U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk announced on Tuesday that he will leave the White House in late February. Kirk, a former Dallas mayor, led the negotiations for trade deals with South Korea, Colombia and Panama.
"It has been no less than my greatest professional privilege to serve President Barack Obama alongside the dedicated professionals of USTR," he said in a statement. "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."
Kirk didn't reveal what he'll do next, but at a conference in September he had hinted at plans to step down.
“I miss my house, I miss my family, I want to drive my car,” he said. “And I’d like to go make a little money.”
His resignation, which follows that of Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson's, leaves U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice and Attorney General Eric Holder as the only two African-American cabinet-level officials.
In a statement, Obama praised Kirk's tenure at USTR.
"There's no question Ron delivered results for the American people over the past four years. From bringing home new trade agreements with Korea, Colombia and Panama and negotiating to open up new trade markets for American businesses, to cracking down on unfair trade practices around the world, he has been a tremendous advocate for the American worker," Obama said.
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(Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)
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