यू.एस. trade representative Ron Kirk confirmed last week that hes leaving Washington for the private sector. He deserves praise for the Obama administrations major achievement on trade: final approval of free-trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea that had been negotiated by President Bush and his trade representatives but languished in Washington for years.

These three deals are already helping the U.S. economy by making it easier for Americans to sell goods and services abroad.

Complacency now becomes a danger. Exports have fueled Americas sluggish economy for several years, but theyve slowed down in recent months. As President Obama begins his second term, he must first find a new trade diplomat and then push for new trade pacts.

An excellent opportunity awaits across the Atlantic Ocean: The White House should actively pursue a U.S.-European Union free-trade agreement, which would benefit Americans directly but also improve conditions around the globe.

तीन साल पहले, President Obama announced his National Export Initiative, promising that U.S. exports would double in five years. Initial signs suggested that he might make good on this pledge, as exports expanded by about 11 में प्रतिशत 2010. Yet theyve dropped ever since, to less than 7 में प्रतिशत 2011 तथा, according to the latest figures, से कम 4 में प्रतिशत 2012.

At this rate, well fall far short of the administrations goal.

The president will blame the lousy world economy, and hell have a point. Yet theres no reason to admit defeatand in a poor climate, developing an aggressive trade agenda that helps Americans export goods and services becomes even more urgent.

साथ में, the United States and the EU are responsible for almost half of the worlds GDP. We already trade a lot: Trans-Atlantic trade is worth more than $900 billion annually. Yet we can do even better. The European Commission believes that an ambitious agreement could boost trade by 50 प्रतिशत.

Generating that much economic activity would be like passing a stimulus program. And it wouldnt cost our debt-ridden government a penny. Simply by lowering tariffs on both continents, new trade would generate business, creating opportunities for entrepreneurs and jobs for workers.

The alternative is to do nothingand doing nothing isnt free. It could prove costly. पिछले साल, यू.एस. exports to the EU actually declined by about 1 प्रतिशत. Without positive action, we may see more stagnation rather than growth.

Agriculture often poses problems in large trade deals, and it would be no different with the EU. Yet a comprehensive agreement could do enormous good, not just for farmers in the United States, who would sell more of what they grow, but for people in the developing world.

One of the issues that will need to be covered is the acceptance of biotechnology as an acceptable tool of agriculture production. I believe a good trade agreement would require the EU to accept more food with GM ingredientsa common phenomenon throughout the Western hemisphere, but distrusted in Europe due to anti-scientific prejudice.

The good news is that most thinking Europeans know that biotechnology makes sense. European regulators have declared it safe. A growing number of scientists speak out on its behalf. A month ago, British environmental activist Mark Lynas announced his support for GM crops.

Robust trade talks could provide the spark for Europe to lower its resistance. This would benefit people everywhere, in ways that the dollars and cents of trade figures fail to capture.

Modern food-production methods, including biotechnology, allow each U.S. farmer to feed 147 लोग. This amazing efficiency lets more non-farmers devote their energy and creativity to other projectseverything from pioneering vaccines to inventing the next cool mobile-phone appinstead of spending their day providing food for their own family.

Europeans should want this benefit for themselves, and they should hope it spreads into Africa, which looks to Europe for economic and political leadership. Global food and nutritional security depends on Africa to realize its full potential as a breadbasket, and increased acceptance of GM crops is one of the tools that should be available.

None of this will happen without political leadership.

President Obamas immediate task is to appoint a new trade representativea figure who will command respect in foreign capitals. Former Republican Senator Richard Lugar, who has a good relationship with the president, might be an inspired choice.

Then comes the hard part, but also the most important part: Thinking big on trade.

विधेयक हौरन मकई बढ़ता है, soybeans and other grains with his brother on a family farm based in North Central Iowa. Bill volunteers as a board member and serves as Chairman for Truth About Trade & प्रौद्योगिकी (www.truthabouttrade.org). Follow us: ट्विटर पर @TruthAboutTrade | व्यापार के बारे में सच्चाई & Facebook पर प्रौद्योगिकी.