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Blog - April 2010

  • 04/30/2010 10:44 AM

    Deputy United States Trade Representative Miriam Sapiro welcomed nine high school students to her office yesterday to discuss trade policy. The students are juniors and seniors from Friends Select School in Philadelphia, where Ambassador Sapiro attended high school. They are visiting Washington on a research trip and have been studying various aspects of globalization and economics. 

    The students asked questions about techniques for negotiating trade agreements, the effects the financial crisis has had on our economy and our exports, how tariff and non-tariff barriers can obstruct trade, and our policy towards China. One student, who had focused her research on the earthquake in Haiti, asked what USTR was doing to help that country recover. Ambassador Sapiro mentioned the importance of recently-introduced legislation in the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means Committees to expand and extend trade benefits available to Haiti; and also explained the Plus One for Haiti program, which encourages U.S. brands and retailers to work toward sourcing one percent of their total apparel production from Haiti. 

    While the students learned about U.S. trade policy, Ambassador Sapiro learned something too – that her high school math teacher is still teaching at Friends Select School. “Say hello to Teacher Ralph for me,” Ambassador Sapiro asked, referring to Ralph Reinwald. The students promised they would. 

    Ambassador Sapiro Hosts Student Roundtable

    Friends Select School is an independent college-preparatory school located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  

  • 04/29/2010 6:35 PM

    Ambassador Ron Kirk convened a meeting of USTR’s Trade Advisory Committee on Africa (TACA) on Thursday afternoon. The meeting was chaired by Mora McLean of the Africa-America Institute. USTR officials participating included Deputy USTR Ambassador Demetrios Marantis, Assistant USTR for Africa Florie Liser, and staff from the Office of African Affairs, Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement, and Trade and Development. Officials from the Export-Import Bank and Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) also participated and made brief presentations on trade financing and investment in sub-Saharan Africa. TACA Members discussed the National Export Initiative, the Doha Round, the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), U.S.-Africa trade patterns, trade capacity building, and other issues. Ambassador Kirk emphasized that trade policy and export promotion are an integral part of the Administration’s economic recovery plan and job creation at home, and that trade and investment with African countries creates opportunities for growth on both continents.

    Ambassador Kirk Hosts TACA MeetingAmbassador Kirk makes opening remarks at the TACA Meeting

  • 04/29/2010 6:30 PM

    Today, Ambassador Kirk met with Yemeni Minister of Industry and Trade, Dr. Yahya Al-Mutawakel, to discuss the status of bilateral market access negotiations and other issues related to Yemen’s efforts to accede to the World Trade Organization (WTO). In addition to market access negotiations, Yemen is working with the United States and other WTO Members to implement multilateral rules in areas such as intellectual property, technical barriers to trade, sanitary and phyto-sanitary measures, and customs valuation. Yemen started the WTO accession process in 2002.

  • 04/29/2010 11:12 AM

    As part of a series focused on growing your business internationally, Ambassador Kirk recently wrote an article for American Express Open Business and FedEx’s Open Forum for business owners. The article focuses on the President’s National Export Initiative and how business owners across the country can expand their workforce by selling products overseas. You can read the article and learn more here.

  • 04/28/2010 5:54 PM

    Ambassador Kirk met today with a group of  officials from member states of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), an organization of 14 Caribbean countries and one British Overseas Territory.  The group discussed wide range of economic issues, including the operation of U.S. trade preferences for the Caribbean and Central American region, collectively known as the Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI).  They also discussed ways to strengthen the trade relationship between them.

    The total value of U.S. imports from CARICOM member states in 2009 was $7.5 billion.  U.S. exports to CARICOM last year were approximately $8.2 billion.

    You can find USTR’s 2009 report on the operation of the CBI here.

    Ambassador Kirk and Leaders of the Caribbean CommunityAmbassador Kirk with leaders of the Caribbean Community

  • 04/28/2010 5:22 PM

    This morning, Ambassador Kirk was featured on the Tom Joyner Morning Show. During his interview with Roland Martin, he spoke about small businesses and exporting. You can listen to the interview here.

  • 04/28/2010 4:06 PM

    Today, 15 USTR staff members ran in the 29th Capital Challenge, a three-mile race for runners from the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the Federal Government, and the media.  Proceeds from the race benefit the Special Olympics of Washington, DC.  Under race rules each team must have a senior official of the agency as its captain.  The three USTR teams were led by Ambassador Miriam Sapiro, Deputy U.S. Trade Representative; Stan McCoy, Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Intellectual Property and Innovation; and Luis Jimenez, Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Legislative Affairs.  USTR teams included runners from nine offices within the agency.

    Teams from the agency placed sixth, 23rd, and 24th among teams from the executive branch.  “Fast Trackers” took sixth place honors, while “Deal Makers” and “Left in the DUSTR” finished in 23rd and 24th places, respectively. Clete Willems from the General Counsel's office placed 6th overall (out of 580 runners) and Joseph Laroski, from General Counsel's office as well, placed 31st overall.

    According to race organizers, this was the first time the agency had entered teams in the race in over 15 years.  USTR, a relatively small agency with only about 200 people, had the second highest number of teams in the executive branch.

    USTR Runners in Capitol Challenge

  • 04/28/2010 3:05 PM

    On Wednesday, United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk met with representatives of the member states of Caribbean Community (CARICOM). 

    This week, Ambassador Ron Kirk is hosting a meeting with a delegation from CARICOM member states to further America’s trading relationship with CARICOM countries. This vital multilateral relationship between the United States and the Caribbean Community supports thousands of jobs. 

    The Office of the United States Trade Representative has been actively involved in expanding America’s trading relationship with the Caribbean region since the Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI) was created in 1983. The CBI was initially envisioned as a program to facilitate the economic development and export diversification of the Caribbean Basin economies. However, after more than two decades, the benefits of the CBI have been felt in America as well. In 2009 alone, American companies exported over $8.2 billion of goods to the Caribbean Community. 

    Environmental Fabrics Inc., based out of Gaston, South Carolina and employing 50 workers, manufactures geo-synthetic products for use in wastewater treatment and the collection of biogas. Exports to countries such as Trinidad and Tobago generate over 15 percent of the company’s total sales. In South Florida, Caricap Inc. is producing a wide array of goods such as plumbing material and pipes for export to the Caribbean. For workers across America, exports support well paying jobs that are crucial to help many families get through tough economic times. 

    Businesses like these depend upon new markets for business expansion opportunities and workers depend on exports for quality, well paying jobs. And thousands of workers are needed in warehouses and ports to ensure that goods get to their destination in an efficient and timely manner. For America, trade with the Caribbean Community continues to play a role in the economic recovery of the United States.

  • 04/26/2010 6:25 PM

    During their meeting today in Washington, Ambassador Ron Kirk and EU Commissioner John Dalli discussed issues of food safety for American and European consumers, citing the importance of science-based decisions on how food is inspected and traded, particularly when it comes to new innovations in the production and processing of agricultural and food products.

    Ambassador Kirk and Minister Dalli

    Ambassador Kirk and Commissioner Dalli agreed that increased sharing of information and cooperation between the United States and the EU would help both sides move forward on food safety issues that affect trade between the United States and the European Union.

  • 04/26/2010 4:24 PM

    Ambassador Kirk commemorated World Intellectual Property Day at an event on Capitol Hill with Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) of the House Judiciary Committee. At the event, Ambassador Kirk spoke about the importance of intellectual property rights in trade policy. World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Deputy Director General James Pooley; David Kappos, Undersecretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO; Francisco Sanchez, Undersecretary of Commerce for International Trade; and American Intellectual Property Law Association Executive Director Q. Todd Dickinson also attended the event. 

    According to industry estimates, IP-intensive industries employ about 18 million Americans. World Intellectual Property Day is celebrated by WIPO and its 184 Member States to increase understanding of the importance of intellectual property in promoting creativity and innovation to encourage respect for intellectual property rights, which protect the works of inventors, authors, and artists. 

    Intellectual property plays a significant role in promoting creativity and innovation and to encourage respect for these rights. As President Obama recently said, “Our single greatest asset is the innovation and the ingenuity and creativity of the American People. It is essential to our prosperity and it will only become more so in this century.” 

    USTR is committed to working with America’s trading partners to secure adequate and effective intellectual property safeguards wherever American goods and services are sold. This is being done in many different ways, including by: working cooperatively with foreign governments to identify and remedy situations of inadequate protection of US intellectual property; communicating through the Special 301 Report about countries where intellectual property rights are not receiving appropriate protection; negotiating agreements that commit other countries to protect U.S. IPR, and working hard to conclude the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) that will support America’s competitive advantage in cutting edge industries by promoting strong enforcement of IPR. Lastly, when necessary USTR does not hesitate to initiate formal disputes such as through the World Trade Organization dispute settlement mechanism, when countries fail to live up to their intellectual property commitments.

  • 04/26/2010 10:58 AM

    Check out some new videos from Ambassador Kirk's trip to Brussels, Belgium in March now on the U.S. Mission to EU's Facebook page. You can find them here.

  • 04/23/2010 9:29 AM

    Senior Representatives of the Governments of the United States and Pakistan are meeting today at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative in Washington for the fourth meeting of the United States-Pakistan Trade and Investment Council, under the U.S.-Pakistan Trade and Investment Agreement (TIFA) that was signed in 2003. Today’s meeting demonstrates the continuing close cooperation between Pakistan and the United States on economic, trade, and investment issues. It manifests the importance both governments place on strengthening a long-term relationship that broadens our cooperation beyond military and security ties to programs that promote the private sector and economic development.

    Pakistan Trade Meeting

    Pakistan Trade Meeting(Amb Ron Kirk)

  • 04/22/2010 5:28 PM

    Montgomery County Public Schools put together a terrific video of Ambassador Kirk’s Earth Day Visit to Key Middle School in Silver Spring, Maryland today. Watch here.

  • 04/22/2010 4:51 PM

    United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk celebrated Earth Day today in Silver Spring, Maryland at Francis Scott Key Middle School, talking to students about America’s ability to export clean energy technology and services while creating jobs here at home. Ambassador Kirk was joined by Montgomery County President of the Board of Education Patricia O’Neill, Superintendent President Dr. Jerry Weast, SunEdison Founder and General Manager of the Americas Brian Jacolick, and students from Francis Scott Key Middle School.   

    SunEdison, a solar energy company headquartered in Beltsville, Maryland with 170 employees, benefits from its ability to export to customers around the world. Last month, SunEdison received approval to build and construct a photovoltaic solar power plant in Rovigo, Italy. The company financed, built and maintains the clean solar energy system installed at the Francis Scott Key Middle School with no up-front capital costs to the school system.

    See a slideshow of the event below.

  • 04/22/2010 4:32 PM

    Ambassador Kirk met with Colombian Trade Minister Luis Guillermo Plata on April 22 in Washington. They discussed the pending U.S.-Colombia free trade agreement.

    Ambassador Kirk and Minister Plata

    Colombia is currently the United States' 27th largest goods trading partner with $24.5 billion in total (two way) goods trade during 2008. Goods exports totaled $11.4 billion; Goods imports totaled $13.1 billion. The U.S. goods trade deficit with Colombia was $1.7 billion in 2008.

  • 04/22/2010 3:30 PM

    Ambassador Kirk met today with Canada Minister for International Trade Peter Van Loan. Van Loan, who was appointed trade minister in January 2010, is making his first trip to Washington in this position. Ambassador Kirk and Minister Van Loan have worked closely together on a number of bilateral and regional issues, including reaching agreement on government procurement announced in February 2010.

    Canada and the United States are each other’s largest trading partners, and have enjoyed preferential access to each other’s market under a bilateral free trade agreement since 1989 and under the North American Free Trade Agreement since 1994. Last years, Canada was the largest export market for 34 U.S. states, and the second largest for another 11. Trade between the United States and Canada has tripled over that period.

    USTR Kirk, Deputy Sapiro with Van Loan and Ambassador DoerDeputy USTR Miriam Sapiro and Ambassador Kirk with Minister Van Loan and Ambassador Gary Doer

  • 04/22/2010 2:47 PM

    The Winder Building is home for the Office of the United States Trade Representative. Completed in 1848, it is the oldest Federal office building in Washington, DC.

    Winder Building Sign

    The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) received funds through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) for the Winder Building. These funds were first used to complete a building energy consumption survey. As a result of the survey, a project is in the design phase to implement high-performance, green building measures that will substantially increase energy conservation in Winder.

    The major part of the project, a complete renovation of its inefficient heating, ventilation and air condition system, is targeted to begin this calendar year.

  • 04/21/2010 4:17 PM

    On April 16, President Obama gathered the President's Economic Recovery Advisory Board for a meeting to discuss the economic recovery. During this meeting, President Obama and Caterpillar Inc. Chairman and Chief Executive Office James Owen discussed increasing exports and free trade agreements. Watch a clip of the conversation below and read the full transcript here.

  • 04/20/2010 11:49 AM

    Ambassador Kirk met with Brazilian Ambassador Mauro Vieira on Monday to discuss a variety of opportunities for continued cooperation between the U.S. and Brazil.

    Ambassador Kirk and Ambassador Vieira

    The U.S.-Brazil trading relationship is large, growing, and balanced. It supports job retention in both countries. In 2008, U.S. exports to Brazil totaled $32.9 billion and imports from Brazil totaled $30.5 billion.

  • 04/19/2010 5:42 PM

    USTR is pleased to announce that the upcoming meeting of the Arbitrator with the parties in the World Trade Organization (WTO) proceeding United States – Laws, Regulations And Methodology for Calculating Dumping Margins ("Zeroing"); Recourse to Article 22.6 of the DSU by the United States (DS294) will be open to public viewing at the WTO in Geneva, Switzerland.  This dispute relates to certain U.S. antidumping administrative reviews in which the dumping margin was set to zero if the export price in the United States exceeds the home market price, rather than including the negative value when calculating overall dumping margins. 

    This meeting will be held to discuss the EU’s request for authorization to retaliate against the United States. At the meeting, the parties will be asked to make opening statements and pose questions or make comments on the other party’s statement. The Arbitrator may also pose questions at the meeting.

    The meeting will begin at 10:00 a.m. CEST, with seats available on a first come, first served basis. In order to attend the meeting, the WTO must receive a completed application form. The form must be completed and submitted by 5:00 p.m. CEST Monday, May 10.

    You can find more information on the public session here.

  • 04/19/2010 3:57 PM

    Ambassador Kirk was in Dallas, Texas on Friday to give the keynote address at the World Affairs Council, and spoke of how international trade is helping to create jobs in America.

    You can listen to a National Public Radio (NPS) segment on Ambassador Kirk's speech here

  • 04/19/2010 2:39 PM

    On April 21, United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk will meet with the Congressional Textile Caucus to discuss the state of the American textile industry. This week’s weekly trade spotlight is on the textile industry in America.   

    Throughout the United States, hundreds of thousands of Americans jobs are supported by the textile industry. This industry is diverse, with workers supporting the manufacture of goods from sewing threads to seatbelts and with mills and factories scattered across rural and urban America. Although over 44 percent of those employed from the textile industry are in Georgia, North Carolina and California, this industry employs Americans in every state.   

    This industry is discovering that by exporting, businesses can grow and expand. Last year, textile and apparel exports totaled nearly $12 billion. Today, roughly 75 percent of all textiles produced in the United States are exported abroad with the majority of those exports going to countries that America has entered into free trade agreements with. In countries such as Mexico and the Dominican Republic, U.S. produced yarns and fabrics are then fashioned into finished apparel products, ready to be sold in the United States at a cheaper price for American families.   

    Companies like Seydel International, based out of Pendergrass, Georgia produce chemicals involved in the manufacture of textiles that are exported to over 40 countries and employ approximately 100 workers. Today, exports account for about 20 percent of their total sales. Another small family owned business, William Usdan and Sons Inc, based out of Belleville, New Jersey exports over 15 percent of their specialty textile paper products to countries in South America, where they are made into apparel for American consumers.   

    What’s more, textile exports create jobs at home and help account for approximately 500,000 American jobs. For example, Glen Raven Inc., a textile producing plant headquartered in South Carolina, employs almost 1,600 workers throughout the United States.

  • 04/16/2010 1:27 PM

    On Ambassador Marantis's last day in Beijing yesterday, the Ambassador continued to pursue U.S. concerns regarding China's "indigenous innovation" by meeting with a group of innovation experts to discuss the best ways for an economy to innovate. He also participated in a press roundtable covering a spectrum of trade matters.

  • 04/16/2010 10:35 AM

    Ambassador Kirk and Treasury Secretary Geithner met on Thursday with Prime Minister Najib of Malaysia for a wide-ranging discussion of the bilateral trade and investment relationship. Currently, Malaysia is the 18th largest U.S. trading partner – with $34 billion in two-way goods trade – and an important investment partner, with more than $13 billion in U.S. foreign direct investment in Malaysia and an increasing amount of Malaysian investment in the United States. They discussed Prime Minister Najib’s New Economic Model, a wide-ranging economic reform program designed to make Malaysia a more developed, entrepreneurial, and innovative economy and to help it achieve high income status by 2020. Ambassador Kirk gave Prime Minister Najib an update on the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, a centerpiece of U.S. engagement in the fast-growing Asia-Pacific region. They also discussed joint efforts to conclude the WTO Doha Development Agenda negotiations. Acting Foreign Minister Dr. Rais Yatim also attended.

    Ambassador Kirk, PM Najib and Secretary Geithner
    Ambassador Kirk with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib and Treasury Secretary Geithner

    U.S. and Malaysian Delegation
    U.S. and Malaysian Delegations

  • 04/15/2010 1:19 PM

    This week we received a question about the role of the U.S. Trade Representative. Ken from Arizona asks: 

    “How, Mr. Ambassador, do your duties fall outside State and/or Commerce Department?” 

    Ambassador Kirk responds: 

    “Thank you for your question, Ken. As the U.S. Trade Representative, I am President Obama’s principal trade advisor, negotiator, and spokesperson on trade issues. My office has the responsibility of developing and coordinating the implementation of U.S. trade policy, in consultation with other federal agencies and Congress. 

    I represent the United States in our dealings with foreign governments regarding their laws, policies, and practices that affect U.S. trade. I negotiate with individual countries (such as with China), groups of countries (such as in the Administration’s Trans-Pacific Partnership initiative), and in international organizations responsible for trade matters (such as the World Trade Organization). One of my chief responsibilities is to negotiate agreements with my foreign counterparts that reduce trade barriers and create new opportunities for U.S. exports. My office also takes the lead in ensuring that our trading partners live up to their obligations under the agreements they sign with us. 

    The Department of Commerce and Department of State have trade-related expertise and responsibilities that complement and support USTR’s mission. Each is a member of the USTR-led interagency committee through which the Administration develops and implements U.S. trade policy. These departments contribute knowledge and expertise on U.S. manufacturing and foreign policy. 

    The Commerce Department plays a leadership role, working with U.S. companies and foreign governments, to promote exports of U.S. manufactured goods. This support is critical if U.S. exporters are to be aware, and take full advantage, of the market opening created by the trade agreements USTR negotiates. Both the Commerce and State Departments oversee a network of in-country U.S. commercial and economic officials posted at U.S Embassies worldwide. These officials play a critical role in carrying out U.S. trade policy. They provide a wealth of information on foreign trade practices that is invaluable in helping the United States reduce barriers to U.S. exports.” 

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

  • 04/14/2010 5:19 PM

    Ambassador Kirk met with the Congressional Dairy Caucus today. During the meeting, Ambassador Kirk had a discussion of negotiations in the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

    Ambassador Kirk and the Congressional Dairy Caucus

  • 04/14/2010 2:07 PM

    On his second day of meetings in Beijing, Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis continued discussions on a range of important trade and investment topics, highlighting in every meeting serious U.S. concerns about China's "indigenous innovation" policies.   

    Ambassador Marantis's meeting with the Vice Chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission, Zhang Xiaoqiang, also covered a number of investment topics, including matters related to initiatives under the Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT). Ambassador Marantis and Commerce Deputy Under Secretary Michelle O'Neill then met with Vice Minister Ma Xiuhong, their Chinese counterpart on the JCCT, and covered a number of JCCT matters.   

    Ambassador Marantis also met with Vice Minister Yuan Shuhong from China's State Council Legislative Affairs Office. Among other topics, they discussed a recent measure issued by the State Council that should greatly improve the transparency of China's regulatory process. Ambassador Marantis then met with Vice Minister Cao Jianlin from the Ministry of Science and Technology, a lead agency on China's innovation policy, where discussion focused on many facets of the "indigenous innovation" issue.   

    Ambassador Marantis ended his day at a gathering of U.S. business people from China and the Asia-Pacific to hear their "on the ground" perspectives on China and other Asia-Pacific issues, including APEC and the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

    Ambassador Marantis and VM CaoAmbassador Marantis and Vice Minister Cao Jianlin

  • 04/14/2010 11:55 AM

    This morning, Ambassador Kirk gave opening remarks at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce/U.S.-ASEAN Business Council breakfast honoring Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dzung.

    Ambassador Kirk and Vietnamese PM DzungAmbassador Kirk and Vietnamese Prime Minister Dzung

    Read an excerpt of the statement released after the breakfast and the Ambassador’s full prepared remarks here

    “The gains to Vietnam from economic reform and trade liberalization are resoundingly clear on the streets of that country today. 

    And our bilateral trade and investment has brought tremendous benefits to the United States as well. 

    U.S. exports to Vietnam have tripled since Vietnam joined the WTO and in 2009, the United States became the largest foreign investor in Vietnam. 

    Even with this impressive record of success, this relationship has considerable untapped potential. 

    We have found willing and able partners in Vietnam. And we will continue to undertake a robust agenda to strengthen and deepen the relationship.” 

    Vietnam is currently the United States’ 30th largest goods trading partner with $15.4 billion in total (two ways) goods trade during 2009. Goods exports totaled $3.1 billion; Goods imports totaled $12.3 billion. The U.S. good trade deficit with Vietnam was $9.2 billion in 2009.

  • 04/14/2010 10:32 AM

    Ambassador Kirk, together with Indonesian Vice President Boediono, presided over the signing of an updated U.S.-Indonesia Investment Support Agreement yesterday at the Fairmont Hotel in Washington, D.C. The agreement, signed by Acting President of the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) Lawrence Spinelli and Indonesian Investment Board Chairman Gita Wirjawan, is an important step in expanding investment and trade linkages between the United States and Indonesia. Through this agreement, OPIC will be able to provide all of investment and insurance products to U.S. companies doing business in Indonesia, the largest and most populous country in ASEAN and one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. Also in attendance were Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa and Energy Minister Darwin Saleh.

    Ambassador Kirk Presides over U.S.-Indonesia Agreement SigningAmbassador Kirk makes remarks after the signing of the U.S.-Indonesia Investment Support Agreement

    U.S.-Indonesia Agreement SigningThe signing of the U.S.-Indonesia Investment Support Agreement

  • 04/13/2010 4:51 PM

    Ambassador Kirk met with Glen Raven Mills Chief Executive Officer Allen Gant today as a follow-up to Ambassador Kirk’s visit to Glen Raven Mills production facility in Anderson, South Carolina on March 4. Ambassador Kirk and Mr. Gant spoke about expanding export financing for America’s textile industry and continuing the ongoing dialogue with USTR in working together on issues that textile issues.

    Ambassador Kirk and Alan Gant

    Glen Raven, founded in 1880, began as a small cotton mill in North Carolina and is now a successful leader across the globe in fabrics, employing almost 1,600 workers throughout the United States. Glen Raven works to design, engineer and market fabrics for existing and new products for businesses across the world. Glen Raven currently exports almost every fabric-based product that they make, such as automotive car tops for convertibles, marine fabrics for sailing, furniture upholstery fabric, and military defense fabric for boots. Glen Raven serves businesses in North and South America, Europe and Asia as it continues to grow to become a leader in the textile industry.

    Read about Ambassador Kirk’s visit to Glen Raven here.

  • 04/13/2010 3:38 PM

    This week, United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk will meet with leaders and dignitaries from some of the 10-member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). This weekly trade spotlight highlights the benefits trade with ASEAN countries brings America.  

    From Seattle to Miami, American businesses, workers and families are benefitting from United States-ASEAN trade.  The $203 billion in goods and services trade makes the ASEAN trading region America’s 5th largest trading partner, supporting nearly 800,000 jobs in America.  And the future of U.S.-ASEAN trade looks positive.  

    With all 10 ASEAN economies expected to experience positive economic growth in 2010, ASEAN countries offer growing market potential for American businesses, and many American companies are creating new jobs at home by exporting to Southeast Asia.  

    Small- and medium-sized companies have been at the forefront of trade with ASEAN countries, and these businesses are located all across America – from small towns to big cities. These small businesses have been big players in job creation with over 65 percent of new jobs in the United States attributed to small businesses.  

    In the town of Madison, Alabama one business that manufactures electronics has expanded into the ASEAN market, finding demand for their product in Malaysia.  Another company based just outside of Atlanta, Georgia that produces equipment used in supermarkets has also found a market in ASEAN. American aviation companies also export planes, parts, and technology to countries in ASEAN like Vietnam and Indonesia. 

    With the increased trade of goods to ASEAN countries, ports throughout the nation will continue to buzz with activity, supporting even more American jobs. 

  • 04/13/2010 10:55 AM

    Deputy United States Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis is in Beijing, China this week for a series of bilateral meetings related to trade and investment issues.  On Tuesday, working toward this year’s session of the Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade, he co-chaired the Industries and Competitiveness Dialogue with Deputy Undersecretary Secretary Michelle O'Neill and with Vice Minister Lou Qinjian from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. The Tuesday morning session involved discussion on how best to foster innovation, including the key role played by innovative small- and medium-sized businesses.  The afternoon's discussion covered a range of trade topics, including the United States' serious concerns with the direction of China's indigenous innovation policies.

  • 04/13/2010 9:35 AM

    Ambassador Sapiro met with Costa Rica’s Minister of Foreign Trade Marco Ruiz on April 12th to discuss a range of issues of mutual interest, including matters relating to the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR).  The CAFTA-DR entered into force for Costa Rica on January 1, 2009.  

    Ambassador Sapiro and Minister Ruiz

    The United States is Costa Rica’s largest trading partner.  Total goods trade between the United States and Costa Rica was $10.3 billion during 2009.  Total goods trade between the United States and Central America and the Dominican Republic was $38.8 billion during 2009. 

  • 04/09/2010 4:41 PM

    Rep. Quigley's office just released a press release about the Navistar tour on Tuesday with Ambassador Kirk. Read it and see pictures here.


  • 04/08/2010 4:22 PM

    We recently received a question about small business exports to Southeast Asia. Michael from South Carolina asks:

    "Ambassador Kirk, I have recently started a company importing coffee from Laos. My partner, an American, currently lives in the Philippines. He has an extensive network of companies, and businessperson's in the country, as well as southwestern China. We are looking for ways to leverage these contacts. I recently saw you on CNBC, talking about small business exports. I would love to do my part in helping to facilitate your work in exporting to Southeast Asia.

    The issue that I am having is two-fold:

    1) I am a young entrepreneur (27 years old), generationally my business understanding of exports is very limited. My knowledge base is only in importing.

    2) The only things I can come up with for exports are: capital equipment, and agriculture products. Very high capital requirements and these industries are not small business oriented.

    My two questions are:

    1) How do I go about leverage my contacts in Southeast Asia for small businesses in America. What beginning steps should I take?

    2) What industries have a competitive advantage over Southeast Asia?"

    Ambassador Kirk responds:


    I appreciate your question and am delighted to learn that my CNBC remarks have led you to consider potential export opportunities. At USTR we are working to create trade opportunities for small- and medium-sized businesses, so small firms like yours can export, grow and create new, high-paying jobs. My advice is that you contact our commercial officers in our Embassies in the Philippines and Laos, who will be able to provide more detailed information on specific opportunities for U.S. small businesses in those countries and ways to take advantage of your contacts. A number of small businesses have already made the leap to exports with the help of the Commercial Service, like the energy drink company from California currently negotiating deals in Southeast Asia.

    The website for the U.S. Commercial Service for the Philippines has information on the services they offer like: arranging appointments with potential distributors, business partners and sales representatives, providing background checks on businesses, and conducting both broad and customized industry research. Their website also provides free access to their market research library as well as a list of sector analysis reports. You can also email their office in Manila for more specific questions. The U.S. Commercial Service for Thailand currently covers Laos and you can email their office in Bangkok for more information.

    The Commerce Department's International Trade Administration also provides export assistance to U.S. companies and works to promote trade and investment across the globe. The U.S. Commercial Service runs Export Assistance Centers throughout the country staffed with experts who understand overseas markets and your local economy. Office locations can be found here. The Annual Report of the U.S. Commercial Service is also an important resource, which identifies sectors with the best prospects for U.S. companies. In addition, you may want to contact the Export-Import Bank, which assists in the financing of U.S. goods and services exports for companies both large and small.

    I invite you to sign up for USTR's free weekly email newsletter, in order to stay apprised of U.S. trade policy initiatives in Asia and elsewhere, and USTR's efforts to open new markets for small businesses. Go to the homepage at, scroll to the bottom and click on eNewsletter.

    Again, thank you for your question and I wish you the best of luck."

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

  • 04/07/2010 5:38 PM

    As part of his trip to Chicago, Illinois, Ambassador Kirk joined U.S. Representative Mike Quigley to meet with executives and labor leaders of Navistar International. Navistar produces commercial trucks, diesel engines and school buses. Navistar also sells engine parts and service. Navistar develops hybrid engines and was awarded a grant from the Recovery Act last fall. While they are based in Illinois, the company sells its products in 90 countries around the world. They also have plants on five continents.

    Ambassador Kirk spoke to Navistar executives about the President's National Export Initiative and growing U.S. jobs through exports. He also spoke about how USTR is working to make trade policy work on behalf of American businesses and workers.

    After talking with executives, Ambassador Kirk and Rep. Quigley toured the facility. See pictures of the tour below.

    ARK and Navistar Executives

    ARK and Navistar Executives

    ARK Tours Navistar Plant

  • 04/07/2010 5:04 PM

    Earlier this week, Ambassador Kirk traveled to Chicago, Illinois to meet with local business leaders and promote President Obama's National Export Initiative. While in Chicago, he participated in an export promotion forum sponsored by Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL), hosted a meeting on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, met local business leaders at Robert Morris University in a roundtable hosted by Rep. Danny Davis (IL-7), and visited the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to hear from leaders of small exporting businesses.

    See a slideshow of his trip below.

  • 04/07/2010 3:19 PM

    Two new letters in support of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) have been posted to the ACTA page.

    The first letter, from more than 100 businesses and associations, encourages Ambassador Kirk to continue working on the agreement and stresses the need for intellectual property rights.

    The second letter comes from the Entertainment Industry Guild Union, and thanks President Obama on his remarks about the importance of protecting intellectual property rights at the Export-Import Bank Annual Conference.

    Visit the ACTA page to learn more about the agreement and to see more supporting statements.

  • 04/07/2010 1:26 PM

    As the Obama Administration continues to make government more transparent and open to the American public, USTR is pleased to release its Open Government Plan today - part of President Obama's Open Government initiative. USTR's Open Government Plan highlights ways that USTR is continuing to work to make trade policy and data more transparent, while expanding opportunities for citizen participation, collaboration, and oversight.

    Included in the plan are:

    USTR's Flagship Initiative - the new Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Free Trade Agreement negotiations. This new initiative presents an excellent opportunity to engage more robustly and in new ways with the American public to gain input as the Administration crafts its trade policy.

    New Media Website. is an interactive website, less than one year old, that allows USTR to create and maintain an open dialogue on trade policy.

    Trade Agreements in Plain English and Tariff Schedules. USTR is working on a pilot project to post "plain English" summaries of Free Trade Agreements in an open government format along with the associated country tariff schedules as datasets.

    Special 301. USTR held a new public hearing on the Special 301 review, opening the floor to more than two dozen individuals representing foreign governments, non-profit organizations, and industry groups. Full audio from the hearing was posted on

    Freedom of Information Act. USTR will begin publishing each incoming FOIA request and its response. Additionally, USTR will publish past FOIAs and associated responses, beginning with those of likely greatest interest to the public.

    USTR is working to create robust trade policy that works for American workers and families, and the areas highlighted in the Open Government plan provide additional ways for the public to become involved in USTR activities. You can read the full plan here.

    The Open Government Plan is part of the Open Government Directive issued by the Director of the Office of Management and Budget on December 8, 2009. In pursuant to this Directive, USTR has also launched on February 9, allowing for the American public to ask USTR questions, to review Annual Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) reports, and to contact USTR officials.

  • 04/06/2010 2:58 PM

    Ambassador Kirk remained in Chicago, IL on Wednesday to continue discussions with local leaders, businesses, and workers about how increased American exports can support additional American jobs over the next five years. After meeting with Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, Ambassador Kirk met local business leaders at Robert Morris University in a roundtable hosted by Rep. Danny Davis (IL-7).

    Participants included representatives of local manufacturing companies, food companies, and small businesses interested in exporting or seeking to export goods and services.

    Ambassador Kirk, Ron Arnold and Rep. Danny Davis
    Ambassador Kirk with Rep. Davis and Ron Arnold of Robert Morris University

    Ambassador Kirk later visited the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to hear from leaders of small exporting businesses in Illinois, from manufacturers of dredging equipment to steel belts.

    Ambassador Kirk at roundtable in Illinois
    Ambassador Kirk participates in a roundtable at the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity

    For more on how trade benefits Illinoisans, please view this week's Trade Spotlight here

  • 04/06/2010 12:38 PM

    This week, United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk travels to Illinois to meet with local business leaders and promote President Obama's National Export Initiative. This week's weekly trade spotlight is on the contribution trade brings to the economic recovery of Illinois.

    From small towns to big cities, Illinois farms, businesses, workers, and families are engaging in trade. From more and better paying jobs to cheaper goods available in places like grocery stores, trade is a welcome economic stimulus for many in Illinois. Across the state, businesses are reaching out to new consumers from places as varying as Mali and Mexico. By doing so, these companies are supporting new jobs for more Illinois workers. Last year alone, 15,607 companies exported over $41 billion of goods and services.

    Throughout the state, small businesses are finding new opportunities to sell their goods throughout the world. Last year over 89 percent of all companies in Illinois that exported goods abroad were companies that employed 500 or fewer workers. Companies like a small engineering firm based out of Mount Prospect have found advantageous opportunities beyond America's borders. This company creates electrical products and sells them to countries like China, Thailand and Ghana. Another company based out of Rockford made their first international sale to the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Now this company exports their products to over 40 countries.

    Illinois businesses, workers, and families are counting on trade to help them get through tough times and create jobs. In places like the Port of Chicago, where workers ship millions of dollars worth of goods to countries around the world, to the farms outside Peoria where agricultural products like soybean and corn are grown to be enjoyed abroad, trade supports jobs. In Illinois, trade is providing a much needed buffer for Illinois families and businesses. USTR is committed to creating more opportunities through trade for the businesses and citizens of Illinois.

  • 04/05/2010 5:59 PM

    On Friday, April 2, First Lady Michelle Obama visited USTR to speak with employees and thank them for their public service. Watch a video of her visit below and read the full transcript here.

  • 04/05/2010 4:18 PM

    Today Ambassador Kirk participated in an export promotion forum sponsored by Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) and designed to support job retention and growth among Illinois' small and medium-sized businesses. View a webcast of the entire event here.

    Ambassador Kirk at the Illinois Export Promotion Forum

    Ambassador Kirk was joined by U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke, Export-Import Bank of the U.S. Chairman and President Fred Hochberg, and an Illinois representative of the U.S. Small Business Administration - all partners in the President's National Export Initiative, which has set the goal of supporting 2 million additional American jobs by doubling American exports in the next five years.

    Ambassador Kirk spoke about USTR's role in assisting small businesses in increasing exports by opening new markets and breaking down barriers to exports. Learn more about USTR's work on small business issues click here.

  • 04/02/2010 2:13 PM

    Earlier this morning, First Lady Michelle Obama visited USTR to thank USTR employees and Ambassador Kirk for their work on behalf of American businesses, workers and families.

    "The fact is that folks across this country depend on trade to put food on the table and pay the mortgage and send their kids to college" said Mrs. Obama. "But what a lot of people don't understand is that your work isn't just about boosting GDP or negotiating billion-dollar trade agreements. It's about keeping the American Dream alive for hardworking folks in every corner of this country who depend on you - even if they don't always realize it."

    See pictures from Mrs. Obama's visit below.

    Ambassador Kirk
    Ambassador Kirk introduces Mrs. Obama

    Ambassador Kirk and First Lady Mrs. Obama
    Mrs. Obama speaks to USTR employees

    Mrs. Obama and USTR Employees
    Mrs. Obama thanks Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Agricultural Affairs Jim Murphy for over 40 years of public service.

  • 04/01/2010 9:38 AM

    On March 31, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk transmitted to Congress the 2010 National Trade Estimate (NTE), which describes significant barriers to U.S. trade and investment faced in the last year as well as the actions being taken by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) to address those barriers. In addition, Ambassador Kirk delivered two new, related reports focusing specifically on sanitary and phytosanitary barriers and technical barriers to trade that harm the ability of America's agricultural producers and manufacturers to export around the world. Kirk first promised a sharper focus on SPS and technical barriers to trade in a July 2009 speech at U.S. Steel's Mon Valley Steel Works in Braddock, Pennsylvania.

    Read the press release on the enforcement reports here and the fact sheets below.

    National Trade Estimate Report Fact Sheet:

    Sanitary and Phytosanitary Barriers Report Fact Sheets:

    Technical Barriers to Trade Report Fact Sheets: