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  • 05/27/2010 1:08 PM

    While in Beijing for the United States-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED), Ambassador Kirk sat down with Reuters to discuss Chinese indigenous innovation. Watch the interview here.

  • 05/27/2010 12:59 PM

    Today, Ambassador Kirk concluded a two-day visit to Paris. Ambassador Kirk met informally with various key trade ministers and also attended an Australia-hosted gathering of ministers to discuss the WTO Doha negotiations and hosted a press conference. Read more about his trip here.

    Ambassadors Kirk and Punke with Pascal LamyAmbassador Kirk and Ambassador Michael Punke with WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy

  • 05/24/2010 12:31 PM

    This week, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk will travel to Paris, France for a meeting of trade ministers responsible for the Doha Round of World Trade Organization negotiations. This meeting, at the Australian Embassy in Paris, traditionally takes place on the margins of the annual Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Ministerial Conference Meeting (MCM), which is scheduled for May 27-28, 2010.   

    Ambassador Miriam Sapiro will attend the OECD MCM for USTR this year. The annual OECD MCM’s Trade Session will provide an opportunity for Trade Ministers to examine avenues that they can take, individually and together, in order to open markets further and thereby support the global economic recovery. For the United States, the MCM will provide an opportunity to emphasize the necessity of achieving an ambitious and balanced outcome in the Doha Round that opens key markets and generates new trade flows. Such new trade flows, particularly into the fastest growing economies in the world, are needed to generate economic growth, development and employment.   

    The OECD was established in 1961 and its 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 will welcome four new members, Chile, Estonia, Israel and Slovenia, at this year’s MCM, bringing its total membership to 34 democracies in Europe, the Americas and the Pacific Rim.   

    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. The “like-mindedness” of its Members makes the OECD a valuable policy forum for addressing the opportunities and challenges of the global economy and multilateral trading system, and as an OECD member, the United States is able to work with member countries to promote trade liberalization, free markets, economic growth and development.   

    As the global forum for new ideas and prosperity, the OECD allows for member countries to work together to build a better global economy. The United States works with all member countries to break down trade barriers and enforce global trading rights. This especially benefits American businesses and workers by allowing for opportunity of an increase in U.S. exports to the varying member countries.   

    The OECD Trade Committee in particular serves as an important discussion forum for like-minded economies to debate and formulate trade policies and negotiating positions. The Committee’s peer-reviewed analytical work has positively demonstrated linkages between trade liberalization and sustained economic growth. Its publications and policy briefs also serve as an important resource for furthering public understanding of the role of open markets, the rule of law and how trade liberalization affects their day to day lives. Additional information on the OECD Trade Committee, including its publications, can be found at   

    U.S. goods exports to OECD countries accounted for 64 percent of total U.S. goods exports to the world in 2009. U.S. goods imports from OECD countries accounted for 55 percent of total U.S. goods imports to the world in 2009.

  • 05/21/2010 1:52 PM

    As part of the schedule of activities for World Trade Week, USTR hosted a visit by staff of the Congressional Services Caucus on Friday, May 21, 2010. 

    The Congressional Services Caucus was formed in 2007 with the goals of maintaining the global leadership of U.S. services and promoting policies that will expand U.S. services exports. The co-chairs of the caucus are Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY), Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-CT), Rep. Ruben Hinojosa (D-TX), Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), Rep. David Reichert (R-WA) and Rep. Judy Biggert (R-IL). 

    The purpose of the visit is to learn more about USTR’s efforts to open up foreign markets to U.S. service suppliers and create jobs through trade agreements and direct advocacy with foreign governments. For more information on the activities of USTR’s Office of Services and Investment, see our Services page.

    Ambassador Sapiro Speaks with the Congressional Services CaucusDeputy USTR Miriam Sapiro speaks with the Congressional Services Caucus

  • 05/21/2010 11:00 AM

    Welcome to USTR's first TPP online chat. We'll begin with some questions we've received earlier this week. You can send in questions here.

    Alvin: Considering to sign Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) with China, Taiwan also hopes for more economic linkage with international economic regime or partnership to enhance Taiwan's economic edge and competitiveness. I think Taiwan will also share the goals of TPP. I just wonder if Taiwan could join the American-led TPP. For China's sovereign concern, Taiwan could probably take part in a name of separate custom or economy instead of sovereign state.

    USTR: The countries currently participating in the TPP negotiation are prepared to engage with any interested APEC countries. To clarify, however, the TPP negotiation is a plurilateral initiative, not a U.S.-led one. Any decisions about admitting new participants in the negotiation will be made by a consensus of all TPP parties.

    Jim: You have said that the TPP will be the model US FTA for the 21st Century. What areas outside normal tariff reductions will be included -- competition policy (antitrust), common foreign investment rules?, common regulatory issues; climate change and the environment, such as timber trade?, human rights and labor rights strictures? services rules. Thanks. 

    USTR: We are indeed seeking to negotiate a high-standard, 21st century agreement, and we welcome any specific input you may have in this regard.   

    As you may be aware, previous U.S. FTAs have covered a wide array of issues relating to all aspects of our commercial relations with our FTA partners. In addition to tariff reductions, our FTAs cover customs, services, financial services, telecommunications, e-commerce, investment, intellectual property rights, government procurement, competition, transparency, labor, environment, and other issues.   

    As we consider negotiating objectives for the TPP, we intend to build on the model we have used in previous FTAs to incorporate new elements that reflect our values and priorities and that respond to the 21st century challenges that our businesses, farmers, ranchers, and workers face. We also want to take advantage of the fact that we are negotiating a regional agreement in order to make progress on issues of interest and concern to all the TPP countries. For example, we are considering ways to make the regulatory systems of the TPP countries operate together more effectively to help address regulatory and other non-tariff measures -- so-called “behind-the border” issues -- that increasingly are the main problems that our companies face in foreign markets. Developing common approaches on regulatory issues also will help promote U.S. exports in emerging industries and technologies in which U.S. companies are globally competitive, such as energy and environmental technology, biotech, nanotechnology, health and medical technology, IT, and education. In addition, the development of common regulatory approaches would help us address issues of mutual concern, such as food safety.   

    We also are looking at including new elements in the TPP that would support the development of efficient production and supply chains that include U.S. firms in order to encourage companies to invest and produce in the United States. In addition, we are exploring ways to promote exports by small businesses, which are the source of much of the innovation and job creation in the United States and other countries. Other key areas for which we are seeking to incorporate new ideas are transparency, environmental protection and conservation, worker rights, and development.

    Bird: I raise soybeans which are one of our main exports to China. They take 23% of all the soybeans grown here. When the soybeans go into China a 3% tariff + 13% value added tax is collected. On my 38 acre field this will be about $650 to the Chinese Government. This is more than my 2009 income tax, so I support the Chinese Government more than my own. The value added tax is 16% on all but commodities. Why don't we put an equivalent tariff and tax on ALL Chinese imports?

    USTR: Thank you for your question about soybean exports to China. Farmers like you, exporting American agricultural commodities, are among America’s top exporters – and last year China was the second largest export market for US agricultural products. In 2009, China imported $13.1 billion in U.S. agricultural products, and over $9 billion of that amount was soybeans. So we understand your interest in measures affecting exports of soybeans to China. As you know, the United States does not have a value-added tax system, but many other countries do. Under WTO rules, those countries are entitled to collect the VAT on imported products, just as they collect the VAT from their own domestic farmers that are producing commodities like soybeans or manufactured products like cars or telephones. However, China must apply the same VAT rules and the same VAT rates to domestic and imported products; that is, it cannot discriminate against imports.

    Simon: What is the likelihood that an investor-state dispute settlement mechanism will be included in the TPP? Is USTR pushing for it to be included? 

    USTR: We are consulting very closely with Congress and other stakeholders to ensure that we have the broadest possible input as we determine our negotiating objectives. In our prior free trade agreement negotiations, the inclusion of an investor-State dispute settlement mechanism has been a priority, consistent with the negotiating objectives in the Bipartisan Trade Promotion Authority Act of 2002. This mechanism provides a critical protection for U.S. investors abroad by establishing a neutral, international forum to challenge arbitrary, unfair, or corrupt foreign government actions. It also provides for transparency and public participation, including participation by non-governmental organizations.

    Rebecca: Thank you for this opportunity to ask this question. The United States has generated in the past Free Trade Agreements containing promises for transparency and public participation in their ongoing governance. (see 3 examples from AUSFTA below which are replicated in other US FTAs). Will public participation undertakings be included in the upcoming TPP? and is it still viewed as an important trade policy objective to provide and allow for ongoing public participation in the governance of the upcoming TPP? For example the Australia United States FTA states that: AUSFTA Joint Committee, under Article 21.1.6: Recognizing the importance of transparency and openness, the Parties reaffirm their respective practices of considering the views of members of the public in order to draw upon a broad range of perspectives in the implementation of this Agreement" and also public participation in AUSFTA in 19.5.2: Each formal decision of the Parties concerning the operation of this Chapter shall be made public, unless the Joint Committee decides otherwise. AUSFTA 19.5.3, again creates further presumptions for transparency and accountability: Each Party shall provide an opportunity for its public, which may include national advisory committees, to provide views, recommendations or advice on matters related to the implementation of this Chapter, and shall make available such views, recommendations, or advice to the other Party and, as appropriate, to the public in accordance with its law.

    USTR: Thank you for your question. As you note in your comments, transparency and public participation have been features of the Australia-U.S. FTA and other U.S. FTAs. While your question refers specifically to the institutional and environmental chapters of the Australia-U.S. FTA, transparency and public participation are important aspects of many other chapters of U.S. FTAs, as well. For example, our FTAs typically include a Transparency chapter that ensures a public right to participate in rulemaking by signatory countries. The dispute settlement chapters of our FTAs also typically require that government submissions to dispute settlement tribunals be made public, that tribunal hearings be open to the public, and that tribunals have the authority to solicit views from non-governmental entities. Thus, although we are still developing our objectives for the TPP, transparency and public participation will remain priorities that we certainly will seek to reflect in the TPP.

    Christina: Please consider as you gauge public sentiment about TPP that with the BP oil disaster the environmental community's resources to organize for this chat likely are limited. I wish that I had the expertise to make more substantive comments, since those knowledgeable may not have the time to do so. Could USTR hold a second chat later when at least there is no major domestic environmental crisis and/or do outreach with the environmental community through the TPP process?

    USTR: We appreciate your interest in providing input and that of the environmental community, which already has provided some useful input to us on the TPP. As the negotiations proceed, we plan to hold additional webchats and also would welcome your input through our website:

    Arthur: Given that the United States already has Free Trade Agreements with most of the countries participating in the TPP negotiations, clearly the primary purpose of this agreement isn't opening new markets. The Oregon Fair Trade Campaign sees the TPP as an opportunity to initiate the trade reforms promised by President Obama on the campaign trail. In what ways will the USTR seek to amend things like the investment, services and procurement provisions found in some of the current FTAs among TPP partners?

    USTR: The United States decided to participate in the negotiation because the TPP is the best vehicle for advancing U.S. economic interests in the critical Asia-Pacific region. Expanding U.S. exports is critical to our economic recovery and to the creation and retention of high-quality jobs in the United States. With its rapid growth and large markets, there is no region with which expanding our trade is more vital than the Asia-Pacific. The current group of TPP participants provides additional meaningful market access. However, our engagement is premised on the objective we share with other TPP partners of expanding the initiative to include other countries throughout the Asia-Pacific region. Indeed, several other countries already have expressed interest in joining a TPP agreement.

    We are still developing our negotiating objectives for each chapter and reviewing the input we have received from stakeholders. We do not expect to draft proposed text until after the upcoming round and would welcome your further input.

    Trung: We wish to see labor rights promoted and protected in TPP.

    USTR: USTR is committed to negotiating a TPP agreement that ensures respect for labor rights. We are seeking a 21st Century agreement in which all TPP countries are obligated to provide protection for fundamental labor rights in their laws and practices. We welcome any further specific input you have on this issue.

    David: As you know, the existing FTA's while not without flaws as regards the rules of origin for textiles and textile products, have shown some success in creating export opportunities for U.S. textile manufacturers due to rules of origin that assure that most of the vital textile components be sourced from among the partner countries to the agreements. The current TPP in effect operates on a very different, value-added rule. If the U.S. were to enter TPP under the current value-added rule it would be devastating for the U.S. textile industry. In such a scenario TPP would not result in any increase in U.S. textile exports to that region and would, in fact, reduce our exports to TPP nations with whom we have existing FTAs. Further, it would be extremely damaging to the efforts of this Administration as well as the Bush and Clinton Administrations, to promote regional trade in our hemisphere. A TPP with a value-added rule for textile would be a disaster for U.S. textile.

    USTR: Thank you for your input. We recognize the sensitivity of this issue and are consulting closely with stakeholders to assess the impact that any changes in our current rules of origin would have on our industry and our FTA partners.

    Masakuni: In Asia-Pacific, Japan and China are key countries. Do you expect that Japanese government would join the TPP negotiation within 2-3 years? How about China? Have you, or will you urge them to join the negotiation?

    USTR: The United States and its TPP partners ultimately are seeking to include countries across the Asia-Pacific region. Future membership in the TPP Agreement by Japan, China or any other country in the region will depend on whether the country in question in ready and willing to meet the standards of the agreement.

    Trinh: For America’s IP-intensive industries, it is important that the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement (TPP) elevate the level of IP protection and enforcement among the parties of the agreement to the highest standards that exist among these countries. How will you ensure that U.S. innovations and creations will be afforded effective protection in the markets of the participants in this agreement and that strong IP provisions, such as those found in the pending U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement, will be part of this agreement?

    USTR: Strong protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights is an important part of U.S. trade policy and a key priority for future trade agreements, including the TPP. As we work to develop a TPP with IP protection and enforcement standards worthy of a 21st-century trade agreement, we will carefully consider the IPR provisions of the KORUS FTA and other past U.S. trade agreements, as well as the public comments we have received on prospective TPP provisions. We welcome your further detailed input on this question.

    Jay: Given the range of existing free trade arrangements among TPP members, do you envision negotiating new common rules of origin under the TPP or will there be a variety of country dependent rules at the end of the day?

    USTR: We are still developing our position on rules of origin, but our objective for the TPP is regional integration, which ideally would entail common rules of origin.

    Amy: Is there any timeline to establish a process for allowing new members? Have some countries already been "invited"?

    USTR: There is no set timeline for new members to join and TPP members are not “inviting” specific countries to join. Any APEC member is welcome to join if they are ready and willing to meet the standards of the agreement. Any additional countries that are interested in joining in this first group, however, would have to do so before the negotiations were so far along that their participation would unduly complicate conclusion of the agreement.

    This chat has now ended. To provide input for the USTR TPP Team, you can submit questions and comments here.

  • 05/20/2010 4:40 PM

    Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Intellectual Property and Innovation Stan McCoy recently held a question and answer session with the Copyright Alliance regarding the importance of protecting intellectual property rights. Read the post here.

  • 05/20/2010 3:53 PM

    Watch a video below of Ambassador Kirk and Secretary Vilsack discussing how to increasing U.S. agricultural exports and read the transcript here.

  • 05/20/2010 3:04 PM

    Ambassador Kirk gave the commencement address last week at Southern Methodist University’s graduation. Watch his speech below, and read his remarks here.

  • 05/20/2010 1:42 PM

    Ambassador Kirk recently sat down with Voice of America to discuss the importance of World Trade Week, and what USTR is doing to bring jobs and the other economic benefits of trade to American workers and businesses. Read the article here and listen to the radio interview to find out more.

  • 05/20/2010 11:31 AM

    The National League of Cities recently posted a blog about how Ambassador Kirk is working to create jobs through the President’s National Export Initiative. Read more about it here.

  • 05/20/2010 9:35 AM

    In recognition of World Trade Week, Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Americas Everett Eissenstat spoke to the Midwest International Trade Association in Omaha, Nebraska about the Obama Administration's Trade Policy Agenda. Read his full remarks, as prepared for delivery, here.

  • 05/18/2010 6:25 PM

    On Monday, May 17, Deputy USTR Demetrios Marantis was in California to continue the Obama Administration’s 50-state domestic outreach strategy on Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations. USTR is reaching out to stakeholders around the country to help shape USTR’s negotiating objectives in the eight-country TPP trade negotiations in the Asia-Pacific. California exports over $80 billion in goods to the Asia-Pacific, nearly 70 percent of its total exports.   

    Ambassador Marantis began the day in San Ramon, California at an event hosted by Congressman Jerry McNerney. The event attracted local small- and medium-sized enterprises in a number of sectors. Following a short presentation on the opportunities for California businesses and workers in the TPP, Ambassador Marantis discussed intellectual property protection in China, the interests and priorities of California businesses, and labor and environment protections.   

    Ambassador Marantis at McNerny Event

    Ambassador Marantis and Congressman McNerneyAmbassador Marantis talks with Congressman Jerry McNerney

    Later in the afternoon, Ambassador Marantis gave a keynote address to the CalChamber’s International Forum in Sacramento, focusing on the United States’ plans to host the 21 Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum economies in 2011. Before agriculture, services, and technology goods exporters, he outlined the Administration’s trade and investment priorities for 2011, including ways to promote sustainable and greener growth, and goals to reduce red tape and non-tariff barriers in the world’s most dynamic region. 

    Ambassador Marantis Speaks at CalChamber

    Finally, Ambassador Marantis continued TPP outreach at an agriculture roundtable event hosted by Congressman Wally Herger’s office. In a lively discussion with producers of wine, olive oil, canned peach, prune, walnut, and rice , he heard about industry sensitivities, export opportunities, competition from global agriculture producers, and other issues. California is the United States’ largest agriculture producer, with nearly two-thirds of exports destined for the Asia-Pacific.

    Ambassador Marantis at Herger Event

  • 05/18/2010 4:39 PM

    Ambassador Kirk met today with South Korea’s Trade Minister Kim Jong-hoon. Ambassador Kirk reaffirmed his commitment to work together closely with Minister Kim on addressing the outstanding issues surrounding the U.S.-Korea FTA so it can move forward. He emphasized the economic significance of the FTA and its potential to play a major role in meeting the Administration’s goal of doubling U.S. exports over the next five years, as well as in growing well-paid jobs in the United States. Ambassador Kirk also expressed his condolences for the 46 South Korean sailors who lost their lives in the sinking of the South Korean naval vessel Cheonan, emphasizing that the incident highlights the critical importance of the strong U.S.-Korea alliance and that the KORUS FTA can serve to strengthen the alliance even further.   

    Ambassador Kirk and Minister Kim

    South Korea is one of the United States’ closest allies and a significant economic partner. It is our seventh-largest trading partner, with two-way goods trade reaching $67.8 billion in 2009 and two-way trade in services reaching $21.5 billion in 2008 (the latest data available). The KORUS FTA was signed in June 2007 and is currently pending Congressional approval. According to the independent U.S. International Trade Commission, full implementation of the FTA is expected to boost U.S. goods exports to Korea by $10-11 billion annually, and increase U.S. GDP by $10-12 billion per year. The Administration estimates that full implementation of the KORUS FTA could add up to 70,000 jobs in the United States. Concerns have been raised about the FTA in the United States, however, particularly with respect to autos and beef. The Administration is consulting with Congress and other U.S. stakeholders to find ways to address these concerns.

  • 05/18/2010 4:11 PM

    In recognition of World Trade Week, today, the Office of the United States Trade Representative in partnership with the U.S. Department of State, held a public briefing on U.S. efforts to promote legally harvested timber through cooperative international engagement. David Brooks and Russell Smith, from USTR, and Philip Antweiler and Charles Barber, of the Department of State, described the United States’ leadership in drawing international attention to the economic and environmental consequences of illegal logging and trade. To accomplish this, the United States has established collaborative mechanisms with key countries through which various topics have been addressed including combating trade in illegally harvested timber and products made from such timber, promoting transparent markets for timber that has been harvested legally, and exchanging data in order to improve understanding about the nature of international trade in timber and timber products.

  • 05/18/2010 10:13 AM

    Richard Olson, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, blogged on the State Department website Monday in honor of World Trade Week. Read his post here and learn more about how U.S. exports are growing in the Middle East.

  • 05/17/2010 6:31 PM

    In a Monday speech to the California Chamber of Commerce International Forum, Deputy USTR Demetrios Marantis noted that the second round of Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations will be held in San Francisco, California the week of June 14. USTR is excited to host the second round and continue to move forward with negotiations. Through the TPP, the Obama Administration is seeking to develop a high-standard, 21st century, regional trade agreement that will advance U.S. interests with some of the most dynamic economies in the world and help expand U.S. exports to support high-paying, high-quality jobs in the United States. Watch and for more information about the negotiating round.

    In the meantime, USTR is seeking public input on TPP negotiations through with an online chat this Friday, May 21 at 11:00 a.m. You can submit your questions and comments here, and be sure to join the chat this Friday.

  • 05/17/2010 11:53 AM

    The White House issued a proclamation signed by President Obama on Friday, May 14 regarding World Trade Week. Ambassador Kirk recorded a video for World Trade Week. Watch the video below.

    Watch all next week for World Trade Week events and activities at USTR.

  • 05/14/2010 3:25 PM

    The U.S. Chamber of Commerce posted a blog regarding Ambassador Kirk's current trip to Wisconsin. Read here.

  • 05/14/2010 2:35 PM

    USTR is seeking actively seeking public input on objectives for the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations ahead of the second round of negotiations, which will be held during the week of June 14.   

    As part of USTR’s Schedule of activities for World Trade Week, USTR chief negotiator for the TPP Barbara Weisel and members of her team will host an online chat on Friday, May 21 at 11:00 am to answer questions and obtain input on objectives for the negotiations. Questions can be submitted up to a week in advance via beginning Friday, May 14 here.   

    Through the TPP, the Obama Administration is seeking to develop a high-standard, 21st century, regional trade agreement that begins with eight like-minded countries (Australia, Brunei, Chile, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam) and eventually includes countries across the Asia-Pacific region. This agreement will advance U.S. interests with some of the most dynamic economies in the world and help expand U.S. exports, which are critical to the creation and retention of high-paying, high-quality jobs in the United States.   

    Public input is critical to ensuring that the agreement achieves these goals and addresses the interests and concerns of U.S. stakeholders.

  • 05/14/2010 10:00 AM

    While in Richland Center today, Ambassador Kirk toured two of Wisconsin’s dairy product producers, Foremost Farms USA and the Valley View Dairy Farm. Ambassador Kirk met employees at Foremost which makes mozarrella cheese and whey protein powder for domestic and international customers. The factory operates around the clock seven days per week. 

    During Ambassador Kirk's visit to the Valley View Dairy Farm, he participated in a roundtable with local farmers to discuss trade, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations and the importance of exports from Wisconsin. 

    America’s dairy producers and processors have been working together for the past several years to expand opportunities abroad. This effort led to the peak sales of $3.8 billion in 2008 and exports totaling $2.3 billion last year, despite the global financial crisis and dwindling dairy prices. In 2009, exports of American goods totaled more than $1 trillion, and $16.7 billion of those exports came from Wisconsin. That makes Wisconsin the 18th highest exporter among the 50 states.

    Ambassador Kirk and Gov DoyleAmbassador Kirk and Wisconsin Governor Doyle

  • 05/13/2010 6:05 PM

    This week, Ambassador Ron Kirk held the spring meeting of USTR’s Intergovernmental Policy Advisory Committee (IGPAC). The IGPAC provides advice to USTR from a state and local perspecitive; in attendance were representatives from manystate organizations, includingthe National Council of State Legislators, National League of Cities, Council of State Governments and the Maryland Port Administration. Ambassador Kirk welcomed new members to the committee and thanked everyone for their ongoing commitment and participation. Ambassador Kirk spoke about President Obama's National Export Initiative (NEI) and how this administration would, with the states, work to achieve the President’s goal of doubling exports of U.S. products to support 2 million additional jobs here at home. The Ambassador also gave an overview of pending USTR agreements and initiatives. Joining the Ambassador were USTR staffers Jean Grier, Senior Procurement Negotiator, and Chris Melly, Deputy Assistant USTR for Services. The IGPAC members were able to have a frank and open conversation with USTR staff about some of the issues that states face with regards to trade, and offered their assistance in moving the President’s trade agenda forward.

  • 05/11/2010 5:57 PM

    Ambassador Kirk met with Panama’s Vice President and Minister of Foreign Affairs Juan Carlos Varela on May 11 to discuss a range of matters of mutual interest, including matters relating to the United States – Panama Trade Promotion Agreement.   

    Ambassador Kirk and Panama Vice President Juan Carlos

    The United States is Panama’s largest trading partner. The United States exported $4.4 billion worth of goods to Panama in 2009. Total goods trade between the United States and Panama was $4.7 billion during 2009.

  • 05/10/2010 5:40 PM

    Today Deputy United States Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis is in Kansas City, Missouri to discuss Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade negotiations with local stakeholders. Congressman Emmanuel Cleaver hosted an event with representatives of Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, Park University, and local transportation, logistics, and homebuilding equipment industries. Ambassador Marantis outlined the Obama Administration's trade agenda, including objectives for the TPP. Discussions focused on opportunities in the Asia Pacific region, the destination for nearly 70 percent of Missouri goods exports. Nearly 85 percent of Missouri's exporters are small- and medium-sized businesses, and Ambassador Marantis noted that these businesses will be first in line to benefit from TPP as the agreement improves transparency, reduces red tape, and eliminates tariffs.   

    In addition to TPP, participants also focused on some of the challenges Missouri exporters face, including logistical hurdles, weak intellectual property protection and availability of export financing.

    Ambassador Marantis also travelled to Kansas City, Kansas. There, he discussed TPP with the staff of Kansas Senator Pat Roberts, including opportunities for ranchers and small businesses. Ambassador Marantis also met senior executives at Black and Veatch headquarters, a Kansas-based engineering, consulting and construction services company. Black and Veatch is active in TPP partner countries, including Vietnam and Singapore. Discussion included barriers to services exporters, opportunities in government procurement, and goals to increase transparency through TPP negotiations.

    Ambassador Marantis at TPP Roundtable in Missouri
    Ambassador Marantis meets with Black and Veatch senior executives on TPP in Kansas City, Kansas

    Ambassador Marantis and Congressman Cleave
    Congressman Emmanuel Cleaver and Ambassador Marantis in Kansas City, Missouri

  • 05/10/2010 5:09 PM

    On Thursday, United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk will be in Wisconsin to discuss the President's National Export Initiative. This week's trade spotlight highlights the importance of trade to workers and families in the Badger State.

    Trade continues to provide many benefits to the people of Wisconsin. It makes goods more affordable for families, supports well-paying jobs for workers and creates new opportunities for farmers, ranchers, business owners and entrepreneurs. In 2009 alone, Wisconsin businesses exported over $16 billion in goods to other countries, supporting over 190,000 jobs throughout the state. In Wisconsin, small and medium enterprises continue to export to countries throughout the world. In 2007, 87 percent of Wisconsin businesses that exported goods abroad employed fewer than 500 workers.   

    Small companies like Main Street Ingredients, LLC., in La Crosse, Wisconsin have discovered the benefits of exporting abroad. This company employees 200 workers and began exporting nine years ago, with exports to places like Canada, Europe and the Middle East accounting for 20 percent of its gross sales. In Eau Claire, Accu-tech Plastics employees 31 workers and produces component protection products. Over 80 percent of those products are exported to countries around the world including Singapore and Israel. In Green Bay, the port continues to hum with a level of excitement as Wisconsin-made goods are loaded onto ships for foreign consumers.   

    For the citizens of the Badger state, trade creates opportunity. Trade allows entrepreneurs, farmers, ranchers and business owners to expand their business while making goods more affordable for families in grocery and retail stores. For Wisconsin’s workers, trade continues to support more well-paying, quality jobs across the state.

  • 05/07/2010 11:30 AM

    After Ambassador Kirk and Secretary Vilsack led an Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee on Trade (APAC) meeting yesterday, they both sat down for media interviews with USDA Radio. Listen to Ambassador Kirk's interviews below.

    "Pooling Government Trade Resources"

    "Actuality: U.S. Leads in Agricultural Products Worldwide"

  • 05/05/2010 1:05 PM

    While in Seattle, WA this week, Ambassador Kirk visited two of Washington state’s biggest exporters – who also employ hundreds of thousands of Americans right here at home.   

    Ambassador Kirk toured a Boeing plant in Renton, WA, where workers assemble 737s for use by airlines all over the world. Boeing is a leading U.S. exporter, accounting for 35 percent of total U.S. exports of aerospace products and services in 2009 – and Boeing employs 151,000 people here in the United States. Officials say that more than 1 million American workers contribute to the company’s supply chain.   

    Ambassador Kirk also met with executives of Microsoft in Redmond, WA, including CEO Steve Ballmer. Their discussion centered around the importance of protecting American intellectual property around the world to ensure that jobs are not lost here at home due to piracy and IP theft abroad, and on potential trade barriers that may arise as technology develops in the coming decades. USTR is charged with ensuring that American companies and workers have a level playing field on which to compete in providing goods and services – from airplanes to software to new technologies that may be invented in the future.

    Ambassador Kirk and Steve BallmerAmbassador Kirk and Steve Ballmer, chief executive officer of Microsoft Corporation

  • 05/03/2010 3:56 PM

    On Monday morning in Seattle, WA, Ambassador Kirk also participated in a business roundtable discussion at the Port of Seattle, hosted by Governor Chris Gregoire (D-WA). Ambassador Kirk and Governor Gregoire were joined by members of Washington's congressional delegation, as well as by representatives of the Washington business and labor communities - from Starbucks to the Washington State Potato Commission to Longshoremen. About 70 percent of the containerized cargo at the Port of Seattle either comes from or is bound for regions of the country outside the Pacific Northwest, making Seattle a major gateway for America's international trade. At the roundtable, Ambassador Kirk discussed President Obama's National Export Initiative, and ways that trade-dependent states like Washington can participate in the effort to grow 2 million jobs here in the United States by doubling American exports.   

    Washington is a state of 6.5 million people where more than 1 in 3 jobs are related to international trade. More than 8,000 Washington businesses exported a good or service in the year 2007. For more information on what international trade means to Washington state residents in terms of jobs and economic opportunity, read this week's Weekly Trade Spotlight.

    Ambassador Kirk at the Port of SeattleAmbassador Ron Kirk meets at the Port of Seattle with Tay Yoshitani, CEO of the Port of Seattle, Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA), and Governor Chris Gregoire (D-WA)

  • 05/03/2010 2:39 PM

    On Monday, United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk met with ASEAN Economic Ministers in Seattle, Washingon. This week's trade spotlight highlights the importance of trade in Washington.

    For hundreds of thousands of workers in Washington State, trade has supported well-paying jobs and new opportunities. In 2009, Washington exported over $51 billion in goods worldwide, supporting over 300,000 manufacturing and nearly 40,000 agriculture jobs. Trade helps American families by making more goods affordable like fruit and vegetables. Business owners, ranchers, farmers and entrepreneurs are also benefitting from the new markets and opportunities to expand their businesses because of trade. 

    Both large companies like Boeing and small business like the Sterlitech Corporation in Kent, have grown their companies through trade. Boeing exports their airplanes to countries in South America, Europe and Asia, which supports thousands of well-paying jobs. The Sterlitech Corporation exports around 30% of the filtration products that it produces each year as well and employees 10 workers. 

    In Washington, more companies are exploring new opportunities abroad – especially across the Pacific Ocean. Metriguard, a company based out of Pullman that employees 23 workers, produces machine stress rating equipment involved in lumber production. It has expanded its sales by exporting to Australia. For many companies, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) will provide many new opportunities to export goods abroad. This means that trade will support more jobs at home for American workers. 

    The ports in Tacoma, Seattle and elsewhere are busy loading ships with American-made goods for export to places like Asia and Australia. Agreements like the TPP will continue to ensure that the citizens of Washington have more opportunities for well-paying jobs and that Washington businesses can grow by exporting their products abroad.

  • 05/03/2010 12:24 PM

    On Monday morning in Seattle, WA, Ambassador Kirk participated in the kickoff event of the three day U.S. "Road Show" featuring trade and economic ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Ambassador Kirk was joined at the National Bureau of Research by several ASEAN ministers including Dr. Mari Pangestu of Indonesia, Mr. Mustapa Mohamed of Malaysia, Mr. Lim Jock Seng of Brunei, and Dr. Nam Viyaketh of Laos, as well as by Dr. Surin Pitsuwan, Secretary-General of ASEAN, former U.S. Senator Slade Gorton of Washington, and Alexander Feldman of the U.S.-ASEAN Business Council. 

    The purpose of the ministers' "road show" is to give American business leaders the chance to meet ASEAN trade ministers first-hand and explore opportunities in the ASEAN region while leaders discuss trade and investment opportunities between the U.S. and ASEAN countries, as well as ASEAN's efforts at regional economic integration - an effort the United States supports, as it would make it easier and cheaper for American companies to do business in the ASEAN region and to support well-paying jobs here at home. The United States has a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement with ASEAN, under which USTR seeks to increase opportunities that support jobs here at home while increasing economic opportunity in the ASEAN region as well.  

    U.S. goods exports to the 10 countries of ASEAN totaled $53.8 billion in 2009. The ASEAN countries together were the United States' fourth-biggest export market last year.

    Ambassador Kirk and Former U.S. Senator GortonAmbassador Kirk with former U.S. Senator Slade Gorton (R-WA) and Trade Minister Mari Elka Pangestu of Indonesia. 

    Ambassador Kirk and Participants of the ASEAN Road ShowAmbassador Kirk and participants at the U.S.-ASEAN breakfast in Seattle, WA.