04/28/2011 3:41 PM
This week's trade spotlight highlights a new online tool for small businesses to take advantage of exporting to U.S. trade agreement partners. Deputy U.S. Trade Representative for Small Business, Market Access, and Industrial Competitiveness Christina Sevilla talks below about the new online tool and its importance for America's small businesses.
New Online Free Trade Agreement Tariff Tool Will Help Small Businesses Take Advantage of Export Opportunities
By: Christina Sevilla, Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Small Business, Market Access, and Industrial Competitiveness
More than a quarter million American small businesses export from across all fifty states. They sell U.S. products and services around the world - thereby increasing their revenues, broadening and diversifying their customer base, and supporting good jobs in their communities. A particular priority of President Obama's National Export Initiative (NEI) is to expand exports by small businesses. This will contribute to his goal of doubling U.S. exports by the end of 2014 in order to support two million additional jobs for American workers. We invite more small and medium-sized businesses to join us in this national effort to grow our economy through exports. To help do that, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the Department of Commerce and the Small Business Administration have unveiled a new Free Trade Agreement (FTA) Tariff Tool. This is a free online tool available to businesses and the public for the first time.
The new FTA Tariff Tool empowers the user to perform, instantly and at a glance, searches for tariff treatment for specific industrial products under each U.S. FTA. This will help small manufacturers with planning to enter into new export markets. The tool also enables the user to access market and sector reports and other FTA-related information useful for small businesses seeking new opportunities to sell goods and services abroad.
As a small business owner, manager, or employee seeking to begin or expand your exports, which foreign markets should you consider? Some markets are easier to do business in than others. U.S. FTA partner markets are a very good place to start looking. Most U.S. small firms begin by selling to our North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) partners Canada and Mexico. However, the United States is a party to 17 FTAs with partners around the world, like the five Central American countries (Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua) and the Dominican Republic, Chile, Peru, Singapore, Australia, and Morocco. Agreements with Korea, Colombia, and Panama are pending. Small and medium-sized businesses represent the vast majority of U.S. exporting companies to these countries.
Trade agreements have helped to open the door to American small business exports with key partners around the world. This new FTA Tariff Tool will empower many more small and medium-sized firms to take advantage of these trade opportunities. Go here to discover cost-saving tariff reductions for your product, and consider an FTA market for your next foreign sale.
04/27/2011 2:18 PM
On Tuesday, Ambassador Kirk invited leaders from the United States Hispanic Chambers of Commerce to participate in a briefing about the U.S. trade agreements with Colombia and Panama. They also discussed President Obama’s trip to Latin America in March and his broader trade agenda. During the briefing, held via conference call, Ambassador Kirk gave opening remarks and answered questions. Additionally, Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Miriam Sapiro, Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for the Western Hemisphere John Melle, and Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Latin America Bennett Harman participated in the conference call.
The trade agreements with Colombia and Panama are part of the Obama Administration’s robust trade agenda to support jobs for American workers and to help the U.S. leadership in the global economy. The agreements will provide the opportunity for American manufacturers, service providers, farmers and ranchers to sell more goods and services around the world and support more jobs here at home. During the briefing participants asked questions about the trade agreements, export opportunities in Latin America, progress on the cross-border trucking with Mexico and the role of small businesses in international trade.
The Hispanic Chamber of Commerce has local chambers throughout the country and represents 3 million Hispanic-owned businesses in the United States. Members from local chambers throughout the U.S. participated in the briefing.
04/27/2011 11:07 AM
On Saturday, April 23rd, Ambassador Ron Kirk helped the Texas Rangers honor the anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s debut in Major League Baseball. Ambassador Kirk threw the ceremonial first pitch of the game. In front of thousands of fans, he pitched the ball across home plate to First Base Coach Gary Pettis. The Ambassador also participated in the pre-game warm up.
Ambassador Kirk throws the ceremonial first pitch
Ambassador Kirk and First Base Coach Gary Pettis
This year was the 64th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking Major League Baseball’s color barrier.
04/22/2011 12:51 PM
On Thursday, Ambassador Kirk met with members of the Trade Advisory Committee on Africa (“TACA”). The discussion included ways to enhance the U.S.–Africa Trade and Investment relationship and the African Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA). Members shared their views about AGOA, signed in May 2000, and the upcoming AGOA Forum, which will take place in Lusaka, Zambia this summer.
Also participating in the meeting were Ambassador Demetrios Marantis and Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for African Affairs Florie Liser.
04/22/2011 11:07 AM
By Ronald Baumgarten, Director, Agricultural Affairs
The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) occupies the historic Winder Building in downtown Washington, DC. The Winder Building was only thirteen years old when the Civil War erupted in 1861. This year, as the nation begins the commemoration of the Civil War Sesquicentennial, USTR would like to share some of the connections our office building has to that tragic conflict.
The Winder Building, from a photo likely taken about five years after the Civil War
The Winder Building, completed in 1848, stood at 75 feet and had 130 rooms. At the time it was the tallest and largest office building in the nation’s capital. The War and Navy Departments leased office space from owner William H. Winder until 1854, when Secretary of War Jefferson Davis bought the Winder Building at the price of $200,000 for the War Department’s use. Davis would later serve as the first and only president of the Confederate States of America.
During the Civil War, the Winder Building – known at the time as “Winder’s Building” – housed several government offices. Occupants included the Navy Bureau of Ordnance and Hydrography, the Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, the Army Corps of Engineers, the Army Corps of Topographical Engineers, and the Second Auditor of the Treasury. The Quartermaster General’s Department, under the capable direction of General Montgomery Meigs, led the massive effort to supply the Union Army from offices in the Winder Building. The Army Ordnance Department was also located there, and President Lincoln sometimes stopped by to learn about new weapons being tested by the Union Army. Later in the war, the Bureau of Military Justice, under Judge Advocate General Joseph Holt, moved into the building. When Lincoln was assassinated in April 1865, Holt led the investigation and prosecution of the conspirators from the Winder Building. The U.S. Signal Corps also constructed a signal station on the roof of the Winder Building in 1865 that was capable of sending messages by flag to troops in the encampments and fortifications around Washington.
Quartermaster General Montgomery Meigs
Washington, D.C. Central Signal Station, Winder Building, April 1865
The war was not kind to the original owner of the Winder Building. At the start of the Civil War, William Winder’s cousin, John H. Winder, resigned as a U.S. Army major, received a commission as a Confederate brigadier general, and was placed in charge of Northern prisoners in Richmond, Virginia. Federal authorities arrested William Winder on suspicion of conspiracy to overthrow the U.S. Government. He was held as a prisoner at Ft. Lafayette in New York and Ft. Warren in Boston, until Winder’s lawyers gained his release in 1862 after fourteen months in jail. Winder was never indicted.
Over the years, various myths have grown up around the Civil War history of the Winder Building. Some of these myths were enshrined on the historical marker that was placed on the building in 1950. According to one legend, Lincoln was fond of visiting the Winder Building to read telegraphs carrying war news from the front. However, historic evidence indicates that the Telegraph Office was located in the old War Department building across the street (site of the present-day Eisenhower Executive Office Building), and that the Winder Building did not have any military telegraph wires connected to it. It is also unlikely that Lincoln reviewed military parades from the building’s wrought-iron balcony.
Another frequent myth is that Confederate prisoners were held in the Winder Building and that Lincoln visited them there. There is no proof that such a basement prison existed, although civilian suspects were sometimes questioned in the basement.
Some accounts indicate that four successive generals-in-chief of the Union Army (Winfield Scott, George B. McClellan, Henry W. Halleck, and Ulysses S. Grant) maintained their headquarters in the Winder Building. However, at the time of the Civil War, most generals had offices in a building at the southwest corner of 17th and F Streets, N.W. (present-day location of the FDIC).
The Winder Building occupies a key place in the history of Washington during the Civil War. The clerks and military officers who worked there played an important role in the Union war effort over the course of four long and trying years. USTR is proud to call the Winder Building home.
04/21/2011 6:13 PM
Today Ambassador Kirk celebrated Earth Week with a visit to American University (AU) to tour the university’s solar panel installations and host a discussion with students. AU is a leading university in sustainability initiatives. It is currently undergoing an ambitious project to install 2,300 solar photovoltaic and thermal energy panels across six buildings on campus. Students, faculty, staff, and representatives from local businesses joined Ambassador Kirk on the roof of AU’s School of International Service to tour the innovative solar technologies.
Ambassador Kirk Tours AU's Rooftop Solar Technology Project
AU Director of Sustainability Chris O’Brien shared how sustainability is an important part of the campus community’s values. The community is instilled with the responsibility to protect the Earth and welcomes innovative solutions that often serve multiple functions to create both environmental and economic benefits. For example, students, faculty, and staff are currently working together on a project to build a green roof with plants that collect rainwater to prevent structural damage to the building and reduce wastewater runoff.
Ambassador Kirk Tours AU's Rooftop Solar Technology Project
After the tour, Ambassador Kirk hosted a discussion with students about how education and innovation are critical to the development of clean energy technology and the growth of the American economy. He encouraged the students to become the future entrepreneurs and leaders of the 21st century clean energy economy.
Ambassador Kirk Hosts Roundtable with AU Students
04/21/2011 10:26 AM
Last week, Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Small Business, Market Access and Industrial Competitiveness Christina Sevilla met with students at Saint John’s University’s McCarthy Center for Public Policy and Civic Engagement program in Collegeville, Minnesota. Christina discussed the Obama Administration’s trade agenda, specifically the importance of helping small businesses increase exports. USTR’s work is part of President Obama’s plan for America to win the future by out-educating, out-innovating, and out-building the global competition.
Christina’s conversation with the students revolved around how USTR negotiates directly with foreign governments to open markets, reduce trade barriers, and enforce trade agreements around the world. This work helps support trade-related jobs and export opportunities in communities throughout Minnesota.
Minnesota companies exported merchandise totaling $18.9 billion in 2010 – from major local employers like 3M and Medtronic to small companies like Miller Manufacturing Company of Eagan, MN. Miller manufactures and distributes farm, ranch and pet products in the U.S., Canada and over 30 countries around the world. Of the more than 6,800 companies that exported goods from Minnesota locations in 2008, 6,027 (nearly 88 percent) were small- and medium-sized businesses with fewer than 500 employees.
According to Professor Jim Read, Interim Director of the McCarthy Center, the event provided students “a very clear idea of how international trade works, the opportunities that exist, and the stakes all of us have in what kind of trade policies the U.S. pursues. In the question and answer period, you also had really good, practical advice for students thinking about doing some kind of international work, in business or politics. I was pleased that students were very interested and asked excellent questions.”
04/20/2011 5:58 PM
Today, Ambassador Kirk visited the Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) to participate in a moderated discussion with faculty and students about the Obama Administration’s trade agenda. The discussion was part of SAIS’ Development Roundtable speaker series.
Ambassador Kirk at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies
In a conversation with Professor Matthias Matthijs, Ambassador Kirk described how USTR is working to increase American exports and support jobs for American workers. He also discussed the Doha Development Agenda, and how trade can help support global development.
Watch the entire event below.
04/20/2011 10:23 AM
As part of USTR’s “Hometown High School” program, Assistant United States Trade Representative for China Affairs Claire Reade recently sat down for a phone interview with student reporters from her alma mater Wayland High School in Wayland, MA. USTR’s “Hometown High School” program encourages and enables our employees to connect with their high school alma maters to speak to current students about the value of education in their careers. The program also provides USTR staff with an opportunity to communicate the benefits of trade to the next generation of American workers and to share their experiences in public service.
From Wayland to Washington, D.C. (Wayland Student Press Network)
By Basil Halperin, Ben Rabin and Kruti Vora
Claire Reade, a Wayland High School graduate (class of 1970), now works as an Assistant U.S. Trade Representative (AUSTR) for China Affairs at the Office of the United States Trade Representative. (File photo: Wayland Reflector - Public domain: US Government Office of the United States Trade Representative)
Claire Reade, like many young teens, didn’t know what career she wanted to pursue when she attended Wayland High School in the late 1960s. At Wayland, Reade took an interest Latin and foreign language in general. More importantly, Reade’s Wayland education opened her eyes to the world, instilling a strong curiosity and a desire to do something “meaningful and significant.”
Today, Reade – now an Assistant U.S. Trade Representitive (AUSTR) for China Affairs at the Office of the United States Trade Representitive – is able to offer a global perspective on the importance of education.
In a recent interview with WSPN, Reade, a 1970 Wayland High School graduate, stressed the importance of a broad and thorough education.
“In my field that I’m in right now, it’s clear to me – we need you to learn how to think, how to write, how to be analytic, how to be curious,” said Reade. “Now in our increasingly globalized world, we are having to compete for jobs against folks from all over the world. I work on China, but its China, India, Brazil, Canada, Japan, Germany.”
A taste for tongues
“Latin was a very cool subject when I was there,” Reade said.
“The teachers at Wayland High School were really a fantastic group of teachers that really were interested in making you excited about learning,” she said. ” The opportunity to take foreign languages and understand foreign cultures was also a very important part of my education.”
Reade’s interest in foreign languages continued to develop after she graduated high school, which led her to study Latin, Mandarin Chinese, French and German in college and graduate school.
As part of her German studies, she worked as a research assistant to one of her college professors in Germany after college. It was there, in Europe, that she began to understand the importance of economic and political relations between countries.
“There was a lot of serendipity,” Reade said. “You take this young woman from Wayland, Massachusetts [who] suddenly realizes this whole world is out there and it needs attention. I decided that I really wanted to be engaged internationally, and I wanted to do something that would help in this world of ours in trying to move things in the right direction for planet Earth.”
Reade received her masters degree from the Fletcher School of Diplomacy and a law degree from Harvard. After graduating from Harvard, Reade studied in Taiwan under a Sheldon Fellowship.
Reade would eventually marry and move to Washington, where she began working in her current position as Assistant Trade Representative for China Affairs. Reade’s main responsibility is to define and coordinate the federal government’s efforts to expand access to markets in China, Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan and Mongolia for American goods and services.
“China has good laws on books that are supposed to protect intellectual property rights – music, authors, those kinds of patents,” said Reade. “There are some very significant problems. These problems make it difficult for China to develop an innovative society and it makes it very difficult for our goods and services to go over to China with a sense of comfort that [copyright holders] actually are not getting their intellectual property rights stolen.”
“It’s very important, and I feel very privileged to be doing it,” she said.
Reade advised any Wayland High School students wishing to enter public service to continue studying, especially in the area of foreign languages.
Her suggestion? “Get a broad education, figure out what it is that you love to do, and try to do that.”
While some Wayland students may stare blankly at the board during their classes, wondering how Latin or Calculus will benefit them in the future, what they do not realize is that this education could guide them to a career in public service, just as it did for Claire Reade.
04/19/2011 4:58 PM
04/19/2011 4:18 PM
President Obama is committed to pursuing an ambitious trade agenda that will help grow our economy and support good jobs for U.S. workers by opening new markets. To achieve that objective, we seek to provide a level playing field that creates economic opportunities for U.S. workers, companies, farmers, and ranchers, and that ensures our trading partners have acceptable working conditions and respect fundamental labor rights. As part of this broader trade agenda, the Obama Administration has worked closely with the government of Panama to resolve outstanding issues related to the U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement.
Yesterday, a Tax Information Exchange Agreement (TIEA) went into effect between the United States and Panama. The TIEA will permit the two countries to improve their tax information exchange transparency networks globally. The Government of Panama has also taken a series of legislative and administrative actions to further strengthen its labor laws and enforcement. The completion of action on transparency and labor clears the way for the Obama Administration to begin discussions with Members of Congress about the draft implementing bill for the Agreement.
Panama is one of the fastest growing economies in Latin America, expanding 6.2 percent in 2010, with similar annual growth forecast through 2015. The U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement will support American jobs, expand markets, and enhance U.S. competitiveness by eliminating tariffs and other barriers to U.S. exports and expanding trade between our two countries.
04/18/2011 4:39 PM
USTR is always searching for new opportunities to promote environmental objectives through international trade. In commemoration of Earth Day, this week’s trade spotlight will focus on a variety of environmental initiatives.
As the Obama Administration consults with Congress to advance three pending trade agreements –including Korea, Colombia and Panama – USTR is beginning to break new ground on environmental matters in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations. USTR recognizes that illegal trafficking in wildlife and forest products can amount to billions of dollars in global trade each year. This type of trade negatively impacts the conservation and economic interests of all TPP countries. USTR has proposed that TPP countries commit to take measures to prohibit this trade. This includes increased law enforcement cooperation, to enhance existing international controls on wildlife and wild plant trade. This work in the TPP builds on efforts to protect the environment in other international markets.
In the ongoing World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations, USTR is pressing for strong disciplines on fisheries subsidies that have contributed to the continuing decline in global fish stocks. USTR is advocating in the WTO to eliminate tariffs on environmental goods, such as solar panels, wind turbines, and catalytic converters. USTR is also working in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum this year to promote trade and investment in environmental goods, including addressing non-tariff barriers that hamper trade in these products. In addition, USTR seeks to establish an APEC mechanism to combat illegal logging and associated trade.
All of these initiatives reflect this Administration’s firm belief in the potential for international trade and environmental policies to be mutually supportive. USTR pledges to continue to work toward achieving this fundamental objective.
04/14/2011 6:24 PM
Today, Ambassador Kirk spoke at an Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum as part of the 2011 APEC Road Show. Ambassador Kirk spoke with local business and government leaders, including Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, about how APEC can help increase exports and create jobs. He highlighted three areas that the U.S. is working on to build towards a seamless regional economy: strengthening economic integration and expanding trade; promoting green growth; and advancing regulatory cooperation and convergence. He also discussed ways that USTR is working to reduce barriers for small- and medium-sized businesses to help them increase exports to the region.
After the breakfast discussion, Ambassador Kirk hosted a roundtable with local business leaders where he highlighted ways in which USTR is working to help Chicago businesses increase their exports. He said the National Export Initiative is a key part of President Obama's plan to win the future, because it focuses on helping U.S. businesses and workers out-innovate and out-sell our global competitors. Chicago is the 7th largest exporting metropolitan area in the United States. Increasing exports from Chicago will support more jobs in Illinois and across America.
04/08/2011 12:09 PM
In the event that agency shutdowns and furloughs become necessary due to a lapse in appropriations for Fiscal Year 2011, the Executive Office of the President has prepared and would implement this contingency plan, which includes USTR.
04/07/2011 6:10 PM
U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton recently sent a letter to leaders of Congress, urging them to reauthorize the Generalized System of Preferences, the Andean Trade Preference Act, and the Trade Adjustment Assistance program. It was sent to members of Senate and House leadership as well as to the Chairs and Ranking Members of the Senate Committee on Finance, the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, the House Committee on Ways and Means, and the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Here is the text of the letter sent to Speaker Boehner:
The Honorable John A. Boehner
Speaker of the House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Mr. Speaker:
We are writing to urge Congress to reauthorize two recently expired trade preference programs – the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) and the Andean Trade Preference Act (ATPA) – as well as the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program. The two preference programs enjoy broad bipartisan support and are important, time-tested tools for promoting economic growth in the developing world. All three programs support U.S. jobs and help to enhance U.S. competitiveness.
The GSP program provides preferential, duty-free entry to the United States for up to 4,800 products from 129 designated beneficiary countries and territories, including many of the world’s poorest countries. By opening the U.S. market to products from these countries, GSP supports sustainable, trade-driven economic development in places like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Armenia, Georgia, and Cambodia. ATPA, which provides duty-free treatment to products from Colombia and Ecuador, promotes diversification of exports, consolidation of democracy, and anti-drug trafficking efforts in these two important Latin American countries.
GSP and ATPA benefit the U.S. economy, too. According to a U.S. Chamber of Commerce study, moving GSP imports from the docks to U.S. consumers, farmers, and manufacturers supports over 80,000 U.S. jobs. ATPA imports also support thousands of U.S. jobs in sectors ranging from apparel to cut flowers. Many GSP and ATPA imports are used as inputs by U.S. companies to manufacture goods here in the United States. The programs are particularly important to American small businesses, many of which rely on the programs’ duty savings to stay competitive. GSP and ATPA also help American families on a budget by lowering prices on consumer goods.
The lapse in GSP and ATPA authorization has already cost U.S. businesses millions of dollars in additional import duties, increased costs to American manufacturers and consumers, and undercut efforts by poor countries to grow their economies and fight poverty. If the programs are not reauthorized soon, many U.S. importers may be forced to find other sources for their GSP and ATPA imports, raising costs for all and undermining the development objectives of the programs.
Finally, we must also work together to find a way forward on authorizing a long-term extension of TAA programs, which have helped so many Americans get back on their feet. Over the past two years, the number of workers enrolled in TAA training increased over 150 percent. These vital programs ensure that America’s workers have access to training and resources when they need it most.
We urge Congress to reauthorize the GSP, ATPA, and TAA programs at the earliest opportunity and for the longest period possible so that we can keep faith with the American worker, support U.S. jobs, promote economic development overseas, and provide greater certainty for American and developing country businesses and investors.
Ron Kirk, United States Trade Representative
Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of State
04/07/2011 4:31 PM
Below please see additional statements of support for the U.S.-Colombia trade agreement:
04/07/2011 9:09 AMToday, Ambassador Demetrios Marantis is testifying before the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade. You can find a link to the live feed at the bottom of the Committee’s website here starting at 10:00a.m. EST.
04/06/2011 5:45 PM
Below please see statements of support for the U.S.-Colombia trade agreement from various elected officials, the business community, and advocacy groups.Whirlpool Corporation
04/06/2011 4:22 PM
Today Ambassador Kirk met with Deputy Prime Minister Ivanov from the Russian Federation to discuss Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO). Both sides expressed the hope that the positive momentum would continue and that Russia would soon complete its accession negotiations.
Ambassador Kirk and Deputy Prime Minister Ivanov
04/06/2011 11:57 AM
President Obama is committed to pursuing an ambitious trade agenda that will help grow our economy and support good jobs for U.S. workers by opening new markets. To achieve that objective, we seek to provide a level playing field that creates economic opportunities for U.S. workers, companies, farmers, and ranchers, and that ensures our trading partners have acceptable working conditions and respect fundamental labor rights. As part of this broader trade agenda, the Obama Administration has worked closely with the government of Colombia to address serious and immediate labor concerns. The result is an agreed “Action Plan Related to Labor Rights” that will lead to greatly enhanced labor rights in Colombia and clear the way for the U.S.-Colombia Trade Agreement to move forward to Congress. The U.S.-Colombia Trade Agreement will expand U.S. goods exports alone by more than $1.1 billion and give key U.S. goods and services duty free access in sectors from manufacturing to agriculture. It will increase U.S. GDP by $2.5 billion and support thousands of additional U.S. jobs.
UPDATE:On Thursday, April 7 Deputy USTR Miriam Sapiro and Colombian Ambassador Gabriel Silva initialed the Colombian Action Plan Related to Labor Rights. You can view the action plan here.