WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate approved one of its own senior aides, Demetrios Marantis, on Wednesday to be deputy U.S. trade representative in charge of negotiation and enforcement of trade agreements in Asia and Africa.
Marantis joins the Democratic administration of President Barack Obama after several years working for Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus.
He was most recently chief international trade counsel for the panel and was approved by the Senate for his new job on a voice vote.
The Harvard Law School and Princeton University graduate helped Baucus, a Montana Democrat, and former Republican President George W. Bush win approval of free trade pacts with Central American countries, Bahrain, Oman and Peru.
Marantis now faces the challenge of helping U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk win passage of the South Korean free trade agreement, which Obama opposed last year but now wants to work with Seoul to approve.
Kirk's office also must contend with two other pacts with Panama and Colombia negotiated by Bush.
Marantis worked in Hanoi for two years as the chief legal trade advisor for the U.S.-Vietnam Trade Council from 2002 to 2004. He left to work for the unsuccessful presidential campaign of Senator John Kerry.
Marantis was associate general counsel in the U.S. Trade Representative's office early in the Bush administration andhelped negotiate U.S. free trade deals with Chile and Singapore.