Blog - March 2010
03/30/2010 4:18 PM
Ambassador Kirk just returned from traveling to Cairo, Egypt and Brussels, Belgium and meeting with Egyptian and European Union government leaders, local business leaders, and participating in the German Marshall Fund Brussels Forum.
In Egypt, Ambassador Kirk met with Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif, Egyptian Minister of Trade and Industry Rachid Mohamed Rachid, Egyptian Minister of Investment Mahmoud Mohieddin, and Egyptian Minister of Agriculture Amin Abaza. Ambassador Kirk also participated in a roundtable discussion with members of the Business Leaders Forum, and gave remarks at the American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt.
While in Brussels, Ambassador Kirk met with European Commission President José Manuel Barroso, EU Commissioner for Trade Karel De Gucht, EU Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy John Dalli, and EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Dacian Cioloş. He hosted a roundtable discussion with local business, NGO, and labor leaders, as well as giving remarks at the joint EU American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham), BusinessEurope and Belgian AmCham lunch. Ambassador Kirk also participated in the German Marshall Fund Brussels Forum on the panel ‘Overcoming Unemployment - the Counterpunch of the Economic Crisis.'
See a slideshow of his trip below.
03/30/2010 10:26 AM
WhiteHouse.gov is currently featuring a blog written by Deputy United States Trade Representative Miriam Sapiro on the importance of trade for women-owned businesses thatexport, and on the President's National Export Initiative. Read the blog on WhiteHouse.gov and learn more about women and trade here.
03/29/2010 12:19 PM
We recently received a question about the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). Frank from Texas asks:
"Ambassador Kirk, I just found out the AGOA benefits will be over starting January 1, 2010. Why? This has been a great benefit for countries such as Madagascar. Are there any plans in the future to reverse this? Has this been implemented already?"
Ambassador Kirk responds:
"Thank you for the question, Frank. The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) will not expire until 2015. However, AGOA requires the President to annually designate countries as eligible to receive the benefits of the Act, if they meet the Act's eligibility criteria. These criteria include, among other things, progress on rule of law and political pluralism. The March 2009 undemocratic transfer of power in Madagascar, and the subsequent failure to establish concrete steps toward re-establishing a constitutional democratic government and rule of law led to the termination of Madagascar's AGOA benefits in January 2010. The United States joined the international community, including the African Union and the southern African Development Community in condemning the March 2009 coup. According to the AGOA legislation, all nations will once again be up for review at the end of 2010.
For the 38 countries that meet the eligibility criteria, the combination of most favored nation rates (MFN), Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), and AGOA means that almost all their goods enter the United States duty-free. Africa accounts for only two percent of global trade and it is an initiative like AGOA that can bolster Africa's capacity to trade internationally, while also opening new business opportunities for American workers and firms. Two-way trade between the United States and AGOA nations has more than doubled since the AGOA legislation was signed in 2000. AGOA increases trade opportunities on both sides of the Atlantic, like the molded fiber-glass home manufacturer from Mississippi shipping their low-maintenance and energy-efficient structures to Nigeria and other AGOA members. AGOA has also played an important part in generating dialogue and brokering partnerships between American and African entrepreneurs- expanding opportunities for both trade and investment. We look forward to a year of growth and recovery with our African trading partners, as American businesses expand into new markets, and bring the benefits of trade back home to our workers and families."
Thank you for continuing our dialogue on trade. Please keep submitting your questions and comments for the Ambassador.
03/26/2010 4:52 PM
This morning, Ambassador Kirk met with John Dalli, the new European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy. Ambassador Kirk wanted to meet with Commissioner Dalli because the Commissioner and the EU institutions he supervises play a key role in setting EU policies and regulations that have had an adverse impact on U.S. exports to the EU in recent decades, particularly in the agricultural and food product sectors. Ambassador Kirk conveyed to Commissioner Dalli the U.S. government's interest in exploring new ways to address concerns about sanitary and phytosanitary measures that may not be justified by scientific assessments of risk to people, animals, or the environment.
Ambassador Kirk then spoke at a luncheon hosted by three business groups: the American Chamber of Commerce EU chapter, the leading European business confederation, (BusinessEurope), and the American Chamber of Commerce in Belgium. In his remarks, Ambassador Kirk addressed the role of trade in supporting global economic recovery and the creation of better-paying jobs in the 21st century. Ambassador Kirk also underscored the importance of the U.S.-EU trade relationship to each side's economy and to global prosperity.
Ambassador Kirk met late this afternoon with new EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht, his principal European Commission counterpart. The 90-minute discussion covered the Doha negotiations and key issues in the U.S.-EU trade relationship. Ambassador Kirk and Commissioner De Gucht share the goal of resolving existing trade conflicts and identifying new ways in which USTR and the European Commission Trade Directorate can move forward on a trade relationship that both agree will be a critical factor in each side's economic performance and competitiveness in the coming decades. One focus of their discussion - and a likely priority for ongoing work - was the challenge posed by non-tariff barriers to trade and investment that are rooted in differences in the ways the United States and the EU regulate for purposes of health, safety, and the environment. Ambassador Kirk and Commissioner De Gucht held a press conference after the meeting. You can watch video of the press conference here.
Ambassador Kirk also met with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso today. As the head of the European Commission, the EU's executive arm, President Barroso, who began his second five-year term last fall, is one of the most powerful leaders in Europe. Ambassador Kirk focused on U.S. ambitions for the Doha Round during the meeting.
03/26/2010 10:07 AM
This afternoon at 1:15 p.m. EDT/6:15 p.m. CET, Ambassador Kirk will hold a press conference in Brussels, Belgium with EU Commissioner for Trade Karel De Gucht. You can watch the press conference live here.
Following the press conference, video should be available for up to one week.
03/25/2010 5:01 PM
This morning, Ambassador Kirk met with members of the leadership of the European Parliament, which plays a growing role in shaping European Union (EU) policies of interest to the United States. During the meeting, Ambassador Kirk discussed Obama Administration trade policy, developments in the Doha Round of WTO negotiations, and key U.S.-EU trade issues. The meeting was the first visit by a United States Trade Representative to the European Parliament.
Ambassador Kirk with members of the leadership of the European Parliament, ©European Union, 2010 - Source: European Parliament
Ambassador Kirk with members of the leadership of the European Parliament, ©European Union, 2010 - Source: European Parliament
Ambassador Kirk then met with new EU Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Ciolos. Commissioner Ciolos plays a significant role in shaping EU policies that impact U.S. farm exports not only to the EU, but also to markets in other countries where U.S. and EU agricultural exports sometimes compete. Ambassador Kirk talked to Commissioner Ciolos about U.S. concerns regarding EU food safety measures that the U.S. believes are not justified by scientific risk assessments and that restrict U.S. agricultural exports to the EU. The two also discussed the status of the Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations.
Ambassador Kirk with EU Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Ciolos
This afternoon, Ambassador Kirk became the first United States Trade Representative to meet with leaders of Europe-based labor unions and non-governmental organizations that work on environmental and economic development issues. During the discussion, Ambassador Kirk sought to describe ways in which U.S. trade policies are supportive of the environmental, workplace, and development goals of the groups represented in the meeting. Ambassador Kirk and participants in the meeting all expressed appreciation for the opportunity to engage with each other on issues of common concern.
This evening, Ambassador Kirk participated in a dinner hosted by the Transatlantic Business Dialogue and the Transatlantic Policy Network for the U.S. officials and other U.S. participants in the German Marshall Fund Brussels Forum, which begins on Friday. During the dinner, Ambassador Kirk exchanged views on U.S. trade policy and on the role of the U.S.-EU economic relationship in promoting economic recovery with the CEOs of several U.S. companies and senior officials from the European Commission.
Ambassador Kirk Is In Brussels, Belgium To Meet With European Union Officials, Attend The German Marshall Fund Brussels Forum03/24/2010 4:10 PM
Ambassador Kirk is in Brussels to meet with European Union (EU) officials, business leaders, and environmental NGO and labor leaders, and to attend the Brussels Forum of the German Marshall Fund of the United States. During his meetings, Ambassador Kirk will discuss bilateral and multilateral trade issues.
While in Brussels, Ambassador Kirk will meet with European Commission President José Manuel Barroso, EU Commissioner for Trade Karel De Gucht, EU Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy John Dalli, and EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Dacian Cioloş. On March 26 at 6:15 p.m. CET Ambassador Kirk will participate in a joint press conference with Trade Commissioner De Gucht.
Ambassador Kirk will also host roundtable discussions with local business, NGO, and labor leaders and will give remarks at the joint EU American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham), BusinessEurope and Belgian AmCham lunch on March 26. He will meet with the chairs and vice-chairs of several committees of the European Parliament. During the German Marshall Fund Brussels Forum, Ambassador Kirk will participate in the panel on ‘Overcoming Unemployment - the Counterpunch of the Economic Crisis.'
U.S. goods and services trade with the EU totaled $975 billion in 2008, or about $3 billion each day, and the EU is the number one export market for the United States. By some estimates, transatlantic investment is indirectly responsible for roughly 12-14 million jobs in the United States and the EU.
03/24/2010 2:51 PM
Check out the new information on USTR's dedicated webpage for the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), www.ustr.gov/acta. Today's updates include:
- The proposed agenda for the 8th Round of Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement negotiations in Wellington, New Zealand set for April 12-16, 2010
- A new informational fact sheet on the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement - what it is, what it's not - from ACTA negotiating partners
- Recent letters to President Obama and Ambassador Kirk in support of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, from the International Trademark Association and from thirteen copyright sector associations and labor unions
The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement is intended to assist in the efforts of governments around the world to more effectively combat the proliferation of counterfeit and pirated goods, which undermines legitimate trade and the sustainable development of the world economy, and in some cases contributes to organized crime and exposes American families to dangerous fake products. The United States has been working with several trading partners, including Australia, Canada, the European Union and its 27 member states, Japan, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, and Switzerland, to negotiate the agreement.
03/23/2010 4:28 PM
As part of his trip to Cairo, Egypt, Ambassador Kirk gave a keynote address at the American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt on U.S.-Egypt trade relations today.
In his remarks, Ambassador Kirk spoke of the importance of international trade to the global economic recovery - creating jobs in America and across the globe.
"We are keenly aware that today's business environment is more fiercely competitive than ever. We welcome global competition as vitally beneficial to American producers as well as consumers.
Egyptians, too, have demonstrated that you possess the determination and skill to compete successfully and to uplift your society, despite the painful stresses of adjusting to today's globally-integrating economy, as have many of your neighbors.
As I said, Egypt is my first stop in the Middle East and for good reason: as AmCham members have stated often, this country is increasingly seen by businesses as a growing market in its own right and as a vital commercial hub for the Middle East and Africa regions.
In my view, American business can play a critical role in Egypt and across this part of the world to advance economic reform and promote prosperity.
Trade, whether regional or global, lowers prices for consumer goods, improves human welfare and quality of life, and most importantly, creates jobs."
In addition to speaking to the American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt, Ambassador Kirk met with with Egyptian Foreign Minister Abul Gheit and Egyptian Agriculture Minister Amin Abaza today.
Yesterday in Cairo, Ambassador Kirk met with Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif, Egyptian Minister of Industry and Trade Rachid Mohamed Rachid, and Egyptian Minister of Investment Mahmoud Mohieldin.
Tomorrow Ambassador Kirk will head to Brussels, Belgium where he will meet with European Union officials and participate in the German Marshall Fund Brussels Forum.
Ambassador Marantis Meets with Pennsylvania Stakeholders on TPP; Presents Export Achievement Certificate to Pennsylvania Software Producer03/22/2010 4:29 PM
Today, Deputy United States Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis conducted a roundtable in Northeast Philadelphia on USTR's plans for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Organized by the office of Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz, the roundtable gave Ambassador Marantis the opportunity to solicit input from some of the Philadelphia region's stakeholders, including representatives of the Port of Philadelphia, city government, manufacturing and software industries, and local workforce training programs. The Port of Philadelphia's top two trading partners - Chile and New Zealand - are TPP member countries.
After discussing plans for the TPP with attendees, Ambassador Marantis led a discussion of North Philadelphia's trade priorities. In addition to TPP, participants discussed intellectual property protection in China, port and supply chain competitiveness, and the region's export successes and ambitions. Ambassador Marantis also shared information about the National Export Initiative - President Obama's plan to support two million additional American jobs by doubling American exports over the next five years.
After the roundtable, Ambassador Marantis drove to Exton, Pennsylvania, headquarters of Analytical Graphics, Inc. (AGI), which develops analysis software for national security, aerospace, defense, and space applications. Ambassador Marantis presented AGI CEO Paul Graziani with the Department of Commerce's Export Appreciation Certificate to recognize AGI's recent export successes in Brazil, South Korea, India, Singapore, Canada, the United Kingdom, and other markets. AGI employs 280 people and over the past two years doubled its full-time international-focused jobs. Ambassador Marantis also delivered remarks on President Obama's National Export Initiative. This was one of several events at which members of President Obama's Export Promotion Cabinet fanned out across the country to share more information about the NEI, and help available from the Commerce Department's U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service, as well as other agencies, to American businesses wishing to sell their products overseas.
See more information about this National Export Initiative event in today's USTR press release at: http://www.ustr.gov/about-us/press-office/press-releases/2010/march/deputy-united-states-trade-representative-demetrios-.
United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk Meets with the Egyptian Prime Minister, Egyptian Ministers of Trade and of Investment03/22/2010 4:23 PM
Ambassador Ron Kirk met today in Cairo with Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif, Egyptian Minister of Industry and Trade Rachid Mohamed Rachid, and Egyptian Minister of Investment Mahmoud Mohieldin. The four leaders explored ways to strengthen the U.S.-Egyptian bilateral dialogue on trade- and investment-related issues. In a joint press conference, Ambassador Kirk and Minister Rachid committed to work together to advance a shared goal of doubling exports in five years.
"Egypt has long been a key U.S. partner in promoting peace and stability in the Middle East. The meetings today have provided the United States with an opportunity to deepen the economic side of our relationship with Egypt," said Ambassador Kirk. "I look forward to working with Minister Rachid in the future to create jobs and boost our economies through U.S.-Egypt trade."
Ambassador Kirk and Minister Rachid also met with the Business Leaders Council, a group they formed under the rubric of the U.S -Egypt Strategic Economic Partnership for Trade-related and Investment Issues, to help identify barriers to bilateral trade and investment that the two governments need to rectify. At that meeting Ambassador Kirk made clear that, "A private sector dialogue serves as a critical tool in strengthening the U.S.-Egypt commercial relationship. It is what creates the environment that promotes innovation, competitiveness, and economic growth."Ambassador Kirk and Minister Rachid during the joint press conferenceAmbassador Kirk and Minister Rachid during a joint press availability after meeting with Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif
VIDEO: United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk holds a press conference with Egyptian Trade Minister Rachid Mohamed Rachid03/22/2010 1:57 PM
Today, United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk and Egyptian Trade Minister Rachid Mohamed Rachid held a joint press conference on U.S.-Egyptian trade in Cairo, Egypt.
"[Minister Rachid and I] share a very firm belief that the extraordinary partnership between the United States and Egypt in promoting peace and stability in the Middle East is a great foundation on which to build a much stronger economic and commercial relationship between our two very strong countries," said Ambassador Kirk in the press conference.
To hear more, watch video of the press conference below.
03/22/2010 9:41 AM
This week, Ambassador Kirk will travel to Brussels, Belgium to meet with European Union government officials and to attend the German Marshall Fund Brussels Forum. This week's spotlight is trade relations between the United States and the European Union.
The U.S. economic relationship with the 27 member countries of the European Union (EU) is the largest and most complex economic relationship in the world. It is a critical pillar of economic well-being for both partners.
The EU is the number one export market for the United States. Trade in both directions totaled $975 billion in 2008, or almost $3 billion each day. This trade supports 14 million jobs on both sides of the Atlantic. USTR works closely with the EU's governing institutions in Brussels and with EU member state governments to reduce trade barriers and support more well-paying jobs for American businesses and workers.
All across the country, American businesses depend on the U.S.-EU trade relationship. Even in the midst of the economic crisis, as exports to other destinations dried up last year, businesses in many states increased their exports to the EU, and others maintained already strong trade relationships. For example, a San Marcos, Texas manufacturing company sells pressure calibration instruments and systems in Europe, and those sales account for up to 40 percent of its overall revenue. A Lafayette, Louisiana company exports disaster-resistant buildings and secure portable modules to many European countries. In fact, those exports account for 95 percent of its total sales. A Philadelphia, Pennsylvania mobile security company works with businesses in Europe to export its products.
U.S. goods and services exports to the EU totaled $468 billion in 2008. These exports accounted for 21 percent of overall U.S. exports in 2009. The five largest country markets were the United Kingdom, Germany, Netherlands, France, and Belgium.
U.S. exports of agricultural products to EU countries totaled $7.5 billion in 2009, making it the fifth agricultural export market for the United States. Leading categories include tree nuts, soybeans, processed fruit and vegetables, wine and beer, and tobacco.
03/19/2010 4:27 PM
Ambassador Kirk wrote an op-ed about the Naional Export Initiative for The Hill yesterday. Read the op-ed here.
03/18/2010 3:16 PM
Yesterday, Ambassador Kirk and Indian Minister of Commerce Anada Sharma signed the U.S.-India "Framework for Cooperation on Trade and Investment." This agreement strengthens bilateral cooperation and seeks to build on recent rapid growth in U.S.-India trade, which has more than doubled over the past five years.
Watch the video of the signing below.
03/18/2010 11:28 AM
U.S. negotiators completed the fourth day of Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations today in Melbourne, Australia. They exchanged views with their TPP counterparts on a wide range of issues, including labor, investment, textiles and apparel, e-commerce, and competition issues, and trade capacity building. At the same time, lead negotiators held robust discussions on the cross-cutting issues that the TPP countries have agreed to consider as they seek to shape a 21st-century agreement. Among these issues are regulatory coherence, transparency, promotion of competitiveness, increasing the participation of small- and medium-sized businesses in trade, and development.
03/17/2010 3:43 PM
U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and Indian Minister of Commerce and Industry Anand Sharma today signed a "Framework for Cooperation on Trade and Investment." This agreement strengthens bilateral cooperation and seeks to build on recent rapid growth in U.S.-India trade, which has more than doubled over the past five years. In the first significant step taken under the Framework, Ambassador Kirk and Minister Sharma today also announced the launch of an initiative called "Integrating U.S. and Indian Small Businesses into the Global Supply Chain," which will expand trade and job-creating opportunities for U.S. and Indian companies, big and small, and will directly support both President Obama's National Export Initiative and Prime Minister Singh's recently-introduced budget objectives.
"There is almost limitless potential for growth in trade between our two countries, and that can contribute to economic recovery and job creation in the United States and continued economic growth in India," said Ambassador Kirk. "We can realize that potential by working together toward the goals set forth in the Framework agreement, such as developing and enforcing policies that encourage technological innovation, increasing agriculture, services, and industrial goods, and increasing investment flows. Closer collaboration with entrepreneurs and private sector leaders in both our countries will enhance our work."
Ambassador Kirk and Minister Sharma announced their intent to finalize the "Framework for Cooperation on Trade and Investment" when they co-chaired the U.S.-India Trade Policy Forum meeting in New Delhi on October 26, 2009. The two governments agreed to work together to support greater involvement by small and medium-sized enterprises in each other's markets, and to pursue initiatives in the further development of India's infrastructure, and collaboration on clean energy and environmental services, information and communications technologies (ICT), and other key sectors.
Under the "Framework for Cooperation on Trade and Investment," the United States and India intend to meet the objectives of developing and enforcing trade policies and fostering a trade-enhancing environment by undertaking initiatives to help us meet those goals. Examples include increasing opportunities for private sector partnerships in infrastructure projects; enhancing IPR awareness and enforcement; promoting increased bilateral cooperation in the healthcare, education, information technology, energy and environmental services industries; working to empower women and disadvantaged groups; creating greater mutual understanding of respective approaches to government procurement; and SME development.
The "Integrating U.S. and Indian Small Businesses into the Global Supply Chain" initiative could create new opportunities for U.S. and Indian SMEs as well as large firms in the dynamic U.S.-India commercial relationship through greater public awareness, enhanced public-private collaboration, and a sharper focus on the benefits of large company and SME collaboration.
Ambassador Kirk and Minister Sharma also hosted a meeting of a restructured Private Sector Advisory Group (PSAG) to the Trade Policy Forum. This group of American and Indian trade experts will provide strategic counsel to enhance the two governments' efforts to increase bilateral trade and investment. The members of the PSAG also offered to work as implementing partners for initiatives undertaken by the Trade Policy Forum, including the small business initiative announced today.
03/17/2010 10:17 AM
USTR negotiators completed their third day of Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations today. Ten negotiating groups met, including industrial goods, agriculture, sanitary and phytosanitary standards, telecommunications, financial services, customs, rules of origin, government procurement, environment, and trade capacity building. TPP negotiators agreed to draft concept papers, exchange information, and undertake other work ahead of the second TPP negotiating round in June as part of their efforts to begin shaping a framework for the negotiation. In addition, U.S. negotiators met with representatives of Australian labor unions and major business associations to hear the views of Australian civil society on trade and labor issues and to consult on Australian labor law and practices.
03/16/2010 6:03 PM
Ambassador Kirk addressed the National League of Cities today, speaking on the importance of trade for American businesses and workers. Read an excerpt of his speech below and the full remarks here.
More than 90 percent of American exports come from metropolitan areas.
In 2007, businesses and workers in the New York metropolitan area exported more than $80 billion worth of goods. Other cities weren’t far behind. Metropolitan areas like Houston, Los Angeles, Seattle, and Detroit all exported tens of billions of dollars worth of American goods.
But that’s not to say smaller communities aren’t benefitting from trade as well. In fact, trade is the lifeblood of many rural towns and communities. One-quarter of American agricultural production is sold abroad, and more than 900,000 American jobs are supported by those agricultural exports.
That’s why I’ve been collaborating with state and local leaders from Washington to Iowa, New York to Kentucky, and Michigan to Vermont – and the list could go on.
That’s why I made it a priority to visit with U.S. Mayors at their winter meeting here in Washington, DC and with State Legislators at their fall gathering in San Francisco.
And that’s why I made it a priority to be here today. Because as a former mayor, I know you understand better than anyone else how USTR can help your local businesses support jobs with trade."
03/16/2010 4:47 PM
On Tuesday, Ambassador Kirk participated in a meeting of the principal members of the Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee - an interagency group chaired by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce to coordinate the export promotion and financing activities of the U.S. Government. In October 2009, the Obama Administration established TPCC Working Groups to focus on issues such as the role of small and medium sized businesses in U.S. exports, the needs of U.S. companies competing for major projects abroad, American export performance in key emerging markets, clean energy export performance, and gathering better data on exports and U.S. jobs.
TPCC members are working to fulfill the goal of the President's National Export Initiative, which seeks to support 2 million additional American jobs by increasing American exports. USTR's role, as always, is to open new markets to U.S. goods and services, including products from small- and medium-sized businesses, and to keep markets open through strong enforcement of our existing trade agreements.
03/16/2010 3:33 PM
Today Ambassador Kirk and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis hosted their second meeting with the Labor Advisory Committee at the Department of Labor.
In attendance were presidents and representatives from 12 unions that represent America's service industry, steelworkers, musicians, teamsters, and other workers.
Both Ambassador Kirk and Secretary Solis stressed the importance of the partnership between the Obama Administration and labor organizations.
Ambassador Kirk spoke about the President's National Export Initiative and the Obama administration's commitment to support 2 million additional jobs through increased exports in manufacturing and other sectors. He said that USTR would continue working to open new markets for America's businesses and products and continue its commitment to strong enforcement of existing trade agreements.
Ambassador Kirk wrapped up his comments at the hour-long meeting by saying that to continue emerging from the economic crisis, the United States must address healthcare reform, invest in education, create green technology jobs and protect American intellectual property through efforts such as the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement.
03/16/2010 11:09 AM
The U.S. team met on March 16 for a second day of negotiations with their Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) counterparts. The intellectual property rights, agriculture, technical barriers to trade, services and rules of origin groups concluded their initial round of discussions today and agreed on work to be completed by each delegation in advance of the next round of negotiations. The TPP negotiators also began discussions on several other issues, including telecommunications services and environment. Minister for Industry and Trade for the Australian state of Victoria, Jacinta Allan, welcomed the TPP delegates at a reception at the APEC Study Center at Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University, underscoring the importance of APEC work in many areas to be covered by the TPP, on which TPP members are drawing.
Keep checking USTR.gov throughout the week for updates on the negotiations.
03/15/2010 2:37 PM
We recently received a question about our trading partners in the Pacific. Joe from Missouri asks:
"Will the negotiations between the US and New Zealand (and the others in the "P-4") resume soon? I followed the AUSFTA in the early 2000s and am eager to see what comes of the NZ negotiations. I'm particularly interested to see a framework developed that would promote and allow the mutual recognition of qualifications in professional services. I believe the AUSFTA encouraged this but to what extent that was successful, I do not know."
Ambassador Kirk responds:
"Thank you for your question, Joe. With regard to your interest in the professions, we will look at all options for increasing opportunities for our professional service providers, including through the encouragement of work on mutual recognition by the relevant bodies in our respective territories. Out of such an approach with Australia, three MRAs have already emerged: in accounting, one each between U.S. IQAB and both CPA Australia and the Institute of Chartered Accountants Australia, and in engineering, one between the Texas Board of Professional Engineers and Engineers Australia. We welcome your support for these types of activities.
Beyond the professions, New Zealand is an important trading partner for the United States, with U.S. exports totaling more than $4.3 billion in 2008. American businesses have already seen the potential in markets across the Pacific, and are exporting machinery, electronic equipment and other goods.
For example, one small, high-tech firm from Pleasanton, California, is exporting its innovations, selling robotics and software to New Zealand and other Asia-Pacific countries.
Businesses and workers will continue to see the benefits of trade with a comprehensive and high-standard agreement linking the economies of the Asia-Pacific region.
Last year President Obama announced his intentions to enter into negotiations of a regional, Asia-Pacific trade agreement, known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). USTR currently has senior staff in Australia for the first round of negotiations, and they are working toward an agreement that will increase American exports, enhance our competitiveness abroad and support job opportunities for American workers. The current TPP includes Australia, Brunei, Chile, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam. A successful TPP agreement will expand trading opportunities with New Zealand and other Asia-Pacific economies - an effort vital to America's economic future.
We are working with Congress and stakeholders to develop a TPP agenda that reflects our priorities and provides the greatest benefit for American families and workers. Be sure to check out USTR.gov this week for updates from the TPP negotiations in Australia."
Thank you for continuing our dialogue on trade. Please keep submitting your questions and comments for the Ambassador.
03/15/2010 10:31 AM
The eight members of the Trans Pacific Partnership began negotiations today in Melbourne, Australia. More than 200 delegates from the United States and Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam kicked off the negotiations in an opening plenary session. The countries reaffirmed their commitment to building a high quality, broad-based regional agreement. They also exchanged ideas on how to use the negotiations to build a new paradigm on trade and strengthen our strategic partnerships in the Asia Pacific region.
The teams began discussing the appropriate framework for the negotiations. The U.S. team shared initial input received from consultations with Congress and stakeholders on objectives for the TPP negotiations and discussed the input the other countries have received so far. Six negotiating groups met today, including rules of origin, agriculture, technical barriers to trade, intellectual property rights, and legal and institutional issues.
Keep checking USTR.gov throughout the week for updates on the negotiations.
03/15/2010 10:11 AM
This week, United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk is traveling to Egypt to meet with government officials, business leaders and labor activists. This week's trade topic highlights America's trading relationship with Egypt.
In May of 2009, the United States and Egypt signed a Plan for a Strategic Partnership, with the goal of fostering increased bilateral economic cooperation, especially in regards to trade. Already, the United States and Egypt share a robust trading relationship; with $8.4 billion in goods being exchanged in 2008.
Today, the Egyptian economy is growing at over 4 percent, and Egyptian markets are an attractive destination for American exporters. One such exporter, a family-owned company in Haines, Florida, sells food processing machinery to Egypt. Another, a Massachusetts company, is exporting advanced cargo x-ray systems that will help to keep Egyptian ports safe. And 22 American companies are involved in the construction of an Ammonia Production Plant in the Suez Industrial Zone.
As a result of such endeavors, the United States in 2008 achieved a $3.7 billion trade surplus America with Egypt, an increase of $680 million from 2007.
Egypt is a country that is rich in history and wealthy in opportunity. Its economy is growing at a fast rate, and its ports at Nuweiba, Suez, and Alexandria are bustling. During his time in Egypt, Ambassador Kirk will explore ways to build upon and increase job-creating trade opportunities with this dynamic country.
Ambassador Kirk Meets with Secretary General of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development Angel Gurría03/12/2010 5:46 PM
Ambassador Kirk met with the Secretary General of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) this morning, Mr. Angel Gurría, to discuss the OECD's work on trade.
Established in 1961 and headquartered in Paris, the OECD is comprised of 31 democracies in Europe, North America, and the Pacific Rim. The OECD member countries account for 72 percent of world gross national income (GNI), 60 percent of world trade, and 95 percent of world official development assistance. The OECD is a policy forum covering a broad spectrum of economic, social, and scientific issues. Its Members share common core values, which include a commitment to democratic values and institutions, the rule of law, and an open, competitive market economy. As part of the OECD, the United States is able to work with member countries to promote trade liberalization, free markets, economic growth and development.
03/12/2010 2:07 PM
This morning, Ambassador Kirk addressed the American Apparel & Footwear Association Annual Executive Summit. He spoke about creating and supporting American jobs through international trade.
Read an excerpt of his remarks below, and the full remarks here.
"Today, I want to talk about how the Obama Administration is supporting job-creating trade opportunities here at home. And we are advancing American interests, including fundamental interests of the apparel industry, in the international trade arena.
The ultimate objective of all our efforts can be summed up in one word: jobs.
When companies like yours are able to succeed in the marketplace that supports job creation here at home.
When a shipment of your products arrives in America, an army of workers goes into motion. There's the port worker who unloads your container, the truck driver that carries it to a distribution center or a store, the marketing executive that trumpets its arrival, and the retailer who rings up each individual sale. And that's just domestic sales - every foreign sale you make supports American designers, customs and logistics professionals, and financing and transportation experts.
So your success, and the success of every globally-engaged American company, is critical to the overall economic recovery.
USTR is working to encourage that success with a smart trade policy that creates opportunities wherever possible. And our work won't be finished until every American who wants a job can find one."
03/11/2010 6:53 PM
Today at the Export-Import Bank's Annual Conference President Obama spoke about the National Export Initiative - which mobilizes his Administration to work to double America's exports over the next five years, supporting two million additional American jobs. President Obama also signed an Executive Order regarding the National Export Initiative today.
03/11/2010 4:42 PM
This afternoon, Ambassador Kirk gave interviews to CNBC and Fox Business regarding the National Export Initiative and President Obama's remarks this morning at the Export-Import Bank Annual Conference on trade.
Check back later for more on President Obama's speech.
03/11/2010 1:45 PM
Ambassador Kirk met with Congressional Leaders on Wednesday to discuss U.S. negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and USTR negotiators are headed to Melbourne, Australia for talks next week. Read excerpts of a Reuters article about TPP talks below, and the full article here.
"President Barack Obama... aims to reshape the rules for international trade and shore up the U.S economic position in Asia with talks starting on Monday on a Pacific trade pact.
On Monday, the first round of TPP talks begins in Melbourne with four countries with which the United States already has free trade agreements -- Australia, Chile, Singapore and Peru -- and three it does not -- Brunei Darussalam, New Zealand and Vietnam.
With the TPP, the idea is to expand an agreement between New Zealand, Singapore, Brunei and Chile into a broader regional pact that advocates hope one day could also include China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and other major economies on both sides of the Asia Pacific.
U.S. priorities include promoting clean energy and other emerging economic sectors, gaining new exports for its manufacturers, farmers and service providers and boosting protections for U.S. intellectual property rights."
03/10/2010 12:13 PM
United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk met with Haitian President Rene Préval on March 9 to discuss U.S.-Haitian bilateral trade relations, including the Plus 1 for Haiti Initiative. The Initiative builds on the ongoing, collaborative effort between the Office of the United States Trade Representative and American brands and retailers to promote utilization of the Haitian Hemispheric Opportunity Partnership Encouragement Act (HOPE II). The goal of the Plus 1 for Haiti Initiative is to assist in the recovery and economic revitalization of Haiti by encouraging U.S. brands and retailers to work towards sourcing 1 percent of their total apparel production from Haiti.
Ambassador Kirk with Haitian President Rene Préval
03/10/2010 11:18 AM
This week, the weekly trade spotlight is on U.S.-Omani trade relations. It has been over one year since the implementation of the United States-Oman Free Trade Agreement.
On January 1, 2009 the United States-Oman Free Trade Agreement (FTA) entered into force. Since then, virtually all American industrial and consumer exports, and more than three-fourths of all agricultural exports, have been granted duty-free access to Oman. Additionally, the U.S.-Oman FTA has strengthened Oman's intellectual property rights (IPR) protections and enforcement provisions. Those enforcement provisions now include the requirement for statutory and actual damages to be rewarded in cases where IPR infringement has occurred in Oman and ensure that a more transparent system for the registration of trademarks is established in Oman.
For the past three years, Oman has realized GDP growth of more than 5 percent, creating growing opportunities for American exporters. In 2008, the United States exported over $1.4 billion, an increase of 33 percent from 2007. That year, exports to Oman of goods like machinery, aero-space technology, and medical supplies, created a trade surplus of more than $560 million - an increase of $545 million from 2007. As the economic recovery of the United States continues, the United States Trade Representative is committed to creating new opportunities by opening up more markets like Oman to American businesses.
03/08/2010 6:00 PM
This morning, Ambassador Kirk hosted a meeting with the Saudi Arabian Minister for Commerce and Industry, Abdullah Ali Reza. At the meeting, Ambassador Kirk and Minister Reza discussed the United States and Saudi Arabia bilateral trade relationship as well as the status of the Doha negotiations. Ambassador Kirk also noted the significant progress Saudi Arabia has made in improving IPR protection and enforcement during the past year; Saudi Arabia was removed from the Special 301 Watch List as a result. In 2008, two-way goods trade between America and Saudi Arabia totaled $67 billion, making Saudi Arabia the United States' 9th largest goods-trading partner. Additionally, in 2007, the latest year for which data is available, the United States maintained a surplus of over $2.5 billion in the trade of services with Saudi Arabia.
Ambassador Kirk with Saudi Arabian Minister for Commerce and Industry Abdullah Ali Reza
03/05/2010 12:58 PM
We recently received a question about our trading relationship with Mongolia. Roger from Indiana asks:
"Are we in negotiations with Mongolia to develop a free trade agreement? I think they would be a good partner."
Ambassador Kirk responds:
"Thank you for your question, Roger. While we are not currently in negotiations with Mongolia for a free trade agreement, we continue to pursue trade initiatives with Mongolia through the U.S.-Mongolia Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA), established in 2004. Since launching the agreement, U.S. exports there have more than doubled, as American-made vehicles, machinery, electronic equipment and other goods have made their way to Mongolian markets. Through this forum we have been able to address a wide-range of trade and economic issues to help strengthen our trading relationship in areas like intellectual property rights, labor, environmental matters, non-tariff barriers, and transparency. USTR continues to take steps in enhancing our trade relationship so that American businesses can have more open access to markets in Mongolia and increase exports there.
In an effort to boost trade, last year we launched negotiations for a United States-Mongolia Transparency Agreement, designed to establish mutual commitments on transparency in trade and investment. Once completed, this agreement should lead to increased clarity for businesses trying to export. A completed Transparency Agreement, complemented by continuing bilateral dialogue on other issues, should make it possible for more and more U.S. businesses and workers to benefit from our growing trade relationship with Mongolia. "
Thank you for continuing our dialogue on trade. Please keep submitting your questions and comments for the Ambassador.
03/05/2010 10:31 AM
Last winter Ambassador Kirk spoke to the National Conference of State Legislators (NCSL) about the importance of trade and the administrations' partnership with states and cities to bring the benefits of trade to Americas families. NCSL's Labor and Economic Development committee focuses on trade and has offered its continued support of the efforts of USTR and the administration's efforts to promote exports, decrease the trade deficit and bring economic development to their communities. Read the letter from the Chairman of that committee here.
03/04/2010 6:31 PM
USTR held a public hearing on the Special 301 review yesterday, featuring more than two dozen individuals representing foreign governments, non-profit organizations, and industry groups. The audio file of the hearing is now live on USTR.gov for radio and multimedia coverage.
03/04/2010 3:03 PM
Earlier this afternoon Ambassador Kirk met with Glen Raven Textile Plant executives and workers to discuss the President's National Export Initiative in Anderson, South Carolina. This new initiative will help support two million jobs by doubling exports over the next five years. During his time at Glen Raven, Ambassador Kirk toured the plant and discussed how businesses in South Carolina can benefit from international trade.
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. 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.
As USTR works to open markets around the world, businesses like Glen Raven can continue to grow through exports, supporting well-paying jobs for workers right in South Carolina. As President Obama and Ambassador Kirk have said, this kind of export-supported job growth is critical to America's economic recovery.
More than a quarter of a million U.S. firms export goods, 3,575 of them in South Carolina, and more than 80 percent of those were small- or medium-sized firms with fewer than 500 employees. In fact, more than one-quarter (29%) of all manufacturing workers in South Carolina depend on exports for their jobs, the third-highest percentage among all fifty states. And export-supported jobs linked to manufacturing accounted for an estimated 9.3 percent of all private-sector employment in South Carolina, the second-highest percentage among all fifty states.
The President's National Export Initiative will continue to help businesses like Glen Raven hire more workers and grow.Ambassador Kirk and Glen Raven CEO Allen Gant tour the textile plant
Ambassador Kirk and Glen Raven CEO Allen Grant tour the textile plant
Ambassador Kirk and Glen Raven CEO Allen Grant talk to from the Anderson Independent Mail and the Greenville News
Ambassador Kirk Meets with Clemson University Students and Professors, Tours the University's Advanced Materials Research Center03/04/2010 12:02 PM
This morning in Clemson, South Carolina Ambassador Kirk met with professors and students at Clemson University. Ambassador Kirk has been traveling across the country to speak with American businesses and workers on issues that they face in the global marketplace. Ambassador Kirk realizes that small businesses in particular can help to create jobs that will put Americans back to work.
While at Clemson, he toured the University's Advanced Materials Research Center and discussed the center's efforts to develop materials to replace steel and lighten and improve mileage in vehicles, advances in medical textiles to create replaceable veins and arteries, and projects with NASA and the Department of Defense.
The laboratory at Clemson - comprising of 111,000 square feet with state-of-the-art equipment - partners with private sector companies to create breakthrough technologies. It has been recognized by The National Science Foundation, the Department of Defense and NASA.
The Clemson Apparel Research department also works with local small- and medium-sized businesses to help manufacture and market new products. Clemson Apparel Research manages a 6,000 square foot apparel plant featuring state-of-the-art equipment for design, cutting, stitching, and finishing. Students at the Clemson Apparel Research plant research manufacturing and supply chain problems, working to develop solutions for local partner businesses. Current projects include specialty dress shirts and military dress shirts for commercial companies across the country, with workers producing 900 shirts a week.
South Carolina's textile industry does business around the world. South Carolina's exports of textiles and apparel were over $400 million last year alone, and three-quarters of those exports were destined to our North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) partners.Ambassador Kirk at Clemson University's Advanced Materials Research CenterAmbassador Kirk speaks with Clemson University Doctoral Candidate Kyle Gipson
03/04/2010 10:51 AM
Ambassador Kirk is in South Carolina today to visit Clemson University and to meet with leaders in the Carolinas' textile industry. While in Clemson, Ambassador Kirk will meet with professors and students at Clemson University and tour the Clemson University Advanced Materials Research Center. After the tour, Ambassador Kirk will head to Anderson, South Carolina to meet with executives and workers and tour the Glen Raven Textile Plant, where he will see Glen Raven's innovative textile products and discuss the President's new National Export Initiative (NEI), which aims to double American exports in five years and support two million American jobs.
Last year, South Carolina export-sector workers helped produce $3.4 billion worth of goods for shipment to Germany, South Carolina's top export destination. In total, Germany accounts for 20 percent of all South Carolina exports, followed by Canada, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, and China.
South Carolina's leading manufacturing export is transportation equipment, which accounted for $5 billion in 2009. Other top exports included machinery manufactures, worth $3.2 billion, and chemicals, worth $2 billion - all of them made by South Carolina workers, helping to sustain and create good-paying jobs even in the middle of an economic crisis.
For more on South Carolina businesses that export, read the current "Weekly Trade Spotlight" here on USTR.gov. Keep checking the USTR blog for more information on Ambassador Kirk's trip.
03/03/2010 10:22 AM
This morning Ambassador Kirk is testifying before the Senate Finance Committee regarding the President's 2010 Trade Policy Agenda. You can watch the testimony live on the Senate Finance Committee's website here starting at 10:30 a.m. EST.
03/02/2010 7:22 PM
USTR has responded to an inquiry from Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) requesting information about negotiations on the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). USTR and Senator Wyden's office released Ambassador Kirk's letter to the Senator this afternoon.
Read USTR's letter answering Senator Ron Wyden's questions here.
Read Senator Wyden's original letter here.
The objective of the ACTA negotiations is to negotiate a new, state-of-the art agreement to combat counterfeiting and piracy. The United States has been working with several trading partners, including Australia, Canada, the European Union and its 27 member states, Japan, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, and Switzerland, to negotiate the agreement. The ACTA is intended to assist in the efforts of governments around the world to more effectively combat the proliferation of counterfeit and pirated goods, which undermines legitimate trade and the sustainable development of the world economy, and in some cases contributes to organized crime and exposes American families to dangerous fake products.
03/02/2010 6:29 PM
During Ambassador Kirk's trip to Florida on February 24, he sat down with the Orlando Sentinel. He spoke about how trade is vital to America and Florida's economic recovery. Read an excerpt of the Orlando Sentinel article and the full article here.
"Speaking in Orlando this week, the United States' point man on international trade delivered a simple but powerful message: trade supports millions of U.S. jobs, and expanding it must be a part of reviving the U.S. economy.
The message from U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk resonates in the Sunshine State, where hundreds of thousands of people owe their livelihoods to trade. Florida is the fifth highest exporting state, sending more than $47 billion in goods abroad last year.
The annual value of Florida exports has roughly doubled since 2003. The leading categories are electronics, transportation equipment, chemicals and machinery. Orlando ranks third behind Miami and Tampa among metro areas in Florida for exports.
... In fact, U.S. manufacturing exports support almost 6 million jobs, one in six in that sector, according to Mr. Kirk's office. Agricultural exports support more than 800,000 jobs. And people in export-related jobs earn at least 13 percent more than the U.S. average.
In Florida, trade isn't just for big business. Of the 33,500 companies that exported from the state in 2007, more than 31,000 were firms with fewer than 500 employees. Those firms' exports made up almost two-thirds of the value of goods sent abroad from Florida, the highest share for businesses in that category in any state."
03/02/2010 10:47 AM
The Tampa Port Authority recently welcomed Ambassador Kirk as he toured the Port of Tampa, talked with local executives, and spent time meeting with local small business leaders. The Port of Tampa is Florida's largest cargo tonnage port, spreading over 5,000 acres and supporting over 100,000 jobs. It is the most diversified seaport with a local market of 8 million people within 100 miles. The Port handles multiple types of cargo activity such as bulk cargo, containerized cargo, and other general cargo including project cargo, roll on/roll off and breakbulk. It receives cargo from around the world, and primarily from Mexico, India, Canada, Trinidad, Russia, Japan and Australia.
Ambassador Kirk tours the Port of Tampa
Shipping cargo boats at the Port of Tampa
Cargo crain at the Port of Tampa
Ambassador Kirk tours the Port of Tampa
While at the Port, Ambassador Kirk spoke with local executives about the President's new National Export Initiative and how it can continue to help grow jobs in Florida through the increase of American exports. More than a quarter of a million U.S. firms export goods. In 2007, more than 33,000 of them were in Florida, and more than 31,000 of those were small- or medium-sized firms with fewer than 500 employees. In fact, that same year small- and medium-sized businesses produced nearly two-thirds of Florida's goods exports, the highest percentage of any state.
Exports can be a source of economic recovery and job growth. As Floridians seek out new employment opportunities, export-related work can offer some of the highest-quality, highest-paying jobs - nationally, export-sector jobs pay as much as 18 percent above average. When Floridians expand into the global marketplace, they can bring dollars from around the world back home into their communities.
03/01/2010 4:43 PM
The schedule for the Special 301 Review Public Hearing is now available. The hearing will take place on March 3, 2010, at the United States International Trade Commission, at 500 E St., S.W., Washington, D.C. 20037, starting at 9:45 a.m. This event is open to the public.
The Special 301 Review Public Hearing is an information-gathering opportunity for the Special 301 Subcommittee. Witnesses will provide an oral testimony and be asked questions from the Subcommittee. Interested parties will also have a week-long period, until 5 p.m. on March 10, 2010, in which to provide additional comments. Post hearing comments must be submitted via www.regulations.dov, docket number USTR-2010-0003.
Transcripts of the hearing will be available approximately two weeks after the hearing and will be available at www.ustr.gov.
03/01/2010 1:36 PM
This week, United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk is traveling to South Carolina. This Weekly Trade Spotlight focuses on the how trade can help support well-paying jobs in the Palmetto State.
In April 1670, families arriving at the confluence of the Ashley River and the Atlantic Ocean after a long journey from England founded the colony of Charles Towne. Over time, the colony blossomed into a center of Southern trade. Today, Charles Towne has become Charleston, South Carolina, both city and state continues to engage and trade with countries around the world.
Additionally, 3,575 South Carolina companies export products abroad, and over 80 percent of South Carolina exporters are small- or medium-sized enterprises. Those companies span the range of industrial opportunities - from a business in St. Matthews that sells cranes to Chile and Australia, to a company in Greenwood that sells pipes to global customers.
South Carolina's textile industry continues to do brisk business around the world. South Carolina's exports of textiles and apparel were over $400 million last year, and three-quarters of those exports were destined to our NAFTA and CAFTA partners.
However, South Carolina export opportunities are not limited to the manufacturing sector. In South Carolina, farmers exported over $650 million in agricultural products in 2008, supporting 7,600 agricultural industry jobs. As well, South Carolina workers are kept busy handling the more than 1,800 ships that pass through the state's ports each year. The Port of Charleston alone handles more than $62 billion in cargo annually.
During Ambassador Kirk's travels, he will visit a small sampling of South Carolina export-sector workers in Anderson, and will discuss opportunities for export growth with students at Clemson University, educators, businesses, and workers. For updates on his visit, please continue to check the blog.
03/01/2010 12:59 PM
Ambassador Kirk issued a statement today upon the delivery to Congress of President Obama's 2010 Trade Policy Agenda and 2009 Annual Report.
"Ninety-five percent of the world's consumers live outside the United States, and the President's trade agenda will help to get American workers and businesses access to as many of those customers as possible - in ways that affirm our rights in the global trading system and that reflect American values on worker rights, the environment, and open dialogue here at home," said Ambassador Kirk. "The priorities in this Agenda can work to strengthen the rules-based global trading system on which the nations of the world depend, while opening markets and ensuring that American businesses and workers receive the economic benefits of trade."
The President has set a goal of doubling U.S. exports in the next five years to support another two million American jobs. The 2010 trade agenda explains how USTR will support this National Export Initiative through new market openings and trade enforcement, as part of a broader strategy that seeks to strengthen the global trading system and reflect American values as we uphold our commitments around the world. Highlights of the Agenda include key commitments to:
Support and strengthen a rules-based trading system. The United States strongly supports an ambitious and balanced Doha agreement that liberalizes three core market access areas - agriculture, goods and services. An agreement that boosts the world economy, supports jobs here at home, and assists poor countries can be reached if all major economies come to the negotiating table.
Enforce American rights in the rules-based trading system. In 2009, the Obama Administration responded to Americans' calls for more vigilant enforcement of our trade rights. In 2010, USTR will strengthen further monitoring and enforcement, bringing cases at the WTO as necessary. We will increase focus on non-tariff barriers that hinder U.S. exports. We will fully enforce labor and environmental rights in trade agreements.
Enhance U.S. growth, job creation and innovation. Deeper engagement with major emerging markets is critical for American trade prospects and the realization of trade's benefits in terms of economic growth, well-paying jobs here at home, and support for American innovation. We will emphasize bilateral relations with such markets as well as with long-standing key partners, and will pursue regional engagement, particularly the President's intention to negotiate a Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement to access key markets in the Asia-Pacific for decades to come.
Work to resolve outstanding issues with pending FTAs and build on existing agreements. Proper resolution and implementation of the pending FTAs with Panama, Colombia and Korea can bring significant economic benefits. In 2010, we will continue to consult with Congress and the public and to engage with these nations to address outstanding issues; we will also strengthen relationships with current partners such as Canada, Mexico, Japan, and the European Union, and seek to maximize returns on the economic opportunities of existing agreements.
Facilitate progress on national energy and environmental goals. Good trade policy can accelerate the success of sound energy and environmental initiatives and can complement sustainable growth. We support fast-tracking action with willing partners in the WTO's work on liberalizing trade in innovative, climate-friendly goods and services through tariff reductions, and other initiatives.
Foster Stronger Partnerships with Developing and Poor Nations. This administration supports expanding trade opportunities to stimulate market-led growth and help improve the lives of people in the least developed nations. Opportunities created by open markets and preferences such as the Generalized System of Preferences require complementary measures such as technical assistance, and market-based and rule of law reforms at home to maximize benefits.
Reflect American values in trade policy. USTR will consult with Congress, partner with small businesses, continue innovative outreach with new media tools, and widen the scope of stakeholder input to ensure as broad a cross-section of views as possible, consistent with our goals of openness in government.
Ambassador Kirk will testify before the Senate Finance Committee this week and before the House Ways and Means Committee in the coming weeks to discuss the Agenda with congressional leaders.