WASHINGTON, D.C. — Sen. Olympia Snowe called for U.S. Trade Ambassador Ron Kirk to visit Skowhegan’s New Balance facility in order for him to understand the impact the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement would have on the footwear industry.

New Balance recently added 40 new jobs to its Skowhegan facility. The company has three factories in Maine and is the only remaining manufacturer of athletic shoes in the country.

“Ambassador Kirk must hear firsthand from manufacturers across the nation about the impact any trade agreements may have on American industries like the domestic rubber footwear sector and the jobs it supports in Maine,” Snowe said in a statement on Wednesday. “Based on his answer today, he clearly doesn’t grasp the gravity of the impact the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement could have for these workers, their families, and the specialized industry as a whole.

“I invited Ambassador Kirk to visit New Balance’s Skowhegan facility to get a unique glimpse of a business that has not only developed their domestic manufacturing options, but continues to innovatively produce new products while creating additional job opportunities in the Northeast,” the Republican senator said. “These are precisely the kinds of jobs that we must support, particularly since more than 28,000 jobs in the footwear industry have gone overseas in the past 15 years. At a time when so many American manufacturers are struggling, New Balance has provided stability and economic opportunities in my home state of Maine.”

Snowe also urged President Obama to sign a bill that recently passed Congress that would overturn the GPX case.

On Dec. 19, 2011, in GPX International Tire Corp. v. United States, a U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit panel unanimously ruled that the U.S. Department of Commerce may not apply countervailing duty law to nonmarket economy countries, such as China or Vietnam.