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  • 03/30/2011 5:36 PM

    On March 30, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) transmitted two reports to Congress concerning trade barriers that affect American businesses. These two reports focus on how the Administration has engaged over the past year to combat unwarranted sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures and technical barriers to trade (TBT). They mark a continued effort by the USTR to sharpen enforcement of American trade rights and to support well-paying jobs here at home. The 2011 SPS and TBT reports also document the processes, procedures, and tools the U.S. Government employs to resolve these trade problems.

    The 2011 SPS report describes some of the unwarranted SPS barriers that the Administration eliminated or reduced over the past year. For example, the Administration achieved market reopening for U.S. beef and poultry markets in Chile and Ecuador. Chile banned almost all U.S. beef and beef products in 2003 due to detection of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, i.e., “mad cow disease,” in the United States. The United States and Chile were able to reach an agreement to re-open the Chilean market to U.S. beef and beef products in March 2011.

    The United States also has worked with Ecuador to lift the ban on poultry products and live animals from Arkansas and West Virginia due to unwarranted concerns over low pathogenic avian influenza. In December 2010, Ecuador agreed to remove the ban, increasing competitiveness and market access for American businesses.

    The 2011 TBT report focuses on foreign trade barriers in emerging markets that have harmed U.S. producers due to lack of access to foreign markets in the form of product standards, technical regulations and testing, and certification. When these barriers are discriminatory and non-transparent, they can have a detrimental effect on U.S. businesses. These effects can especially hurt small- and medium-sized businesses as many do not have the resources to combat these challenges. The United States is working to make these barriers transparent through trade reports in addition to working with countries to remove them. In accomplishing this, American businesses are able to have the resources and the knowledge to become more competitive in the global market.

    There has also been much success in the area of TBT in energy efficiency. Energy efficiency is vital to the growth of our economy. By breaking down barriers and fostering innovation and development in the energy sector, we can create new American jobs and businesses. With more knowledge and greater market access, American businesses can help lead our national economy to long-term prosperity.

    The United States has had success as well in toy and food safety. These successes not only help American businesses, but help provide American families with the confidence that the products they buy are safe and of high quality. The United States has also worked closely with APEC, the European Union, Canada, and Mexico to improve regulatory cooperation, transparency and coordination in order to prevent the creation of technical barriers to trade.

    This is the second year that USTR has released these reports, after Ambassador Kirk announced the enforcement effort in July 2009. The SPS and TBT reports are part of a stronger enforcement policy by the Administration to tackle the harmful barriers that American agricultural and manufacturing businesses face when trying to grow their businesses through exports.

    You can view the reports here.

  • 03/30/2011 12:02 PM
    Today Ambassador Miriam Sapiro is testifying before the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade. You can find a link to the live feed of the hearing at the bottom of the Committee’s website here starting at 1:30 p.m. EST.
  • 03/29/2011 4:32 PM

    United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk was in Atlanta on Friday to speak with students, small business owners, and local government leaders on how trade will help U.S. businesses and workers win the future.

    Building on the “Winning the Future: Forum on Small Business” hosted by President Obama at Cleveland State University last month, this morning Ambassador Kirk along with Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed spoke with 40 small business leaders at the Metro Atlanta Chamber. Ambassador Kirk described how the Administration is taking a whole-of-government approach to export promotion as part of President Obama’s National Export Initiative (NEI), which aims to double exports by the end of 2014. Through the NEI, the Administration is working with city, state and local governments as well as stakeholders to help more U.S. small businesses sell their products abroad in support of jobs at home.

    Ambassador Kirk and Atlanta Business Leaders
    Ambassador Kirk with Atlanta Business Leaders

    Ambassador Kirk commended enterprising small businesses for being engines of job growth in the United States. Figures show small businesses were responsible for creating 64 percent of net new jobs in the past 15 years. Ambassador Kirk agreed with Mayor Reed that small businesses play a critical role in strengthening the economy of communities.

    Following the discussion, Ambassador Kirk visited Morehouse College where sat he down with 15 students. He praised Morehouse’s commitment to developing young African-American leaders through education, and he encouraged students to prepare for an increasingly competitive global economy. Ambassador Kirk shared his perspective as the U.S. Trade Representative, pointing out that he sees increasing demand for science, technology, engineering, and math skills in the national and international job markets. With Morehouse President Dr. Robert Franklin, he also toured the recently renovated Atlanta University Center library that is operated by a consortium of Morehouse, Spelman College, Clark Atlanta University, and Interdenominational Theological Center. Ambassador Kirk was able to visit both the exhibit featuring former Atlanta Mayor Maynard Jackson and the Martin Luther King Jr. Collection.

  • 03/25/2011 3:55 PM

    This month the Obama Administration is emphasizing President Obama’s message that to win the future America must out-educate the global competition. As part of this effort, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative is starting a “Hometown High School” program that encourages and enables USTR 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.

    Yesterday, Amy Burke, a Specialist in the Congressional Affairs office of USTR, returned to Hammond High School in Columbia, Maryland, to kick off USTR’s Hometown High School program. Amy met with current students of Mr. Ben Grabenstein’s AP American Government and Ms. Jody Zepp’s American Government classes.

    Amy shared how her educational experiences at Hammond High School helped prepare her for a career in public service leading to her current position at USTR. Specifically, Amy conveyed how her study of Korean language provided her with a valuable skill that was needed when President Obama and Ambassador Kirk traveled to South Korea for the G20 Summit. There she supported high-level trade negotiations and had the opportunity to meet President Obama. Reflecting on this experience, Amy reminded the class that anything is possible in America, and she advised the students that no matter what they want to do in life, education will be the surest path to long-term success.

    Amy’s presentation sparked a lively question-and-answer session with Mr. Grabenstein’s class, which is currently studying economic policy and trade. Students discussed how maintaining a level playing field in open international markets can strengthen the U.S. economy by allowing American businesses to export and sell more products to customers abroad, which in turn supports jobs for U.S. workers here at home.

    Amy Burk Hammond High School

  • 03/23/2011 6:07 PM

    Today, Ambassador Kirk met with students of T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, Virginia to discuss how America can win the future through education. During his visit, Ambassador Kirk spoke with Mr. Andrew Orzel’s AP Government and AP Economic classes.

    Ambassador Kirk Speaks to TC Williams High School Students
    Ambassador Kirk Speaks to TC Williams High School Students

    During the conversation, Ambassador Kirk pointed to President Obama’s new education policy proposals that will raise standards, reward success, and provide flexibility for states and schools to innovate and improve. He explained how President Obama’s plan to win the future builds on the best traditions of American education, innovation, and industry.

    “Students outside the United States are studying hard, trying to earn the best education possible so that they can compete with American children for the jobs and industries of the 21st century,” said Ambassador Kirk.

    Ambassador Kirk reiterated that President Obama has stated that to win the future we must remain focused on making sure that we remain competitive and keep the best jobs here in the United States – starting with educating every child to get ahead.

    Additionally, Ambassador Kirk also shared some of his experiences traveling around the world and across the United States as President Obama’s principal trade advisor, negotiator and spokesperson on trade issues. The students were engaged in USTR’s work, including our current trade initiatives, and how trade can help to grow the economy and support well-paying jobs for when they graduate.

  • 03/21/2011 4:51 PM

    This week, Ambassador Kirk will travel to Atlanta and meet with small business leaders about President Obama’s plan to win the future for Georgia families, workers, and businesses of all sizes.

    Many Georgia companies of all sizes are selling abroad and hiring local workers. Last year, Georgia exported almost $29 billion worth of goods, nearly double the amount exported ten years ago. Georgia’s small businesses are responsible for 30 percent of the state’s total exports of merchandise (2008). In fact, goods exports in 2008 supported more than 194,000 jobs in Georgia, and many of those jobs were with one of the 8,812 small- and medium-sized Georgia businesses who proudly sell their Peach State products overseas.

    The Langdale Company in Valdosta is just one example of an American small business poised to win the future. Langdale currently exports their industrial wood products such as utility poles, marine pilings, lumber, and pre-hung doors from ten manufacturing facilities in Georgia to Asia, the Caribbean, Central America, Europe, and Mexico. Exporting for over 35 years to different markets around the world has spread Langdale’s reputation for exceptional service, competitive prices, and an extensive product line. In addition, Langdale has plans to expand into yet even more global markets.

    Trade enables local businesses to sell their goods and services more competitively abroad while supporting jobs in Georgia. Georgia’s small businesses are a major exporting force for the state and are ready to take on the demands for American products from overseas markets. That’s why USTR is working to open markets and enable more Georgia businesses to compete internationally, increasing their exports in support of local jobs for Georgians.

    During Ambassador Kirk’s visit to Atlanta, he will sit down with Mayor Kasim Reed to discuss how small business leaders of Atlanta can win the future with the help of President Obama’s National Export Initiative. Ambassador Kirk will also share with Atlanta business leaders of how trade is a central key to this comprehensive plan to double U.S. exports by 2014.

  • 03/21/2011 1:13 PM

    On Sunday, Ambassador Kirk hosted a roundtable discussion about U.S. exports and jobs. The conversation was held at City Hall in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil with 50 participants from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Business Council Investment Conference.

    Ambassador Kirk Hosts Trade Roundtable in Rio
    Ambassador Kirk Hosts Trade Roundtable in Rio

    Ambassador Kirk discussed the benefits of increasing U.S. engagement with the government of Brazil. He made note of the increasing opportunities for U.S. businesses to sell goods and services to Brazil's growing middle-class. Ambassador Kirk also answered questions about the U.S.-Brazil Agreement on Trade and Economic Cooperation (ATEC) that he signed on Saturday with Brazilian Minister of External Relations Antonio de Aguiar Patriota.

    Ambassador Kirk with participants from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Business Council Investment Conference
    Ambassador Kirk with participants from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Business Council Investment Conference 

    Ambassador Kirk was in Brazil as part of President Obama's first trip to Latin America. He continues his trip today in Santiago, Chile.


  • 03/21/2011 10:13 AM

    This weekend, President Obama and Ambassador Kirk traveled to Brasilia, Brazil, to kick-off the President's trip to Latin America.  In his weekly address, President Obama discussed his trip to Latin America and the importance of strengthening our economic partnership with the region to create good jobs at home.  Watch the video and read the transcript below.

    Remarks of President Barack Obama
    Weekly Address on Latin America
    Saturday, March 19, 2011
    Washington, DC

    "In recent days, we’ve seen turmoil and tragedy around the world, from change in the Middle East and North Africa to the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. As I said on Friday, we will work with our partners in the region to protect innocent civilians in Libya and hold the Gaddafi regime accountable. And we will continue to stand with the people of Japan in their greatest hour of need.

    "As we respond to these immediate crises abroad, we also will not let up in our efforts to tackle the pressing, ongoing challenges facing our country, including accelerating economic growth. That’s why, over the weekend, I’ll be in Latin America. One of the main reasons for my trip is to strengthen economic partnerships abroad so that we create good jobs at home.

    "Latin America is a part of the world where the economy is growing very quickly. And as these markets grow, so does their demand for goods and services. The question is, Where are those goods and services going to come from? As President, I want to make sure these products are made in America. I want to open more markets around the world so that American companies can do more business and hire more of our people.

    "Here’s a statistic to explain why this is important. Every $1 billion of goods and services we export supports more than 5,000 jobs in the United States. So, the more we sell overseas, the more jobs we create on our shores. That’s why, last year, I set a goal for this country: to double our exports by 2014. And it’s a goal we’re on track to meet.

    "Part of the reason why is the rapid growth of Latin America, and their openness to American business. We now export more than three times as much to Latin America as we do to China, and our exports to the region will soon support more than two million jobs here in the United States. Brazil, the first stop on our trip, is a great example.

    "In 2010, America’s exports to Brazil supported more than 250,000 American jobs. These are jobs at places like Capstone Turbine in California, which recently sold $2 million worth of high-tech energy equipment to Brazil. Another company is Rhino Assembly, a small business in Charlotte, North Carolina that sells and repairs tools for building cars and planes. A deal with a distributor in Brazil has resulted in new sales and new employees at that firm. And we can point to large companies like Sikorsky, whose helicopter sales to Brazil help sustain a large, skilled workforce in Connecticut, Alabama, and Pennsylvania.

    "Today, Brazil imports more goods from the United States than from any other nation. And I’ll be meeting with business leaders from both countries to talk about how we can create even more jobs by deepening these economic ties. After Brazil, I’ll also visit Chile, a country with a growing economy, and increasing demand for American goods. In fact, since 2004, our exports there are up 300 percent, and now support about 70,000 jobs in the United States. Finally, we’ll head to El Salvador, a nation with so much promise for growth with the potential to benefit both of our nations.

    "We’ve always had a special bond with our neighbors to the south. It’s a bond born of shared history and values, and strengthened by the millions of Americans who proudly trace their roots to Latin America. But what is clear is that in an increasingly global economy, our partnership with these nations is only going to become more vital. For it’s a source of growth and prosperity – and not just for the people of Latin America, but for the American people as well.

    "Thank you."

  • 03/18/2011 3:49 PM

    Ambassador Kirk wrote a guest blog post on earlier today. Check it out below.

    Seizing Opportunities to Support American Jobs, American Values in Trade
    Posted by Ambassador Ron Kirk on March 18, 2011 at 02:33 PM EDT

    President Obama has set an ambitious goal of doubling U.S. exports by 2015, supporting at least two million additional American jobs. As the President departs for Latin America to promote U.S. exports and U.S. jobs, we at the Office of the United States Trade Representative are continuing to work on three pending free trade agreements – with Korea, Panama, and Colombia – that can support these National Export Initiative goals.

    In December, President Obama announced that the United States and South Korea have finalized an historic trade deal that will increase U.S. exports to Korea by $11 billion annually while supporting 70,000 American jobs. The news has been met with high praise from a wide range of groups, including the United Auto Workers, Ford Motor Company, General Motors, the U.S. Chamber and the American Farm Bureau Federation, to name a few stakeholders. They know the positive impact this agreement will have on U.S. businesses and families, from auto workers to cattle ranchers to high-tech manufacturers and service providers.

    The U.S.-Korea trade agreement would eliminate tariffs on more than 95 percent of industrial and consumer goods within five years, creating a more open and fair Korean market for U.S. auto companies and workers, and new opportunities for U.S. manufacturers, farmers and ranchers. In real terms, U.S. beef producers could expect to save $90 million annually with the progressive elimination of Korea’s existing tariff.

    With this landmark deal struck, it is now Congress’ turn to ratify it quickly – especially important since South Korea’s trade agreement with the EU takes effect on July 1.

    Trade agreements with Panama and Colombia can also be key boosters of American exports. At the President’s direction, we are working hard to resolve outstanding issues related to these agreements as soon as possible this year, so that we can move them to Congress for consideration immediately thereafter.

    The Administration’s hard work is encouraging significant labor reforms and greater tax transparency in Panama. Last month, I met with Vice President Varela, and our teams have met subsequently and agreed upon actions that, when taken by Panama, will ready that agreement for Congressional consideration.

    We also are dedicated to resolving issues regarding Colombia so that agreement can move forward as well. We are working without delay to address concerns from members of Congress and other stakeholders involving labor rights protections and violence against labor leaders. In the past month alone, the Administration sent a team to Bogota and held several productive meetings with Ways and Means and Senate Finance Committee staff and other stakeholders. This week, the President’s team met with high-ranking Colombian officials to continue our work to ensure a level playing field for American workers and to make certain that our trade agreements reflect core American values on labor rights around the world.

    While we continue to achieve real progress on outstanding issues with Panama and Colombia, the significant U.S.-Korea trade agreement is ready to move. Our goal is the passage of three good agreements, with outstanding issues resolved, so that we can realize the jobs and economic growth that come to the American people through responsible trade policy.

    Ron Kirk is the United States Trade Representative

  • 03/17/2011 2:39 PM

    U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, Small Business Administration Administrator Karen Mills, Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, and representatives from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Export-Import Bank of the United States, and the office of U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu invite you to attend


    Monday, April 11, 2011

    Hosted by the World Trade Center of New Orleans and Tulane University’s Goldring Institute of International Business

    U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, Small Business Administration Administrator Karen Mills, Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, and representatives from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Export-Import Bank of the United States, and the office of U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu invite you to attend New Markets, New Jobs, a conference designed to help connect small and medium sized businesses with the resources they need to sell more of what they make in markets overseas.

    The National Export Initiative Small Business Tour is designed to help achieve the United States’ goal of doubling exports in five years to support the creation of several million American jobs.

    America’s small and medium sized businesses still face many hurdles in getting their products to new markets: the lack of readily available information about exporting and market research; challenges in accessing export financing; and strong competition from foreign companies and governments.

    New Markets, New Jobs will address those challenges, and we’re excited to make the third stop of the tour in New Orleans!

    Conference attendees will benefit from:

    • Trade resource panels on key export topics, including the spectrum of federal resources that can help businesses begin exporting or expand their exports.

    • Materials and resources, including Regional Commercial Officers from the Caribbean, Central America and Brazil, to guide companies in the process of selling their products to consumers all over the world;

    • Lessons learned from area businesses who have succeeded in utilizing federal resources to expand into new markets and grow their businesses; and

    • Remarks from senior federal government officials and New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu

    WHEN: Monday, April 11, 2011

    WHERE: Tulane University Lavin-Bernick Student Center, 6823 St. Charles Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70118

    - Reserve your seat for the NEI Small Business Tour today here.

    - Registration cost per person is $35.00

    - Questions about attending? Contact Eliza Brierre at or (504) 619-9834

    - For interest in event sponsorship, please contact Eliza Brierre (contact information above)

    - For media inquiries, please contact the Commerce Department Office of Public Affairs at (202) 482-4883 or

    This event is being hosted by the World Trade Center of New Orleans and Tulane University’s Goldring Institute of International Business. It is also made possible by the Louisiana District Export Council, Louisiana Committee of 100 for Economic Development, Southern U.S. Trade Association, Port of New Orleans, Port of South Louisiana, and Louisiana Economic Development.

  • 03/17/2011 9:30 AM
    Today Ambassador Miriam Sapiro is testifying before the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade. You can find a link to the live feed of the hearing on the Committee’s website here starting at 10:00 a.m. EST.
  • 03/16/2011 10:47 AM

    On Tuesday, Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis met with members of the American Chamber of Commerce in Korea (Seoul) who are in Washington, D.C. this week to meet with Congressional and Administration officials. The group is here to discuss doing business in Korea and explain the job-creating benefits of the U.S.-Korea trade agreement from their perspective "on the ground" in Korea. Led by their Chairman Frank Little of 3M, representatives from United Airlines, Johnson and Johnson Medical, Boeing, and other firms active in Korea participated in the meeting.

    Ambassador Marantis and members of the American Chamber of Commerce in Korea
    Ambassador Marantis and members of the American Chamber of Commerce in Korea

    Ambassador Marantis shared with the companies the news that USTR has offered to begin to work with Congressional committees on the draft implementing legislation that will allow the agreement to move forward in Congress. Ambassador Marantis underscored that the agreement could support tens of thousands of American jobs and its passage would help keep American companies and products globally competitive. He also emphasized that the Administration is fully committed to submitting the agreement to Congress as soon as possible.

  • 03/15/2011 1:58 PM

    Last week, Deputy Assistant United States Trade Representative for Korea Affairs Bryant Trick sat down with Dani Kaiser, a student from Parker High School of Janesville, Wisconsin. Dani was in Washington, D.C. as a 2011 Washington Seminar scholar for the program’s 39th Annual Field Study. The program is sponsored by local hometown supporters, including the School District of Janesville and the Janesville Education Association, and directed by the Advanced Placement Government teacher, Joe Van Rooy. During the meeting, Dani discussed with Bryant her interest in the U.S.-Korea trade agreement and the U.S. strategic relationship with Korea.

    DAUSTR Bryant Trick and Dani Kaiser
    DAUSTR Bryant Trick and Dani Kaiser

    While in Washington, D.C., Dani also met with officials at the Department of State, the Korean Embassy, and the U.S.-Asia Policy Institute, as well as with Members of Congress. Dani plans to use the research she gathered on this trip to write an opinion piece for her local newspaper.

    By seizing educational opportunities and sharing her insights into trade and U.S. competitiveness, Dani is doing her part to help America win the future. President Obama emphasizes education as a vital element of America’s global competitiveness.

  • 03/14/2011 4:21 PM

    On Friday, March 11, Ambassador Kirk placed an opinion article on to explain the U.S. view on the future of the Doha Round of World Trade Organization negotiations. Here’s the text:

    Right now in Geneva, Switzerland, a test is underway. It is a test of the willingness of World Trade Organization (WTO) members to move the decade-long Doha Development Round negotiations into the “end game” – as President Obama and other G20 Leaders have directed negotiators to do this year. The window of opportunity for the talks to avoid decline into futility is a narrow one. The United States will leave no stone unturned in its quest for an ambitious and balanced outcome. But key negotiating partners must share this motivation.

    The world has changed since the Doha negotiations began in 2001. To succeed today, WTO trade talks must address the world as it is and as it will be in the coming decades. The remarkable growth of emerging economies like China, India, and Brazil must be reflected in a final Doha outcome.

    The United States has been frank about the importance of increased access to these emerging markets for U.S. exporters. But such access is also vital for the poorest countries that have been a particular focus of the Doha negotiations –especially since these countries already have largely open access to major developed economies like the United States. In a negotiation in which the United States is being asked to significantly cut 100 percent of import duties on both industrial and agricultural goods, we are asking emerging economies to accept responsibility commensurate with their expanded roles in the global economy.

    No country is more important to a successful Doha outcome than China. By any estimate, China will be an enormous winner from a Doha agreement. China’s exports have boomed since joining the WTO, but it continues to maintain high tariffs, many of which still would not be cut under the current parameters of the Doha Round.

    Despite its position as an economic and trade powerhouse, today’s WTO rules allow China to have open access to major markets without giving appropriately reciprocal access. In Doha, we are asking China to commit to a significant opening of its market in industrial sectors – like chemicals, electronics, and industrial machinery – where China’s global competitiveness is unquestioned. That’s reasonable.

    Similarly, Brazil is one of the world’s ten largest economies and a growing export power. Yet Brazil’s market remains restricted in the technology sector, among others. Since 1996, 73 countries comprising over 97 percent of the global trade in information technology products have opened their markets to competition in this sector by signing the WTO Information Technology Agreement (ITA). Signatories include developing countries such as Egypt, El Salvador, Costa Rica, and Vietnam. In Doha, one of our “asks” of Brazil is to join the ITA. That’s reasonable.

    Under the Doha package currently on the table, India would make cuts on only 3 percent of the tariffs it applies on industrial goods – a result that can hardly make sense in a 21st century economy in which India plays a major role. As with China and Brazil, we look to India to offer significant liberalization in sectors – such as pharmaceuticals and industrial machinery – where India is doing extremely well as an exporter. That’s reasonable.

    These three big players are also major competitors in global trade in services, where we also have considerable work to do to create new market access. China’s telecommunication operators are now the world’s largest; Brazil is the world’s 7th largest Internet user; and India is a world leader in information and communications technology (ICT) services. And yet the current services package would yield little progress in opening markets in sectors that drive global economic growth and development, from communications to financial services, environmental to supply chain services. Any final Doha package simply must do better.

    We also have critical unfinished business on agriculture. While the current negotiating texts are abundantly clear on what is expected of the United States, it is still unclear what our farmers will see in return, especially from the key emerging markets.

    The United States is encouraged that a new sense of urgency appears to be present in Geneva. But in order to put Doha firmly and finally on the path of success, that urgency must now translate – very quickly – into real negotiations. The United States will shoulder its share of the burden. We will expect and insist, however, that other key players help to lift the load. That’s reasonable.

  • 03/14/2011 3:39 PM

    On December 14, 2009, United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk notified Congress that President Obama intended to enter into negotiations of a regional, Asia-Pacific trade agreement, known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement. The Administration is working with its TPP partners to develop an agreement that reflects this Administration’s trade priorities, including job creation and retention, integrating U.S. companies into Asia-Pacific production and supply chains, promoting new technologies and emerging economic sectors, and boosting small businesses, all while promoting environmental protection and conservation, transparency, worker rights, and development.

    USTR’s Open Government Flagship Initiative focuses on the TPP negotiations and USTR’s efforts to engage with stakeholders throughout the negotiation process. Since the U.S.-hosted second round of TPP talks in San Francisco, California in June 2010, interested stakeholders have been invited to negotiation rounds all over the world for on-site briefings by USTR senior staff. Individual and group meetings are held as requested on a variety of areas of interest. Stakeholders have also delivered on-site presentations – sometimes in the negotiating rooms – to trade negotiators from the participating TPP economies. These briefings and presentations give USTR and other countries the opportunity to hear from people who are interested in both the early shaping and the outcomes of this agreement. The stakeholders' presence also has allowed stakeholders to present their views directly to the delegations of the other TPP countries.

    The United States and Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam recently concluded the fifth round of TPP negotiations in Santiago, Chile. As in previous rounds, the teams received input from a wide range of representatives of business, civil society and other stakeholder groups on a variety of issues. The next round will take place in Singapore later this month.

    Along with a 50-state outreach strategy, USTR updates the public during every round of negotiations. Whether through on-site and post-negotiation briefings or online blog posts, USTR staff constantly works to engage with constituents on the TPP. USTR also uses social media to answer questions and host online chats, as well as provide information regarding outreach events that the public can attend.

  • 03/11/2011 6:22 PM
    Today senior officials from USTR and the Colombian government continued their engagement on issues related to the pending trade agreement between the countries. They agreed to meet again in Washington, DC, within two weeks.
  • 03/11/2011 6:02 PM

    Tuesday, March 8, was International Women’s Day (IWD). This year’s theme for IWD was “Equal access to education, training and science and technology: Pathway to decent work for women.” This week, highlights how global trade benefits women.

    Recognizing that trade policy benefits women in America and abroad, USTR is using trade policy to achieve objectives such as poverty reduction and promoting rule of law, as well as to improve the financial and socio-economic status of women and children. Job creation, market access or the improvement in the overall standard of living are some of the opportunities that can be created to impact the lives of women.

    Recently, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk visited Minneapolis, Minnesota, to meet with local business leaders to kick-off the National Export Initiative (NEI) Small Business Tour. Ambassador Kirk co-hosted a conference entitled “New Markets, New Jobs,” and spoke about the importance of innovation to make America’s small- and medium-sized businesses more competitive abroad. Today, small businesses owned by women employ more than 4 million workers and contribute about $1 trillion to the U.S. economy. Even among these thriving companies, it is clear that businesses that export tend to grow faster, add jobs sooner, and pay higher wages. Yet currently only one out of every 100 small- and medium-sized businesses markets its products abroad. Most of these organizations export only to a single country. USTR is working to find new ways to help these business owners boost their exports in order to grow and prosper.

    U.S. trade agreements also include provisions to promote more effective and efficient trade capacity building assistance to all sectors of society. These include programs that improve the ability of women and girls to participate more effectively in the domestic and global marketplace.

    In February, Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Miriam Sapiro traveled to El Salvador where she visited an agricultural cooperative in the rural area of Caluco. This region is considered to be one of the poorest municipalities in El Salvador. The majority of farmers here are devoted to subsistence agriculture, but the farmers at this site have diversified to higher value crops. Products such as baby corn, eggplant, and cilantro are being packaged for commercial sale and prepared to export to international markets, including the United States. This transition is made possible through trade capacity building assistance provided under the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States (CAFTA-DR) Free Trade Agreement. Ambassador Sapiro toured the facility with two of the farmers, a husband and wife team, who have three children in school including a daughter in college. The family exemplifies how such programs provide opportunities not just to farmers, ranchers and workers, but to entire families and communities.

    Additionally, USTR administers the four U.S. tariff preference programs that provide enhanced access for developing countries' exports into the U.S. markets. These programs benefit women who comprise much of the labor force in developing countries both in larger-scale manufacturing operations and in the home.

    Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis recently traveled to Liberia and visited Liberian Women’s Sewing Project, a women-owned cooperative that produces apparel for export to the United States. What was once a pillaged and bullet-ridden building, now houses a business that trains and employs over thirty women, pays a good wage, and provides basic health care and a bag of rice as employee benefits. The Liberian Women’s Sewing Project is made possible through the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). USTR recently determined that Liberia has adopted an effective textile monitoring and control regime that qualified Liberian textile and apparel exports to receive for duty-free treatment when they enter the United States. Facing no duties in the United States, Liberian exports become more competitive globally and more attractive to American consumers, bringing tangible benefits to Liberia.

    USTR strives to ensure that U.S. trade policy is developed and implemented in a way that includes benefits for working women and their families. As President Obama has said, we are “doing all of this not only because promoting women’s empowerment is one of the best ways to promote economic development and economic success. We are doing it because it’s the right thing to do.”

  • 03/11/2011 5:07 PM

    Please note new comments by United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk today on the future of the Doha Round; these can be found in an opinion piece posted on at the following link:

  • 03/10/2011 8:49 PM
    Today Deputy United States Trade Representative Miriam Sapiro, along with senior officials from other U.S. government agencies, met with a high-level delegation from the government of Colombia. The meeting took place at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative in Washington, DC. The officials had a productive discussion about issues related to the U.S.-Colombia trade agreement. Discussions will continue tomorrow.
  • 03/10/2011 6:47 PM

    The United States will be kicking off its host year for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum (APEC) with a Senior Officials Meeting this Friday and Saturday, March 11-12, in Washington, D.C. Senior Officials from each of the 21 APEC member countries will gather to discuss issues such as strengthening regional economic integration, expanding trade, promoting clean energy, and advancing regulatory cooperation and convergence.

    As the premier forum for strengthening regional economic integration in the Asia-Pacific, APEC focuses on fostering economic growth that can lead to better jobs for more Americans and people of every Pacific nation. These efforts are critical to meeting President Obama’s goal of doubling U.S. exports, because APEC member economies account for 55 percent of the global economy and buy 58 percent of all U.S. exports. In fact, U.S. producers sold $618 billion of goods to APEC countries in 2009.

    The Senior Officials Meeting is the first of four major APEC meetings that the United States will host this year. Additional meetings include a ministerial-level meeting to be held in Big Sky, Montana in May, the third Senior Officials Meeting in San Francisco in September, and the culminating Economic Leaders’ Meeting that will be hosted by President Obama in Honolulu, Hawaii this November.

  • 03/09/2011 10:12 AM

    This morning Ambassador Kirk is testifying before the Senate Finance Committee regarding Obama Administration trade policies. You can watch the testimony live on the Senate Finance Committee’s website here starting at 10:00 a.m. EST.

    Be sure to check back at for Ambassador Kirk’s written testimony.

  • 03/08/2011 4:44 PM

    Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis recently traveled to Liberia. Below, he writes about a textile factory he visited and the importance of its impact on Liberian women.

    I am excited to be blogging about International Women’s Day.

    I recently returned from a trip to Liberia, a country that suffered nearly two decades of civil war before returning to peace just six years ago. It was my first visit, and I left the country inspired and hopeful for its future. Liberia is a country where women are leading their nation on a path of peace, development, and economic growth. The world knows Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf as Africa’s first woman President and an historic leader. The President’s Cabinet is also led by women in many key ministerial positions, including my counterpart, Minister of Commerce and Industry Miata Beysolow.

    Ambassador Marantis and Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf
    Ambassador Marantis with Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf

    The women working for Liberia’s future are not just government officials, but women in all sectors helping the country in their own way. One unforgettable place I visited was Liberian Women’s Sewing Project, a women-owned cooperative that produces apparel for export to the United States. What was once a pillaged and bullet-ridden building, now houses an amazing business that trains and employs over thirty women, pays them a good wage, and provides basic health care and a bag of rice as employee benefits. As a cooperative, it gives them a stake in a business that makes beautiful, high-quality shirts while helping make Liberia a better place.

    Liberian Women's Sewing Project

    What made the Liberian Women’s Sewing Project especially meaningful to me was to see how our trade policy could have a direct impact on people’s lives. When I was in Monrovia, I announced that the United States had granted Liberia an apparel visa under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). This means that Ambassador Kirk determined that Liberia has adopted an effective textile monitoring and control regime that qualified Liberian textile and apparel exports to receive duty-free treatment when they enter the United States.

    Liberian Women's Sewing Project Worker
    Liberian Women's Sewing Project Worker

    Maybe an AGOA apparel visa sounds esoteric, but it has a real practical impact for the women I met. With this visa regime in place, apparel made by producers like the Liberian Women’s Sewing Project will become more affordable for American consumers and more competitive globally. That, in turn, will bring more tangible benefits to the Liberian women who work there and their families.

    Liberian Women's Sewing Project Workers
    Photos of Liberian Women's Sewing Project Workers

    I was honored to meet the women of the Liberian Women’s Sewing Project and share their story on International Women’s Day. It is just another example of how women’s hard work and ingenuity, together with good policy, can make a world of difference.

    Liberian Women's Sewing Project T-shirt
    Liberian Women's Sewing Project T-shirt

  • 03/08/2011 3:01 PM

    On Monday, Ambassador Kirk met with Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard. This marks Gillard’s first visit to Washington, D.C. as Prime Minister. The meeting provided the opportunity for Ambassador Kirk and Prime Minister Gillard to discuss trade issues of priority to both countries, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations and the World Trade Organization (WTO) Doha Development Agenda.

    Ambassador Kirk and Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard
    Ambassador Kirk and Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard

    On the TPP, Ambassador Kirk and Prime Minister Gillard discussed progress and their interest in maintaining the momentum on this important initiative. They look forward to significant progress during the upcoming negotiating round in Singapore later this month. They also agreed that the U.S. and Australia need to continue to consult closely in the months ahead on issues of particular interest to the two countries in order to be able to meet the objective of the TPP Leaders to conclude a high-standard, 21st-century trade agreement as swiftly as possible.

    Ambassador Kirk and Prime Minister Gillard also discussed the WTO Doha Development Agenda. They agreed that the Agenda holds significant prospects for trade liberalization. Moreover, Ambassador Kirk and Prime Minister Gillard shared a sense of urgency that true end-game negotiations among leading WTO Members must begin immediately in order to meet the expectations of G20 Leaders. Ambassador Kirk applauded Australia's leadership in the Doha negotiations, particularly with regard to trade in services.

  • 03/07/2011 2:08 PM

    Listen to Ambassador Kirk on NPR's Morning Edition as he talks about the importance of the U.S.-Korea trade agreement in support well-paying American jobs. You can also read the article here.

  • 03/02/2011 11:10 AM

    On Tuesday, Ambassador Demetrios Marantis spoke at the Conference on Good Regulatory Practice, the first senior official meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) 2011. Ambassador Marantis highlighted the importance of the conference, saying top experts who attended will work to improve the regulatory environment and the ability to achieve a more seamless regional economy.

    “Our cooperative work in APEC to advance understanding and implementation of good regulatory practices is a concrete and proactive way to prevent needless obstacles to trade,” said Ambassador Marantis. “And our work can equip APEC economies to better address the critical environmental, health and safety challenges of the 21st century.”

    Ambassador Marantis also discussed that APEC has been at the forefront in promoting greater alignment to international standards, improving transparency, reforming testing and certification programs, and advancing development of a standards and conformance infrastructure in the region that facilitates trade and investment. Ambassador Marantis emphasized the importance of enhancing these achievements.

    “We should see what works and what does not work. We should review the different types of regulatory cooperation undertaken in APEC and elsewhere, and to identify the types of practices, the variety of objectives, and to understand which have worked and why,” said Ambassador Marantis.

    The United States works within APEC to open markets in the Asia-Pacific region and connect them to American exporters, including small businesses, ranchers, and farmers. This includes eliminating barriers to trade and investment, creating better business environments, and building a level economic playing field in the region that will help American businesses compete and succeed abroad.

  • 03/02/2011 10:14 AM

    Today Ambassador Ron Kirk is a featured guest at an event titled “Harnessing Trade for Shared Growth, American Competitiveness and Just Jobs.” You can watch the speech live on the Center’s website here starting at 1:00 p.m. EST.

    UPDATE: This event has ended. You can watch video of the event here.

  • 03/02/2011 5:38 AM

    This week's trade spotlight is on the Special 301 Report, which reflects the Administration’s resolve to encourage and maintain effective IPR protection and enforcement worldwide.

    On Wednesday, March 2, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) held a hearing as part of the process to prepare the Special 301 Report, which provides a means for the United States to communicate its concerns about the need to protect and enforce intellectual property rights (IPR) in overseas markets – an issue that is critical to the livelihoods of the estimated 18 million Americans who work in intellectual property-intensive industries. The hearing is part of the ongoing USTR effort to give interested persons an opportunity to inform the interagency Special 301 Subcommittee of issues relevant to the review. The Special 301 Report will be released at the end of April.

    Broad consultations ensure that Special 301 decisions are based on a robust understanding of often complex intellectual property issues and help facilitate sound, well-balanced assessments of developments in particular countries. USTR necessarily conducts this assessment on a case-by-case basis, based on the particular facts and circumstances that shape IPR protection and enforcement regimes in specific countries. This process includes close consultations with affected stakeholders, interested parties, foreign governments, and Congress, as well as discussions among federal agencies. Public submissions in the ongoing 2011 Special 301 review can be viewed online at, docket number USTR-2010-0037.

    On Monday, February 28, USTR released the Special 301 Out-of-Cycle Review of Notorious Markets, which began on October 1, 2010. Previously included in the annual Special 301 Report, the Notorious Market List was released early as part of USTR’s commitment to increase public awareness of Internet and physical markets that exemplify key challenges in the global struggle against piracy and counterfeiting and guide related U.S. trade enforcement actions.

    The markets listed include, for example, the website Baidu, which recently ranked as the number one most visited site in China, and among the top ten in the world. Baidu exemplifies the problem of online services engaged in “deep linking,” which provide links to online locations containing the allegedly infringing materials. The list also includes numerous examples of websites involved in BitTorrent tracking and indexing, which facilitate the high speed transfer of infringing materials between users, as well as Internet markets involved in specific activities such as piracy of sports telecasts, Smartphone software and physical products. Key physical markets listed include, for example, Beijing’s notorious Silk Market, as well as numerous other markets from a wide range of countries and regions.

    Public submissions for the Notorious Markets list can be viewed online at, Docket number USTR-2010-0029.