Foreign Policy

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  Stronger Labor and Environmental Treaties under ObamaDecember 19, 2008 20:59 The United States will insist on strong protections for the environment and for workers in future trade deals, President-elect Barack Obama said on Friday as he introduced his nominee to be chief U.S. trade negotiator.

Former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk "will help make sure that any agreement I sign as president protects the rights of all workers, promotes the interests of all Americans, strengthens American businesses, and preserves the planet we all share," Obama said at a news conference in Chicago.

The focus on what Kirk described as a "values-driven" trade agenda could complicate efforts to complete the 7-year-old Doha round of world trade talks.

Many developing countries are suspicious of efforts to include binding labor and environmental provisions in trade pacts because they believe they could be used as an excuse by rich countries to block imports.

Obama has promised one of his first acts as president would be to call the president of Mexico and prime minister of Canada to begin negotiations to "fix NAFTA" by adding stronger labor and environmental provisions.