they are not so precise in terms of style as other decades…there was actually a bit of everything,” he said. As seen on MSGM’s Spring 2018 show: tie-dye and a bit of grunge, two styles that are synonymous with the decade #wwdfashion #wwddecades (📷: @kukukuba)