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Trade policy must discourage 'race to bottom' for US workers, says trade rep

US trade representative Michael Froman says Obama's trade policy includes trying to 'level the playing field' for US firms and workers. To that end, currency manipulation by other countries is one concern.

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United States Trade Representative Michael Froman at the St. Regis Hotel on Sept. 26, 2013 in Washington.

Michael Bonfigli/ The Christian Science Monitor

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US Trade Representative Michael Froman was sworn in as the 11th US trade representative in June. Mr. Froman was the guest at the Sept. 26 Monitor Breakfast. 

The administration's trade philosophy:

"We have [to] ... assure that we are pursuing trade ... in a way that levels the playing field for American workers, American firms, and raises standards and [does] not encourage a race to the bottom."

Dealing with Congress on trade:

"We have enormous engagement with them every step of the way ... to ensure that we can develop and implement trade policy that has the broadest possible bipartisan support...."

How trade deals are done:

"Oftentimes the bulk of the work gets done at the very last minute."

A letter from 60 senators calling for action against currency manipulation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade talks:

"We share a number of the concerns that have been expressed about currency and its impact on trade and are continuing to be in consultation with Congress and stakeholders...."

The budget sequester's effect on the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR):

"We are not able to fill positions ... and [are] not able to travel to negotiations or to enforcement actions the way that [we] would like to [in order] to fulfill [our] responsibilities."

A survey finding that in 2012 USTR workers had the worst morale of any small government agency:

"A big part of this is resources ... we are engaging with them about how to best achieve our objectives within the limited constraints."

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