President Obama has nominated Chicago businesswoman Penny Pritzker as his new Secretary of Commerce, and advisor Mike Froman as the new US Trade Representative.

The proposed appointments of the pair, who replace Rebecca Blank and Ron Kirk respectively, have been welcomed by the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA).

Pritzker, a former member of President Obama’s Jobs Council, was described by the president as “one of our country’s most distinguished business leaders”.

Meanwhile, the President highlighted Froman’s organisation of international trade summits, working alongside Kirk on trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama.

Froman has been one of President Obama’s top national security and economic advisors for several years.

“As Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations continue and the United States and the European Union begin discussions on the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, it is essential our top commerce and trade posts be occupied by forward-thinking leaders who are able to bring these negotiations to completion in a commercially meaningful way,” said AAFA president and CEO Kevin Burke.

“I am pleased President Obama has drawn Ms Pritzker from the business community to lead the Commerce Department and its important trade functions.

“The selection of Mr Froman from the national security arena is very relevant because of international trade’s growing role in promoting national and international security.

“Upon the US Senate’s confirmation of these two nominees, we look forward to working with this strong trade team in crafting US trade policy that provides opportunities for 4m US apparel and footwear industry workers today and tomorrow.”