Locke, whose nomination requires Senate confirmation, promised the Senate's commerce committee he would fight to protect US intellectual property rights and vigorously enforce the rules of existing US trade pacts.
"More than free trade, though, I believe in fair trade," he said in the confirmation hearing.
"That means we must enforce our trade agreement and place a high value on environmental, labor and safety standards," he said, warning that failure to do so was "putting American workers at a competitive disadvantage."
At minimum, this kind of rhetoric suggests the Obama administration is interested in listening to and appeasing fair trade forces. It's only rhetoric, of course, but it is nonetheless encouraging.