Senator Max Baucus (D–MT), chairman of Senate Finance Committee, urged strong and unrelenting political leadership in pursuing a comprehensive free trade pact between the U.S. and the European Union. He highlighted the importance of choosing an effective and experienced leader as America’s next trade czar in his recent Financial Times op-ed:

An essential piece of the puzzle will be the selection of the US trade representative [USTR] to succeed Ron Kirk. The representative’s office is lean and effective, and has a record of getting the job done. It needs an experienced leader with proved mastery of the details of trade negotiations, one who is ready to put in the miles to meet counterparts abroad and who is ready to empower staff.

No doubt, President Obama’s nomination for the next USTR will tell us a lot about his seriousness in engaging and leading the world through free trade. Senator Baucus correctly stated that “the US government has an obligation to aggressively pursue every opportunity to expand trade.”

America’s next trade chief should be someone who truly understands the dynamics of free trade: Yes, exports create jobs, but imports also support vibrant job creation, as concretely demonstrated by a recent trade study by The Heritage Foundation. Indeed, what our next trade chief should focus on is not renewed trade politics but delivering greater trade freedom to America that advances the benefits of trade in both directions.

The biggest threat to America’s prosperity right now is the decline in overall economic freedom, as empirically documented in The Heritage Foundation’s annual Index of Economic Freedom. Free two-way trade is a vital component of that freedom, on which so much of our prosperity has been based.