Snowe to USTR: Talk to Maine workers on visit

Sen. Olympia J. Snowe said Friday that she hopes Ambassador Ron Kirk, the U.S. Trade Representative, will talk to workers on the floor when he visits a Maine New Balance shoe factory later this year, talking to them “about their efforts to innovate and remain afloat in the global market in the face of competition from nations like Vietnam and China.”

The Maine Republican wrote to Kirk Friday, according to a release, “acknowledging his acceptance of the Senator’s invitation to visit New Balance’s Skowhegan plant.”

From the release:

Specifically, Snowe noted the potential negative impact the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement could have on New Balance and its 38 small business suppliers across the country – supporting roughly 10,000 jobs.

Earlier this week, officials and workers from the Boston-based New Balance met with members of Congress and administration officials in D.C., supporting the dwindled manufacturing base in the country and arguing against lowering tariffs through the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership, a free trade agreement that includes Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam and the United States.

I thank Ambassador Kirk for accepting my invitation to visit the New Balance factory in Skowhegan, and look forward to welcoming him to our state. While he is in Maine, I sincerely hope that he considers the potentially devastating impact a faulty and ill-informed Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement could have on our nation’s only remaining athletic shoe manufacturer,” Snowe said in the release. “I am confident that he will witness the remarkable ingenuity, exceptional dedication, and optimistic, can-do work ethic of the roughly 900 Maine workers of New Balance, and hope that the Ambassador’s trip helps focus his efforts in negotiating the agreement on saving these jobs for generations to come.”

New Balance has three factories in Maine, in Norway, Norridgewock and Skowhegan.