Skip to Content

Resource Center

Blog - December 2009

  • 12/21/2009 1:25 PM

    Late December is often a time for reflection, as Americans look back at the last twelve months and ready themselves for the New Year. This week's trade spotlight will focus on USTR's 2009 efforts to advance America's economic recovery through trade.

    As 2009 draws to a close, United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk today commented on USTR's efforts to deliver the benefits of trade - better jobs, higher wages, and more affordable goods - to American families and communities this year. Since Ambassador Kirk took on leadership of the agency in March, USTR has been an active participant in the Administration-wide economic recovery effort, generating job-creating trade opportunities in keeping with the President's 2009 Trade Policy Agenda.

    "We know that trade policy that expands export opportunities can create jobs in American communities and put dollars in the pockets of American families. This year, USTR's efforts have focused on doing just that," said Ambassador Kirk. "We seized new opportunities for American businesses and workers in the global marketplace, tackled long-standing trade barriers and trouble spots, advanced U.S. interests through cooperation with our partners around the world, and sought to open a new conversation on trade here at home. In 2010, we will redouble our efforts to employ trade as a powerful tool for American job creation and economic growth."

    Seizing New Opportunities

    In 2009, USTR aggressively pursued market-opening opportunities for American businesses and workers in every part of the world, and sought to empower more American workers and businesses to compete in the global marketplace.

    • Announcing Trans-Pacific Partnership Negotiations. In mid-December, President Obama announced that the United States will negotiate a trade agreement with the Trans-Pacific Partnership that will integrate the Asia-Pacific economies. USTR is now working in consultation with Congress and with stakeholders to create a 21st century trade agreement that reflects American priorities, enhances American competitiveness, and generates job-creating opportunities for American businesses and worke

    • Launching a New Initiative on Small- and Medium-Sized Businesses. In October, USTR launched a new trade policy initiative to enable SMEs to grow their businesses and generate jobs through international trade. An agency-wide working group is ensuring that policymaking and enforcement better serve small- and medium-sized enterprises. USTR has also requested an investigation by the International Trade Commission on the role of small- and medium-sized exporters, to inform trade policy efforts in 2010.

    • Expanding Market Access for U.S. Beef. This year, USTR secured expanded market access around the world for U.S. ranchers.

    • The European Union. In May, Ambassador Kirk announced an historic Memorandum of Understanding between the United States and the European Commission, ending a decades-long disagreement over American beef imports and enabling American ranchers to ship tens of thousands of pounds of high-quality beef to the European Union at zero duty every year. Those exports are expected to generate more than $100 million for American farmers and ranchers in the next three years.

    • Chile. In March, the United States and Chile reached an agreement allowing the resumption of American beef shipments to Chile. Those shipments represent a growing market opportunity for American ranchers and the U.S. beef industry; beef exports to Chile from January-September 2008, prior to the Chilean halt, totaled more than $1 million.

    • Taiwan. In October, the United States and Taiwan signed a bilateral U.S. beef importation protocol consistent with science and international standards. USTR is continuing to work with Taiwan to fully implement that protocol. As negotiated, the agreement provides for expanded market access for U.S. beef and beef products.

    • Expanding Market Access in China. Through this year's U.S. China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT), USTR negotiated increased market access in China for American businesses and workers in a variety of sectors:

    • China agreed to improve access for U.S. energy companies by removing local content requirements on wind turbines. This agreement will enable more American companies to take advantage of the fast growth of China's wind energy sector, creating high-quality green collar jobs for American workers. China's renewable energy market is expected to reach $100 billion by 2020.

    • China agreed to accept prior approval of a medical device issued by a foreign country regardless of its exporting origin, country of manufacture or legal manufacture to satisfy any prior approval registration requirement. According to industry, China's prior approval requirement could have impacted over $350 million in U.S. products; a separate new clinical trials agreement with China will save U.S. companies hundreds of millions of dollars.

    • China gave assurances that it will impose maximum administrative penalties on Internet infringers and began a four-month campaign to clamp down on Internet piracy. This agreement will help to ensure that U.S. copyright holders continue to benefit from their products as internet use expands across China.

    • China agreed to strengthen oversight and enforcement regarding counterfeit pharmaceuticals. Agreements like this will help American pharmaceutical companies lose less annual revenue and receive the benefits of their research and development.

    • China gave assurances that it was in the process of concluding its licensing procedures for certain direct selling services companies. One U.S. company has already received its license and other U.S. companies can be encouraged by the prospect of new market access opportunities.

    • Opening Markets through Better Monitoring and New Partnerships. In July, Ambassador Kirk announced that USTR would focus two new efforts on tracking and reporting of sanitary and phyto-sanitary (SPS) measures that serve as barriers to U.S. agricultural exports, as well as and standards regulations affecting U.S. manufactured goods. USTR is working with other agencies to produce two new 2010 reports that will help target barriers on the ground in trading partner countries, ensuring market access for American workers and businesses.

    • Addressing Illegal Logging and Trade through a New Asia Pacific Regional Dialogue. In September, USTR brought trade and forest ministry officials from nine countries together in Jakarta, Indonesia to launch a new Asia-Pacific Regional Dialogue to promote trade in legally-harvested forest products. This initiative will provide a platform for collaborative projects and potential negotiations to increase transparency in forest products trade and government-to-government cooperation in combating illegal logging.

    • Fighting Intellectual Property Infringement. Following a June announcement from Ambassador Kirk that USTR would step up the fight against global counterfeiting and piracy, USTR staff have worked hard to move forward with negotiations of an Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. Throughout the year, USTR has sought to develop collaborative solutions to intellectual property infringement with partners in the negotiations. By strengthening enforcement of intellectual property rights we can ensure that American rights holders are rewarded for their innovation and creativity, and also help to protect American consumers from potentially dangerous counterfeit products.

    Tackling Existing Problems

    USTR worked to make sure Americans received the benefits of existing trade agreements through strong enforcement of Americans' trade rights. This work is helping American farmers, ranchers, manufacturers, and service providers to remain competitive despite the difficulties of the economic recession.

    • Winning Market Access for Creative Industries. On December 21, in a victory for workers and businesses in America's creative industries and in the global fight against international piracy, the World Trade Organization Appellate Body rejected China's appeal and confirmed important panel findings that Chinese restrictions on the importation and distribution of certain copyright-intensive products, such as theatrical films, DVDs, music, books and journals, are inconsistent with China's WTO obligations. The WTO ruling is critical to guaranteeing that legitimate, high-quality American entertainment products have full access to the Chinese market. Getting these products into China's markets promptly is a vital tool in the fight against rampant intellectual property piracy in China.

    • Imposing Duties for Canada's Violations of the Softwood Lumber Agreement. In April, USTR imposed new customs duties on imports of softwood lumber from four Canadian provinces, following Canada's failure to comply with the Softwood Lumber Agreement - a pact designed to increase industry stability for American softwood lumber producers. The duties will remain in place until the United States has collected $54.8 million.

    • Standing Up for American Tire Manufacturers and Retailers. In September, the President announced three-year ad valorem tariffs on Chinese tire imports to stop a harmful surge of imports of Chinese tires. This action was taken after more than 5,000 American jobs were lost in the U.S. tire market from 2004 to 2008 and was consistent with China's WTO accession protocol, which allows WTO members to take such action when an import surge from China disrupts the market.

    • Leveling the Playing Field for American Exporters. In December, USTR announced an agreement between the United States and China confirming China's termination of many dozens of subsidies most of which had been supporting the export of "famous brands" of Chinese merchandise. This agreement will ensure a level playing field for American workers in every manufacturing and export sector, including household electronic appliances, textiles and apparel, light manufacturing industries, agricultural and food products, metal and chemical products, medicines, and health products.

    • Winning Market Access for American Auto Parts. As a consequence of WTO litigation, China in September eliminated discriminatory charges on imported auto parts, creating increased market opportunities for American manufacturers. China is a key destination for the auto parts produced by nearly 700,000 U.S. workers each year.

    • Winning on Intellectual Property Enforcement in China. In a dispute brought by the United States, a WTO panel ruled that certain Chinese intellectual property protection and enforcement rules were inconsistent with China's WTO obligations. In keeping with the ruling, China has committed to correct these problems by spring 2010, affording American rights holders new opportunity to protect and profit from their goods, services, and ideas.

    • Challenging Chinese Export Restraints. In November, the United States, joined by Mexico and the European Union, requested a World Trade Organization dispute settlement panel regarding China's export restraints on a number of raw materials critical to U.S. manufacturers and workers. The materials include key inputs for numerous products in the steel, aluminum, and chemical sectors.

    • Challenging Use of Mandated Censorship Software. China agreed to indefinitely suspend a regulation mandating installation of internet filtering software, known as Green Dam, on personal computers in June 2009 after Ambassador Kirk and Commerce Secretary Locke, along with a broad coalition of international industry groups, expressed serious opposition to China's plan.

    • Challenging EU Restrictions on U.S. Poultry Exports. In October, the United States asked the WTO to review a European Union ban on the import and marketing of poultry meats and poultry products processed with pathogen reduction treatments judged safe by U.S. and European food safety authorities. A favorable decision from the WTO dispute settlement process could open up new opportunities for American poultry producers in the 700,000-ton EU import market.

    • Keeping Markets Open for U.S. Pork and Pork Products In the aftermath of the H1N1 influenza outbreak, USTR fought aggressively to keep world markets open to U.S. pork and pork products. After initially instituting H1N1 related bans, more than a dozen countries have removed those bans - including China, where U.S. pork producers last year sold more than $225 million worth of pork products, and Russia, where 2008 sales totaled more than $300 million.

    • Solving the Long-Running Bananas Dispute at the WTO. In December, the United States and the EU initialed an agreement designed to lead to a settlement of the longstanding dispute over the EU's discriminatory bananas trading regime. In the agreement, the EU agreed not to reintroduce measures that discriminate among foreign bananas distributors and to maintain a non-discriminatory, tariff-only regime for the importation of bananas. The U.S.-EU agreement complements an agreement initialed the same day between the EU and several Latin American banana-supplying countries. Final settlement of the banana disputes will require the completion of certain ratification steps by the parties and WTO certification of the EU's new tariffs on bananas.

    Advancing U.S. Interests through Cooperation

    This year, USTR has collaborated multilaterally and bilaterally with trading partners on market access, environmental, and regulatory issues in order to grow economic opportunities for American workers and businesses.

    • Leading the Effort to Move Forward on the Doha Round of Trade Talks. Under the Obama Administration, the United States brought new ideas and new approaches to the Doha Round of world trade negotiations, which have been stalled for several years. The United States introduced sustained direct bilateral engagement among key partners as a way to achieve needed clarity, close gaps with regard to market-opening contributions by advanced developing countries, and move the Doha Round forward.

    • Increasing Collaboration through the JCCT and S&ED. Ambassador Kirk co-Chaired the 20th session of the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade in October. During the session, American and Chinese negotiators struck nine agreements in various sectors. The United States and China announced a new multi-agency working group that will regularly discuss government procurement issues and related topics. In addition, USTR's active participation in the inaugural meeting of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue enabled us to emphasize the benefits of open trade and investment regimes and helped lay the groundwork for market access improvements with China over the longer term.

    • Making it Cheaper, Easier, and Faster to Trade in the Asia-Pacific through APEC. At the November APEC Leaders Summit in Singapore, the United States worked with other APEC members to break down barriers to trade and investment in a number of areas that are slowing economic integration in the Asia-Pacific. USTR will carry this work forward to strengthen economic integration and create an environment conducive to trade in the Asia-Pacific region when the United States hosts APEC in 2011 - a rare and important opportunity to push forward a bolder vision for this critical organization.

    • Supporting Services Trade in the Asia-Pacific. This year, Ambassador Kirk and fellow trade Ministers endorsed principles to govern the trade of cross-border services. These steps will make it easier than ever for American service providers to do business in some of the world's fastest-growing markets.

    • Promoting Environmentally Sustainable Growth in the Asia-Pacific. The United States and its APEC partners this year agreed on an ambitious plan to address barriers to trade and investment in environmental goods and services. At the same time, USTR and its APEC partners also announced the launch of EGSIE, a new website that provides information-sharing and collaboration related to cutting-edge environmental technologies and services in the Asia-Pacific. The website will also promote the global dissemination of such technologies, helping to facilitate green growth around the world.

    • Taking Concrete Steps to Facilitate Trade by Eliminating Obstacles to the Flow of Goods. The United States worked to reduce the time, cost, and uncertainty of moving goods and services through the region by improving logistics and transportation networks. USTR also worked to simplify rules of origin documentation and procedures to make it easier to take advantage of preferential trade deals in the region and improved the transparency and accessibility of APEC economies' customs information and regulations.

    • Gathering Support for an International Environmental Trade Consensus. At year's end, USTR staff at the Copenhagen Climate Conference and in the Doha Round of world trade negotiations were working towards possible early action on climate-friendly technologies that would support green collar jobs in America and around the world, and contribute to a positive agenda on trade and climate change.

    • Achieving Regulatory Reform in Japan. In July, the United States and Japan announced successes under the U.S.-Japan Regulatory Reform and Competition Policy Initiative. This work, led by USTR, streamlined regulatory reviews for pharmaceuticals and medical devices, strengthened copyright protections, removed other non-tariff barriers to trade, and improved transparency. Japan is America's fourth largest trading partner and goods export market.

    • Resolving Issues through Regular Trade Consultations with Korea. USTR worked closely with Korea through regular quarterly bilateral trade consultations to resolve issues and improve U.S. firms' market access in Korea. Successes included Korea's decision to allow U.S. labs to perform testing related to Korea's safety regulations for lithium-ion batteries.

    • Serving as a Strong Partner to the Developing World. This year, USTR expanded America's relationships with developing countries, seeking to create paths of opportunity for the developing world and to gain job-creating market openings for American businesses.

    • Afghanistan and Pakistan: As one of our top national security priorities, we are working closely with other U.S. government agencies to help the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan as they fight extremists who threaten their lives and those of their development partners. Ambassador Kirk discussed a range of trade issues with the Afghan and Pakistani Commerce and Finance Ministers at April and October TIFA meetings with both countries. USTR is working to maximize trade opportunities for Afghanistan and Pakistan under the U.S. GSP program, and we have asked the U.S. Congress to pass Reconstruction Opportunity Zone (ROZ) legislation that would provide additional duty-free benefits to both countries. We continue to help Afghanistan with its accession process to join the World Trade Organization. We also have helped to facilitate Afghanistan and Pakistan's negotiation of a modern transit trade agreement.

    • Angola: In May, the United States signed a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement with Angola that will serve as a foundation for enhanced trade and investment relations between the United States and Angola. In 2008, U.S. exports to Angola totaled about $400 million; U.S. imports from Angola were about $4 billion. More than 95 percent of that trade is related to the oil and gas sector, and Angola is considered a strategic energy partner for the United States.

    • Central Asia: In October, Ambassador Kirk and ministers from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, with Afghanistan as an observer, agreed to new mechanisms for increasing trade and investment among U.S.-Central Asia TIFA nations. Those mechanisms include a new mid-year meeting of a regional TIFA working group that will support regional cooperation, as well as new bilateral dialogues between the U.S. and each Central Asia TIFA partner which will focus on country-specific issues. We also have made special efforts to include Afghanistan in the U.S.-Central Asia TIFA process, to help Afghanistan better link economically with its neighbors.

    • Egypt: In May, Ambassador Kirk signed the Plan for a Strategic Partnership with Egyptian Minister of Trade and Industry Rachid Mohamed Rachid, to strengthen economic cooperation between the United States and Egypt. In 2008, goods exports from the United States to Egypt totaled $6 billion; the Strategic Partnership will help to grow that number for American businesses and workers.

    • Maldives: In October, the United States signed a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement with the Maldives, to increase commercial and investment opportunities. In 2008, U.S. goods exports to the Maldives were $20 million, an increase of 5% from 2007, while U.S. goods imports from the Maldives were $4 million.

    • Mauritius: In August, USTR announced that the United States would begin formal negotiations toward a Bilateral Investment Treaty with Mauritius, to strengthen investor protections and encourage the continuation of market-oriented economic reforms in Mauritius. Bilateral investment treaties are one tool that the Obama Administration is using to assist reform-minded African countries.

    • Mongolia: In June, USTR commenced negotiations with Mongolia for a U.S.-Mongolia Transparency Agreement that will provide a clear understanding of trade policies and practices. This is the first time the United States has sought to conclude a stand-alone agreement on transparency.

    • Sri Lanka: USTR, in cooperation with the State and Commerce Departments, in October recruited 40 U.S. companies to participate in a conference focused on investment and business opportunities in post-conflict Sri Lanka, in particular possibilities for fostering national reconciliation through economic development and employment creation. The conference, which took place in Colombo, Sri Lanka, included U.S. participants from small- and medium-sized firms as well as representatives from Fortune 500 companies. The conference, which included visits to war-affected areas in the Eastern Province, was designed to help attract U.S. investment for the economic development of war-affected areas as Sri Lankans return to their homes in these places.

    • Turkey: In December, Ambassador Kirk and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, in a joint press conference with Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan, launched a new Framework for Strategic Economic and Commercial Cooperation. The Framework aims to help enhance the already robust economic and trade relationship between the United States and Turkey. The Framework was developed following President Obama's commitment to Turkish President Gul to find new ways to promote bilateral trade relations. In 2008, U.S. exports to Turkey totaled nearly $10 billion while imports totaled $4.6 billion.

    • Greater Engagement with Trade Partners on Labor Rights. USTR negotiated a strong package of labor commitments by the Government of Panama to ensure respect for labor rights consistent with the obligations of the FTA. USTR ensured that a Better Work Program and labor ombudsman were established as required by the HOPE II Act, thereby ensuring Presidential certification of Haiti's continued eligibility for tariff preferences under that act. USTR took steps to include a commitment by China for a dialogue on labor issues among the joint outcomes of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue. And USTR included labor issues on the agendas for discussion at FTA Joint Committee meetings with Chile, Bahrain, and Jordan and led Interagency teams to Guatemala, Peru, Jordan, Bahrain, and Oman to monitor labor rights in and engage those FTA partners.

    • Protecting U.S. Pay TV Content in The Bahamas. In October, a new law went into effect in The Bahamas restoring copyright protection for U.S. pay television content. Industry estimates indicate American cable companies generate approximately $250 million in annual Caribbean revenue; this law will enable them to capitalize further on U.S. programming within that region. The new law fulfills a commitment made by The Bahamas in a November 2000 Letter of Understanding with the United States.

    Opening a New Conversation on Trade at Home

    This year, USTR achieved unprecedented transparency through new tools designed to make trade policy more accessible, accountable, and responsive to the needs and ideas of American businesses and workers.

    • Identifying and Addressing Outstanding Issues on Pending Free Trade Agreements. The Obama Administration inherited three pending free trade agreements, which await Congressional approval. USTR is consulting closely with Congress and with stakeholders to find a way forward for the Colombia, Panama, and South Korea pacts, with the goal of identifying and resolving outstanding issues and seeking solutions with input from the public and Congress. USTR is working to finalize these agreements in a way that will provide all Americans with unprecedented economic opportunity in the Colombian, Korean, and Panamanian markets, while being responsible to American workers and ensuring respect for American values.

    • Greater Transparency in Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) Negotiations. USTR released a detailed summary of the state of the ACTA negotiations in April and again in November. These summaries set out the specific topics of discussion in the negotiations as the United States and its trading partners work toward a new agreement to combat counterfeiting and piracy.

    • Strengthening Public Engagement. Throughout the year, USTR has built and strengthened broad coalitions with labor, business, environmental, small businesses, faith based groups, local activists, consumer, state and local governments. USTR has continued to develop a robust advisory committee system and provide the public and interested stakeholders opportunities to engage with USTR.

    • Inviting Public Participation in the Model Bilateral Investment Treaty Review. In July, USTR and the Department of State hosted a public hearing regarding the Administration's review of the model Bilateral Investment Treaty, which was last updated in 2004. In addition to the hearing, USTR also welcomed comments from stakeholders and the public through the Federal Register process. USTR is taking these steps to ensure that a new model BIT is in keeping with the public interest as well as large-scale economic policy.

    • Sharing Information through New Media. In June, USTR launched a new website which enables Americans to follow trade policy news and updates, as well as to share their questions and their trade stories with USTR. USTR also launched social media outreach including Facebook and Twitter feeds, where Americans across the country and people around the globe can get the most up-to-date information about USTR's actions.

    "These accomplishments represent USTR's first steps under President Obama. USTR will continue to build upon this work in the next year and throughout the Obama Administration. In 2010, we hope to bring some of our most promising initiatives to fruition, with our trading partners around the world and here at home," said Ambassador Kirk. "This Administration is committed to a robust agenda that can and will bring the benefits of trade home to every family in America."

  • 12/15/2009 5:00 PM

    On Friday, December 18, President Obama will travel to Copenhagen, Denmark, for the United Nations Climate Change Conference. This week's trade spotlight will focus on trade and climate change.

    As nations strive to reach a global agreement on climate change in Copenhagen this week and the President prepares to join other heads of state to press for a result at that meeting, USTR is continuing its efforts to harness trade to build a new U.S. green economy.

    Today, the United States is one of the top exporters and importers of environmental goods. U.S. exports of environmental goods totaled $83.5 billion in 2008, and U.S. imports of environmental goods totaled $100 billion in 2008. U.S exports of environmental goods have been growing steadily, on average increasing by over 9 percent annually since 2004. Companies like Solyndra in Fremont, California, which is manufacturing solar photovoltaic panels that are soon to be installed across Southern Europe, are expanding to meet the demands of international markets.

    USTR is particularly focused on achieving strong results to eliminate tariffs and non-tariff barriers to environmental goods and services as part of ongoing WTO Doha negotiations. And as Ambassador Kirk remarked at the WTO Geneva Ministerial two weeks ago, the United States is prepared to join other countries to seek early results on climate-friendly technologies, such as solar panels and stoves and wind and hydraulic turbines.

    According to a World Bank study in 2007, elimination of barriers to these technologies could boost their international trade flows by seven to 14 percent. Such action would benefit U.S. exporters of these technologies, while making a contribution to global efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change.

    USTR's efforts to liberalize trade in these important technologies will help facilitate greater export growth for U.S. manufacturers in the future, creating green jobs along the way, including in U.S. small- and medium-sized businesses.

    In addition to ongoing Doha negotiations on environmental goods and services, U.S. engagement in Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations will create new opportunities to liberalize trade in key environmental technologies.

  • 12/14/2009 1:50 PM

    Ambassador Kirk traveled to Los Angeles on Friday, December 12th to meet with small business leaders from Southern California. Ambassador Kirk discussed USTR's new initiative around boosting exports by small- and medium-sized firms as a source of job creation here at home. According to the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation, international trade directly accounts for 342,000 jobs in Southern California.

    Ambassador Kirk and SME Leaders
    Ambassador Kirk meets with small business leaders from Southern California

    Ambassador Kirk also met with leaders of the Screen Actors Guild, the Director's Guild of America and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) to talk about USTR's work to protect America's creative services industry from piracy overseas. Ambassador Kirk briefed the leaders of MPAA about the case USTR recently took to the World Trade Organization (WTO) to ensure China complies with its WTO obligations on the the importation and distribution of copyright-intensive products such as theatrical films, DVDs, music, books and journals. The case is proceeding through the WTO and is an important step toward ensuring market access for legitimate U.S. products in the Chinese market, as well as ensuring market access for U.S. exporters and distributors of those products.

    Ambassador Kirk and MPAA Leaders
    Ambassador Kirk meets with leaders of the Motion Picture Association of America

    While in Los Angeles, Ambassador Kirk spoke with local radio station KPCC - hear here. He also met with members of the Los Angeles Times Editorial Board to discuss how trade is a key part of the country's economic revival and how trade benefits the regional economy of Southern California. California is the second largest exporting state in the country, with more than $144 billion of computers, electronics, machinery, and other goods exported last year alone. Read portions and hear audio of Ambassador Kirk's meeting with the Los Angeles Times Editorial Board meeting here.

  • 12/11/2009 1:21 PM

    Ambassador Ron Kirk addressed elected leaders from throughout the country at the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) Fall Forum held December 9 - 12 in San Diego, California. The three-day meeting, themed "New Ideas, New Opportunities," featured an array of speakers and presentations who addressed state budgets and economic recovery, education reform, job creation and state innovations.

    Ambassador Kirk at NCSL Conference

    Ambassador Kirk addressed the state elected leaders at the NCSL opening session. In his remarks, Ambassador Kirk discussed a new initiative recently launched by USTR aimed at increasing exports by small- and medium-sized firms in the United States. Citing trade as a major tool for the country's economic recovery, Kirk said that USTR's new effort to bolster trade opportunities for small- and medium-sized businesses can ultimately grow jobs here at home as companies sell more goods and services worldwide. Small- and medium-sized exporters are more likely to grow faster, add jobs faster, and pay higher wages than their exclusively domestic counterparts, he noted.

    Ambassador Kirk Speaks at NCSL Conference

    Ambassador Kirk told state elected leaders their input and engagement was crucial, as they are often a first point of contact for small business owners and entrepreneurs, and that state policies are instrumental to fostering growth and development in cutting edge industries and communities.

    While in San Diego, Ambassador Kirk also meet with members of the National Conference of State Legislatures Labor and Economic Development Committee to discuss increasing exports and growing jobs related to trade. Ambassador Kirk highlighted the importance of states in furthering the Obama administration's goals of protecting intellectual property and the innovations coming from the United States.

  • 12/09/2009 1:51 PM

    Today Assistant United States Trade Representative for Intellectual Property & Innovation Stan McCoy testified before the House Subcommittee on Government Management, Organization, and Procurement. The hearing was entitled, "Protecting Intellectual Property Rights in a Global Economy: Current Trends and Future Challenges," and it gave McCoy an opportunity to talk about the role of the Office of the United States Trade Representative in strengthening protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights around the world.

    To review McCoy's testimony, please click here.

  • 12/07/2009 6:18 PM

    On Thursday, December 10, Ambassador Kirk will travel to San Diego, California, to meet with state legislative leaders at the National Conference of State Legislature's Fall Forum. This week's trade spotlight will focus on trade in California.

    From San Diego to Redding, millions of families in California can attest to the benefits of trade. Manufacturers, farmers, ranchers, service providers, and businesses of every size are selling their products to consumers around the world. Just last year, California exported more than $144 billion of computers, electronics, machinery, and other goods.

    Across California, nearly 50,000 small- and medium-sized enterprises are working to grow their businesses through trade. A snapshot of these businesses reveals a diversity of entrepreneurship. One example is a company based in Modesto that ships vegetable seeds to Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Another business, based in Pleasanton, ships robotics and automation products to more than 20 countries. And there's also the San Diego manufacturer that sells sports equipment to athletes in China.

    Businesses like these are counting on job-creating trade opportunities to grow, prosper and increase employment. Nearly 30,000 workers are needed just to keep the flow of goods moving through the Port of Long Beach. And the California men and women who work in export-related fields reap the benefits of quality, high-paying jobs. Trade is a booming business in California, and USTR is working to ensure that trade provides an even greater source of opportunity for families across this state, and throughout our country.

  • 12/07/2009 5:48 PM

    Ambassador Kirk and Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke today inaugurated a new process of engagement with the government of Turkey on economic and trade issues. The new policy structure, to be known formally as the "Framework for Strategic Economic and Commercial Cooperation" (Framework) was unveiled on the occasion of the visit of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to the White House.

    Ambassador Kirk at Press Avail

    During a joint press conference with their new Turkish counterpart, Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan, Ambassador Kirk and Secretary Locke, who will co-chair U.S. participation in the Framework process, stated that the Framework aims to help enhance the already robust interaction that takes place between the two governments on economic issues. U.S. Government agencies currently work with Turkish counterparts in the economic arena through the bilateral Trade and Investment Framework Agreement, the Economic Partnership Commission and the Energy Working Group, as well as through numerous ongoing contacts between officials at all levels. The new Framework will ensure regular coordination and review of these many activities at a senior political level.

    Press Avail with Locke and Babacan

    Turkey is the United States' 39th largest goods trading partner, and bilateral trade has been steadily growing over the last 15 years. U.S.-Turkey two way goods trade totaled $14.6 billion during 2008. U.S. exports of goods to Turkey in 2008 were $10 billion, an increase of 51.1% ($3.4 billion) over 2007, and 262% from 1994. Goods imports from Turkey into the United States were $4.6 billion in 2008, up 0.9% ($41 million) from 2007, and 195% from 1994. The stock of U.S. foreign direct investment in Turkey was $6.1 billion in 2008. The stock of Turkish foreign direct investment in the United States was $218 million in 2007 (latest data available).

  • 12/04/2009 5:15 PM

    This week, Kalim from North Carolina asks the best way for a small business to access markets abroad.  He asks:

    "What is the fastest way to global business growth?  I just started a new corporation to offer digital media services for direct media marketing along with general construction for large and small businesses.  I would like to expand my services to other countries in need.  How do I go about doing that, in an efficient way?"

    Ambassador Kirk responds:

    "Thanks for your question.  Small businesses have great potential for global business growth, and finding new customers overseas can help grow your business and create new jobs in your community.

    Here at USTR, we have launched an initiative to make sure that America's trade policies increase opportunities for small- and medium-sized enterprises to export both goods and services.  Services, in particular - including sectors like digital media services, marketing, and construction services - account for 80 percent of U.S. jobs and are an exciting growth area for U.S. exports.

    While USTR works to open new markets abroad for all U.S. small businesses, the Department of Commerce offers customized resources to assist individual business such as yours with accessing new markets and taking advantage of our existing trade agreements.  I would encourage you to visit to locate the U.S. Export Assistance Center nearest you, and discover the many online resources Commerce offers.  If you're just beginning to sell internationally, Commerce recommends focusing on two or three best-prospect markets, and has step-by-step research guidelines online to get you started.

    The Small Business Administration also has developed a Small Business Guide to Exporting, which you can find by clicking here.

    I also encourage you to sign up for USTR's free email newsletter, which provides a weekly update on our initiatives with trading partners around the world and can be a good information resource.  Go to our homepage,, and on the bottom right-hand corner click on enewsletter.

    Congratulations on your new business, and good luck!"

    Thank you for continuing our dialogue on trade.  Please keep submitting your questions and comments for the Ambassador.

  • 12/03/2009 6:10 PM

    This morning Peter Cowhey, Senior Counselor to USTR Ambassador Ron Kirk, and Karen Mills, the Small Business Administrator, co-hosted a breakfast for a group of small business leaders attending the White House Jobs Conference.  Both Cowhey and Administrator Mills focused their remarks and attention on the critical role of small businesses in generating job growth and jump-starting economic recovery.

    Small- and medium-sized enterprises are by far the majority of U.S. exporters.  As a group these exporters grow faster, add jobs faster, and pay higher wages.  As such, expanding trade by small- and medium-sized business can be a critical tool of economic recovery.

    To that end, Cowhey pointed to USTR's new efforts to bolster trade opportunities for small- and medium-sized businesses.  Those efforts are aimed at empowering small- and medium-sized companies to sell more goods and services worldwide, ultimately creating more jobs here at home.

    Specifically, under the new initiative USTR is:

    • Requesting an investigation by the International Trade Commission that will produce a clearer picture of America's small- and medium-sized exporters, their role in generating employment and economic activity in the United States, and the potential for increased trading opportunities to benefit these businesses and their workers.

    • Convening a USTR-wide working group to ensure that the lead trade agency's policymaking and enforcement efforts immediately seek to better serve small- and medium-sized enterprises.

    • Collaborating with federal trade promotion agencies like the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Small Business Administration that have complementary programs for export expansion among small- and medium-sized firms.

  • 12/02/2009 7:50 PM

    During Ambassador Kirk's last day in Geneva, Switzerland for the 7th Session of the WTO Ministerial Conference, he sat down the Associated Press to talk about how increasing American exports around the world can help to create jobs at home. Read part of the article below, and the full article here.

    "We are now turning our attention almost full-time to how we create jobs and continue to grow the economy," said Kirk, the U.S. trade representative, as a three-day WTO conference ended. "Too many Americans believed ... that our previous trade policies had been overly generous to our partners."

    Kirk, on his second trip to Geneva, said the U.S. was rebalancing the WTO's so-called Doha round of trade talks to ensure that they create better conditions for American exports. "In most cases when we export more, we get to hire more people," he said.


    Kirk said he wanted quick results to help ease the economic duress in the United States.

    "This whole notion of everything taking 10 years, 15 years and 20 years is just antithetical to me," he said. "The world changes too quick. Competition is too fierce. The consumers, businesses, workers can't often wait 20 or 30 years just to get a result."

  • 12/02/2009 3:01 PM

    United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk made the following statement at the conclusion of the 7th Session of the WTO Ministerial Conference today in Geneva, Switzerland.

    ARK at Closing Press Conference

    From Ambassador Kirk:

    "During the recent and ongoing financial crisis, participation in a rules-based global trading system has led WTO Members to avoid the kind of protectionism that exacerbated the Great Depression. This week in Geneva, we have recognized the need to strengthen and build on that rules-based and cooperative foundation, and to consider the potential of a balanced and ambitious conclusion to the Doha Round.

    "In the wake of the financial crisis, the world needs a meaningful outcome at Doha that provides new and real economic opportunities. As President Obama described it, ‘not just any agreement, but an agreement that will open up markets and increase exports around the world.' This will create the widespread economic opportunity necessary to meet the development promise of Doha.

    "In the last several months, the United States has sought to work with our trading partners on new approaches to truly move these talks into the endgame. Our team introduced sustained direct bilateral engagement as a way for key partners to achieve needed clarity and close gaps with regard to market-opening contributions by advanced developing countries. The question now is the willingness of partners to engage in a meaningful way.

    "WTO members have repeatedly committed this year to moving the Doha Round forward. It is time to act on those commitments, move outside our comfort zones, and make the hard choices required of those who would lead at the WTO.

    "In the United States, we recognize that trade can be an important pillar of global economic recovery and of recovery right at home - particularly in terms of creating the well-paid jobs that Americans want and need. And we also recognize the economic necessity of this round to the poorest countries, to which the Obama Administration has made a special commitment.

    "This ministerial may be over, but the work will not stop. I look forward to marking progress on the Doha Round, and on many more issues within this rules-based global trading community, when next we meet."

  • 12/02/2009 11:00 AM

    ARK at Industry Briefing

    This morning, Ambassador Kirk dropped by the daily USTR briefing for trade advisory committee members who participated in the 7th Session of the WTO Ministerial Conference. Throughout the week USTR staff have provided briefings to the members regarding ministerial activities. Ambassador Kirk thanked the advisors for their hard work and support, acknowledging that their presence at the ministerial sent a strong signal to our trading partners that the United States is committed to being a global partner.

    ARK at Industry Briefing 2

    These trade advisory committee members represent agricultural interests, environmental and labor groups, the business and manufacturing sector of the U.S. economy. They provide advice to the USTR on trade and economic issues affecting the United States. Ambassador Kirk gave a brief rundown on the ministerial, his meetings and next steps and then they all headed off for the days plenary and closing sessions.

  • 12/02/2009 5:56 AM

    Ambassador Kirk spoke this morning at the second Working Session of the 7th Session of the WTO Ministerial Conference. This working session focused on the WTO's Contribution to Recovery, Growth, and Development. Read his remarks below.

    "As the financial situation unfolded a year ago, there were dire predictions about what might happen to the trading system - visions of the kind of protectionism that worsened the Great Depression in the 1930s.

    Instead - and as evidenced by the Director General's most recent TPRB report - we have not seen anything close to what was feared. The system has held fast and, so far, has passed a fairly strenuous test.

    The continued health of the trading system is due in part to many of our own individual efforts in the face of domestic political pressure to turn inward. It is also due to the recognition that in today's global economy, it's pretty easy to shoot yourself in the foot.

    Of course we must, and will, remain vigilant.

    We should all recognize that the rules-based global trading system took a lot of difficult work over the last six decades to establish and maintain, and that it will be a continuing challenge to maintain its relevance.

    Our being here today is a testament to the continued and increasing significance of a rules-based World Trade Organization in an increasingly integrated global economy.

    Through the WTO's work on Aid For Trade, the Enhanced Integrated Framework, and its own technical assistance programs, the WTO has also helped to facilitate trade-related technical assistance in line with the priorities set by Members in their national development strategies.

    I attended an important meeting yesterday with many least-developed country Members, hosted by the Director General. It highlighted the work of the WTO and its Members to ensure trade benefits the poorest Members of the WTO. For its part, the United States is the largest single-country provider of trade-related technical assistance.

    The WTO's vocation of economic growth and development requires a Doha outcome that goes beyond just capturing little more than the status quo in terms of market access. We need an outcome that truly creates new opportunities for all Members.

    The Secretariat's recent report to the LDC Subcommittee concerning market access for least-developed countries highlighted the geographical redistribution of LDC trade flows, with LDC exports to developing countries expanding - particularly to the major developing economies such as China and India.

    In this context, a Doha outcome that delivers the global economic growth necessary to spur development will require market-opening contributions from all key players - not only developed but also advanced developing countries, commensurate with their role in the global economy.

    This remains the linchpin in our effort to take Doha to the finish line, and the United States remains committed to working with our partners to achieve a Doha success.

    The United States supports the WTO's ongoing monitoring of trade measures, its work to ensure that trade benefits all Members, particularly the poorest, and Members' pursuit of progressive trade liberalization through the Doha Round negotiations.

    Through these efforts, the open, transparent, and rules-based multilateral trading system embodied by the WTO will continue its important contributions to economic growth and development for all."

  • 12/01/2009 5:13 PM

    This evening in Geneva, Switzerland, Ambassador Kirk attended a dinner hosted by the government of Hong Kong, at which a broad range of ministers engaged in what Ambassador Kirk termed "useful and productive" conversations.

  • 12/01/2009 11:56 AM

    This afternoon in Geneva, Switzerland, Ambassador Ron Kirk met with Indian Commerce Minister Anand Sharma. Ambassador Kirk expressed the importance of the work being done together by the United States and India on a bilateral and multilateral basis in an effort to move the Doha Round of world trade negotiations toward an endgame, and the two discussed the status of and next steps in U.S.-Indian interaction toward that end.

    Ambassador Kirk and Minister Sharma also discussed the positive progress made at the United States-India Trade Policy Forum meeting in New Delhi in October, and the recent successful visit to Washington of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The two committed to further work toward a more formal framework for discussion of trade and investment issues between the two countries.

  • 12/01/2009 10:53 AM

    Late this morning in Geneva, Switzerland, Ambassador Kirk met with trade ministers and officials from more than 25 African countries. The meeting focused on key issues in the Doha Round of trade negotiations, the future of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), and trade-related aid to Africa.

    ARK at Africa Group
    Ambassador Kirk and Egyptian Trade Minister Rachid Mohamed Rachid

    On Doha, Ambassador Kirk encouraged Africa Group ministers to work with the United States to ensure a Doha result that creates the new market access needed to generate economic growth and development in Africa and globally - namely, with meaningful market access contributions by key emerging economies. He recognized the importance of cotton for African countries, and noted that best solution on cotton would come from an ambitious agricultural outcome on all commodities and across all three pillars of the negotiations - particularly improved market access into key markets such as China.

    Ambassador Kirk also assured African Ministers of continued USG support for AGOA and to provide U.S. aid for trade, but urged ministers to continue to make the kinds of reforms and investments needed to diversify their exports and improve their competitiveness in the U.S. as well as regional and global markets.

    Africa Group

    Ambassador Kirk also met briefly this afternoon with Russian Economic Development Minister Elvira Nabiullina. Ambassador Kirk expressed the United States' continuing support for and readiness to assist Russia's individual accession to the WTO. Ambassador Kirk also stressed the continuing need for Russia to open its markets to U.S. meat and poultry products in accordance with existing agreements and with world health and science standards.

    ARK and Nabiullina
    Ambassador Kirk and with Russian Economic Development Minister Elvira Nabiullina

  • 12/01/2009 7:24 AM

    ARK and Rohde at Working Session
    United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk and Assistant USTR for WTO and Multilaterial Affairs Matt Rohde confer during a working session of the WTO Ministerial Conference in Geneva, Switzerland.

    Ambassador Kirk recently spoke at the first Working Session of the 7th Session of the WTO Ministerial Conference. The Working Session focused on a review of WTO activities, including the DOHA Work Program. Read Ambassador Kirk's remarks below.

    "The WTO's activities have improved lives throughout the world, contributed to global growth and development, and provided a strong bulwark against protectionism in troubled times. The WTOs ongoing work has the potential to generate further economic growth and development that can lift millions out of poverty.

    These important goals are being fulfilled through the Doha Work Program, the day-to-day activities of the WTO's more than 20 standing committees, the organizations contributions to work on Aid for Trade, and by the integration of new Members into the rules-based multilateral trading system.

    We are pleased that the negotiating groups established under the Doha Work Program have re-energized their multilateral work this fall.

    But to close the remaining gaps in agriculture, NAMA, and services particularly with regard to the market access commitments by the most advanced developing countries this multilateral work needs to be supplemented by sustained direct bilateral engagement, as called for by G-20 leaders.

    There is no secret to how we will achieve an ambitious and balanced result in each of these core areas. The United States has been clear that we will need to achieve meaningful market opening that will result in significant new trade flows, particularly in the worlds fastest-growing economies.

    Little is being asked of developing country Members in terms of new commitments in the Round. But the gains in terms of economic growth, employment and prosperity stand to benefit all of us if trade is expanded in the years ahead in rapidly emerging global markets.

    The more progress that can be made in advancing toward a final package in agriculture, NAMA, and in services, the more momentum we will be providing to the broader multilateral work.

    The WTO's work on trade facilitation will simplify and modernize customs procedures, enhancing trading opportunities, improve the investment climate and help better integrate developing countries, particularly LDCs, into global supply networks.

    With respect to LDCs, the United States stands by our commitment at Hong Kong to provide duty-free and quota-free market access to least-developed countries as part of the implementation of a successful conclusion to the Doha Round. This will complement ongoing U.S. efforts to foster the further integration of LDCs into the multilateral trading system.

    The WTO is also advancing the liberalization of trade in environmental goods and services, and we fully support fast-tracking action in the WTO's work on liberalizing trade in climate-friendly technologies.

    We also support the WTO's work on strengthening rules on fisheries subsidies, which can effectively put a stop to overcapacity and overfishing.

    In addition to the important WTO work being done to conclude the Doha Round, it is universally recognized that eliminating tariffs alone is not sufficient to foster development. Assistance is needed to help build productive capacity in developing countries.

    The United States is committed to providing substantial, effective grant Aid for Trade in response to priorities identified by beneficiary countries themselves.

    U.S. trade capacity-building assistance totaled nearly $2.3 billion in FY2008, up 52 percent from FY2007. Since FY1999, U.S. trade capacity building funding has exceeded $10.2 billion.

    The United States strongly supports the accession of new Members to the WTO, particularly in the case of the least developed countries. In this connection, we are committed to the effective implementation of the 2002 Decision on LDC Accessions.

    Adoption of WTO provisions builds strong rules-based economic institutions that have a long-term positive impact on trade, economic growth and domestic development, and the process of WTO accession helps to facilitate the reforms necessary to economic growth and development.

    The efforts of the United States in LDC accessions are centered on helping the applicant lay out its plan to accomplish necessary steps, and to take those steps in conjunction with provided technical assistance.

    In all of these activities, the United States looks forward to continuing to work in partnership with WTO Members."

  • 12/01/2009 5:14 AM

    This morning in Geneva, Switzerland, Ambassador Ron Kirk participated in a breakfast discussion of the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF), a multi-organization, multi-donor program that coordinates trade-related assistance to least-developed countries.  Topics included ongoing efforts to implement the EIF, how the Framework can help least-developed countries with accession to the WTO, and how additional funding might be mobilized.

    Ambassador Kirk today noted that President Obama’s 2009 Trade Policy Agenda includes a commitment to be a strong partner to developing countries, especially the poorest developing countries, and conveyed the Obama Administration’s intention to continue support for the Enhanced Integrated Framework through bilateral assistance and on-the-ground presence in least-developed countries.  This will include the work of USAID  and the Millennium Challenge Corporation.

    Since 2001, the United States has cumulatively provided nearly $2 billion in Aid for Trade to countries participating in the EIF.