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  • 06/30/2011 10:41 AM

    Pamela G. Bailey is the President & Chief Executive Officer of the Grocery Manufacturers Association.  She is also a member of President Obama’s Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations.  Pamela shares how American agriculture exports support American jobs, both on and the farm. 

    The United States is home to many of the world’s favorite food and beverage brands. Our food and beverage industry is a critical component of the U.S. economy, employing 1.7 million Americans in more than 30,000 communities, representing 14 percent of all our nation’s manufacturing jobs.

    The more than 300,000 products manufactured in these U.S. plants are sold every day in American grocery stores and exported to consumers around the world. Global demand is so great for these American brands that our food and beverage industry is one of a few sectors that exports more products than it imports. Each year we make and export more than $50 billion worth of goods to more than 200 countries.

    As we focus on restoring economic growth in the U.S., there is no denying the reality that 90 percent of the world’s economic growth is generated outside the U.S. Meeting the needs of consumers in global markets presents opportunities for new American jobs. With the global economy strengthening, the food and beverage industry has an opportunity to create more jobs in the U.S. by selling even more of our products to consumers worldwide. There are billions of consumers outside the U.S. who want better access to American goods at affordable prices.

    This is why it is so important that we ratify the three pending trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea. Last year alone we exported more than $2 billion worth of food and beverage products to those three countries combined. The pending trade agreements can make it possible for us to export even more, resulting in more U.S. jobs as we increase manufacturing to meet increased demand.

    While we have been debating these agreements, our nation’s economic competitors have been hard at work negotiating their own agreements with our trading partners.

    For example, when a new European Union (EU)-South Korea trade agreement takes effect July 1, American products will immediately be put at a tariff disadvantage. Similarly, new Colombia-EU and Colombia-Canada trade agreements risk displacing U.S. food and beverage products now being sold to Colombia by those produced in Canada and Europe.

    Unless our trade agreements are approved, the U.S. could face fewer fruit and vegetable export opportunities to Korea, Colombia and Panama as well as see a reduction in the export of dairy products and snack foods. Likewise, Colombia and Panama represent strong growth opportunities for American manufacturers. U.S. trade agreements with these countries can preserve and expand American exports of consumer goods, such as food products, shaving cream, shampoo, and perfumes. The bottom line for American companies is that they should be given the opportunity to export the same products to Korea, Colombia, and Panama that companies based in the EU and Canada do. And they should all be subject to the same rules and tariff structure.

    Given the complex nature of the global economy and the competition American companies and their products face in overseas markets, free and fair trade is critical for U.S. job growth and a stronger economy. That is why President Obama has called for a doubling of exports in the next five years. American companies can grow, more American workers can have jobs, and consumers around the world can have greater access to safe and affordable products made in America.

  • 06/29/2011 2:51 PM

    Yesterday, Ambassador Ron Kirk joined Labor Secretary Hilda Solis to co-host the Labor Advisory Committee for Trade Negotiations and Trade Policy (LAC). The meeting, which was held at the U.S. Department of Labor’s DC headquarters, was attended by committee members from various organized labor organizations ranging from Machinist and Musicians to Pilots and Electrical Workers.

    During the meeting, Ambassador Kirk spoke about the pending trade agreements with South Korea, Panama and Colombia, which – if passed – will create jobs and grow America’s economy. He also answered questions about details related to the agreements including Trade Adjustment Assistance, the Work Action Plan Related to Labor and the Generalized System of Preferences. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis discussed labor enforcement issues and answered questions from the LAC members.

    The LAC advises, consults with, and makes recommendations to the Secretary of Labor and the United States Trade Representative jointly, on issues and general policy matters concerning labor and trade negotiations, operation of any trade agreement once entered into, and other matters arising in connection with the administration of the trade policy of the United States.

  • 06/29/2011 1:54 PM

    Organizations and associations from across the country are applauding the Senate Finance Committee’s announcement yesterday to hold a “mock markup” of pending trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama. Calling for swift passage of the trade pacts in order to support America’s economic recovery and job growth, many of these key stakeholders are also reiterating support for an agreement that includes Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) and expired trade preference programs. Below is a sampling of what they are saying.

    U.S. Chamber of Commerce

    “With our economic recovery stalling, the time is now for Congress to act on these deals… We simply cannot afford to put American jobs at risk any longer… In addition to broad support in Congress for the pending trade agreements, there has historically been bipartisan support for Trade Adjustment Assistance, the Generalized System of Preferences, and the Andean Trade Preference Act… Likewise, the Chamber continues to support all three of these programs.”

    National Association of Manufacturers (NAM)

    “Moving the FTAs forward in an expedited fashion is critical to manufacturers who cede market share to their overseas competitors each day that these barriers exist… At a time when our economy is struggling to regain its footing, the agreements should be approved quickly so that we can see new markets opened and, most importantly, begin filling the 100,000 new jobs they will create.”

    The National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC)

    "We welcome the news that political differences have been put aside and that an agreement has been reached on TAA… TAA is critical to ensuring that U.S. workers adversely affected by trade receive benefits and acquire new skills, allowing them to re-enter the workforce… the NFTC commends the Administration and Congress for working together to ensure this essential element of our trade policy is renewed… We are pleased that a renewal of TAA is in sight…The program has always enjoyed bipartisan support and today's announcement makes clear that both the Administration and Congress are serious about enhancing U.S. economic growth and competitiveness through the advancement of the entire U.S. trade agenda."

    The Latin America Trade Coalition (LATC)

    “For years these pending trade agreements have been gathering dust, costing U.S. jobs… Passage of these [U.S.-Colombia and U.S.-Panama] agreements will create jobs in the United States and will help our economy get back on track by making U.S. products and services more affordable.”

    American Farm Bureau Federation

    "Combined, the three FTAs represent nearly $2.5 billion in new agriculture exports and could generate support for up to 22,500 U.S. jobs… passing these trade agreements would immediately eliminate most trade tariffs that have continued to plague U.S. farmers and ranchers… we believe that Trade Adjustment Assistance, which is also up for consideration, plays an important role in advancing a bipartisan trade agenda… Farm Bureau urges Congress to act swiftly and pass the bipartisan trade agreements by August recess.”

    The Motion Picture Association of America Inc. (MPAA)

    “We applaud Chairman Baucus for his leadership in moving ahead on the [South] Korea, Colombia and Panama FTAs… These agreements include crucial safeguards against copyright theft that plagues the motion picture industry’s viability overseas and inflicts untold damage on our creative community and workers at home… They will also help open these markets to U.S. filmed entertainment and the jobs the increased exports create.”

    Business Roundtable

    “Business Roundtable welcomes the progress represented by Chairman Baucus’ announcement that the Senate Finance Committee will consider the pending Free Trade Agreements (FTAs)… Support for a broad, positive trade agenda enjoys a long bipartisan tradition in Congress, as do such programs as Trade Adjustment Assistance, the Generalized System of Preferences and the Andean Trade Preference Act. Business Roundtable continues to believe in the merit of these programs.”

    The U.S.-Korea FTA Business Coalition

    "We applaud the Senate Finance Committee's action today to move forward with the U.S.-[South] Korea trade agreement… The incredible potential through this agreement to support tens of thousands of American jobs, and generate significant new export opportunities for U.S. manufacturers, farmers, and services providers, has brought together unprecedented business, labor, and bipartisan support… we cannot afford to delay any longer… We urge Members of the Senate Finance Committee to support this agreement so that Congress can approve it before the August recess to ensure that U.S. manufacturers, farmers, and consumers do not fall further behind as our global competitors move forward without us."

    The United States Council for International Business (USCIB)

    “Approving these agreements as soon as possible will provide a big boost to our economy as we seek to ensure sustained growth and a jobs-based recovery… We need the tools to compete and win in the world economy… We believe that Trade Adjustment Assistance plays an important role in advancing a bipartisan trade agenda.”

    The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA)

    “NCGA is greatly encouraged by the movement on the pending FTAs… developing new markets for our country’s agricultural products will help our sector lead the nation in economic growth and international competiveness… As a producer, it is frustrating to watch other nations achieve preferential access to markets and secure a competitive advantage over U.S. corn and corn products… NCGA strongly supports the pending FTAs with [South] Korea, Colombia and Panama and we look forward to working with Congress to ensure swift passage.”

    The Coalition of Service Industries (CSI)

    "We heartily applaud the tireless efforts of Senator Baucus and everyone involved to reach this important decision… We look forward to working with the Administration and the Congress to secure the prompt approval of the FTAs as well as the TAA and preference programs… Today's announcement is a tremendous step forward.”

    The American Soybean Association (ASA)

    "This is a critical step in the right direction… Now that an agreement on Trade Adjustment Assistance has been reached, we call on Congress and the Administration to quickly advance these trade agreements in order to boost our economy… ASA urges that the Senate support and pass these agreements now and take full advantage of the opportunity they provide for America’s economic growth.”

    The Emergency Committee for American Trade (ECAT)

    “ECAT strongly supports passage of the trade agreements with Colombia, [South] Korea and Panama as soon as possible this year and, therefore, welcomes the Finance Committee announcement that it will hold a mock markup of the three agreements on Thursday… ECAT welcomes the leadership of Members in both the House and Senate to move the pending trade agreements forward this year and urges House and Senate Members to work together on a bipartisan basis to complete this work as soon as possible before the August recess.”

    National Pork Producers Council (NPPC)

    “It is imperative that the agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea be approved before Congress takes its month-long break… U.S. pork producers need new and expanded market access to remain competitive in the global marketplace. And the way to get that is through free trade agreements… We need to implement these FTAs now because while these deals have languished for more than three years, our competitors have negotiated their own trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea, and the United States has lost market share in those countries.”

  • 06/29/2011 10:15 AM

    Today, an op-ed in The Hill from United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk and Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis explains the importance of Trade Adjustment Assistance to America’s working families – and dispels some common myths about the program. Click here to read online or, read below.

    The Truth about Trade Adjustment Assistance
    By Hilda L. Solis and Ron Kirk

    In 2009, Democratic and Republican leaders in Congress worked with President Obama to craft a bipartisan agreement that improved the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program to help American workers who lost their jobs to foreign competition or outsourcing.

    Refreshingly, both parties worked across the aisle to fix what wasn’t working and to fit the program for the future, based on recommendations from the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office.

    The agreement expanded eligibility to include American service workers to reflect global competition in areas beyond manufacturing and commodities. It covered workers whose jobs were moved overseas to any country—not just those with which the United States had a prior free trade agreement. It also improved the program’s effectiveness by increasing access to job training, health coverage and employment services.

    These bipartisan improvements expired in February. The President is calling on Congress to renew a robust TAA as it takes up trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama.

    A TAA program that reflects the 2009 bipartisan goals is essential to a balanced trade agenda. It will support jobs here at home as we open new markets to American exporters, while recognizing the costs of trade to some on our shores.

    Many Americans don’t know what TAA is. They don’t hear about it unless they need it or the program is up for renewal. Unfortunately, false rumors are endangering this program and the workers who rely upon it. So here are the facts:

    It’s not true that TAA is only available to union workers. The truth is, the program is available to all American workers who qualify. In fact, two-thirds of eligible participants are not union members.

    Workers who use the TAA program are twice as likely to live in small towns and cities as large metropolitan areas and sometimes work on farms or fisheries. A TAA petition may be filed by a group of three or more workers, an employer, a union, a state workforce official, an operator or partner of a local One-Stop Career Center or another duly authorized representative. In 2009, more than nine out of 10 TAA petitions were filed by non-union firms or groups.

    It’s not true that TAA helps workers whose job losses have nothing to do with foreign competition. The truth is, workers must meet specific criteria connecting their job losses with foreign trade, such as increased imports or production shifts.

    Under the 2009 agreement, eligible workers may be from a U.S. firm that produces the same product or supplies the same service as an overseas competitor. They also may be from a company that supplies parts for a finished product that is being imported from overseas, such as suppliers for another affected company where workers have become eligible for TAA.

    It’s not true that the 2009 TAA improvements doubled the program’s size and cost. This assertion, cited by some critics, was based on a FY2011 budget request from the Department of Labor that relied on earlier cost estimates that didn’t reflect the impact that several amendments had on controlling costs. The truth is, the 2009 improvements turned out to be far less costly than those estimates suggested.

    Finally, the most damaging falsehood about TAA is the notion that it’s a duplicative subsidy for workers who could get the same help from a different program. The truth is, TAA is tailored to meet the training needs of a narrow group of dislocated workers who are older and have fewer transferable skills or credentials than other laid-off workers.

    Eligible workers typically have worked an average of 12 years in specific factory positions where their skills do not easily qualify them for other work. Most have a maximum education of a high school diploma. More than two-thirds are over age 40.

    Without the transitional assistance and training offered by TAA, these American breadwinners and their families risk sliding down the economic scale, out of the middle class. TAA provides critical resources they need to develop new skills to succeed in vital growth industries.

    As the White House and Congress advance a strong, market-opening trade agenda to create more jobs here at home, we have a responsibility to ensure that American workers impacted by foreign competition have the assistance they need to adapt and succeed in the 21st century economy.

  • 06/28/2011 2:50 PM

    Recently, Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Textiles and Apparel Gail Strickler traveled to Haiti to participate in the Haiti Buyer’s Forum, and to promote the United States’ “Plus 1 for Haiti” trade preference program. This week’s trade spotlight follows-up on the Plus 1 program.

    Assistant U.S. Trade Representative Gail Strickler visited Haiti earlier this month to speak at the Haiti Buyer’s Forum, hosted by Better Work, an International Labor Organization initiative. She encouraged further utilization of U.S. preference programs with Haiti, and addressed the upcoming “Sourcing in the Americas” Pavilion and Summit at MAGIC, the largest apparel trade event in the United States, where Haitian producers will be highlighted in a special USAID-supported Haiti Pavilion showcasing Haitian apparel manufacturing capabilities.

    “Plus 1 for Haiti” was launched shortly after Haiti’s devastating earthquake in January 2010. The program encourages American brands and retailers to work toward sourcing one percent of their total apparel purchases from Haiti. Since “Plus 1 for Haiti” began, Haiti’s apparel industry has consistently grown - increasing textile exports and attracting new business and investments. The program builds on the ongoing, collaborative effort between USTR and American retailers to expand exports from Haiti through utilization of the Haitian Hemispheric Opportunity Partnership Encouragement Act (HOPE II).

    HOPE II allows duty-free access to the U.S. market for Haitian-made apparel and other textile articles in order to foster stability and economic development in Haiti. U.S. brands and retailers have the opportunity to use existing HOPE II duty-free access for Haitian-made apparel. Pledges by brands and retailers to buy more from Haiti helps ensure that Haitian factories are fully operational as soon as possible. Currently, Jos. A. Bank, Levi's, Fishman and Tobin, Hanesbrands, and Gildan are meeting the goal of one-percent sourcing, with new factories under construction.

    Before the earthquake, the apparel industry in Haiti employed 25,000 people. Today, despite the disaster, the industry has expanded to 29,000 Haitians. Further, a new 623-acre textile industrial park is currently underway and is estimated to support 65,000 additional jobs once it is fully developed. This would increase those employed in the Haitian garment industry by 200 percent. The industrial park is being built as a joint effort between the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB), the Haitian government, and the U.S. government.

    In 2010, the U.S. imported $551 million worth of goods from Haiti, of which 94 percent was knit and woven apparel.

    The U.S. textile and apparel industry employs 394,000 workers. In 2010, the U.S. exported a total of $19.7 billion worth of textiles and apparel, with exports up 19 percent as of April 2011.

  • 06/24/2011 10:01 AM

    Kevin Bogardus of the Hill profiled Ambassador Kirk today.  Read excerpts of the article below and the full article here.

    U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk is in for a very busy summer as the Obama administration’s top trade official.

    The trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea that he has been working on for more than two years are finally close to being submitted to Capitol Hill for approval, with floor votes expected possibly in July.

    But before those agreements are sent to Congress, the White House has demanded the approval of the expanded version of the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program. Some GOP lawmakers have balked at that request due to concerns about the deficit.

    “I just think it would be a huge missed opportunity for us, as a country, to not reap the economic benefits and the job-creating potential of these three free-trade agreements, frankly, over partisan politics,” Kirk told The Hill.

    Kirk said that while it’s important to open up new markets for American goods and services, it’s also important to make sure workers aren’t left behind. He said TAA funds are critical for job training programs and healthcare benefits for people who are affected by trade.

    “We think our trade policy has to reflect our core values,” Kirk said. “Core to our values … is this commitment to workers who, for whatever reason, come out on the losing side of trade.”

  • 06/23/2011 10:21 PM

    The TPP countries continued their negotiations today on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Negotiating teams continued accelerating their discussions on the rules of origin and began talks on technical barriers to trade, government procurement, competition, goods market access, e-commerce, and labor.

    ‪The Vietnamese Government hosted a workshop on Vietnamese labor law and practice for the TPP negotiators. Representatives from the Vietnamese Labor Ministry, unions, and industry discussed current labor law and efforts to reform the labor code and trade union law. They placed particular focus on efforts to include in the reforms feedback from the International Labor Organization concerning consistency with international standards. TPP Labor delegations also toured a footwear factory in Dong Nai province to get a first hand look at labor conditions in Vietnamese factories.

  • 06/23/2011 4:16 PM

    David Segura is the founder and CEO of VisionIT, one of the largest Hispanic-owned technology firms in the U.S., headquartered in Detroit, Michigan. He is also a member of President Obama’s Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations. David shares how America’s diverse cultural resources are enhancing trade relations and economic growth.

    My family came to the United States more than 90 years ago from Mexico to contribute to this great nation. Being a grandson of Mexican immigrants, I felt the biggest way to contribute to our nation was through creating a dynamic company, and so I created VisionIT 15 years ago.

    Today, VisionIT is one of the largest Hispanic-owned technology firms in the United States providing information technology (IT) managed services, staffing, and vendor management. After our national expansion some years ago, we entered the Latin American market to provide our services to Mexico and Puerto Rico as the initial platform for VisionIT’s expansion plans for the region. The development in communications prompted by globalization, VisionIT’s extensive experience and resources in the technology sector, and our company’s unique heritage have given our company a tremendous edge in the marketplace as many of our existing Fortune 500 customers were seeking partners in these markets.

    We operate today in not only a more connected world, but one in which the flow of information and communication continues to increase exponentially. The abilities to interact and to access individuals and information worldwide have set the foundation for an international business network that allows global trade to expand like never before. And America’s minority-owned businesses play an especially critical role in globalization and the continuing expansion of trade, as well as the U.S. economy.

    The U.S. has been a place where ideas and entrepreneurship can flourish because of having the infrastructure, laws, financial system and personnel in place to develop and grow organizations. In fact, one of the biggest competitive advantages in America is our human resources. People from all over the world have come to this great country for the opportunities to prosper in industries of their choosing. In the process, their capabilities, hard work, and determination have and continue to contribute to the prosperity of America. Especially in the last 20 years, minority-owned businesses have grown and evolved tremendously to sizes and capabilities that allow them to positively impact their communities, like creating American jobs. Equipped with employees with unique insights and connections to different cultures outside the U.S., these minority-owned businesses are able to capitalize on the diversity within their firms. These cultural resources provide an outstanding opportunity to connect their companies in new parts of the world and to be great trade ambassadors and business leaders.

    The successes of minority-owned businesses are felt across diverse industries, markets, and communities, as these companies continue to grow and develop products and services that make America more competitive. This is most apparent in major metropolitan cities throughout the country, the main locations of America’s export hubs.

    Our story is only one of many that we see of strong minority-owned businesses utilizing their history and existing customer base to accelerate growth globally and gain access to new markets. All American businesses- large and small, majority- and minority-owned- need to engage with global markets in order to sustain growth in this international economy. By further leveraging diversity, our nation can achieve the goal President Obama set forth of doubling our exports by 2014. The team at VisionIT is proud to be contributing to the National Export Initiative and supporting the awareness of export benefits for all American businesses.

  • 06/22/2011 4:37 PM

    Today, United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk hosted the Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations (ACTPN) meeting. Ambassador Kirk, along with USTR senior officials, briefed ACTPN members on various trade issues and topics. Among the items discussed were the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and the importance of the pending trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama and Trade Adjustment Assistance. ACTPN members were also briefed on the United States’ engagement with China and India, as well as USTR’s work on enforcing trade agreements.

    Ambassador Kirk Hosts ACTPN Meeting
    Ambassador Kirk Hosts ACTPN Meeting

    ACTPN members listened to various speakers including Cabinet member and chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers Austan Goolsbee and Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economic Affairs Michael Froman. Additionally, Ambassadors Demetrios Marantis and Miriam Sapiro provided updates and listened to members’ opinions and thoughts.

    ACTPN is a presidentially appointed and statutorily created volunteer advisory committee that provides advice to the United States Trade Representative. The group is part of the advisory committee system. It was established by the U.S. Congress in 1974 with the purpose to ensure that U.S. trade policy and trade-negotiating objectives adequately reflect U.S. public and private sector interests. The advisory committee system consists of 28 advisory committees, with a total membership of approximately 700 citizen advisors.

  • 06/22/2011 10:56 AM

    This week, Ambassador Kirk met with his European Union (EU) counterpart, Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht to discuss a wide range of multilateral and bilateral trade issues, including their mutual interest in achieving a successful transition to the second phase of the 2009 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in the U.S.-EU disagreement over trade in beef derived from livestock that have been raised with growth-promoting hormones. Under this MOU, the United States has been shipping high-quality beef to the EU since the middle of 2009, after a decade largely out of the EU beef market. If the two sides agree next year to move to the second phase of the MOU, the United States exporters would have the opportunity to more than double beef exports to the EU. Ambassador Kirk and Commissioner De Gucht also discussed several other issues, seeking to resolve bilateral challenges in the same pragmatic spirit that helped the two sides reach agreement on the beef MOU. The two also exchanged views on the status of the Doha Development Agenda negotiations in the World Trade Organization.

    Ambassador Kirk and EU Commissioner Karel De Gucht
    Ambassador Kirk and EU Commissioner Karel De Gucht

    Commissioner De Gucht leads the development and implementation of trade policy for the 27 member nations of the EU. Ambassador Kirk and Commissioner De Gucht have held more than half a dozen face-to-face meetings and several phone conversations in the 16 months since Commissioner De Gucht was appointed. The frequency of these discussions reflects the importance of the immense U.S.-EU trade relationship to both U.S. and EU prosperity – and to the global economy.

    The United States exported more than $240 billion in goods to the EU in 2010, and more than $293 billion in services in 2009. U.S. companies directly owned assets in the EU worth more than $1.7 trillion in 2009, and Europeans directly invested more than $1.5 trillion in the United States that year. In 2008, U.S.-owned companies operating in the EU sold a remarkable $560 billion in services to European customers.

  • 06/21/2011 5:24 PM

    This afternoon, Ambassador Kirk addressed members of the agricultural community at the annual public policy conference of the American Farm Bureau Federation. During the meeting, Ambassador Kirk focused on USTR’s work to increase market access for U.S. agricultural products and the importance of exports in supporting American jobs, both on and off the farm.

    Ambassador Kirk at the American Farm Bureau Federation
    Ambassador Kirk at the American Farm Bureau Federation

    In his remarks, Ambassador Kirk highlighted the opportunity for increased agricultural exports through the passage of the pending trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama. For example, South Korea is the fifth largest market for U.S. agricultural product exports – South Korea consumers bought more than $5 billion of “Grown in America” products in 2010.

    Ambassador Kirk also gave an update on the negotiations of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) currently taking place in Vietnam. TPP countries import almost $5 billion of U.S. agricultural goods yearly, an amount that is sure to grow. Ambassador Kirk noted how increases in agricultural exports are helping to achieve President Obama’s National Export Initiative, which aims to double total U.S. exports by 2014.

    Last year, agricultural goods accounted for $201 billion in total two-way trade of farm products, and agricultural exports supported more than 950,000 jobs on and off the farm. During that year, soybeans, coarse grains, red meats, wheat, and cotton were the top five agricultural export categories.

  • 06/21/2011 4:56 PM

    On Tuesday, negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement continued in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Negotiators from the TPP countries began meeting on telecommunications and continued their discussions on rules of origin, financial services, intellectual property, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, environment, and legal and institutional issues. Negotiating teams also held bilateral meetings to advance their work in these areas.

    The TPP chief negotiators from each TPP partner economy participated today in a stakeholder briefing to discuss the status of the negotiations. This open forum provided stakeholders the opportunity to discuss issues of interest in the negotiations. The chiefs noted that good progress was being made across the negotiating groups.

  • 06/21/2011 2:52 PM
    Last week, Ambassador Kirk spoke to members of the Austin, Texas Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C. Ambassador Kirk provided an update on USTR’s trade agenda, specifically the pending trade agreements with South Korea, Panama, and Colombia and Trade Adjustment Assistance for workers, as well as the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Ambassador Kirk talked about the importance of growing America’s economy through trade and the value of enforcing trade laws. Specifically, he highlighted President Obama’s National Export Initiative, which works to double exports by the end of 2014 and support jobs here at home. Finally, Ambassador Kirk took questions from the group.

    In 2010, Texas goods exports were $206.6 billion, ranking as the largest state exporter of goods. Texas’ top five exports were computers and electronic products, chemical products, petroleum and coal products, machinery, and transportation equipment. These five sectors accounted for 81 percent of the state’s total manufacturing exports in 2010. In 2008, 795,000 jobs were supported by Texas goods exports. These jobs pay an estimated 13 to 18 percent higher than the national average wage.

  • 06/20/2011 5:21 PM

    This week, Ambassador Kirk is meeting with Indian Minister of Commerce and Industry Anand Sharma to discuss U.S.-India trade relations.'s weekly trade spotlight is focusing on U.S.-India trade relations.

    The premier dialogue for key U.S.-India trade and investment issues is the U.S.-India Trade Policy Forum (TPF), established in 2005. In the TPF, USTR is working to make progress in a number of areas to strengthen our trade and investment relationship with India, including strengthening copyright and patent protections, eliminating obstacles to foreign direct investment, improving agricultural and industrial standards, and lowering other impediments to U.S. exports of goods and services to India. Work under the TPF occurs throughout the year and culminates in an annual ministerial session, which last took place in September 2010 in Washington, D.C.

    As USTR works to make the most of the TPF and shape our economic relationship with India, we are also working to make sure we hear from key experts, which is why the United States and India reconstituted the Private Sector Advisory Group (PSAG) last year. The new PSAG includes some of our countries’ top private sector voices, who together can exchange views and develop recommendations on actions each government might take to facilitate bilateral trade and investment.

    USTR’s work with India is focused on increasing opportunities for American producers to connect with Indian consumers and support jobs here at home. And we are seeing results. For example, until March of this year, the tariff on California-grown pistachios exported to India was an exorbitant 30 percent. Due to the work of USTR on behalf of American pistachio growers, India agreed to reduce the tariff to 10 percent. The lowering of this tariff resulted in cheaper pistachios for Indian consumers, a larger market opportunity for American farmers, and increased support of American jobs both on and off the farm.

    India is a vital trading partner for the United States, with two-way goods trade in 2010 totaling more than $48 billion. In 2010, U.S. exports to India increased by almost 17percent , with top exports including precious stones, machinery, aircraft, and fertilizers.

  • 06/20/2011 4:33 PM

    Today, Ambassador Kirk joined mayors and elected officials at the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Baltimore, Maryland. Ambassador Kirk delivered remarks that reaffirmed President Obama’s commitment to work with leaders all across America to overcome the challenges that currently face our country.

    Ambassador Kirk described how the work the Obama Administration has led the country in the right direction, creating over one million private sector jobs in the past six months. He remarked that we must “out-educate, out-innovate, and out-build other countries, so that we can continue to out-sell and out-compete the rest of the world,”

    In addition, Ambassador Kirk emphasized trade as a tool to spur job creation. With exports up 17 percent last year, he estimated that the nation is on track to reach President Obama’s National Export Initiative (NEI) goal of doubling exports by the end of 2014. With 95 percent of the world’s consumers living outside of the United States, the NEI is a key component of our economic recovery.

    Even with exports up, only one out of every 100 U.S. small businesses are currently selling to foreign customers. Opening up markets and increasing opportunities for these businesses is critical to creating jobs for American workers.

    “Exports can help job-creating small businesses run even stronger: American small businesses that sell goods or services internationally have tended to grow faster, pay higher wages, and hire more quickly than similar-sized firms that only sell to U.S. customers,” explained Ambassador Kirk.

    “The bottom line is that there are real job-building opportunities on the table. That’s why we are working so hard to bring home the full benefits of trade for American businesses, workers, and families, in cities and communities across the country.”

    You can read Ambassador Kirk’s full remarks here.

  • 06/20/2011 3:11 PM

    Last week, Deputy United States Trade Representative Miriam Sapiro traveled to Russia to participate in the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF). The SPIEF is an annual summit in Russia that brings together international leaders in government, business, and academia to address global economic opportunities and challenges.

    While in St. Petersburg, Ambassador Sapiro spoke to a variety of stakeholders, including young entrepreneurs and U.S. and foreign business leaders, about the importance of U.S.-Russia economic relations. In her remarks, she emphasized U.S. support for Russia’s accession to the WTO, calling it the “single highest priority in our economic relationship.” Russia is currently the largest economy outside the WTO and has been negotiating its accession for 17 years. Its membership in the WTO would dramatically increase market access for U.S. businesses, farmers, and consumers and would improve access for Russia’s goods in foreign markets around the world.

    At the SPIEF, Ambassador Sapiro also delivered remarks about the importance of protecting intellectual property in the digital age. As she explained, intellectual property rights “are a fundamental feature of a modern competitive economy” and “create the framework in which creativity and innovation can thrive. . . . A failure to enforce IPR only rewards those who seek to gain from the hard work, creativity and innovation of others.”

    Ambassador Sapiro at the St. Petersburg International Forum
    Ambassador Sapiro speaks at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum

    Throughout the forum Ambassador Sapiro also held bilateral meetings with senior Russian officials to discuss these and other bilateral issues.

  • 06/19/2011 4:11 PM

    The United States and its TPP partners – Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam – opened the seventh round of negotiations today in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. While the round formally began today, to ensure each negotiating group had sufficient time to advance their work, several negotiating groups, including customs, services, investment, the so-called “horizontal” issues, and others, met beginning on June 15. Each group had productive discussions, helping to build momentum for this week’s negotiations.

    Yesterday, stakeholders had the opportunity to provide their views directly to the TPP negotiating teams on the margins of the negotiations. About 140 stakeholders from a wide range of industry, civil society, and other groups attended, with groups from the United States, Vietnam, Australia, Malaysia, and New Zealand making presentations to the teams.

  • 06/16/2011 2:55 PM

    On Wednesday, Ambassador Kirk spoke at the New Hampshire Business Day in Washington, a luncheon hosted by U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen. The luncheon focused on how business leaders in New Hampshire, as well as across the United States, can take advantage of federal resources to help their businesses grow and succeed through trade.

    Ambassador Kirk Speaks at the New Hampshire Business Day
    Ambassador Kirk speaks at the New Hampshire Business Day

    With $4.4 million in total goods exports last year alone, New Hampshire was the top state in terms of annual export growth in 2010. New Hampshire is leading the call of President Obama’s National Export Initiative, having increased overseas sales by 43 percent - more than double the national average.

    Ambassador Kirk explained that part of his role as the United States Trade Representative is to help open markets for American businesses. He also described how, before coming the Trade Representative as Mayor of Dallas he was able to gain insight into how trade policy can have a direct impact on small businesses in particular, and he urged New Hampshire small business owners to tap into online trade tools available to them, including and

    In addition, Ambassador Kirk discussed the Administration’s ongoing efforts to work with Congress to pass trade agreements with South Korea, Panama, and Colombia, as well as the importance of reauthorizing the Trade Adjustment Assistance program.

    He highlighted how the Obama Administration has put an added emphasis on enforcing U.S. trade rights and cited recent victories, including the largest WTO case ever involving European subsidies for Airbus, as well as a settlement ending Chinese subsidies for wind energy equipment.

  • 06/14/2011 1:14 PM

    As part of President Obama’s plan to build a 21st century electric grid in the United States, USTR is working with our partners in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum to prevent and eliminate barriers to trade in products that use smart grid technologies.

    APEC’s 21 member economies include some of the world’s biggest markets for products that together build a 21st century grid. These products include electric vehicles, renewable energy technology, consumer appliances, power generation and transmission equipment, among many others. APEC members are spending billions of dollars to develop and deploy these smart grid technologies in their own economies.

    APEC initiated a new program this year to address trade issues associated with smart grid interoperability standards. These standards will determine the degree of compatibility of smart grid technologies across markets. They compatibility standard will have a significant impact on the ability to trade these products. Some APEC member economies are in the process of developing these standards.

    The development and adoption of international interoperability standards will help create economies of scale. It will also provide a common global platform for vendors to innovate and provide consumer choice, while ensuring product performance. This will ensure that manufacturers do not need to adapt their products to the standards of each market in the region, making it possible to do business across the region.

    At the APEC Trade Ministers’ Meeting in Big Sky, Montana, Ministers instructed APEC officials to prevent and eliminate technical barriers to trade related to standards for emerging technologies, including in the area of smart grid technology. Close cooperation in the development of new standards is the most effective way to prevent technical barriers to trade.

    In Big Sky, regulators, trade officials, and private sector stakeholders came together to discuss how APEC can prevent trade barriers related to smart grid. Based on this input, USTR will work with our counterparts to identify actions APEC economies can take in this area in anticipation of the upcoming APEC Leaders’ Meeting this November.

  • 06/11/2011 10:55 AM

    Ambassador Marantis began his day visiting a Zambian producer of organic honey, Forest Fruits, Ltd. Forest Fruits works with rural beekeepers and families in northern Zambia to collect honey in the Miombo forests using centuries-old, sustainable methods. The honey is prepared for market, bottled and sold in Africa and internationally under the brand “Zambezi Gold.” Forest Fruits has grown to now work with over 6,000 beekeepers and produce 750 tons of honey annually, increasing beekeepers’ incomes by 100 percent.

    Following his visit, Marantis continued his bilateral meetings with AGOA country trade ministers, including Mauritian Trade Minister Arvin Boolel and Liberian Trade Minister of Commerce and Industry Miata Beysolow. Minister Boolel and Ambassador Marantis discussed Mauritius’s success in utilizing AGOA and the Administration’s plans to seek a seamless renewal of AGOA after 2015. Boolel and Marantis underscored their common priority in continuing technical discussions toward a U.S.-Mauritius Bilateral Investment Treaty and making progress in the context of the U.S.-Mauritius Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA).

    Minister Beysolow and Ambassador Marantis highlighted the incredible progress in bilateral trade and investment ties since the launch of the U.S.-Liberia TIFA in 2009. In that short time, for example, Liberia not only qualified to become eligible to export apparel under AGOA, but has already sent its first shipments of t-shirts to the United States. Liberia’s steady economic progress was highlighted throughout the Forum. Marantis and Beysolow agreed to hold a TIFA Council meeting in the second half of 2011, and pledged to continued to work on outstanding trade and investment issues.

    Ambassador Marantis also met with West African Economic and Monetary Union member countries Benin, Togo, Burkina Faso, Senegal and Mali to discuss regional economic integration and improving AGOA utilization.

  • 06/10/2011 5:59 PM

    Today, Ambassador Kirk toured International Trade Exhibition at the AGOA Forum, where he was able to see and interact with various local Zambian companies, as well as organizations and companies from the rest of Africa. Ambassador Kirk also met with some of the many U.S. businesses at the exhibition which are investing in or doing joint ventures in AGOA-eligible countries. The booths he visited at the exhibition showcased African and American goods and services, including infrastructure development, natural resources, agribusiness, financial services, textiles, and apparel.

    In the afternoon, Ambassador Kirk participated in a bilateral meeting with Ghana Trade Minister Hannah Tettah. During the meeting, Ambassador Kirk expressed how pleased he is with the recent increase in U.S.-Ghana trade, but also noted that there is still significant room for growth and diversification of trade in both directions. The two leaders discussed strategies for increasing export diversification, and specifically how AGOA can be used as part of that strategy.

    In the evening, Ambassador Kirk joined Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the Closing Ceremony of the ministerial segment of the AGOA forum at the Mulungushi International Convention Center, followed by a dinner hosted by Zambian President Banda at the State House. At both events, he expressed his gratitude to President Banda and the Zambian government for welcoming him and the rest of the U.S. delegation to Zambia. He also highlighted how successful and productive discussions where throughout the entire Forum.

    Tomorrow morning, Ambassador Kirk will conclude his trip to Zambia by joining Secretary Clinton for a ceremony marking the launch of the first-ever Zambian-American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham). He will deliver remarks congratulating the work of the U.S. Embassy in Zambia in coordinating with the AmCham affiliation. Among the 25-30 charter members of this new AmCham chapter are Citibank, Cargill, Price Waterhouse Coopers, Freeport McMoran, Pioneer-Dupont, and Microsoft. This new AmCham will be an important component in working with the newly-formed U.S.-Zambia Working Group on Bilateral Trade and AGOA. The AmCham will also facilitate joint business ventures between U.S. and Zambian companies and encourage economic growth.

    The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) was enacted by Congress in 2000 and is a 15-year agreement that encourages the growth of sub-Saharan African nations’ economies and the export of their goods to the U.S. It opens 98 percent of U.S. markets to the 37 eligible African countries duty-free and is set to expire in 2015. This year marks the 10th annual meeting of the AGOA Forum.

  • 06/10/2011 5:09 PM

    Last week, Deputy Assistant USTR for Small Business, Market Access and Industrial Competitiveness Christina Sevilla spoke at the National Export Initiative New Jobs, New Markets event in Wichita, Kansas. The event was organized by the Kansas World Trade Center and also featured panelists from the Department of Commerce, Small Business Administration, Export-Import Bank, as well as manufacturers and suppliers. More than 100 local companies participated in the event.

    Kansas' export shipments of merchandise in 2010 totaled $9.9 billion, including top exports such as transportation equipment, processed foods, chemicals, machinery and agricultural products. The metropolitan area of Wichita, a center for aerospace manufacturing, is the top exporting area in the country in terms of export growth and share of the region’s economic output derived from exports, according to a study by the Brookings Institution.

    Christina spoke about USTR’s enforcement victory in a landmark World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute that will help support Kansas aerospace jobs. The WTO found that Airbus received $18 billion in subsidies that harmed the United States and our aerospace industry – particularly, Boeing, its workers and suppliers. The victory will benefit American aerospace workers who for decades have had to compete against a heavily subsidized Airbus.

    Enforcement of trade agreements is crucial, since both direct exports and indirect exports by small suppliers in the aerospace industry support thousands of local jobs. For example, ICE Corporation of Manhattan, KS has 45 employees and manufactures electronic motor controllers. According to President Randy O’ Boyle, ICE supplies these innovative technologies to large companies like Boeing and Cessna, which in turn export globally.

    Christina also spoke about the Obama Administration’s market opening initiatives through the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, which the United States is hosting this year. She also highlighted the advantages of exporting to the United States’ current and prospective free trade agreement (FTA) partners. U.S. exporters benefit from reduced or zero tariffs, speedier customs procedures, and improved intellectual property protections in FTA markets.

    Osborne Industries of Osborne, Kansas has 100 employees. The company manufactures animal-friendly electronic swine feeding equipment. Vice President George Eakin says that the company has exported to FTA partners such as Australia and prospective partner South Korea. Exports to Asia have helped Osborne weather the economic downturn. China is the fastest growing market for their equipment, he noted. George believes that exporting can help revitalize local rural economies like Osborne’s, with a population of 1,200.

    Expanding exports by small businesses like ICE Corporation and Osborne Industries is a priority in order to reach President Obama’s goal of supporting millions of additional American jobs by doubling U.S. exports by the end of 2014.

  • 06/10/2011 4:22 PM

    USTR is pleased to announce the addition of our enforcement newsletter. Sign up today to get a new monthly newsletter dedicated to updates on USTR's enforcement activities.

  • 06/09/2011 5:01 PM

    Ambassador Kirk kicked off the 10th Annual African Growth and Opportunity (AGOA) Forum by delivering remarks at a gala hosted by the Zambian government Wednesday evening.

    Today marks the first full day of the ministerial portion of the AGOA 2011 Forum on U.S.-Sub-Saharan Africa trade and economic cooperation. The AGOA Forum brings together hundreds of U.S. and sub-Saharan African government representatives, as well as civil society and business stakeholders. The 2011 Forum’s theme is “Enhanced Trade Through Increased Competitiveness, Value Addition and Deeper Regional Integration.”

    As head of the U.S. delegation, Ambassador Kirk joined Zambian President Banda and Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry Mutati at the Forum’s Opening Ceremony. He delivered remarks, including a special greeting from President Obama. In his remarks, Ambassador Kirk addressed AGOA’s successes in expanding exports from Africa to the United States over the past 11 years. He also indicated the Administration’s intent to work with the U.S. Congress to extend AGOA’s third-country fabric provision, which allows AGOA-eligible countries to export apparel products using textiles from foreign countries duty-free to the U.S, from 2012 to 2015. He expressed that the Administration would also work with Congress towards a seamless renewal of AGOA beyond 2015, and announced a new trade capacity building initiative called the African Competitiveness and Trade Expansion (ACTE) initiative, which will provide $120 million over four years.

    Ambassador Kirk then co-chaired the first of four plenary sessions, where his discussed AGOA’s 11 years of positive influence in Africa as well as its adaptation to changes in the world as the program enters its 12th year. He was joined by Minister Mutati, along with ministers from the 37 AGOA-eligible countries. Representatives from the African and American private sector and civil society also participated in the dialogue.

    Later in the day, Ambassador Kirk met with Secretary-General Dr. Richard Sezibera of the East-African Community (EAC) and trade ministers of various EAC member countries. This meeting was a follow-up to the May 26th meeting between EAC Ambassadors and Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis. Ambassador Kirk informed them of a new U.S. initiative focused on the EAC and discussed one element that would enhance U.S.-EAC trade and investment, including a regional investment treaty.

    On Thursday afternoon, Ambassador Kirk visited FreshPikt, a canning facility in Lusaka. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) helped the factory facilitate local financing for management, as well as establish and develop relationships with Zambian farmers. Ambassador Kirk participated in a signing ceremony marking a joint venture between FreshPikt and American investor, PS International. PS International is in the process of taking a majority stake in FreshPikt, valued up to $30 million. This project will expand the production of tomato paste for local and regional markets, and will eventually source all inputs locally from Zambian producers. Currently, FreshPikt-owned farms supply roughly 50 percent of the factory’s inputs, with the rest coming from nearly 1,200 small-scale Zambian farmers.

    In the evening, Ambassador Kirk held an in-depth discussion with trade ministers from AGOA nations regarding AGOA’s positive future.

  • 06/09/2011 2:52 PM

    After arriving in Zambia on Wednesday, Ambassador Marantis today completed his second day of meetings and discussions at the annual African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Forum in Lusaka. The AGOA Forum brings together hundreds of U.S. and sub-Saharan government representatives, as well as civil society and business stakeholders. U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Ron Kirk is leading the U.S. government delegation of the Forum.

    Some highlights from two days of back-to-back events included Ambassador Marantis’s participation in a private sector panel organized by the Corporate Council on Africa entitled “Improving the Implementation of AGOA.” Joined by American and African private sector representatives, Marantis highlighted key questions the United States and its AGOA trading partners must address to promote better utilization of AGOA’s benefits.

    Ambassador Marantis at the AGOA Private Sector Forum
    Ambassador Marantis at the Corporate Council on Africa Private Sector Forum

    In addition, Ambassador Marantis co-chaired a plenary session with African Union Deputy Chairman Erastus Mwencha focusing on promoting regional economic integration in Africa. Just 16 percent of African trade is with other African countries. Promoting greater regional trade and investment would not only help support additional jobs, but would also generate economies of scale, encourage regional supply chains, and attract additional investment.

    Ambassador Marantis also held a number of bilateral meetings with African trade ministers attending the Forum. Meeting with Mozambique’s Minister for Trade and Industry, Armando Inroga, Marantis raised concerns about that country’s business climate. Marantis expressed his interest in working on these concerns and other issues under the U.S.-Mozambique Trade and Investment Framework Agreement.

  • 06/09/2011 12:42 PM

    The United States is highlighting our bilateral trade and investment partnership with Tanzania with a visit from United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk this week. Ambassador Kirk’s visit to Tanzania specifically focused on how various U.S. initiatives like the Millennium Challenge Account, the Partnership for Growth, Feed the Future, and the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) are strengthening Tanzania’s growing economy.

    In 2010, U.S. goods exports to Tanzania totaled $164 million - 3.6 percent increase over 2009. U.S. exports to Tanzania include machinery, textiles, agricultural products, and rubber. U.S. goods imports from Tanzania totaled $43 million and consisted primarily of spices, coffee, precious stones, edible fruits and nuts, lac and vegetable saps, and knit apparel. Of total U.S. imports from Tanzania, $2.1 million entered the U.S. duty –free under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP). These duty-free imports included apparel products, semiprecious stones, and handicrafts.

    The United States acknowledges that there is room for growth and diversification of trade in both directions of this trade relationship. As a result, the Tanzanian Ministry of Trade recently expressed interest in establishing a Tanzania Trade Center in the U.S. to promote Tanzanian products in the American market.

    By providing duty-free access to the U.S. market for products like processed foods, apparel, and footwear, the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) is a powerful tool for increasing and diversifying trade between the United States and various African countries, including Tanzania. AGOA provides incentives that promote economic and political reform and trade expansion in the 37 eligible sub-Saharan African countries. There has been much progress made under AGOA to date, but there is a need to do more to increase U.S.-Africa trade and investment.

    Following his visit to Tanzania this week, Ambassador Kirk is also attending and co-chairing the 10th Annual AGOA Forum in Lusaka, Zambia to discuss strategies for increasing trade under AGOA with Tanzania and other AGOA eligible countries.

  • 06/07/2011 4:31 PM

    Continuing his trip in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania today, Ambassador Kirk met with Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete. He commended the President on his leadership, noting that Tanzania is a major partner of the United States in sub-Saharan Africa. The U.S. is betting on Africa through investments in initiatives such as the Millennium Challenge Account, Feed the Future and the Partnership for Growth (PFG). PFG, a new Obama Administration initiative, is designed to promote economic growth in a small number of developing countries that show a demonstrated commitment to development and democratic governance. Tanzania is one of only four countries worldwide to be selected. Ambassador Kirk shared with the President his vision for Tanzania’s economic development, including his hope that Tanzania can take greater advantage of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).

    He also met with Tanzanian Minister of Industry, Trade and Marketing, Cyril Chami, during which they discussed U.S.-Tanzania trade and investment, AGOA and aid for trade. Ambassador Kirk encouraged continued cooperation and progress under the United States-East African Community (EAC) Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA).

    After the meeting, Ambassador Kirk visited with Bernard Mchomvu, CEO of the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA)-Tanzania, at the MCA-Tanzania Development house to examine their MCA compact which focuses on transport, electricity and water. The Millennium Challenge Corporation, which was established by Congress in 2004 to deliver assistance to developing countries, has granted $698 million to Tanzania – the largest of all MCC compacts. Ambassador Kirk noted that transport projects are particularly important to improving agricultural production and trade in Tanzania. He also expressed interest in the progress of the various transport and energy projects as critical to stabilizing Tanzania’s economic growth. Two American subcontractors, Symbion Power and Pike Electric, have won contracts under the Tanzania MCC compact to expand electricity transmission and distribution systems in Tanzania.

    Ambassador Kirk then participated in a discussion with local international trade and business graduate students from the University of Dar es Salaam and the University of Mzumbe at the U.S. Embassy in Dar es Salaam. There he emphasized to the students the importance of trade in promoting economic growth in both Africa and the United States. He also highlighted the urgent need to prepare the next generation of government and business leaders for the demands of an increasingly competitive global economy.

    Ambassador Kirk ended the day meeting with key Tanzanian private-sector business leaders to discuss the U.S.-Tanzanian trade and investment relationship.

  • 06/07/2011 1:32 PM

    This morning, Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis continued his official visit to Johannesburg, South Africa, speaking to a group of students, faculty, journalists, and other academics at the University of the Witwatersrand. The South African Institute for International Affairs, based at the historic university, hosted the event.

    After short remarks outlining yesterday’s productive U.S.-South Africa Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA), Ambassador Marantis gave the audience the latest state of play of U.S.-Africa trade and investment policy. A broad and lively discussion followed, covering renewal of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), African regional economic integration, and the role of trade in Africa’s development.

    Ambassador Kirk at the University of Witwatersrand
    Ambassador Kirk at the University of Witwatersrand

    You can read Ambassador Marantis’s remarks as prepared for delivery here.

    Later the same day, Ambassador Marantis met with the South African Supplier Diversity Council (SASDC). Modeled on the National Minority Supplier Diversity Council in the United States, the SASDC is a group of South African businesses working to find ways to integrate black owned and historically marginalized businesses into companies’ supply chains. The discussion focused on SASDC’s challenges given historical policies of discrimination and an increasingly globalized economy, as well as the opportunities of international trade and investment.

    Tomorrow, Ambassador Marantis travels to Lusaka, Zambia, to participate in the annual AGOA Forum.

  • 06/06/2011 5:42 PM

    Today Deputy United States Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis co-chaired a meeting with South African Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies of the U.S.-South Africa Trade and Investment Council (TIFA Council). U.S. Ambassador to South Africa Donald Gips also participated.

    Ambassador Marantis Leads the U.S.-South Africa TIFA Meeting
    Ambassador Marantis Leads the U.S.-South Africa TIFA Meeting

    At the TIFA Council senior government officials discussed a full range of trade issues. Among the issues include the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), the President Obama’s National Export Initiative, trade barriers, investment challenges, intellectual property rights, transportation issues, and regional integration. Later, Ambassador Marantis and Minister Davies briefed U.S. and South African private sector representatives about the meeting and also discussed U.S.-South Africa bilateral trade and investment

    “South Africa is one of our important trading partners in Africa and a leader in the region,” said Ambassador Marantis. “We are cooperating on many important trade and investment issues and are reinvigorating the U.S.-South Africa TIFA to expand our cooperation in those areas, promote job creation, enhance our two-way trade, and further grow our respective economies.”

    The TIFA was signed on February 18, 1999. It established the TIFA Council as a high-level forum for discussions on trade and investment related-issues. The TIFA was active for a few years but was effectively put on hold, by mutual consent when the United States-Southern African Customs Union (SACU) free trade agreement negotiations began in 2003. The TIFA has been inactive since then. In 2010, both sides agreed to reinvigorate the existing TIFA to enhance cooperation and regularize engagement on key bilateral trade and investment issues.

    Total two-way goods trade between South Africa and the United States was valued at $13.8 billion in 2010. U.S. exports to South Africa grew to $5.6 billion in 2010, up 26.4 percent from 2009. Primary exports included electrical machinery, vehicles and parts, and non-crude oil. U.S. imports from South Africa reached $8.2 billion in 2010, a 39 percent increase from 2009. Primary imports included precious stones and metals, vehicles and parts, and iron and steel. Of total U.S. imports from South Africa during 2010, $3.1 billion entered duty-free under AGOA and the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), an increase from $2.4 billion in 2009. The primary goods imported under AGOA and GSP were vehicles and parts, iron and steel, and fruits and vegetables.

  • 06/06/2011 5:00 PM

    Ambassador Kirk is in Tanzania this week to highlight the Obama Administration’s commitment to support Tanzania’s leadership through initiatives like the Millennium Challenge Account, the Partnership for Growth and Feed the Future. He is also highlighting the important role that trade and investment can play in Tanzania’s economic growth. His visit includes meetings with various government and business leaders to discuss the current and potential positive economic impact of U.S.-Tanzania trade and investment.

    This morning, Ambassador Kirk met with leaders of several U.S. tourism companies, which are critical to Tanzania’s foreign exchange generation, job creation and infrastructure development in Tanzania. Travel and tourism services earned nearly $1.2 billion in 2009 for Tanzania, and these U.S. companies are some of the largest contributors to building Tanzania’s economy. The U.S. is committed to working closely with Tanzania to ensure the continued growth and sustainability of this vital sector.

    Ambassador Kirk then visited a flower farm outside of Arusha, owned by Mr. and Mrs. Solomon. Flower seeds produced at the Solomon’s farm are exported to America and Europe by MultiFlower, a flower exporter based in Arusha that is supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The Solomon’s explained to Ambassador Kirk that the income they have generated from the sale of flower seeds has allowed them to put all of their children through school and build a new, modern home.

    Ambassador Kirk at the Solomon flower farm
    Ambassador Kirk at the Solomon flower farm

    Ambassador Kirk Visits the Solomon flower farm
    Ambassador Kirk Visits the Solomon flower farm

    Following the flower farm, Ambassador Kirk toured Pendo Farm, a small, family-owned coffee farm and processing facility in the foothills of Mt. Kilimanjaro. Pendo exports most of its coffee beans to U.S. companies, including Starbucks. The farm was recently able to purchase new, modern Kenyan-made cleaning and shelling equipment that improves the taste, quality and value of the coffee. Coffee has long been one of Tanzania’s principal export products and accounts for 36 percent of all U.S. imports from Tanzania.

    Ambassador Kirk Vists Pendo Coffee FarmAmbassador Kirk Visits Pendo Coffee Farm

    Ambassador Kirk Visits Pendo Coffee Farm
    Ambassador Kirk Visits Pendo Coffee Farm

    In the evening, Ambassador Kirk delivered remarks at a reception being held as part of the 2nd Annual African AmCham (American Chamber of Commerce) Summit in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. He was joined by representatives of more than a dozen African AmChams, local Tanzanian private sector business leaders and senior Tanzanian government officials. At the Summit, he highlighted the progress made under AGOA to date, but also emphasized the need to do more to increase U.S. exports to Africa.

    Ambassador Kirk was joined at all of his events today by U.S. Ambassador to Tanzania, Alfonso Lenhardt and Tanzanian Ambassador to the U.S., Mwanaidi Sinare Maajar.

    Ambassador Kirk will head to Lusaka, Zambia later in the week to participate in and lead the 10th Annual African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Forum. He will be joined there by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and representatives of numerous government agencies who will meet with trade and other ministers from 37 AGOA-eligible countries, as well as private sector and civil society.

  • 06/03/2011 6:10 PM

    Ambassador Kirk and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson hosted a meeting of the Trade and Environment Policy Advisory Committee (TEPAC) on June 2 at USTR. This is the fourth TEPAC meeting that Ambassador Kirk and Administrator Jackson have co-hosted. Ambassador Kirk provided updates on the trade agreements with Korea, Colombia and Panama, on recent developments with Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations, APEC and WTO Doha negotiations, including a read-out of his recent meetings in Big Sky, Montana. Administrator Jackson highlighted that the Administration is working on a new strategy for electronic waste. TEPAC members focused in particular on fisheries subsidies, thanking USTR for U.S. leadership in the WTO and TPP, and on environmental goods and services, including U.S. aspirations for the Leaders Meeting in Honolulu in November. Assistant USTR for Environment and Natural Resources, Mark Linscott, provided a detailed assessment of TPP negotiations on environment, including highlighting the U.S. proposal on wildlife and wild plant (e.g., forestry) conservation.

    TEPAC Meeting
    Ambassador Kirk co-hosts the June 2 Trade and Environment Policy Advisory Committee (TEPAC) Meeting

  • 06/03/2011 5:43 PM

    Recently, Ambassador Marantis joined Virginia Senator Mark Warner for a town hall meeting at the Hewlett-Packard headquarters in Herndon, Virginia. Taking questions from the audience, Ambassador Marantis highlighted the Obama Administration’s agenda to foster sustainable growth and create well-paying American jobs through trade.

    Ambassador Marantis, Senator Warner and HP Executives
    Ambassador Marantis with Senator Warner and HP Executives

    The Ambassador’s remarks focused on the U.S.-South Korea Trade Agreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade negotiations, and his recent participation in the 2011 Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Ministers forum in Big Sky, Montana. Each of these initiatives highlights the importance of the Asia-Pacific region to both the U.S. and Virginia economies. With the region accounting for 44 percent of global trade and 40 percent of the world’s population, breaking into and staying in these markets is vital to growing Virginia’s $17 billion in goods exports, as well as its services exports. Increasing Virginia’s exports will also have a significant and positive effect on export-supported jobs. Nearly one-fifth of Virginia manufacturing workers depend on manufacturing exports for their jobs.

    As the world's largest information technology company, it is no surprise that HP webcast the event to its 325,000 employees worldwide – allowing an audience member in Paolo Alto, California to ask a question on the pending trade agreements and an audience member in India to inquire into U.S.-India trade relations. Ambassador Marantis would like to thank Senator Warner and the entire HP team for organizing such a wonderful event.

  • 06/02/2011 5:16 PM

    Wednesday night, the Association of Women in International Trade (WIIT) held their annual dinner and awards ceremony honoring Wendy Cutler, Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Japan, Korea and APEC Affairs, as the WIIT Woman of the Year.

    Wendy recalled her first experience at the WIIT annual awards dinner in 2000 when U.S. Trade Representative Barshefsky was honored. It was a moment “that couldn’t get any better,” Wendy said in her acceptance remarks.

    Deputy U. S. Trade Representative Miriam Sapiro gave the keynote address at the event. She updated the audience on USTR’s diverse and growing trade agenda and highlighted the important progress being made on free trade agreements with Colombia and Panama. Ambassador Sapiro introduced Wendy as a leader with the ability to “lead her team with skill and grace.”

    Ambassador SapiroAmbassador Sapiro introduces AUSTR Wendy Cutler at the WIIT Woman of the Year Annual Dinner

    Wendy served as the chief negotiator in 2006 and 2007 for the U.S.-South Korea trade agreement and played a key role in 2010 automotive negotiations with South Korea. In her acceptance remarks, Wendy recalled the first conversation in 2004 about a potential bilateral trade agreement with her South Korean counterpart. After he became minister of trade, he assembled his team and negotiations began in 2006, culminating in the signing of the agreement.

    Wendy said, “of all my jobs at USTR, this one has proven to be the most exciting and rewarding.”

    Wendy CutlerAUSTR Wendy Cutler speaks after accepting the WIIT Woman of the Year Award

    She joined USTR in 1988 after five years at the Department of Commerce. Since then, she tirelessly negotiated and implemented the United States’ trade agenda with Japan, Korea and within the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Forum.

    Wendy concluded by saying the key to success is “figuring out where you want to go and sticking to it until you get there.”

    WIIT holds its annual dinner and awards to honor outstanding women in trade who have made substantial contributions to their mission of “enhancing the careers of individuals in international trade.”

  • 06/02/2011 1:37 PM

    We recently received a question from Anna in Maryland about the U.S.-Korea trade agreement and growing American jobs.

    "In light of the recent FTA with Korea, will that increase or have a significant impact on U.S. jobs? If so, in what industries may we see this impact take place?"

    Ambassador Kirk responds:

    "The U.S.-South Korea trade agreement is estimated to increase U.S. exports to Korea by $10-$11 billion annually. And that is just the result of removing South Korea’s tariffs on U.S. goods. All these increased exports are estimated to support at least 70,000 additional U.S. jobs. But it does not stop there.

    When you add in the effects of the agreement’s many provisions that eliminate non-tariff barriers and strengthen the protection of intellectual property, for example, we believe the actual increase in U.S. exports will be even higher, which means more U.S. jobs. Also, Korea has a $580 billion services market, where the U.S. already competes very strongly. The agreement opens up that services market even more, which will mean even more exports of American services to Korea, which in turn means even more U.S. jobs.

    With South Korea being a developed, $1 trillion economy, the agreement will benefit American exporters – and therefore help create additional jobs – in a broad range of industries and sectors, from machinery, aerospace, and medical technology, to express delivery services and insurance, and most everything in between."

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

  • 06/01/2011 5:16 PM
    In Paris last week at the 2011 OECD Forum, Ambassador Kirk spoke with Reuters Insider regarding the Doha round of trade negotiations. Watch his interview here.
  • 06/01/2011 4:43 PM

    During World Trade Week and National Small Business Week, Deputy Assistant USTR for Small Business, Market Access and Industrial Competitiveness Christina Sevilla had the opportunity to address a conference titled “Futurallia 2011” in Kansas City, Missouri. The conference included over 600 small businesses from across America and 27 other countries. Her remarks focused on the work the United States and our trading partners are undertaking to better support small businesses growth and prosperity through exporting.

    For example, USTR is working within the Trans-Pacific Partnership to emphasize the needs of small- and medium-sized businesses. This emphasis will help these businesses participate more actively in Asia-Pacific trade and address trade barriers that affect access to these markets. The United States also convened the first ever joint meeting of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Trade and SME Ministers in Big Sky, Montana last week. The ministers worked to find ways to address barriers to trade that particularly impact small businesses, and make it cheaper, easier, and faster to trade within the region.

    At the conference, Christina met with Missouri small businesses seeking to expand their exports into new foreign markets, including Western Forms, a small manufacturer from Kansas City, which has 100 employees and exports aluminum molds for concrete housing to 40 countries. Company manager Dan Ward expressed his support for free trade agreements, saying “We have customers in Colombia and Panama. [Trade agreements] would help us create more jobs in Kansas City.”

    Another small company, SComm, has 10 employees in Raytown, Missouri and exports a patented portable device, the UbiDuo, which helps deaf and hard of hearing people communicate more easily. SComm Vice President Emma Curry said the company has exported to various U.S. free trade agreement partners, including Canada and Australia, among other countries. They are also interested in increasing sales to more foreign customers in additional countries around the world.

    Expanding exports by America’s innovative small- and medium-sized businesses is a key priority of the Obama Administration’s National Export Initiative – which is working to double exports by the end of 2014 and support jobs here at home.