PITTSBURGH (AP) -- U.S. trade envoy Ron Kirk said Thursday the Obama administration would take steps to save American jobs and create new ones by better enforcing the country's trade rights around the world.
Speaking to steel workers at a United States Steel Corp. plant near Pittsburgh, Kirk said the administration "has their backs in the global trading system." He outlined measures he said will help Americans reap the benefits of existing trade agreements, such as better-paying jobs and economic growth.
The measures include efforts to spot and respond to trade barriers, particularly those affecting U.S. farmers and manufacturers, and a commitment to monitor more closely foreign labor practices that might violate trade agreements and put U.S. workers at a disadvantage, Kirk said.
"New trade agreements can still open markets to U.S. goods and services," he said, according to a transcript. "But we have to do more than just pursue new trade deals. We must also insist on respect for our rights in the global trading system."
In recent months, several U.S. steel companies have filed complaints with U.S. trade officials over alleged unfair competition from Chinese imports they say are hurting the domestic industry.
Leo Gerard, president of the United Steelworkers union, said in a separate statement that the union looks forward to working with Kirk and the Obama administration "to make sure that today's speech is followed by an integrated action plan."
"Our government must ensure that the products of our manufacturers and farmers have access to foreign markets and are not forced to compete with unfairly subsidized or dumped products here at home," he said.