Miami Herald: Robert B. Zoellick, nominated to be second-in-command at the State Department, promises to be good for Latin America, South Florida and global relations in general. Currently the administration's top trade negotiator, Zoellick is a seasoned diplomat who has spent much time in the last four years crafting relationships and trade deals in Latin America. He also has strongly supported a Miami headquarters for the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas.
We hope that his experience and interest in the region will translate into increased State Department attention there, not only on trade and economic issues, but on the health of democracies, the state of development and persistent hot spots -- Haiti, Venezuela and Cuba come to mind.
By many accounts, Zoellick is a gifted diplomat, policymaker and international strategist. He worked for the State Department during former President Bush's administration. As U.S. trade representative, he has played a key role in bringing China and Taiwan into the World Trade Organization and in starting trade talks in Doha, Qatar, that aim to remove trade barriers and level the global playing field. We look forward to Zoellick's continued leadership in WTO Doha-round trade talks in his new post.
Highly visible in Miami during the 2003 FTAA ministerial meeting here, Zoellick has promoted free trade worldwide. Though the FTAA hasn't materialized as planned -- the original deadline for creating the 34-nation open market just passed -- Zoellick's accomplishments included the completed bilateral trade deal with Chile and the Central American Free Trade Agreement that still must earn approval from Congress.
Here, too, Zoellick would do well to diplomatically push ahead CAFTA, FTAA and other regional trade pacts in his new job.