Former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk has been confirmed as the next US trade representative.

In this role, Kirk is member of President Obama's cabinet and serves as the President's principal trade advisor, negotiator and spokesperson on trade issues.

He is the first African American to hold the post.

The office of USTR is responsible for developing and overseeing US trade policy, including strategy, negotiation, implementation and enforcement of multilateral, regional/bilateral and sector-specific trade agreements.

These include the ongoing Doha Development Agenda multilateral trade negotiations, as well as 17 Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) to which the United States is currently a party.

Ambassador Kirk is also responsible for US trade policy involving agriculture; industry; services and investment; intellectual property; environment; labour; development and preference programs.

His appointment has been welcomed by the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA).

"Probably one of the most impacting positions in our government, the USTR is responsible for negotiating and enforcing a trade policy that creates economic opportunities for US businesses and manufacturers," said AAFA president and CEO Kevin M Burke.

"I believe Ambassador Kirk is well suited to serve as a pro-growth, pro-trade voice in President Obama's administration."

Burke warned that one of the first challenges facing the USTR "is to combat any domestic and international shifts toward isolationism that may close off markets." 

He added: "If we want to see our economy rebound, we must have open markets and greater access for our products around the world."