"You just knew that as president, [Obama] would have to come around to a more centrist view," says David Orden, a trade-policy analyst with the International Food Policy Research Institute in Washington. He laments that the rhetoric during the presidential campaign was "not constructive for the public's understanding of trade issues."
Others say that just as Obama has charted a pragmatic foreign-policy course, he'll take a similar path for trade policy.
"Given what we've seen so far, I'd expect the president to lay out a very pragmatic course for what the US should try to achieve through trade policy and negotiations," says Jeffrey Schott, a trade-policy expert at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington. That means Obama would integrate already-negotiated trade pacts into a vision for America's economic recovery.
Besides that, Mr. Schott says, "He'll want the American people to understand how trade policy can be part of a strategy to promote economic development in poorer countries."
But these trade watchers also advise Americans to "stay tuned." The administration's trade policy is a work in progress, they say, and will emerge over the coming months through a number of venues: