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  • 10/28/2011 2:10 PM

    Today, United States Trade Representative (USTR) Ron Kirk hosted a ceremony designating the “Warren Lavorel Conference Room.” The dedication is in honor of the distinguished former USTR employee, Warren Lavorel, who passed away this spring at the age of 75 after devoting his life to public service.

    Warren Lavorel worked in the area of international trade for more than three decades. After beginning his career as an economist at the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Lavorel joined USTR, eventually rising to the rank of Ambassador. He was instrumental as Chief Negotiator in the Uruguay Round of Multilateral Trade Negotiations from October 1987 through mid-1993. He helped bring about the greatest trade reform since the General Agreements on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) was created at the end of World War II. Following that achievement, he was appointed Deputy Director General of GATT from 1993-1995. He then continued to serve in Geneva, Switzerland as one of the original Deputy Directors General of the World Trade Organization (WTO) until his retirement.

    Ambassador Kirk welcomed several distinguished guests for the ceremony including former USTRs Bill Brock (1981-85), Mickey Kantor (1993-96), and Charlene Barshefsky (1997-2000). Members of Warren Lavorel’s family also attended the ceremony. Warren Lavorel will be warmly remembered by the entire USTR community which continues to benefit from his impressive legacy.

  • 10/27/2011 9:27 AM

    On Wednesday, Ambassador Kirk met with Peruvian Prime Minister Salomón Lerner Ghitis. Ambassador Kirk highlighted the importance of Peru to the United States, both in terms of the bilateral work under the United States – Peru Trade Promotion Agreement (PTPA) and in terms of the leadership that Peru continues to show in seeking ambitious outcomes in APEC and in the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations.

    Ambassador Kirk and Prime Minister Lerner discussed bilateral issues including the benefits of increased trade under the PTPA, the importance of small- and medium-sized businesses for both countries and on-going collaboration in the labor and environment sectors. They also discussed Peru’s progress in implementing the environmental provisions of the PTPA with respect to Forest Sector Governance and recent measures proposed by Peru that could affect agricultural biotechnology.

    U.S. goods exports to Peru in 2010 totaled $6.8 billion, with top export categories of machinery, mineral fuel, electrical machinery, plastics and vehicles. Top U.S. exports of agricultural products to Peru included wheat, cotton, coarse grains and soybean meal. U.S. foreign direct investment in Peru (stock) was $7.9 billion, concentrated mainly in the mining sector.

  • 10/25/2011 4:56 PM

    President Obama signed a proclamation today restoring the United States’ previously-suspended trade preferences to Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, and Niger under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) – marking a win for the people of Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, and Niger, and also for the U.S. businesses and workers trading with and investing in these three African nations. AGOA requires the President to determine each year whether sub-Saharan African countries are eligible for AGOA benefits based on progress in meeting certain criteria. This criterion includes progress toward the establishment of a market-based economy, rule of law, economic policies to reduce poverty, protection of internationally recognized worker rights, and efforts to combat corruption.

    Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, and Niger each lost eligibility for AGOA benefits due to undemocratic changes in their respective governments. In late 2010 and early 2011, all three countries conducted presidential elections that were considered free and fair.

    AGOA – signed into law in May 2000 – works to expand U.S. trade and investment with sub-Saharan Africa, stimulate economic growth, promote a high-level dialogue on trade and investment-related issues, encourage economic integration, and facilitate sub-Saharan Africa's integration into the global economy. The countries of sub-Saharan Africa are important U.S. trading partners and AGOA is a key pillar of that growing partnership.

    For example, AGOA helps make it possible for Ethiopian factory workers to earn a living supported by exports of apparel and footwear for sale in the United States. AGOA helps make it possible for Ghanaian craftsmen to sell expertly-carved stools, bookends, and statues to U.S. customers seeking the perfect piece at interior design and art shops across America. And AGOA helps make it possible for HIV-positive single mothers in Swaziland to export specialty foods, giving them good jobs and hope for their families. By facilitating trade that supports jobs, AGOA improves individual lives and stimulates development from the bottom up in a way that can lead to greater economic growth for entire countries.

    Total (two-way) goods trade with sub-Saharan Africa countries during 2010 was $82 billion. The top U.S. export markets in sub-Saharan Africa for 2010 were South Africa, Nigeria, Angola, Ghana, and Ethiopia. The top export categories in 2010 were machinery, oil, wheat and rice, and aircraft. U.S. exports of agricultural products to sub-Saharan Africa totaled $2.3 billion in 2010. Leading categories included wheat, poultry meat, rice, wheat and rice, and vegetable oils.

  • 10/25/2011 4:38 PM

    This year, the United States is hosting APEC, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum. Comprised of 21 member economies in the Asia-Pacific, APEC is often referred to as an “incubator” of trade policy ideas, because it plays a unique role in the development of cutting-edge trade concepts that reflect and respond to on-the-ground realities of business and commerce in the 21st century.

    Tomorrow, Ambassador Kirk will give remarks previewing the upcoming APEC Economic Leaders’ meeting, which will be hosted by President Obama in Honolulu early next month. Topics on the APEC agenda will include promoting green growth; strengthening regional economic integration and expanding trade; and advancing regulatory cooperation and convergence.

    For example, tariff and non-tariff barriers to environmental goods and services raise the cost and hinder the deployment of clean technologies. So working to remove these trade barriers will help to promote trade in environmental goods and services, as a new source of economic development and green growth for people throughout the Asia-Pacific.

    APEC members are also looking at specific steps they can take to improve the quality of their regulatory systems and align their regulatory approaches more closely. These actions will boost productivity and promote job creation by eliminating unjustifiably burdensome regulations. And they will prevent needless barriers to trade from stifling economic growth and employment.

    In addition, we are seeking agreement on ways to promote innovative, competitive, and open markets that spur entrepreneurship throughout the region, which is critical to long-term prosperity and job creation.

    Removing barriers to trade supports U.S. jobs, because by creating additional opportunities for U.S. producers to sell goods and services overseas we can support more jobs for hard-working Americans here at home. APEC’s work is vital to tearing down trade barriers and opening up additional Asia-Pacific export opportunities for American producers, which will keep the United States on track to meet President Obama’s National Export Initiative goal of doubling exports by the end of 2014.

    Click here to find out more about APEC, and check out the USTR blog tomorrow for highlights from Ambassador Kirk’s remarks.

  • 10/25/2011 9:45 AM

    This morning Ambassador Marantis is testifying before the House Ways and Means Committee regarding the U.S.-China economic relationship. You can watch the testimony live on the House Ways and Means Committee’s website here starting at 10:00 a.m. EST.

  • 10/21/2011 2:19 PM
    U.S.-South Korea Trade Agreement LogoU.S.-Colombia Trade Agreeement Logo
    U.S.-Panama Trade AgreementTrade Adjustment Assistance

    Every $1 billion in new exports of American goods supports more than 6,000 additional jobs here at home. Every billion dollars of services exports supports more than 4,500 jobs. The South Korea, Colombia, and Panama trade agreements will open markets for U.S. firms, increasing trade and exports. Increasing U.S. exports through these agreements will support additional jobs for American workers who produce Made-in-the-USA goods and services.

    In addition, Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) provides training and support for American workers who are negatively affected by trade and is designed to help workers, firms, farmers and fishermen transition to alternative employment. The Administration is pleased that passage of the trade agreements with Korea, Colombia, and Panama were accompanied by a robust renewal of TAA consistent with the goals of the 2009 law that improved the scope and effectiveness of the program. This includes, for instance, covering Americans employed in the services sector in addition to U.S. manufacturing workers.

    Find information related to the three trade agreements and Trade Adjustment Assistance below.


    April 15, 2012
    United States, Colombia Set Date for Entry into Force of U.S.-Colombia Trade Agreement

    March 15, 2012
    Jobs On The Way: U.S.-Korea Trade Agreement Enters Into Force

    February 21, 2012
    United States, Korea Set Date for Entry Into Force of U.S.-Korea Trade Agreement

    February 18, 2012
    Update on Implementation of the U.S.-Korea Trade Agreement

    January 25, 2012
    Update on Implementation of Trade Agreements with Korea, Colombia, and Panama

    January 6, 2012
    Update on Implementation of Trade Agreements with Korea, Colombia, and Panama

    December 19, 2011
    Update on Implementation of Trade Agreements with Korea, Colombia, and Panama

    December 5, 2011
    Update on Implementation of Free Trade Agreements with Korea, Colombia, and Panama

    October 21, 2011:
    Statement By U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk On Presidential Signature Of Trade Legislation

    October 12, 2011:
    Statement By U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk On Congressional Passage Of Trade Agreements, Trade Adjustment Assistance And Key Preference Programs

    October 3, 2011
    U.S Trade Representative Ron Kirk Calls for Swift Passage of Trade Agreements

    August 3, 2011
    Kirk Comment on Pending Trade Agreements, Trade Adjustment Assistance

    July 7, 2011
    USTR Kirk Comments Following Trade Markups In Senate Finance, House Ways and Means Committees

    July 5, 2011
    Statement from USTR Kirk Regarding Announcement of House Ways & Means Committee Markup

    June 30, 2011
    Ambassador Kirk Statement Regarding the Planned Informal Markup in The Senate Finance Committee

    June 29, 2011
    INFO: Links on Pending Trade Agreements, TAA, Preference Programs

    June 28, 2011
    U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk Welcomes Next Steps on Pending Trade Pacts, Trade Adjustment Assistance

    June 30, 2011
    Ambassador Kirk Statement Regarding the Planned Informal Markup in The Senate Finance Committee

    July 5, 2011
    Statement from USTR Kirk Regarding Announcement of House Ways & Means Committee Markup

    July 7, 2011
    USTR Kirk Comments Following Trade Markups In Senate Finance, House Ways and Means Committees


    "The Truth about Trade Adjustment Assistance"

    "A new era for U.S. trade policy"


    March 15, 2011
    Benefits for the United States from the U.S-Korea Trade Agreement

    October 13, 2011
    From Enactment To Entry Into Force: Next Steps On The Trade Agreements

    October 3, 2011
    The Pending Trade Agreements: More American Jobs, Faster Economic Recovery Through Exports


    October 13, 2011:
    Statements Regarding the Congressional Approval of the Korea, Colombia, and Panama Trade Agreements

    October 4, 2011
    Additional Statements Regarding the President’s Submission to Congress of the Korea, Colombia, and Panama Trade Agreements

    October 3, 2011
    Statements Regarding the President’s Submission to Congress of the South Korea, Colombia, and Panama Trade Agreements

    June 29, 2011
    Association Statements Regarding Movement on the Pending Trade Agreements, TAA


    You can find a handy index of links to key information on the U.S.-Korea, U.S.-Colombia, and U.S.-Panama trade pacts, as well as on Trade Adjustment Assistance and trade preference programs here:

    Links on pending trade agreements, TAA, preference programs


    See how a trade agreement moves through Congress under Trade Promotion Authority below.

    TPA Chart

  • 10/21/2011 11:51 AM

    This morning, after the President signed trade agreements with Korea, Colombia, and Panama, as well as the renewal of Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA, into law, Ambassador Kirk posted a guest blog post on  You can read the post below.

    President Obama Signs Historic Legislation Signaling Progress on Trade and Jobs
    Posted by Ambassador Ron Kirk on October 21, 2011 at 10:04 AM EDT

    This morning, President Obama signed legislation implementing three job-supporting trade agreements with Korea, Colombia, and Panama. These trade agreements will help put Americans back to work and grow America’s economy.

    At the same time, the President signed legislation renewing Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) that helps workers who have been hurt by increased global competition. He also signed legislation to renew trade preference programs that sustain the United States’ commitment to trade and economic development that lifts up some of the world’s poorest people.

    With all the stories and speculation flying around the news these days, I know it’s hard to separate fact from fiction sometimes. So let me share three quick points that I hope will help you understand why this is good news for all American workers and families.

    First, these agreements will increase U.S. exports and American jobs. The Korea agreement will support an estimated 70,000 U.S. jobs and increase U.S. GDP by at least $11 billion due to increased exports of goods alone. Chances are you’ll benefit from these agreements if you work for or with anyone who makes, grows, or provides goods and services to Korea, Colombia, or Panama. These agreements make it easier and more cost-effective to sell Made-in-the-USA products to consumers in each of these countries. In turn, increased exports of U.S. goods and services will support more and better jobs for farmers, ranchers, manufacturers, service providers, workers, and businesses all across the United States. And all three agreements have groundbreaking protections for labor rights, the environment, and intellectual property, so American workers and businesses will be able to compete on a level playing field.

    Second, the President worked to improve these agreements when he came into office. All three faced significant opposition from Congress. But instead of surrendering to the status quo, the President told me to get to work. With Korea, he sent me back to the negotiating table to secure additional market access for U.S. automobile manufacturers. With Colombia, he stood firm on the principle that U.S. trade agreements must reflect American values, including respect for and protection of workers’ rights. And with Panama, he made sure that we addressed key concerns related to tax transparency and labor conditions. In each case, the President held out for a better, more balanced deal.

    That brings me to the third and final point: President Obama also signed today legislation that strengthens and streamlines TAA, and renews key preference programs –- the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) and the Andean Trade Preference Act (ATPA). Both TAA and our preference programs are key elements of President Obama’s balanced approach to trade. TAA helps those workers whose jobs are displaced by trade by providing job re-training programs, lower health insurance premiums, and assistance that keeps families on their feet. And GSP and ATPA uphold our commitment to support trade and economic growth that lifts up some of the world’s poorest people while helping American businesses get inputs they need and American consumers.

    It’s important to note that Congress approved these trade measures with significant support in record time. In fact, the Korea agreement received more recorded votes than any free trade agreement in history. I think that’s a good indication that the President’s principled and pragmatic leadership has created a more balanced trade policy –- one that holds the promise of open markets and a level playing field with increased U.S. exports and better American jobs for many years to come. And since President Obama has prioritized enforcement of America’s trade agreements since day one, Americans can also be assured that we’ll hold our trading partners accountable for their obligations moving forward.

    President Obama’s historic action today is a big step forward on trade and jobs. We look forward to working with Congress and the American people to continue pursuing a balanced trade policy that keeps American producers competitive abroad and supports jobs for more hard-working Americans here at home.

  • 10/21/2011 8:34 AM

    Today, United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk explains in an op-ed in Politico how President Obama is introducing a new era of American trade policy. Click here to read online or, read below.

    A new era for U.S. trade policy
    By Ron Kirk

    President Barack Obama is set to sign into law four trade bills. A few pen strokes will start to open key markets in Asia and Latin America, supporting tens of thousands of U.S. jobs. They will aid U.S. workers harmed by global competition and strengthen our partnerships with the world’s poorest countries.

    The trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama, along with the renewal of Trade Adjustment Assistance reforms and key preference programs, took a long road to passage — some say too long. But in taking the time to get these initiatives right, the president cleared a path to stronger long-term trade policy.

    When the president signs these bills on Friday, the ceremony will signal more than the deals’ ratifications. It will validate this president’s approach to trade: more responsible and more responsive to Americans’ concerns. He is not only finding markets for made-in-America products but also credentialing trade as a driving force for U.S. jobs.

    This administration inherited three trade agreements that Congress could not pass. They had languished for years past their signings. Attempting to advance them as-is would have been a waste of time. So we set out to make them better.

    We began in 2009, with work that few noticed. At the president’s direction, my office sought input from the broadest possible range of stakeholders — what exporters and workers felt was right, and what they knew wasn’t good enough.

    Armed with crucial new information, we acted.

    Market access gaps had hindered the South Korea agreement. Months of tough negotiations — including the president’s decision not to cut a deal too soon in Seoul — yielded better results for U.S. automakers and workers. Our December 2010 agreement will help Ford, General Motors and Chrysler sell more cars in South Korea, supporting jobs at U.S. auto plants and all the way down the supply chain. That won unprecedented backing from car manufacturers and the United Auto Workers.

    Violence against Colombian labor leaders had stopped that agreement cold. In August 2010, Juan Manuel Santos and the former labor leader Angelino Garzon took the reins of Colombia’s government, committing to further worker protections and to address past wrongs. In February, our president sent a team to Bogota.

    Intensive discussions yielded a Colombian Action Plan on Labor Rights; Colombia has now passed an array of new measures to protect the rights of workers there.

    Meanwhile, Panama’s designation as a tax haven, along with labor concerns, had stalled that pact. Over three years, Panama took steps, at our urging, to resolve labor issues. Simultaneously, our Treasury Department negotiated a Tax Information Exchange Agreement that entered into force in April.

    The Obama administration made sure these agreements better advanced the interests of U.S. businesses, farmers, ranchers and workers. Congress affirmed that work with its historic bipartisan support.

    Our insistence on renewal of Trade Adjustment Assistance reforms was just as crucial. TAA has traditionally been in place as trade agreements pass — helping workers, firms, farmers and fishermen shift to new opportunities.

    Americans have rejected a trade agenda that refuses to acknowledge those hurt by global competition — sometimes by our own trade agreements. After Congress failed to renew TAA in February, we made it clear that we wanted this program restored.

    The legislation, approved with 307 votes in the House, maintained our 2009 TAA improvements — for example, covering Americans working in the services sector in addition to U.S. manufacturing workers.

    This president has gotten trade policy right — and the proof is in the bipartisan passage of these job-supporting bills.

    But we’re not done. These initiatives are the leading edge of a new trade agenda that will continue to open markets, reduce barriers, level the playing field and champion America’s working families.

    Beyond these agreements, we will continue to aggressively enforce America’s trade rights. We are intent on ensuring China, and every other global partner, play by the rules so that America gets a fair chance to compete.

    As the U.S. hosts the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders’ meeting in Hawaii next month, we’ll seek market-opening outcomes. In Honolulu, we also hope to announce the broad outlines of an agreement in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, designed to provide a strong framework for a landmark 21st-century accord.

    And we will keep pushing for meaningful agreements and maximum results with World Trade Organization members old and new.

    As always, this work will happen in close consultation with Congress and stakeholders. Together, we can all craft trade policies that increase U.S. jobs and show the value of trade for America’s economic future.

  • 10/20/2011 4:16 PM

    Today, Ambassador Ron Kirk traveled to New York City to host a White House Business Council roundtable co-hosted by Guggenheim Partners and Business Forward. Ambassador Kirk’s roundtable was attended by business leaders from the New York City area. Business Forward is an association of U.S. companies with the goal of bringing more business leaders into the policymaking process.

    Ambassador Kirk spoke to the roundtable about the recently-passed trade agreements with Korea, Panama and Colombia, as well as enforcement issues.  Additionally, Ambassador Kirk discussed the American Jobs Act and engaged the participants in various trade topics.

    The White House Business Council is one of the key forums for the Obama Administration to communicate and engage with business leaders around the country. The council is comprised of over 225 senior administration officials from the Cabinet level down to senior White House officials. Since April 2011, when President Obama re-launched the council, it has hosted more than 175 roundtable discussions, each with 15-25 local business leaders.

  • 10/20/2011 12:26 PM

    Last week, Congress passed legislation that will increase American exports with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama. These new trade agreements have the potential to provide a $13 billion boost to exports, while supporting tens of thousands of American jobs and giving a spark to the economy.

    This week, Ambassador Kirk visits the Northeast region of the United States; home to Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, and near the banks of the Hudson and East Rivers in New York City. So, takes a look at how these agreements will benefit the Empire State.

    Home to almost 20 million residents, New York is a central hub for domestic and international trade, and it was ranked the third largest state exporter of goods in 2010. New Yorkers have already benefited from trade, from manufacturing to information technology to agriculture. For example, in 2008 – which is the most recent year for which data is available - 293,000 jobs were supported by New York goods exports. Trade also fuels the sales of numerous small- and medium-sized businesses, which are responsible for 94 percent of New York exporting companies. Businesses of all sizes exported more than $69.7 billion worth of goods in 2010 alone, accounting for 5.8 percent of New York’s gross domestic product.

    Although trade is already a big part of New York’s economic infrastructure, the recently passed trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama will further stimulate growth in the New York exports and support workers and families throughout the state. For example, New York currently exports to two trade agreement partners, Australia and Chile, and exports have more than doubled since these agreements were enacted in 2005 and 2003, respectively. The agreements with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama promise more growth to the New York’s economy and job market.

    The U.S.-Korea agreement is estimated to increase American goods exports to South Korea by $10-11 billion and support at least 70,000 American jobs across the country. This will add to the $1.7 billion in goods bought by South Korean customers from New York businesses annually between 2008 and 2010. Additionally, the elimination of Colombia’s tariffs on U.S. goods is estimated to increase exports by more than $1 billion nationwide – including made-in-New York products. New York producers also exported an annual average of $93 million worth of goods—primarily chemicals and petroleum and coal products—to Panama between 2008 and 2010, and that number is expected to increase due to the new U.S.-Panama trade agreement.

    In addition, the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) legislation, which was passed by Congress along with the trade agreements, provides help to workers who need retraining and assistance when their jobs are affected by global competition. It helps workers in America’s services and manufacturing sectors with training for new jobs in various industries, lower health insurance premiums, and vital assistance that keeps families on their feet. Between October 1, 2009 and September 30, 2010, more than 6,900 New York workers benefited from TAA. The programs associated with this legislation will continue to help New York families in transition.

    The impact of trade for New York’s businesses and workers is essential, and these trade agreements will supply the state with greater export opportunities. This means more jobs for New Yorkers and more growth potential for the state’s gross domestic product.

  • 10/20/2011 9:12 AM

    On Wednesday, Ambassador Ron Kirk traveled to New Brunswick, New Jersey where he discussed the American Jobs Act and U.S. trade with Africa. At Rutgers University, Ambassador Kirk met with the President of the University, Richard McCormick, Congressman Donald Payne, and other senior university officials before delivering remarks at a luncheon attended by students and faculty of the university as well as guests from the community, including Representative Payne. In his remarks, Ambassador Kirk highlighted the need for Congress to pass parts of the American Jobs Act which will work to keep teachers in the classroom, police officers and firefighters on the streets, and construction workers on the job.

    Ambassador Kirk at Rutgers University
    Ambassador Kirk speaks to the Rutgers University community

    Ambassador Kirk also spoke about USTR’s Africa trade policy. He touched on issues ranging from the success of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) to the implementation of new conflict mineral disclosure rules from the July 2010 Dodd-Frank Consumer Protection and Wall Street Reform Act.

    After the luncheon, Ambassador Kirk met with students from the Rutgers’ Center for African Studies and the business school. During this meeting, he spoke about USTR’s Africa trade policy. Ambassador Kirk then took questions from the students on a variety of issues.

    Ambassador Kirk speaks to Rutgers University students
    Ambassador Kirk speaks to Rutgers University students

    Today, Ambassador Kirk travels to New York, New York to host a White House Business Council roundtable discussion.

  • 10/18/2011 5:29 PM

    Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Small Business Market Access and Industrial Competitiveness Christina Sevilla recently attended the Association of Small Business Development Centers (ASBDC) annual meeting in San Diego, CA. At the meeting, she spoke about international trade opportunities for small businesses.

    While in San Diego, Christina met with Brent Rondon, manager of the global business program at the Duquesne University Small Business Development Center (SBDC) in Pittsburgh, PA. Every year Brent counsels approximately 100 small business exporters from the Pittsburgh area and helps them find new market opportunities and customers overseas.

    According to Brent, “the Pittsburgh region has a wide array of manufacturing and technology companies. They are highly specialized and competitive, and exports constitute between 5 to 20 percent of their sales. When they compete overseas, many times tools such as a trade agreements help them win contracts. I hear that from my customers. Of the 3,500 manufacturers in this region, about 8 percent export. Trade agreements will increase the number of exporting companies.”

    For example, Hörmann Flexon, of Leetsdale, PA – a company of 50 employees – specializes in manufacturing high performance doors for residential and commercial markets. In addition, the business produces loading dock equipment. While the bulk of their business comes from domestic sales, the company is working to expand sales and dealer opportunities in Latin America. All of the control boxes supplied with these high performance doors now come programmed in five languages: Spanish, English, French, German, and Portuguese, reflecting Hörmann Flexon’s commitment to international business.

    With Brent’s assistance, Hörmann Flexon recently made a $200,000 sale to a new customer in Colombia. Carlos Turcios, International Sales Manager for Hörmann Flexon, stated that the company “could do much more in export sales when the trade agreement with Colombia is implemented. The competition is fierce out there. We need to export to help our economy. Our products are of great quality, so the end user will also win.”

    U.S. goods exports to Colombia in 2010 were $12 billion. When the agreement is implemented, more than 80 percent of U.S. exports of consumer and industrial products will become duty-free immediately, with remaining tariffs phased out over 10 years. The U.S.-Colombia trade agreement will support additional Pennsylvania jobs, increase exports, and enhance the competitiveness of Pennsylvania small businesses seeking new Colombian customers.

    Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) are partnerships between the Small Business Administration and colleges and universities around the country. They provide free one-on-one business consulting and at-cost training to small businesses and entrepreneurs. This training includes financing, market research, production, and international trade assistance. There are over 1,000 SBDC locations in all fifty states, which can be found at

  • 10/18/2011 3:25 PM

    United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk and Panama Minister of Commerce and Industry Ricardo Quijano met today in Washington, D.C. Minister Quijano took office on August 30, 2011 and is making his first visit to Washington in his new capacity.

    Ambassador Kirk and Panamanian Minister Quijano
    Ambassador Kirk and Panamanian Minister Quijano 

    Ambassador Kirk and Minister Quijano celebrated the approval of the U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement by the United States Congress last week. President Obama will sign the implementing legislation on Friday, October 21. Panama’s congress approved the agreement in 2007. Ambassador Kirk and Minister Quijano discussed the process of implementing the agreement and agreed to begin work immediately, with a goal of allowing the agreement to enter into force as quickly as is feasible.

    Panama is one of the fastest growing economies in Latin America, expanding 7.5 percent in 2010, with similar annual growth forecast through 2015. This comprehensive agreement will open markets for American firms and increase trade and exports. Increasing U.S. exports through this agreement will support additional jobs for American workers who produce Made-in-the-USA goods and services.

    More than 87 percent of U.S. exports of consumer and industrial products to Panama will become duty-free immediately, with remaining tariffs phased out over ten years. Over half of current agricultural trade will receive immediate duty-free treatment, with most of the remaining tariffs to be eliminated within 15 years. The agreement also guarantees access to Panama’s $20.6 billion services market, including in priority areas such as financial, telecommunications, computer, distribution, express delivery, energy, environmental, and professional services.

    Businesses across the country are looking forward to the implementation of the agreement. In Denver, Colorado, Russ Steele, Chief Executive Officer of SR International, explained this summer how this agreement, along with the trade agreement with Colombia, will help his company. According to Steele, “[SR International is] already working on increased marketing to Panama and Colombia because we feel that construction machinery will be in higher demand. The trade agreements, once implemented, will have an impact on our business because heavy construction, mining, and agricultural machinery exports will likely drastically increase. I anticipate the need to hire additional employees if we were to find the right opportunity as a result of the new trade agreements.”

    Panama’s strategic location as a major shipping route also enhances the importance of the Agreement. Approximately two-thirds of the Panama Canal’s annual transits are bound to or from U.S. ports.

    U.S. goods exports to Panama in 2010 were $6.1 billion, up more than 41 percent from 2009. The top export categories in 2010 were mineral fuel, machinery, electrical machinery and aircraft. U.S. exports of agricultural products to Panama in 2010 totaled $445 million with leading categories including coarse grains, soybean meal, and snack foods.

    Additional information about the U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement and our trade with Panama can be found here.

  • 10/17/2011 7:40 PM

    Today, United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk hosted Canadian Minister of International Trade Ed Fast for a bilateral meeting. During the meeting, they discussed the ongoing and close trading relationship between the United States and Canada. Ambassador Kirk and Minister Fast spoke about a range of bilateral and multilateral issues including the upcoming Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders meeting in Honolulu.

    Ambassador Kirk and Minister FastAmbassador Kirk with Canadian Minister of International Trade Ed Fast

  • 10/14/2011 12:34 PM

    The full text of the op-ed by UAW President Bob King is printed below. The piece, published today, can be read online here.

    UAW backs Korea trade agreement
    By Bob King

    President Barack Obama and U.S. Rep. Sander Levin, a Royal Oak Democrat, should be commended for their effective efforts to substantially revise the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement, which Congress overwhelmingly approved Wednesday night. The UAW fully supports this trade agreement because the automotive provisions, which are very different from those negotiated by President George W. Bush in 2007, will create significantly greater market access for American auto exports and include strong, auto-specific safeguards to protect our domestic markets from potentially harmful surges of Korean automotive imports.

    Unlike the 2007 negotiations with South Korea, the labor movement, and particularly the UAW, had an opportunity to be part of the 2010 discussions on strengthening the trade deal. Working with U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and other members of the Obama administration, then-Ways and Means Committee Chairman Levin and top management from the auto companies, the UAW believes the new agreement will help protect current American auto jobs, contains meaningful trade law enforcement and makes stronger labor and environmental commitments.

    Under the 2007 proposed agreement, almost 90% of Korea's auto exports to the U.S. would have received immediate duty-free access. Under the agreement passed this week, the 2.5% U.S. tariff on automobiles will stay in place until the fifth year after implementation of the agreement, and the 25% tariff on light trucks remains until the eighth year, when it starts to be phased out. Moreover, South Korea will immediately reduce its electric car tariffs from 8% to 4%, and will phase out the tariff by the fifth year of the agreement. The delay in tariff reductions will allow the domestic automakers time to strengthen their global competitive positions in both traditional and advanced energy efficient auto markets.

    The agreement also includes standards for the protection of worker rights, including obligations for South Korea to respect core International Labor Organization labor rights and to effectively enforce labor laws designed to ensure a level playing field for American workers to compete.

    Unlike China and many other Asian countries, South Korea has a robust trade-union movement that developed rapidly after the end of the military dictatorship. In fact, the UAW supported the organization of the Korean Metalworkers' Union, which now represents workers at Hyundai, Kia and the other Korean automakers. Combined with the labor provisions of the U.S.-Korea free trade agreement, our bilateral trading relationship will not be based on the exploitation of labor and the denial of trade union rights in either country.

    President Obama and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak will travel to Detroit today to highlight the deal's potential economic and employment benefits to the automotive sector and the overall American economy. The UAW strongly believes that the revised agreement, along with Obama's earlier financial assistance to the auto industry during the 2009 financial crisis, will not only support the nation's economic recovery, but will improve our economic relationship with South Korea and provide UAW members with the opportunity to make products for export to Asia.

    Bob King is president of the UAW.

  • 10/13/2011 6:24 PM

    This week, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) hosted the eleventh meeting of the Joint Commission on Trade and Investment here in Washington, D.C. The U.S. delegation was led by Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for the Western Hemisphere John Melle. Manuel Caceres, Vice Minister of Economic Relations and Integration, led the Paraguayan delegation.

    The meeting allowed the United States and Paraguay to continue collaborative efforts to expand economic opportunities for businesses and investors in both countries. During the meeting, the two governments committed to renegotiating the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and associated Action Plan regarding the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights (IPR) in Paraguay. The current MOU will expire at the end 2011. IPR protection is an important focus of U.S.-Paraguay trade relations.

    The Joint Commission on Trade and Investment was established in 2004 by the USTR and the Government of Paraguay to enhance bilateral trade and investment relations. The previous meeting was held in Asunción, Paraguay in October 2010.

    Last year, total two way goods trade between the United States and Paraguay was $1.9 billion. Goods exports totaled $1.8 billion and imports totaled $62 million that year. The U.S. goods trade surplus with Paraguay was $1.7 billion in 2010. The top U.S. export categories in 2010 were electrical machinery, toys and sports equipment (video games), perfumery and cosmetics, and mineral fuel (oil). U.S. exports of agricultural products to Paraguay totaled $27 million in 2010.

  • 10/13/2011 11:36 AM
  • 10/07/2011 4:55 PM

    Dallas, TX – Today United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk traveled to Fort Worth and Dallas where he discussed how the American Jobs Act will support thousands of Texas jobs. In Fort Worth, Ambassador Kirk delivered a keynote speech to the Texas Economic Development Council’s 50th annual conference, highlighting the impact the American Jobs Act will have on the Texas economy. In his remarks, Ambassador Kirk focused on the tangible benefits of the legislation, from putting teachers and first responders back to work to the extension of unemployment benefits for Texans.

    “From teachers to construction workers to families struggling to pay their mortgage, the American Jobs Act will invest in cities across this state and help put Texans back to work, while also helping to grow and expand Texas businesses,” said Ambassador Ron Kirk. “In addition, the pending trade agreements with Korea, Colombia and Panama will help increase Texas exports to consumers around the world. These are two very real examples of how President Obama is working tirelessly to ensure Texas businesses continue to have the markets and consumers available to them to sell their quality 'Made in America' goods and support more jobs here at home.”

    Ambassador Kirk then traveled to Dallas where he attended the State Fair of Texas. There, he kicked off a youth livestock auction with Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, met with local Ford representatives and visited the Go Texan Store with Texas State Representative Raphael Anchia. At these events, Ambassador Kirk discussed how American exports support jobs for Texans working in agriculture and manufacturing.

    Ambassador Kirk also used the visit to highlight Texas’ status as America’s leading state exporter. Last year, Texas exported $207 billion worth of goods to the world, accounting for 17.1 percent of Texas’ Gross Domestic Product (GDP) That same year, Texas’ top goods export categories were computer and electronic products, chemicals, and petroleum and coal products. In 2008, the last year for which data is available, an estimated 795,000 jobs were supported by Texas goods exports. Texas is the third largest agricultural exporting state, shipping $6.1 billion in agricultural exports abroad or 5.6 percent of the U.S. total in FY 2010, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Texas was the largest state exporter of cotton and linters, the third largest exporter of live animals and meat, the second largest exporter of feeds and fodders, the eighth largest exporter of feed grains, and the fourth largest exporter of wheat in 2010.

  • 10/05/2011 3:42 PM

    S. Joe Bhatia, CEO and President of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), has advice for American companies on a topic we don’t see very often in the news. Streamlining standards and conformance procedures is becoming increasingly essential in an increasingly complex global economy, and is extremely important to business competitiveness and global trade. Standards apply to the quality, safety, intellectual property, and environmental performance of both manufactured products and services. For example, standards in manufacturing are important for American businesses to increase productivity and reduce costs. Standards in energy efficiency can encourage businesses abroad to match the stricter but environmentally-friendly standards of production that many American companies already follow.

    USTR works through trade agreements and international economic cooperatives like the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperative (APEC) to encourage other countries to set and enforce shared standards and conformance procedures. This process helps to facilitate the conduct of international trade for more rapid trade flows. Below, Mr. Bhatia shares how standards can open export opportunities for American businesses and strengthen the national economy.

    As the United States looks to increase access to foreign markets, spur job creation at home, and forge a path for sustainable economic growth, there is a powerful business tool that can help American industries keep up with – and even accede – global competition.

    I’m talking about standardization – and there has never been a more crucial time for American businesses to take advantage of the benefits of standards and conformance. As the technical underpinning of many products and services, standards play a critical role in removing barriers to trade, enforcing free trade agreements, and expanding foreign markets for U.S. goods and services. This results in increased export opportunities for American companies abroad, which in turn helps create more jobs here at home. And standards and conformance also help companies strengthen efficiency and overall performance, potentially saving them millions of dollars.

    That is why the American National Standards Institute, together with partners across the standardization community, has launched Standards Boost Business (SBB) – an initiative to help American companies leverage standards and conformance to win a trade advantage in the global market. 

    According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, more than 80 percent of global commodity trade is impacted by standards and conformance – that amounts to more than $13 trillion each year. With numbers like these, it’s easy to see why companies that participate actively in standardization gain a competitive edge.

    There are various case studies that present the proof that those who effectively influence and address standardization and compliance issues have the greatest success in the global marketplace. For example, the U.S. Department of Defense is projecting $789 million in cost avoidance through standardization, and Dominion Resources, one of the nation’s largest energy producers and transporters, has saved millions of dollars, increased efficiencies, and improved safety measures.

    Standardization is a strategic tool that is important to the long-term competitiveness of any business. We encourage businesses to rely on standards and conformity assessment systems to design products and services. Demonstrating compliance to standards helps your products, services, and personnel to cross borders. Standards also make cross-border interoperability possible, ensuring that products manufactured in one country can be sold and used in another.

    ANSI also encourages businesses to participate in standards development activities, both domestic and internationally. By doing so, businesses have has the opportunity to directly influence the requirements and guidelines for products and services in the international arena and align them with market demand.

    Standards and conformance are essential to a sound national economy and global commerce. And by impacting our ability to expand new markets and international trade, standards help to keep our economy dynamic, open, and competitive.

    Together – through standards and conformance – we can foster innovation, drive business growth, and advance America’s competitiveness on the global stage.


  • 10/05/2011 10:44 AM
  • 10/04/2011 5:49 PM

    Today, Ambassador Kirk wrote a guest blog post on how the trade agreements will help create export-supported jobs on  Read the full blog post below.

    Trade Agreements Will Help Create Export-Supported Jobs in America
    Posted by Ambassador Ron Kirk on October 04, 2011 at 05:45 PM EDT

    Every day, President Obama is fighting to put more Americans back to work. That’s why he proposed the American Jobs Act – a package of bipartisan, common sense measures designed to help U.S. businesses grow and create jobs – which Congress should pass right away.

    Yesterday, the President took another step to help create and preserve U.S. jobs when he sent Congress three trade agreements,with Korea, Colombia, and Panama. President Obama is calling on Congress to pass the trade agreements and at the same time to renew Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) that helps workers whose jobs are affected by global competition. All four of these items are important elements of the President’s balanced trade agenda to open markets for U.S. exporters and keep faith with workers here at home.

    Together, these agreements are estimated to increase U.S. GDP by more than $12 billion and support tens of thousands of additional American jobs. In fact, it is estimated that every $1 billion of goods and services we export supports approximately 5,500 jobs at home. That means the Korea trade agreement will support at least an estimated 70,000 U.S. jobs through increased goods exports alone.

    Naturally, the big job-building potential of these agreements has led many Americans to ask how increased trade translates into more U.S. jobs. The short answer is that trade agreements open overseas markets to significantly enhance opportunities for American businesses and workers to sell more innovative, high-quality products Made in America to customers all around the world. And as American exporters expand their businesses by increasing international sales into these newly-opened markets, they are likely to hire more workers to produce goods and provide services here at home.

    These agreements will make it cheaper, faster, and easier for U.S. producers to sell more American goods and services in the growing markets of Korea, Colombia and Panama. They will put American businesses, workers, farmers, ranchers, manufacturers and service providers on a level playing field against foreign competitors.

    For example, today, there are plenty of Hyundais and Kias on American highways, because car customers here in the United States have the freedom to choose among many different brands and models at competitive prices. In contrast, there aren’t nearly as many Fords, Chevys, or Chryslers cruising the streets of Korea, in part because high tariff and non-tariff barriers currently put U.S. auto manufacturers at a disadvantage in the South Korean market.

    Seizing sales opportunities overseas can build jobs and businesses of all sizes throughout the American automotive supply chain here at home. That’s why, last year, President Obama sent a team back to the negotiating table to secure additional market access and a level playing field for U.S. auto manufacturers in Korea. Now there are more export opportunities – and more potential jobs – on the table in the U.S.-Korea trade agreement. Similarly, the Colombia and Panama trade agreements will enhance job-building export opportunities for U.S. producers.

    President Obama wants to turn these trade opportunities into real jobs and more money for American working families. Now’s it’s up to Congress to act by passing the trade agreements and renewing TAA. By coming together to find common ground on a balanced approach to trade, we can get our economy moving full speed ahead with more jobs for hard-working Americans.

    Ambassador Ron Kirk is the United States Trade Representative

  • 10/03/2011 7:42 PM

    This morning, Politico published an op-ed written by Ambassador Kirk on how trade is helping to support jobs across the country.  Read the op-ed below.

    Balanced trade would fuel U.S. jobs
    By RON KIRK | 10/2/11 9:58 PM EDT

    Over the past few weeks, President Barack Obama has challenged Congress to come together to approve trade agreements, renew strengthened Trade Adjustment Assistance and pass the American Jobs Act — legislation that would put more people back to work and put more money in the pockets of working Americans.

    Based on ideas that both Democrats and Republicans have supported in the past, the American Jobs Act would cut taxes to help America’s small businesses hire and grow. It would cut in half the payroll tax that comes out of every worker’s paycheck — saving families an average of $1,500 a year. It includes investments that would send thousands of construction workers back to work repairing crumbling roads, bridges and schools, put an estimated 280,000 laid-off teachers back in the classroom so they can help our children develop 21st-century skills and keep police and firefighters on the job protecting our communities. And it wouldn’t add a dime to the federal deficit.

    Similarly, the trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama, along with strengthened Trade Adjustment Assistance, would help create and preserve U.S. jobs. All of these measures are critical elements of the Obama administration’s balanced approach to trade that grows American exports abroad and supports American jobs here at home.

    Together, these agreements are estimated to increase U.S. gross domestic product by $12 billion and support tens of thousands of additional American jobs. In fact, as it’s estimated that every $1 billion we export supports more than 5,000 jobs at home, the South Korea trade agreement would support at least 70,000 U.S. jobs through increased exports. South Korean customers bought an annual average of $34 billion of U.S. goods from 2008 to 2010.

    The U.S.-South Korea trade agreement has the potential to grow that total — and support more U.S. jobs — as it would open South Korea’s $580 billion services market and eliminate exorbitant average tariffs of 54 percent on agricultural goods and 6.2 percent on nonagricultural goods.

    Under the U.S.-Colombia trade agreement, elimination of tariffs on U.S. goods exported to Colombia is estimated to increase total U.S. goods exports to Colombia by more than $1.1 billion. And the majority of U.S. agricultural, consumer and industrial products would gain immediate duty-free access to Panama under the U.S.-Panama trade agreement as well.

    Because 97.6 percent of American exporters are small- and medium-sized businesses, each agreement includes strong transparency obligations, provisions that would remove technical barriers, and customs and trade facilitation. The agreements also have strong enforcement mechanisms to hold our trading partners accountable on key issues like labor and the environment. Each contains state-of-the-art provisions to protect intellectual property rights, reduce regulatory red tape and promote science-based standards for agriculture, speeding U.S. exports into these markets.

    As we open new markets, the Obama administration is keeping faith with American workers facing increased global competition. The Trade Adjustment Assistance legislation moving through Congress reflects many improvements we made to TAA in 2009: It would help displaced workers in America’s services sector as well as in manufacturing with job retraining, lower health insurance premiums and assistance that keeps families on their feet.

    The administration’s commitment to TAA reflects our fundamental belief that a balanced approach is necessary to ensure long-term consensus on job-creating trade. That’s why, since Day One, Obama insisted that we address outstanding concerns related to each of these agreements.

    With South Korea, we successfully negotiated additional market access for American automobiles. With Colombia, we developed a robust Action Plan Related to Labor Rights that would hold the Colombian government accountable to uphold and protect the rights of workers. And with Panama, we reached agreement on greater tax transparency and on ways to strengthen labor protections in that country. Having secured these critical improvements to preserve balance and fairness, we are eager to move forward with all three trade agreements and strengthened TAA.

    But to be truly successful, trade agreements also require rigorous enforcement. That’s why we’ve stepped up efforts to ensure that our trading partners play by the rules. For the first time, Obama took action to safeguard U.S. workers against a surge of cheap Chinese imported tires. We won a level playing field for U.S. aerospace manufacturers with the largest commercial victory in the history of the World Trade Organization. And after reviewing a petition filed by both U.S. and Guatemalan workers, we brought the first labor case under a U.S. trade agreement.

    In addition to these unprecedented actions, we have developed innovative tools to shine a spotlight on barriers blocking American exports. Similarly, we are always working to protect American innovation around the world.

    Experts estimate the Asia-Pacific economies will grow faster than the world average through at least 2014. To stay competitive in these rapidly growing markets, the administration is advancing negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership — an ambitious, high-standard, regional trade agreement that addresses the challenges our workers and businesses face in the 21st century. As the United States hosts the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Hawaii this year, we are building toward a seamless regional economy by promoting effective, nondiscriminatory and market-driven innovation policy.

    At the WTO, we’re encouraging emerging economic powers like China, India and Brazil to take on responsibilities in the global trading system commensurate with their significant growth. The United States also is supporting Russia’s accession to the WTO by the end of the year. And we are constantly deepening ties with top trading partners such as Canada, Mexico, the European Union and Japan.

    This administration is advancing a balanced trade agenda. We know Americans can compete and win anywhere with a level playing field and a fighting chance.

    That’s why the president stands ready to work with Congress to approve the pending trade agreements and renew and strengthen TAA and pass the American Jobs Act. Approving these measures would increase the competitiveness of U.S. companies and the well-being of American workers. They would get our economy moving full speed ahead with more jobs for hard-working Americans. Surely, that’s something we can all support.

    Ron Kirk is the U.S. trade representative.

  • 10/03/2011 7:31 PM

    Elected officials and stakeholders from across the country are applauding the President’s submission of legislation for the pending U.S.-Korea, U.S.-Colombia, and U.S.-Panama trade agreements. After the President’s announcement today, Ambassador Kirk called for swift congressional action on the trade agreements along with renewal of Trade Adjustment Assistance reforms and expired trade preference programs. Below is a sampling of what they’re saying so far – more to come.

    American Meat Institute (AMI)

    American Soybean Association (ASA)

    Business Roundtable (BRT)

    Coalition of Service Industries (CSI)

    Emergency Committee for American Trade (ECAT)

    National Association of Manufacturers (NAM)

    National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) and U.S. Wheat Associates (USW)

    National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC)

    National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) and the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC)

    National Pork Producers Council (NPPC)

    Motion Picture Association of America, Inc (MPAA)

    Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA)

    Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton

    Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.)

    Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Orrin Hatch (R-Utah)

    Third Way

    U.S. Chamber of Commerce

    Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank

    United States Council for International Business (USCIB)

    Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) and Trade Subcommittee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX)

    Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member Sander Levin (D-MI) and Trade Subcommittee Ranking Member Jim McDermott (D-WA)

  • 10/03/2011 3:51 PM