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2012

Blogs produced by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative during the year 2012 can be found here.

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  • 12/28/2012 12:18 PM

    This week’s trade spotlight highlights many of USTR’s successful 2012 efforts to support more American jobs through international trade and to level the global playing field for American businesses and workers by enforcing our trade rights.

    In 2012, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) successfully advanced President Obama’s National Export Initiative (NEI) and other global trade objectives by securing and maintaining markets for U.S. goods and services. U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk continued to lead USTR’s comprehensive efforts to engage with trading partners, maximize market opportunities, and remove barriers to U.S. exports. In addition, USTR celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of President Kennedy’s 1962 signature of legislation creating a Special Representative for Trade Negotiations.

    “Fifty years after President Kennedy created the Special Representative for Trade Negotiations, USTR’s mission to promote open international markets remains vital to America’s continued prosperity. This year, President Obama created a new Interagency Trade Enforcement Center (ITEC), which helped us fight to secure a level playing field for American workers and businesses by challenging unfair trade practices from China to India to Argentina. We brought new trade agreements into force with Korea, Colombia, and Panama, and we made meaningful progress in negotiations for the next-generation Trans-Pacific Partnership regional trade agreement. We secured legislation to help ensure U.S. exporters reap the full benefits of Russia’s World Trade Organization (WTO) membership, and to support textile and apparel trade between U.S. producers and partners in Africa and Latin America. We reached the first-ever agreement among Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) economies to reduce tariffs on environmental goods, and we leveraged U.S. legal victories to secure a better deal for U.S. film exports to China. We are pursuing promising pathways to liberalize 21st century trade in services and information and communications technology, and we continue to play an active leadership role in multilateral negotiations to ensure that all WTO members are able to remove trade barriers and enhance the global flow of goods and services,” said Ambassador Kirk. “Connecting U.S. exporters with billions of customers beyond our borders supports millions of American jobs, and that’s why we will keep fighting to maximize market-opening, job-supporting trade opportunities moving forward.”

    Supporting More American Jobs Through U.S. Exports

    Increased U.S. exports continue to support American economic recovery and job growth. In coordination with Congress and agencies across the Administration, USTR actively pursued opportunities to enhance international trade and boost U.S. exports through dialogue and negotiations this year.

    Implementing New Trade Agreements with Korea, Colombia, and Panama. USTR worked with Korea, Colombia, and Panama to begin implementing the trade agreements approved by Congress in 2011. The U.S.-Korea trade agreement entered into force on March 15, followed by the U.S.-Colombia trade agreement on May 15 and the U.S.-Panama trade agreement on October 31. USTR is now using the consultative mechanisms set out in each agreement to ensure that all elements of the agreements continue to operate properly. Job-supporting U.S. exports to each market are anticipated to grow in the coming months and years.

    Terminating Application of the Jackson-Vanik Amendment and Extending PNTR In Order to Apply the WTO Agreement to Russia and Moldova. Following the December passage of legislation terminating application of the Jackson-Vanik amendment and authorizing President Obama to extend permanent normal trade relations status (PNTR) to Russia and Moldova, the United States and Russia simultaneously withdrew their notifications of “non-application” of the WTO Agreement and consented to have the WTO Agreement apply between them. This action will ensure that American firms, exporters, farmers, ranchers, workers, innovators and creators enjoy the same benefits of Russia’s WTO membership as their international competitors. It will also provide the trade tools necessary to hold Russia accountable for its commitments, including commitments to apply only science-based health and safety measures to agricultural trade and to protect intellectual property rights. In addition, in December, USTR announced that the United States and Russia signed an Action Plan to improve IPR protection and enforcement in all spheres, including over the Internet. Increasing U.S. exports to Russia’s large and growing market will support additional American jobs at home. The United States took similar steps to extend PNTR to Moldova, permitting the application of the WTO Agreement between the United States and Moldova, and opening up exporting opportunities for U.S. businesses and workers in that market.

    Extending the Third-Country Fabric (TCF) Provision of AGOA. The TCF provision passed by Congress in August is crucial to the continued survival of Africa’s textile and apparel industry. It has generated hundreds of thousands of jobs in sub-Saharan Africa, including in least developed countries, and has helped American retailers reduce their costs and diversify their supply chains. The TCF provision was set to expire in September, and this legislation extends it until September 30, 2015 when overall AGOA legislation is set to expire. The Administration looks forward to working with Congress next year to extend and renew AGOA, including the TCF provision, beyond 2015.

    Improving Textile and Apparel Trade under the Dominican Republic – Central America – United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR). August 2012 legislation implementing technical corrections and modifications to the product-specific rules of origin for textile products covered under the CAFTA-DR agreement between the United States, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua will help support an industry-estimated 2,000 jobs in the United States with U.S. production located in North Carolina, Florida, South Carolina, and Alabama, and additional jobs in Central America and the Dominican Republic. These modifications had the strong support of the U.S. domestic textile industry as well as U.S. importers and retailers who source from the region.

    Advancing the Trans-Pacific Partnership Negotiations and Welcoming New Partners. Through five formal negotiating rounds and numerous intersessional meetings this year, TPP partners together made meaningful progress in all areas of the agreement as outlined by TPP Leaders in late 2011. Significant headway was made on many of the 29 chapters under negotiation in the agreement, including customs, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, technical barriers to trade, cross-border services, government procurement, telecommunications, competition policy, and other issues. Work in other areas continued to move forward as well, including ambitious market access packages on goods, services, investment and government procurement, and strong commitments in other chapters of the agreement on such issues as labor, environment, intellectual property, and electronic commerce. TPP partners also made good progress on chapters related to new cross-cutting issues like regulatory coherence, integrating small- and medium-sized exporters more fully into regional trade, enhancing supply chain connectivity and competitiveness, cooperation and capacity building, and development.

    In December, Mexico and Canada joined the negotiations, which will result in the fulfillment of President Obama’s pledge to address concerns related to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). TPP partners including the United States also continued consultations regarding Japan’s expression of interest in the TPP negotiations and welcomed Thailand’s public expression of interest in TPP as well

    Securing a Historic Agreement to Reduce Tariffs on Environmental Goods among Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Member Economies. The United States worked closely with APEC partner economies to reach agreement on a list of environmental goods on which tariffs will be cut to five percent or less by 2015 – marking the first time that trade negotiations have produced a list of environmental goods for tariff cuts. The APEC List of Environmental Goods includes a wide range of core products in the sector, including renewable and clean energy technologies, wastewater treatment equipment, air pollution control technologies, and environmental monitoring and assessment equipment. Tariffs on some of these products in the region recently ranged as high as 35 percent. The United States exported $27 billion of these environmental goods to the APEC region in 2011, of which $1.2 billion faced tariffs above five percent. Thus, the tariff cuts on these products will contribute to President Obama’s National Export Initiative goal to double U.S. exports in five years while also advancing green growth throughout the region.

    Securing a Better Deal for U.S. Film Exports to China. In a February agreement that followed USTR enforcement victories at the WTO, Vice President Joe Biden announced that China agreed to increase market access significantly for U.S. movies being shown in China. The increased market access will enable more job-supporting U.S. film exports to China and provide fairer compensation to U.S. film producers for the movies being shown there. Specifically, the agreement allows significantly more exports of U.S. blockbuster films to China, ensures significantly higher revenue for American producers when their blockbuster films are distributed by Chinese state-owned enterprises, and strengthens the opportunities for independent American producers and small firms to have their films distributed in China on fair commercial terms.

    Making Progress with China on Key Trade Issues. USTR used the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade, the Strategic and Economic Dialogue and other bilateral engagement to make meaningful progress on key trade and investment issues, though there is more work to do.

    o Eliminating Barriers to Market Access for Goods: China agreed to address U.S. concerns regarding various measures impeding exports of U.S. goods, such as medical devices, IT and telecommunications equipment, and an array of manufactured products, and to delay implementation of procurement rules that threatened to restrict sales of cars produced by U.S. companies.

    o Government Procurement: China improved its offer to join the WTO Government Procurement Agreement and agreed to tackle two major obstacles to joining – state owned enterprises and covering a valuable set of public works projects.

    o State-owned Enterprises: China committed not to discriminate in favor of its SOEs in providing credit, taxation incentives, or in regulatory policies.

    o Localization of Intellectual Property and Technology: Given U.S. concerns about measures pressuring innovators to localize these assets in China, China committed to treat IPR owned or developed in other countries the same as Chinese IPR. China also made commitments not to interfere with businesses’ technology transfer decisions, and to promptly correct any measures inconsistent with its commitment.

    o Software Legalization: China committed to extend its efforts to ensure the use of legal software by Chinese enterprises, in addition to employing more regular audits of software on computers used by the Chinese government. China confirmed it requires state-owned enterprises and state-owned banks under the supervision of the central government to purchase and use legal software.

    Exploring Enhancements to Transatlantic Trade, Investment, and Jobs. In June, a U.S.-EU High-Level Working Group on Jobs and Growth issued an interim report that concluded that a comprehensive transatlantic trade and investment agreement, if achievable, is the option that has the greatest potential for supporting jobs and promoting growth and competitiveness across the Atlantic. The HLWG continues to analyze key components of a potential comprehensive transatlantic agreement in preparation for a final recommendation to Leaders. The United States and European Union (EU) share the world’s largest bilateral trade and investment relationship, which supports millions of jobs on both sides of the Atlantic.

    Building Strong Momentum in Geneva for a Potential International Services Agreement (ISA). This year, United States has helped to build support among a diverse group of 20 like-minded WTO Members for a potential new multiparty International Services Agreement. Offering an innovative way to lay the foundation for further global services liberalization, the ISA negotiations would seek high standards and cover all service sectors and modes of supply. The agreement also would provide a new platform where members could work to build a stronger international consensus on new and improved rules to address new issues. As the United States currently has trade agreements with only 10 of the 20 members exploring the ISA, it could offer a venue to work on deeper services integration with partners as diverse as Japan, Taiwan, Israel, Pakistan, and Turkey.

    Initiating Negotiations to Expand Product Coverage of the WTO Information Technology Agreement (ITA). In May, the United States and other ITA participants commenced negotiations to expand the scope of products covered by the ITA. While annual global trade covered by the ITA exceeds four trillion dollars, the ITA product coverage has not been updated since the agreement was concluded in 1996. Eliminating duties on the newer products that have been developed and the advances still to come would provide a significant boost for U.S. technology exports. At the APEC 2012 summit in Vladivostok in September, APEC Leaders welcomed the ongoing work on ITA expansion in Geneva, and instructed officials to “work in earnest in order to swiftly achieve a good outcome of the negotiations.” APEC Ministers also called on all APEC Economies to join the ITA.

    Advancing a Multilateral Trade Facilitation Agreement at the WTO and Providing Technical Assistance for Developing Countries. The United States joined WTO Members in advancing technical negotiations for a multilateral trade facilitation agreement to ensure that all WTO Members are able to remove trade barriers and enhance the global flow of goods and services, which will deliver significant development gains. In addition to playing an active role in negotiations, the United States provided $150,000 to support developing countries’ participation in negotiations, and $1 million to help developing countries participate effectively in all the activities of the WTO.

    Developing and Advancing the new Presidential Policy Directive for sub-Saharan Africa. USTR provided key input to a new White House strategic policy to guide U.S. engagement with Africa over the next five years. A key element is to spur economic growth, trade, and investment to mutually benefit both African and U.S. businesses. USTR is now working with interagency colleagues and trading partners at both the bilateral and regional level, to support President Obama’s strategy through numerous trade and investment initiatives.

    Launching the U.S.-ASEAN Expanded Economic Engagement (E3) Initiative. USTR’s work this year with ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) including Ambassador Kirk’s August trip to the ASEAN economic ministerial meeting and first-ever U.S.-ASEAN Business Summit, was critical to establishing a strong foundation for launch of the E3, a new framework for economic cooperation designed to expand trade and investment ties between the United States and ASEAN. E3 will create new business opportunities and jobs in all eleven countries by identifying specific cooperative activities to facilitate U.S.-ASEAN trade and investment, increase efficiency and competitiveness of trade flows and supply chains throughout ASEAN, and build greater awareness of the commercial opportunities that the growing U.S.-ASEAN economic relationship presents. Joint work on E3 initiatives may also help establish the groundwork for ASEAN countries to prepare to join high-standard trade agreements, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

    Promoting Improvements to Intellectual Property (IP) Laws in Key U.S. Export Markets. Milestones in 2012 included significant new measures to protect IP by major trading partners, such as new copyright laws in Canada and Malaysia, measures to better protect trademarks and pharmaceutical IP in Mexico, and implementation of new measures against Internet-based piracy in Spain. Colombia and Panama enacted high-standard protections into their respective national laws, as required under recently implemented trade agreements with the United States.

    Updating the Model Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT). USTR and interagency partners concluded a thorough review of the United States’ model bilateral investment treaty (BIT), the text of which provides for increased public participation; sharpens the disciplines that address preferential treatment for state-owned enterprises; and strengthens protections relating to labor and the environment. With this new policy tool, U.S. negotiators have re-engaged efforts to secure high-standard BITs with trading partners such as China and India, as well as Mauritius, Pakistan, and the Czech Republic. USTR has also resumed exploratory BIT discussions with a number of countries including Russia, Cambodia, Ghana, Gabon, and the East African Community (EAC).

    Agreeing to Joint Investment Principles with the EU. USTR played a key role through the Transatlantic Economic Council (TEC) to secure agreement between the United States and European Union on common principles to promote open, transparent, and non-discriminatory investment policies. These principles will serve as a strong foundation for future cooperation, both bilaterally and in joint efforts to promote open investment regimes in other markets.

    Enforcing U.S. Trade Rights to Support American Jobs, Exports, and Innovation

    Using new and existing tools to the fullest extent, USTR this year intensified already-robust efforts to enforce U.S. rights under our trade agreements, ensuring that more Americans realize the benefits promised by those pacts. Strong trade enforcement helps to increase export opportunities and keep U.S. producers globally competitive in a variety of sectors and industries. President Obama’s comprehensive trade enforcement strategy also promotes and protects innovation critical to U.S. exports and well-paying, 21st century jobs, and upholds key commitments to protect labor rights and the environment.

    Standing Up the Interagency Trade Enforcement Center (ITEC). In his 2012 State of the Union Address, President Obama called for the creation of an interagency trade enforcement unit charged with investigating unfair trading practices. In February, President Obama established the Interagency Trade Enforcement Center (ITEC), bringing together resources and expertise from across the federal government into one organization reporting to the USTR and led by USTR and the Department of Commerce with a clear, “all hands on deck” commitment to strong trade enforcement. In a close, collaborative effort, USTR and the Department of Commerce have assembled critical ITEC infrastructure and staff from a variety of agencies including the Departments of Commerce, Agriculture, and State, and with a diverse set of language skills and expertise including intellectual property rights, subsidy analysis, economics, agriculture, and animal health science. ITEC has gotten off to a strong start in fulfilling President Obama’s goals and has played a critical role in providing research and analysis regarding three important WTO matters launched since ITEC’s creation: (1) China Rare Earths Export Restraints, (2) Argentina Import Licensing, and (3) China Export Bases. As Congress continues to provide valuable input, the ITEC is significantly enhancing the Administration’s capability to investigate potentially unfair trade practices and enforce U.S. trade rights proactively.

    Prevailing Against China’s Unfair Restrictions on Access to Raw Materials. In January 2012, the WTO adopted panel and Appellate Body reports agreeing with the United States that Chinese export restraints on a number of industrial raw materials (i.e., bauxite, coke, fluorspar, magnesium, manganese, silicon carbide, silicon metal, yellow phosphorus and zinc) violated China’s WTO obligations. These export restraints skew the playing field against U.S. producers and exporters of processed steel, aluminum and chemical products, and a wide range of further processed products. The export restraints artificially increase world prices for these raw material inputs while artificially lowering input prices for Chinese producers, creating significant advantages for China’s producers when competing against U.S. producers both in China’s market and other countries’ markets. The United States will scrutinize carefully China’s actions taken to comply with this important victory. China’s period of time for compliance ends on December 31, 2012.

    Prevailing Against Chinese Duties on U.S. Steel Exports. In an important decision, the WTO in November 2012 adopted panel and Appellate Body reports vindicating U.S. claims that China failed to abide by its substantive and procedural obligations in imposing anti-dumping and countervailing duties on hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of grain-oriented electrical steel (GOES) made in Ohio and Pennsylvania. These duties raised prices and reduced U.S. GOES exports to China’s large and growing market. China will now have a period of time in which to comply.

    Prevailing Against Chinese Measures Affecting Electronic Payment Services (EPS). The United States successfully challenged before a WTO panel China’s restrictions on foreign suppliers of EPS for card-based transactions. Millions of payment card transactions occur every day in China, and each year well over one $1 trillion worth of electronic payment card transactions are processed in China. China’s discriminatory measures severely distort competition and prevent participation by foreign suppliers of EPS for domestic currency payment card transactions. The WTO panel report was adopted in August 2012, and its findings under the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) make clear that China’s pervasive and discriminatory measures deny a level playing field to foreign service providers, including the American EPS providers who are world leaders in this sector. By industry estimates, the U.S. stands to gain 6,000 jobs related to EPS. China now has until July 2013 to bring its measures into compliance.

    Exercising U.S. Trade Rights to Defend and Secure a Level Playing Field for American Aerospace Manufacturers. The Administration continues to fight for U.S. aerospace engineers, electricians, and related suppliers, whose jobs depend on U.S. aircraft manufacturers having on a more level playing field for global competition. In April, the United States initiated compliance panel proceedings due to the EU’s failure to comply with the WTO’s 2011 findings that $18 billion in subsidies conferred on Airbus by the EU and member countries were WTO-inconsistent. In March, the WTO Appellate Body found that the value of subsidies provided by the United States to American aerospace manufacturers was in the range of $3-4 billion, and those subsidies had far fewer distortive effects on the aircraft market than subsidies provided by the EU. After the United States announced compliance by the end of its period of time for implementation, in October 2012, the EU initiated compliance panel proceedings, and USTR is vigorously defending U.S. interests. The United States remains prepared to engage in any meaningful efforts, through formal consultations and otherwise, that will lead to the goal of ending WTO-inconsistent subsidies at the earliest possible date.

    Challenging Argentina’s Widespread Use of Import Restrictions. In December, the United States filed a request for the WTO to establish a dispute settlement panel to examine Argentina’s import restrictions on all U.S. goods imported into Argentina. These measures include the broad use of non-transparent and discretionary import licensing requirements that have the effect of unfairly restricting U.S. exports. Argentina further disadvantages U.S. exports by requiring importers to agree to undertake burdensome trade balancing commitments, such as agreeing to export a certain value of Argentine goods, in exchange for authorization to import U.S. goods. The ITEC provided significant investigative and analytical resources to support USTR’s monitoring and enforcement unit in the initiation and development of this dispute in May. Consultations with Argentina were held in September, but they failed to resolve the matter. The European Union and Japan have also requested the establishment of panels to examine Argentina’s import restrictions.

    Challenging China’s Subsidies to Auto and Auto Parts Exporters. In September 2012, the United States initiated a WTO dispute concerning China’s auto and auto parts “export base” subsidy program. Through this program, China provides extensive subsidies to auto and auto parts enterprises located in designated regions known as “export bases” and that meet export performance requirements. These subsidies, which appear to be prohibited under WTO rules, provide an unfair advantage to auto and auto parts manufacturers located in China, which compete with producers located in the United States and other countries. ITEC investigators contributed to the development of this dispute. USTR estimates that China made at least $1 billion in subsidies available to auto and auto-parts exporters in China during the years 2009 – 2011.

    Challenging China’s Export Restraints on Rare Earth Elements, Tungsten, and Molybdenum. In March 2012, the United States initiated a WTO challenge to China’s unfair export restraints on rare earth elements, tungsten, and molybdenum, key inputs in many U.S. manufacturing sectors and American made products including hybrid car batteries, wind turbines, energy-efficient lighting, steel, advanced electronics, automobiles, petroleum, and chemicals. These restraints appear to be part of a troubling industrial policy aimed at providing substantial competitive advantage for Chinese manufacturers at the expense of foreign manufacturers. As a leading global producer of these materials, its export restraints provide unfair advantages to China’s downstream producers and create pressure on foreign producers to move their operations, jobs, and technologies to China. The WTO established a panel at the request of the United States in July 2012, and panel proceedings are underway.

    Challenging Chinese Duties on U.S. Exports of Chicken Broiler Products and Automobiles. In January and October, respectively, the United States obtained establishment of WTO panels to consider U.S. challenges to China’s antidumping and countervailing duties on chicken broiler products and automobiles. These cases are separate from, but similar to, the successful U.S. challenge against China’s imposition of antidumping and countervailing duties on grain-oriented electrical steel (GOES). In each of these cases, USTR is fighting to ensure that China does not block U.S. exports by misusing its trade laws and violating its international trade commitments.

    Challenging India’s Import Ban on Agricultural Products. In March 2012, the United States initiated a WTO challenge to India’s prohibition on the importation of certain U.S. agricultural products, including poultry meat and chicken eggs. Although India’s measure purports to be concerned with preventing avian influenza, the measure does not have a scientific basis and is not in line with international standards. The measure thus appears to be inconsistent with India’s obligations under the WTO Agreement. In June 2012, the WTO established a panel at the request of the United States.

    Cracking Down on Theft of Intellectual Property. In April, USTR issued its annual comprehensive “Special 301” report on intellectual property protection and enforcement by U.S. trading partners. The report removed Malaysia and Spain from the Special 301 Watch List based on significant improvements to their copyright laws. Israel was removed from the Special 301 Priority Watch List based on its progress implementing a 2010 agreement on pharmaceutical intellectual property rights, while Ukraine was added to the Special 301 Priority Watch List based on its failure to implement a previously agreed action plan on intellectual property rights.

    In December, USTR issued a Special 301 Out-of-Cycle Review of Notorious Markets to continue shining a spotlight on marketplaces that facilitate and sustain global piracy and counterfeiting. Eight markets USTR identified one year ago were able to be removed from the 2012 list, thanks to significant law enforcement actions or significant voluntary actions aimed at addressing IP theft. USTR added several new sites in China and other parts of the world to encourage continued progress, and warned sites removed from list that they could be listed again in the future if corrective actions prove inadequate or short-lived.

    Holding Peru to Its Environmental Commitments. With input from concerned stakeholders, USTR led a rigorous review of Peru’s efforts to implement its commitments under the U.S.-Peru trade agreement with respect to the harvest and export of bigleaf mahogany and Spanish cedar timber products. As a result of this review, the United States developed an action plan that addresses the underlying challenges identified in the forestry sector in Peru, and which will support Peru in its ongoing forestry reform efforts. USTR will continue to monitor the situation in Peru, and continue to work cooperatively with the Peruvian Government on the action plan, with U.S. capacity-building support as appropriate.

    Holding Countries to Their Commitments under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP). USTR led interagency reviews of country practices regarding several GSP beneficiary countries. Following these reviews, President Obama suspended the GSP trade benefits of Argentina based on that country’s failure to enforce arbitral awards in favor of two U.S. companies. USTR closed the GSP review of Sri Lanka without any change to Sri Lanka’s trade benefits in view of Sri Lanka’s progress in addressing worker rights issues. USTR also launched new GSP reviews regarding worker rights in Fiji and Iraq and protection of intellectual property rights in Indonesia and Ukraine.

    Engaging with Global Partners to Enhance Trade and Economic Growth

    USTR’s active engagement with international trading partners yielded significant and timely results for American farmers, ranchers, businesses, and workers. Through dialogue and negotiation, USTR worked with partners to address concerns, reduce trade barriers, and foster mutual economic growth through trade.

    Engaging with Korea, Colombia, and Panama to Ensure American Farmers and Ranchers Reap the Benefits of New Trade Agreements. As new trade agreements with Korea, Colombia, and Panama took effect this year, USTR established relevant consultative mechanisms with our trading partners and worked quickly to ensure U.S. agricultural producers could seize the significant benefits of these agreements. For example, USTR, in coordination with USDA, the U.S. Embassy/Seoul, and U.S. cherry exporters, engaged the Korean government concerning the efficient administration of Korea’s sampling regime for imported U.S. cherries, a critically important process given the highly perishable nature of the product in question. A combination of these efforts and the immediate elimination of Korea’s 24 percent tariff as called for in the agreement contributed to an increase of U.S. exports through September 2012 to nearly $74 million, as compared to $39 million in the preceding year. USTR and USDA coordinated similar efforts with Colombia and Panama to ensure U.S. agricultural producers can realize the job-supporting benefits of those trade agreements as well.

    Signing a Historic Equivalence Agreement on Organic Products with the EU. In February, the United States and the European Union (EU) reached a historic agreement stipulating that organic products certified in the United States or in the EU may be sold as organic in either region. The EU is the second largest export market for U.S. organic products, and the combined value of the U.S. and EU organics sector is more than $50 billion. This agreement between the two largest organic producers in the world took effect in June, establishing a strong foundation for promoting organic agriculture that supports jobs and businesses on both sides of the Atlantic.

    Enhancing Market Access for U.S. Beef Exports to Mexico, Taiwan, and the United Arab Emirates. USTR and USDA negotiators made important progress with key trading partners to enhance market access for U.S. beef exports. Mexico now allows all U.S. beef products from cattle less than 30 months of age to enter the Mexican market. USDA estimates this increased market access will yield an additional $50 million of U.S. beef exports to Mexico annually. USTR and USDA also reached agreement with authorities in Taiwan to adopt and implement a maximum residue limit (MRL) for beef raised with the feed additive, ractopamine, and country-specific labeling for beef. Following implementation of these measures in August, monthly shipments of U.S. beef to the Taiwan market more than doubled from $2 million to $5 million per month. USTR and USDA also reached an agreement with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to provide for full market access for U.S. beef. Shipments of U.S. beef to the UAE increased 28 percent from January – September compared to the same period in 2011.

    Streamlining U.S. Telecommunications Exports to Israel. In October, USTR signed a mutual recognition agreement (MRA) with Israel that will ease burdens on U.S. companies, especially smaller manufacturers, seeking to export telecommunications products to Israel. This agreement will permit recognized U.S. laboratories to test telecommunications products for conformity with Israeli technical requirements, and vice versa, while maintaining high levels of safety protection. This saves American manufacturers the time and expense of additional product testing in Israel and lowers prices for consumers.

    Securing Agreement with Brazil to Recognize Bourbon, Whiskey, and Cachaça as Unique Distilled Spirits. The United States and Brazil reached an agreement that will enhance export opportunities for makers of U.S. Bourbon Whiskey and Tennessee Whiskey and Brazilian Cachaça. Specifically, the United States agreed to initiate a process to designate Cachaça as a distinctive product of Brazil, and Brazil agreed to designate Bourbon Whiskey and Tennessee Whiskey as distinctive products of the United States. These spirits are among the United States’ and Brazil’s most unique and well-recognized exports. In 2011, Brazil was the United States’ eighth largest goods trading partner with $74 billion in total two-way goods trade. This agreement reflects both governments’ commitment to building stronger bilateral trade ties.

    Extending the United States-Canada Softwood Lumber Agreement (SLA). In January, the United States and Canada signed a two-year extension of the 2006 U.S.-Canada Softwood Lumber Agreement (SLA), so that the Agreement will be in effect through October 12, 2015. The SLA helps to provide a more predictable and fair environment for conducting international trade in softwood lumber. The United States will consult with Canada before the extended expiration date on whether a further extension is in the interest of both countries.

    Working with Colombia to Strengthen and Protect Labor Rights. The U.S. Government engaged intensively with Colombia throughout the year, continuing efforts to ensure full implementation of the Colombian Action Plan Related to Labor Rights. This included cabinet level meetings in Washington as well as Colombia and multiple trips by a team of USTR and Labor Department officials to Colombia. Among the areas of progress during 2012 were: the hiring of nearly one hundred additional labor inspectors; imposition of fines of up to $1 million on 10 companies for using abusive contracting that violated labor rights; improved Colombian government response to cases of threats of violence against labor leaders and activists; and enhanced cooperation between the Prosecutor General’s Office and representatives of the labor movement.

    Establishing an Administration-wide Task Force to Address Localization Barriers to Trade. USTR established an Administration-wide task force to find new and better ways to address localization barriers to trade. Localization barriers to trade present significant market access obstacles to U.S. exports, such as: requiring goods to be produced locally; providing preferences for the purchase of domestically-manufactured or produced goods and services; and requiring firms to transfer technology in order to trade in a foreign market. Such measures distort trade and create an uneven playing field for all exporters. In the last few years, the use of localization barriers to trade has increased, especially in some of the world's largest and fastest growing markets. The Administration-wide task force will coordinate an all-hands-on-deck approach to tackle this growing challenge in bilateral, regional, and multilateral forums, and through trade agreements, enforcement, and policy advocacy.

    Launching a Regional Trade and Investment Partnership with the East African Community (EAC). USTR led the Administration’s development of a new Trade and Investment Partnership with the East African Community, securing agreement in June on a four-pronged approach to pursue an investment treaty, a trade facilitation agreement, continued trade capacity building assistance, and a commercial dialogue. This new partnership will build on the foundations of existing trade and investment mechanisms, including the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), and the U.S.-EAC Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA). Activities outlined in this agreement will help to promote EAC regional integration, economic growth, and expand and diversify U.S.-EAC trade and investment. They could also serve as building blocks towards a more comprehensive trade agreement over the long term.

    Implementing the Middle East/North Africa Trade and Investment Partnership. As part of the Administration’s strategy to foster continued progress and development across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), USTR undertook a number of initiatives to promote economic growth and stability through increased regional trade and investment integration. For example, with Morocco, the United States signed agreements on trade facilitation, foreign investment principles, and information and communication technology services trade principles. USTR is seeking to make progress on similar initiatives with Jordan, Egypt, and Tunisia.

    Creating a Framework to Strengthen Trade and Investment with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). In September, the United States and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) signed a Framework Agreement for Trade, Economic, Investment and Technical Cooperation. The Agreement established a Joint Committee to discuss areas where both the GCC and the United States share mutual interests, including considering opportunities for enhancing economic, commercial, investment and technical cooperation, fostering their economic relations and increasing the volume of trade and investment between them. The GCC, a key strategic U.S. partner in the Middle East and North Africa region, is comprised of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The GCC countries, together, ranked tenth as an export market for the United States in 2011, with U.S. goods exports to the region totaling nearly $38 billion.

    Designating South Sudan Eligible for Trade Benefits under GSP and AGOA. This year, President Obama added South Sudan to the lists of countries eligible for trade benefits under GSP and AGOA, respectively. Both the GSP and AGOA trade preference programs offer opportunities for the recently independent nation to use trade to boost economic development while continuing needed economic reforms.

    Strengthening Trade with South Africa through an Enhanced Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA). In June, the United States and South Africa signed a new TIFA, amending the previous agreement signed in 1999, to deepen the bilateral trade and investment relationship. The amended TIFA will provide for regular dialogue on a full spectrum of topics, including barriers to U.S. exports that have been identified. It will also promote new U.S. investment that is critical to South Africa’s economic development and help to increase and diversify two-way trade between the United States and South Africa, which was valued at $22 billion in 2011.

    Supporting WTO Accession for the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR). The United States provided extensive technical assistance through USAID to support Lao PDR’s WTO accession negotiations, which Lao PDR successfully concluded with WTO Members in October. Pending Lao PDR’s completion of domestic procedures and formal WTO accession, the United States looks forward to enhancing the bilateral trade and investment relationship, as reflected in the agreement in principle on bilateral market access that was signed by both countries last December.

    Supporting WTO Accession, Strong Trade Ties with Partners in Central Asia. USTR worked closely with trading partners in Central Asia, including Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, to push for reforms and better coordination and collaboration of trade and investment policies in Central Asia. In addition to strengthening the U.S.-Central Asia Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA), USTR established a dialogue with each of our Central Asia partners on WTO accession and coordinated U.S. government efforts to provide technical assistance in support of those accession efforts. In particular, the United States welcomed the WTO General Council’s approval in December of the terms for Tajikistan’s membership in the WTO.

    Developing Inclusive Trade Policy through Dynamic Communications and Enhanced Public Engagement

    USTR’s extensive outreach to diverse stakeholders informed and improved many job-supporting trade initiatives this year. Creative new approaches enhanced USTR’s public engagement and helped to address important issues appropriately with both trading partners and concerned citizens.

    Visiting Communities Across the Country to Discuss Trade, Share Ideas, and Listen to Concerns. Ambassador Kirk traveled throughout the United States in 2012 to engage with and hear from the American people directly about various USTR initiatives including the TPP negotiations, trade enforcement activities, and the National Export Initiative. Ambassador Kirk visited a New Balance shoe factory in Norridgewock, Maine to talk to workers about the TPP, and traveled to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to tour economic development sites and meet with the United Steelworkers. Over the past 4 years, Ambassador Kirk has made increased domestic outreach a central element of the Obama Administration’s inclusive approach to developing balanced trade policy. Educating stakeholders and gathering input from a wide range of perspectives, the Ambassador traveled to 45 cities in 26 states to broaden the national conversation about trade, exports, and jobs.

    Holding Hundreds of Meetings with Congress and Stakeholders on TPP. This year, USTR held hundreds of meetings with Members of Congress and staff to provide information and obtain input on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). USTR also held more than 350 meetings with a wide range of stakeholders regarding TPP. Such extensive outreach helped USTR continually refine its negotiating positions and develop new proposals on such issues as related to treatment of State-owned enterprises, the sanitary and phytosanitary standards and other regulatory issues, the digital economy, intellectual property, environment, labor, small- and medium-sized enterprises, and development.

    Expanding Stakeholder Participation at TPP Negotiating Rounds. The United States hosted three rounds of TPP negotiations in Dallas, Texas in May; San Diego, California in July; and Leesburg, Virginia in September. At each negotiating round, USTR continued to expand opportunities for stakeholders to share their views with trade negotiators in person. New “Direct Stakeholder Engagement Forums” at the U.S.-hosted 12th, 13th, and 14th rounds of TPP negotiations enabled representatives of industry, non-governmental organizations, academia, and the general public to meet directly with negotiators to discuss specific TPP issues. Based on stakeholder feedback, USTR also made arrangements to enable stakeholders to make formal presentations to negotiators as well as to receive briefings from chief negotiators at each round.

    Holding Public Hearings on New Entrants to the TPP Negotiations. USTR held two separate public hearings in September regarding the entry of Mexico and Canada, respectively, into the TPP negotiations. This supplemented input received through Federal Register Notices and followed an extensive period of domestic consultations with Congress and diverse stakeholders. Ongoing public input continues to inform and refine U.S. negotiating positions with current TPP participants, as well as bilateral discussions with potential future TPP entrants.

    Proposing New Copyright Limitations and Exceptions in the TPP. Informed by input from a wide range of stakeholders, the United States complemented its strong intellectual property rights proposals in the Trans-Pacific Partnership with a new proposal that would, for the first time in any U.S. trade agreement, obligate Parties to seek to achieve an appropriate balance in their copyright systems in providing copyright exceptions and limitations for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. These principles are critical components of the U.S. copyright system, and appear in both our law and jurisprudence.

    Coordinating Direct Contact with State Governments and the Private Sector in the United States and India. To deepen the bilateral trade relationship between the United States and India and address important stakeholder concerns, USTR increased contact between state and federal governments and the private sector in both countries. In India, USTR established and strengthened relationships with senior state government officials in Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh provinces. In the United States, USTR and the Commerce Department assisted the state governments of Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia with gubernatorial trade missions to India.

    Building the Small Business Network of the Americas. At the Summit of the Americas in Colombia in April, President Obama announced the creation of the Small Business Network of the Americas (SBNA). USTR provides critical support for this interagency initiative to link U.S. Small Business Development Centers across the United States with a growing network of counterpart small business centers in Central America and the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Panama, Colombia and others. Through online trade platforms and business competitions, the network is increasing the ability of small businesses in the United States to export and strengthen international business-to-business connections throughout the region.

    Helping Small Businesses in the United States and European Union Take Advantage of Transatlantic Trade. Through the Transatlantic Economic Council, USTR, the U.S. Department of Commerce and U.S. Small Business Administration partnered with colleagues from the European Commission to convene two U.S.-EU Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprise (SME) Workshops in Rome, Italy in July and Washington, DC in December. These workshops brought together U.S. and EU government officials and small business owners to address trade barriers affecting small business, exchange best practices, and facilitate increased small business participation in transatlantic trade. U.S. small companies from around the country including the Industry Trade Advisory Committee for Small and Minority Business (ITAC 11) and members of the District Export Councils participated in the discussions with the EU. As a result of the workshops, the U.S. and EU concluded a memorandum of understanding on SME trade promotion cooperation in December.

    Bolstering Trade Communications through Enhanced Social Media and Web Features. USTR’s blog and twitter page has become the hub for daily updates and readouts from TPP negotiators, keeping stakeholders informed on the latest developments. An increased focus on developing the USTR Flickr page has helped to illuminate the content on the USTR homepage and in weekly newsletters. To celebrate USTR’s 50th anniversary, USTR Public Affairs staff built www.ustr.gov/50, a one-stop-shop for 50th anniversary videos, photos, events, and information on USTR history. USTR continues to explore new social media platforms such as Tumblr, and welcomes public feedback and ideas for improving the trade communications user experience.

    Together with Congress, partner agencies, and a wide range of stakeholders, USTR developed and deployed U.S. trade policy to support additional exports and jobs for American businesses, workers, and families.

    “From day one, President Obama has pursued a thoughtful and comprehensive approach to trade that advances U.S. interests and reflects our values. We’ve used every means available – and created new tools as necessary – to secure a level playing field for American exporters to compete and win in world markets. In the process, we’ve proven that trade can be a balanced part of our economic portfolio, helping to increase exports and support jobs, and we look forward to doing even more in the future,” said Ambassador Kirk.

  • 12/18/2012 11:38 AM

    By Jeff Zients

    Note: This is a cross post from the Office of Management and Budget blog. For the original post, please go here.

    Since its creation in 2009, President Obama’s SAVE Award [Securing Americans Value and Efficiency] has served as a vehicle for Federal employees to offer firsthand their ideas on how to improve performance and ensure taxpayer dollars are spent wisely.

    Over the last four years, Federal workers have submitted tens of thousands of ideas to curb unnecessary spending, both in their own agencies and across the government – covering everything from implementing new measures to conserve energy use to cutting back on paper copies of publications already available online like the Federal Register. These ideas alone won’t solve the Nation’s long-term fiscal challenges, but they are saving hundreds of millions of dollars and represent common-sense steps to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of government and provide a better value to the American people.

    Last year’s winning idea came from Matthew Ritsko of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, who suggested the creation of a “lending library” that would store used space flight project tools so that employees would not have to reorder tools already available within the agency. Matt’s idea, along with 26 other SAVE proposals, were included in the President’s FY 2013 Budget.

    Today, we are announcing the four finalists for the 2012 SAVE Award. Keeping with tradition, the winner will present his or her idea to the President in the Oval Office, and other proposals will be directed to agencies for potential action or inclusion in the President’s Budget.

    With today’s announcement, public voting also begins to select this year’s winner. Voting can be done through the White House website at: www.whitehouse.gov//save-award.

    Here are the 2012 finalists:

    Frederick Winter, Shift to Senior Transit Fares. Frederick Winter of the Department of Education proposes that all Federal employees who receive public transit benefits shift from regular transit fare to the reduced senior fare as soon as they are eligible. In the D.C. area, this change would lower the cost of the employee’s travel by 50 percent, with no loss in the effective benefits for the employee.

    Angela Leroux, Reduce Employee Shuttle Buses. Many Federal agencies maintain buses to shuttle employees from one government office to another for work purposes. Too often these vehicles sit idle or travel their routes with just a few passengers. Angela Leroux at the Internal Revenue Service recommends that agencies eliminate or consolidate the bus service and encourage the use of conference and video calls, or provide metro cards to those with a need to travel.

    James Szender, Use Digital Transcription. A written transcript of Federal meetings or hearings is often required. James Szender of the Department of Interior proposes, whenever possible, using digital equipment for transcripts instead of hiring a court reporter, since using digital transcription is significantly less expensive than contracting with a certified court reporter to attend, record, and transcribe the proceedings.

    Laurie Dempsey, Post Customs Inspection Information Online. Customs and Border Protection is required to post a bulletin weekly that lists all imported items that have completed the customs inspection process. Currently, Customs ports across the country print this bulletin, which can be hundreds of pages long, and post it in the customs house. Laurie Dempsey from the Department of Homeland Security suggests instead posting the bulletin electronically on CBP.gov. This change would save paper, reduce costs, and make it easier for the public to find out what items have been inspected without having to visit the facility in person.

    I encourage Federal employees and the public to vote now for your favorite SAVE Award idea. You can help us cut waste and make your government more efficient and effective. We’ll be announcing this year’s winner soon. Stay tuned.

    Jeff Zients is the Deputy Director for Management.

  • 12/12/2012 7:29 PM

    The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) will help grow the American economy and support American jobs by increasing exports and opening up markets. That’s the message U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk shared with small business owners, academics, CEOs, and members of the press attending a breakfast briefing hosted by the Third Way policy center earlier this week.

    Ambassador Kirk emphasized that the potential job and export benefits of a regional trade agreement are driving U.S. negotiators forward with a sense of urgency. The Asia-Pacific region now accounts for more than 40% of all global trade. Increasing U.S. exports to these growing markets would support jobs and businesses here at home.

    Drew Greenblatt, owner of Marlin Steel (a Baltimore-based small business that produces steel wire), explained that new markets and more business opportunities mean the world to his company. According to Greenblatt, Marlin Steel doubled its workforce by expanding its exports to 36 countries around the world. A completed TPP would open up even more markets, and would enable Greenblatt to hire more American workers here at home.

    Chuck Wetherington of BTE Technologies said he would benefit from the TPP’s market opening provisions. BTE’s experts work with software and mechanical engineers to design and sell physical therapy and rehabilitation equipment. Ten years ago, exports only accounted for a small portion of the company’s sales. Since then, BTE has also doubled the size of its workforce by increasing its exports to almost 40 countries. Wetherington said that better access to the growing Asia-Pacific market would go a long way toward boosting international sales even more.

    Just as Greenblatt and Wetherington plan for future growth in the Asia-Pacific, TPP will help more small business owners tap into export markets and add jobs in their communities.

  • 12/12/2012 6:00 PM

    This week, Ambassador Kirk visited Atlanta, Georgia for a discussion with civic and local business leaders, hosted by Mayor Kasim Reed and the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce.  In addition to promoting the benefits of international trade for the Peach State, Ambassador Kirk’s visit was part of a broader White House effort to engage business owners and civic leaders across the country on President Obama’s plan to extend middle class tax cuts and reduce the deficit.  Over 60 members of the Metro Atlanta community attended the candid conversation with Ambassador Kirk, which touched on city, state, and national economic issues.

    ARK Atlanta
    Ambassador Kirk addresses members of the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce.

    Mayor Reed and guests commented on the need to find a bipartisan solution to the fiscal cliff before the December 31 deadline.  Other participants raised questions on the need to increase the role of small businesses in exports, the importance of an educated workforce, and creating jobs by attracting foreign investments.

    Georgia is the 12th largest state exporter of goods (2011 data), and last year the Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta metropolitan area exported over $17.2 billion in goods. A total of 10,215 companies exported from Georgia locations in 2010, 88 percent of which were small and medium-sized businesses with fewer than 500 employees.

  • 12/10/2012 5:29 PM

    Ambassador Marantis returned to Delhi to continue a series of critical meetings today with senior Indian Government officials who play a key role in the bilateral economic relationship. Most notably, he met with his Indian counterpart, Commerce Secretary Rao, for a private meeting to discuss trade and investment issues of mutual interest, and to confer on shared steps that could be taken to reinvigorate the bilateral dialogue.

    ADM India
    Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis discusses trade and investment priorities with Indian
    Commerce Secretary S. R. Rao and senior officials from the Indian Commerce Ministry.

    Ambassador Marantis and Secretary Rao committed to finding ways to make progress on outstanding bilateral trade and investment issues. The two officials also agreed to enhance engagement at the staff level as well as between senior officials at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and the Commerce Ministry, with a view to improving understanding of each other's perspectives, facilitating early resolution of bilateral trade and investment concerns, and engaging more constructively on multilateral matters. Following their meeting, Secretary Rao invited Ambassador Marantis and the U.S. delegation to exchange views on a range of bilateral and multilateral trade policy issues with senior Commerce Ministry officials, before hosting a session that included senior officials from other Indian government agencies involved in the bilateral economic dialogue.

    ADM India
    Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis and Indian Commerce Secretary S. R. Rao exchange views
    on strengthening the U.S.-India bilateral trade and investment relationship.

    Ambassador Marantis subsequently met with Secretary Mathai of the Ministry of External Affairs to discuss opportunities for strengthening the trade and investment dialogue in the context of the broader U.S.-India relationship, including ways to share information on issues of common interest that have arisen during India's review of its Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) policy. Finally, following his speech in Chennai highlighting the importance of innovation for the U.S.-India economic relationship, Ambassador Marantis met with U.S. firms engaged in innovation-related sectors in India. Ambassador Marantis departs Delhi today to return to Washington, D.C., where he will prepare for next week's meeting of the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT).

  • 12/10/2012 2:02 PM

    Administration officials, Members of Congress, and stakeholders are voicing their support for congressional approval of H.R. 6156, which authorizes the termination of Jackson-Vanik and the extension of permanent normal trade relations to Russia and Moldova. President Obama commended passage of the legislation, as did U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk. Below is a sampling of what others are saying so far – check back for periodic updates.

    “This legislation, when enacted, will ensure that America's businesses and workers receive the full benefits of Russia's recent accession to the WTO. As American companies have greater access to the Russian market, U.S. exports are expected to increase, and more U.S. exports mean more American jobs. Moreover, this necessary step will further level the playing field for American workers and businesses, which is why the president has made passage of this bill a top legislative trade priority.”

    -Dr. Rebecca Blank, Acting Secretary of Commerce

    Full Statement Here

    “The passage of this bill will allow American businesses to reap the same economic opportunities in Russia’s markets that other World Trade Organization members receive, resulting in greater access for American workers, companies, farmers, ranchers, and service providers and the creation of more American jobs.”

    -United States Department of State

    Full Statement Here

    “The economic benefits from passing this bill are one-sided for the U.S. We give up nothing in return, and it puts U.S. businesses and workers on a level playing field with our foreign competitors already reaping the benefits of Russia joining the WTO. This bill will boost U.S. exports, support jobs in the U.S. and help American businesses, workers, ranchers and farmers take advantage of Russia’s growing economy.”

    -Sen. Max Baucus, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance

    Full Statement Here

    “This legislation marks a pivotal step forward in our relations with Russia and Moldova. Strengthening our bilateral trade relations with these nations will provide access to new markets for American businesses, farmers and ranchers, expand our economy here at home, and create much-needed jobs. At the same time, this measure includes strong enforcement tools to ensure Russia lives up to its international trade obligations, and provisions to help advance human rights and the rule of law in Russia. Today’s Senate passage of the bill reflects the work of true bipartisanship. We must now build off the success of this trade initiative and continue to work together to enhance America’s competitiveness and increase access to new markets around the world.”

    -Sen. Orrin Hatch, Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Finance

    Full Statement Here

    “American businesses and entrepreneurs will no longer face a competitive disadvantage in the Russian market,” said Thune. “The Senate’s adoption of Russia PNTR today opens up new possibilities for American manufacturers, farmers, ranchers, and service providers…Russia is the fifth largest importer of agricultural products and imported nearly $32 billion in agricultural commodities last year, making it a tremendous opportunity for commodity exporters. I look forward to President Obama signing this bill into law, and ensuring we do not delay job creation and export opportunities both in South Dakota and across the country.”

    -Sen. John Thune, Ranking Member of the International Trade, Customs, and Global Competitiveness Subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Finance

    Full Statement Here

    “I’m very glad we finally got this done because it modernizes our trade relationship with a post-Cold War Russia, and it means new American jobs and exports as we enter this market…In Massachusetts, my home state, we exported $120 million in goods to Russia last year, and now that number will climb. It means hundreds of jobs in Massachusetts.”

    -Sen. John Kerry, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations

    Full Statement Here

    “I am very pleased the Senate passed the House bill to grant PNTR with Russia, ensuring that the U.S. can reap the benefits of Russia’s membership in the WTO. This important legislation will lead to increased exports, new American jobs, and gives us a powerful new enforcement tool…I hope we can continue our long-standing tradition of promoting bipartisan, pro-growth trade policies into the next Congress.”

    -Rep. Dave Camp, Chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means

    “This bill ensures that American workers, farmers and ranchers will not be left behind in this increasingly competitive global economy. With PNTR, we can now take advantage of Russia’s rapidly growing market and create U.S. jobs.”

    -Rep. Kevin Brady, Chairman of the Trade Subcommittee of the House Committee on Ways and Means

    Full Statement Here

    “Today, the Senate ensured that U.S. companies will have better access to the Russian market when it passed H.R. 6156 by a strong, bipartisan vote of 92-4. By granting Permanent Normal Trade Relations with Russia, Congress has provided the President the tools needed to ensure Russia follows World Trade Organization rules and the market access commitments it has made. This will help create a level playing field for American businesses and workers seeking to export to the growing Russian market.”

    -Rep. Steny H. Hoyer, House Democratic Whip

    Full Statement Here

    “The Senate passage of the House bill will increase the opportunities for export of American made products and services, and enable us to enforce World Trade Organization rules that Russia has agreed to follow.”

    -Rep. Sander Levin, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Ways and Means

    “Getting Russia PNTR done is an important step for the U.S. economy. Thismove will create jobs here in the U.S., and since Russia had joined the WTO and already had low tariff rates with us anyways, this move just makes it easier for us to make sure they are playing by the rules.”

    -Rep. Jim McDermott, Ranking Member of the Trade Subcommittee of the House Committee on Ways and Means

    Full Statement Here

    "We welcome today’s historic Senate action which provides the U.S. business community with the certainty and predictability it needs to compete in Russia’s growing market. Passage of Russia PNTR offers an important boost to U.S. businesses across sectors. Our companies will now be able to fully access opportunities presented by Russia’s accession the WTO."

    - Klaus Kleinfeld, Chairman and CEO of Alcoa and Chairman of the U.S.-Russia Business Council

    Full Statement Here

    “Today’s vote in the U.S. Senate marks an important victory for U.S. manufacturers, service providers, farmers and ranchers. Our businesses will finally have the same rights and opportunities in the Russian market as their foreign counterparts. We look forward to President Obama’s signing of this historic legislation to ensure the competitiveness of U.S. exports to Russia.”

    - Randi Levinas, Executive Director of the Coalition for U.S.-Russia Trade

    Full Statement Here

    “Russia’s market provides significant potential for increased U.S. exports and investment, supporting jobs in the United States. H.R. 6156 helps ensure that U.S. companies and their workers will benefit in full from Russia’s WTO commitments and that the United States can utilize WTO dispute settlement to enforce those commitments.”

    -Calman Cohen, President of the Emergency Committee for American Trade (ECAT)

    Full Statement Here

    "Today's action by the Senate sends long-sought legislation to the president's desk that offers enormous opportunity for U.S. exports, economic growth and jobs."

    -Jim McNerney, Boeing Chairman, President, and CEO

    Full Statement Here

    “With roughly 142 million consumers and its position as the world’s sixth-largest economy in terms of purchasing power, Russia is a significant market for U.S. exporters like our company. Today’s approval of Russia PNTR is a victory for American companies and workers.”

    -Doug Oberhelman, Chairman and CEO, Caterpillar Inc., and Chair of Business Roundtable’s International Engagement Committee

    “We applaud the actions of the Congress in passing this important legislation and urge the President to quickly sign it into law to enable U.S. companies and workers to compete on a level playing field with foreign competitors in the growing Russian market.”

    -Samuel R. Allen, Chairman and CEO of Deere & Company

    Full Statement Here

    “The Chamber applauds the Senate for today’s overwhelming vote to help American companies sell their products in the world’s ninth largest market. This is a rare bill that will create American jobs without costing the taxpayer a dime…More and more Americans see trade as an engine of growth and jobs, and our elected officials increasingly recognize the need to tear down the barriers that shut U.S. products out of foreign markets.”

    -Thomas J. Donahue, U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO

    Full Statement Here

    “Passing this legislation through both chambers reinforces the commitment of Congress to American manufacturers by ensuring equal access to Russian markets…We are hopeful that the President will act quickly to sign this bill into law so that we can feel the benefits and assurances of the agreement as soon as possible.”

    -Andrew N. Liveris, Chairman and CEO of The Dow Chemical Company

    Full Statement Here

    “The Senate’s passage today of legislation granting Permanent Normal Trade Relations with Russia will ensure the U.S. benefits from Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organization and remains competitive in that market…Russia’s membership in the WTO will provide significant commercial opportunities for U.S. agriculture, including increased sales of poultry, pork and beef.”

    -Bob Stallman, President of the American Farm Bureau Federation

    Full Statement Here

    “This is an important issue for the U.S. poultry industry, and we appreciate the senators who voted in favor of this bill. We commend their bipartisan voting for the betterment of trade, and we encourage the president to act quickly, as the House and Senate have, and sign this bill into law.”

    -National Chicken Council (NCC), National Turkey Federation (NTF), and USA Poultry and Egg Export Council (USAPEEC)

    Full Statement Here

    “This is a watershed moment for US trade and economic relations with Russia. “With passage of this legislation, America can now use the full array of tools available through the World Trade Organization to ensure Russia strengthens intellectual property protections and further opens its market to software and other technology products and services. This will bolster innovation and promote economic growth in both countries.”

    -Robert Holleyman, President and CEO of Business Software Alliance

    Full Statement Here

    “The Senate’s approval of legislation to establish Permanent Normal Trade Relations with Russia is an important step in the process to ensure that U.S. exporters are not left behind now that Russia has joined the WTO…We urge the President to sign this legislation and establish permanent normal trade relations with Russia without delay.”

    -Eric Schinfeld, President of the Washington Council on International Trade (WCIT)

    Full Statement Here

  • 12/07/2012 3:26 PM

    Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis spent the third day of his trip to India in the southern city of Chennai – the country's fourth largest city. Chennai is home to a large number of successful information and communications technology (ICT) companies that play a key role in trade and investment between the United States and India. In fact, the U.S. Consulate in Chennai issues more temporary professional work visas than any other U.S. post abroad, largely due to ICT professionals. As such, Chennai provided a unique setting for Ambassador Marantis to address ways to use innovation and the ICT sector to facilitate U.S.-India trade with Indian government officials, U.S. and Indian business leaders, and civil society stakeholders.

    Ambassador Marantis met with the Honorable P. Thangamani, Industries Minister of the State of Tamil Nadu; the two officials identified fruitful areas of economic cooperation for both governments to pursue. Ambassador Marantis also met with U.S. and Tamil Nadu business leaders to solicit input on what actions the U.S. and India could take to remove obstacles to increased trade and investment.

    ADM Students
    Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis joined students from various Chennai universities
    in a discussion on innovation and U.S.-India trade and investment.

    Ambassador Marantis delivered keynote remarks to Chennai-based students on innovation, and the central role that it plays in U.S.-India bilateral trade. He touched on the types of open, market-based, pro-competitive policies that help nurture and encourage innovation. On Monday, Ambassador Marantis will meet with his new Indian counterpart, Commerce Secretary Rao, as well as Foreign Secretary Mathai, to discuss steps to be taken to strengthen the U.S.-India trade and investment relationship.

    Ambassador Marantis's remarks to the students can be found here.

  • 12/06/2012 5:30 PM

    Today, Ambassador Kirk joined private sector advisors, Members of Congress, Acting Secretary of Commerce Dr. Rebecca Blank, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Administrator of the Small Business Administration Karen Mills, and Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis at the White House for a meeting of the President’s Export Council (PEC), the principal national advisory committee on international trade. The PEC advises the President on government policies and programs that affect U.S. trade performance, promotes export expansion, and provides a forum for resolving various trade-related problems in the business, industrial, agricultural, labor, and government sectors.

    Ambassador Kirk briefed the council on the ongoing work at the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) to support the PEC’s Global Competitiveness Subcommittee. He provided updates to the committee members on a variety of issue areas, including developments on trade and intellectual property rights (IPR), the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations, Russia’s World Trade Organization (WTO) Accession, Middle East Commercial Engagement, and the Transatlantic Partnership.

    Ambassador Kirk also touched on USTR’s continuing efforts to pave the way for permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) with Russia and Moldova. On August 22nd, Russia became the 156th Member of the WTO, and on November 16th the U.S. House of Representatives voted, on an overwhelming and bipartisan basis, to authorize the President to terminate the application of Jackson-Vanik and extend PNTR to Russia and Moldova. Shortly after the PEC meeting concluded, the U.S. Senate followed suit, and voted 92-4 to send the bill to President Obama for his signature. The council members thanked Ambassador Kirk for his efforts to secure Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) with Russia and Moldova, and for his work to bring the Korea, Colombia, and Panama trade agreements into force quickly.

  • 12/05/2012 12:14 PM

    By Acting Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank and U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk
    Opinion Editorial, POLITICO 

    On August 22, Russia became a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO). This was a historic moment given that 140 million consumers will be able to buy and sell goods and services more freely as a result of Russia’s membership in the global, rules-based trading system.

    For the past 18 years, both Republican and Democratic administrations have worked tirelessly to support Russia’s efforts to join the WTO. We have known for years that—when this happens—we would see a boost to U.S. exports, leading to more good jobs here at home. 

    Indeed, U.S. exports to Russia grew by 40 percent last year alone. Russia’s desire for American-made products and services is one of the reasons we have seen U.S. export-supported jobs increase by 1.2 million from 2009 to 2011.

    In joining the WTO, Russia has pledged to cut tariffs for manufactured goods coming into Russia and to open its service sector to foreign competition. This means that growth in U.S. exports to Russia could accelerate.

    But to realize these benefits, we first have to establish permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) with Russia.

    Right now, an outdated, Cold-War-era law—the 1974 Jackson-Vanik Amendment—stands in the way. It was passed to pressure the Soviet Union into lifting emigration restrictions by imposing conditions on whether the U.S. would apply normal tariffs to imports from that country.

    Russia has long since lifted those emigration restrictions. Therefore, each year since 1994, the United States has found that Russia has indeed met the conditions for normal tariff treatment.

    Under WTO rules, however, the 157 WTO Members are not allowed to apply special conditions or requirements to each other. Therefore, the U.S. has to stop applying the conditions of the Jackson-Vanik Amendment to Russia in order for our nation to benefit from the lower tariffs available to all other WTO members.

    Only when the WTO Agreement applies between the United States and Russia will American businesses be able to compete—on a level playing field according to WTO rules—with businesses from other countries that are already taking advantage of Russia’s membership to expand sales and market share there.

    We are almost there. The U.S. House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to stop applying Jackson-Vanik and to extend PNTR to Russia on November 16 and the Senate is poised to act. This legislation will allow U.S. manufacturers, farmers, and other exporters of both goods and services to finally be able to gain from commitments that were negotiated by the United States.

    And the opportunities are too big to ignore. With Russia’s fast-growing economy currently ranked just 31st in receiving U.S. exports, there is clear potential for growth. Once we establish PNTR, American companies will be able to sell Russians more aircraft, machinery, medical devices, and other high-quality exports.

    Furthermore, PNTR with Russia will help ensure that American exporters can benefit from stronger intellectual property rights protections and more transparency on how trade rules are applied in Russia. Importantly, the United States will also have more tools to enforce our rights under the WTO if and when trade disputes occur.

    More broadly, PNTR will support the overall political and economic changes that Russians themselves are striving to achieve.

    Do we lose anything if we stop applying the Jackson-Vanik Amendment to Russia? The answer is no.

    The administration will continue to express concerns and pursue changes to address Russia’s human rights violations, restrictions on political freedom, and certain foreign policies. But the fact is, applying the Jackson-Vanik Amendment to Russia does not give us any leverage on these important issues.

    But without PNTR American businesses and workers will be unfairly disadvantaged when competing with European, Asian, and other foreign companies that are quickly moving to expand their sales to Russia.

    That is simply unacceptable. The 10 million Americans whose jobs are supported by exports deserve better.

    We look forward to Senate consideration of PNTR this week and for Congress to send this legislation to the President’s desk.

    We need to put U.S.-Russian trade relations on a strong, predictable footing with Russia operating under the WTO. We cannot wait for U.S. businesses to start losing market share—it will be too late.

    The facts are clear: Extending PNTR to Russia is the right thing to do to support American jobs and U.S. competitiveness. Let’s work together—right now—to make it happen.

    http://www.politico.com/story/2012/12/a-new-opening-for-us-exports-to-russia-84603.html?hp=l18

  • 12/04/2012 7:39 PM

    This week, Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Miriam Sapiro and her European Union counterpart Daniel Calleja Crespo opened the Transatlantic Economic Council’s 4th U.S.-EU Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) Workshop at the White House Conference Center. The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), the Department of Commerce (DOC), and the Small Business Administration (SBA), in coordination with the European Commission’s Trade and Enterprise Directorates, launched these workshops to bring U.S. and EU government officials and small business owners together. Workshop participants exchange best practices, identify common challenges for small business seeking to export, and address barriers to trade that disproportionately affect small businesses.

    READ THE MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING

    At this week’s workshop session, Ambassador Sapiro lauded the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration and the European Enterprise Network, a worldwide network of 600 business and innovation support organizations. The new MOU, which grew out of the U.S.-EU SME workshop meetings that began in 2011, will guide U.S.-EU cooperation on small business trade promotion activities, which will include joint trade shows, cooperation on small business events, small business networking opportunities and promotion of business partnering opportunities.

     AMS SME
    Ambassador Sapiro addresses the U.S.-EU Small and Medium-sized Enterprise Workshop with EU SME Envoy Daniel Calleja Crespo.

    “We launched these U.S.-EU SME workshops with the aim of helping small businesses on both sides take better advantage of transatlantic trade opportunities and tackling barriers that may disproportionately affect small business,” Ambassador Sapiro said. “Ninety-six percent of all U.S. exporting companies to the EU were SMEs. Enabling more small and medium-sized business to engage in transatlantic trade – especially in the innovative goods and services that drive our trade and investment relationship – will sustain and create jobs on both sides of the Atlantic.”

    AMS SME
    Ambassador Sapiro and Secretary of Commerce for Market Access and Compliance Michael Camunez shake hands
    after the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding, with the EU’s Director for DG Trade Signe Ratso and
    Small Business Administration’s Associate Administrator for International Trade Dario Gomez.

    The new MOU will be implemented in 2013, and will enable more small businesses to take advantage of transatlantic and third-country market business opportunities and contacts.

    Small business stakeholders from the Industry Trade Advisory Committee for Small and Minority Business (ITAC 11), District Export Councils, and other U.S. and EU private sector stakeholders attended the workshop alongside officials from the U.S. and the EU. In addition to the new MOU, workshop participants discussed best practices in entrepreneurial programs for women and youth, intellectual property rights protection for small business, the impact of standards on small business access to markets, small business financing tools, and geographic clusters with a specific industry focus including small business suppliers.

    SME Event Crowd
    Over 90 attendees listen as Ambassador Sapiro addresses this week's U.S. EU SME Workshop.

  • 11/30/2012 7:30 PM

    By Tiffany Enoch

    This week Ambassador Kirk and U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack co-hosted the meeting of the Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee (APAC) and the Agricultural Technical Advisory Committees for Trade (ATAC).

    Kirk Vilsack
    U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack looks on as U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk addresses the Agricultural Trade Advisory Committees

    In his remarks to committee-members, Ambassador Kirk touched on many current agricultural trade issues, including the importance of making Russia a part of the rules-based trading system by granting permanent normal trade relations (PNTR). Ambassador Kirk discussed the implementation of our trade agreements with Colombia and Panama and the immediate benefits to the American agriculture community; specifically, Ambassador Kirk noted a five percent increase in the value of U.S. agricultural exports to Colombia in the first few months following entry into force of the U.S.-Colombia trade agreement. Ambassador Kirk also updated committee members on the work of the Interagency Trade Enforcement Center (ITEC), which has significantly increased U.S. capacity to investigate and pursue potential trade agreement enforcement cases by leveraging existing resources more efficiently across the government. He closed by briefing the committee on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations and on the progress of the U.S.-EU High Level Working Group (HLWG), which both have implications for agricultural trade.

    Secretary Vilsack addressed the challenges of rural America and noted the barriers for agriculture trade throughout the world. He called for Congressional leaders to help revitalize rural America.

    Ag Committees
    Ambassador Kirk and Secretary Vilsack co-chair the Agricultural Advisory Committees

    Agricultural exports are a very important component of the U.S. economy and our international trade. Since 1960, our agricultural exports have outpaced our imports, generating a surplus. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Economic Research Service (ERS), we are on track to export $143.5 billion in agricultural products in this year. These exports will support over 1 million jobs for farmers, ranchers and exporters in the U.S.

  • 11/30/2012 6:33 PM

    By Mawish Raza

    Although you may not always hear about them, agricultural exports are a very important component of the U.S. economy and our international trade. Since 1960, our agricultural exports have outpaced our imports, generating a surplus. In fact, we’re likely to export $143.5 billion in agricultural products in this year alone, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Economic Research Service (ERS). These exports will support over 1 million jobs for farmers, ranchers and exporters in the U.S.

    Congress recognized the importance of agricultural exports to the U.S. economy, and included a provision for private-sector agricultural advisory committees in the Trade Act of 1974. The Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee, or "APAC" focuses on the various policy issues affecting agricultural trade on both the U.S. and global level. The Agricultural Technical Advisory Committees, or "ATACs" provide advice on commodity-specific aspects of agricultural trade issues, and focus on areas like fruits and vegetables, or animals and animal products. You can find a complete list of the ATAC committees here.

    The APAC and ATAC committees are made up of farmers, ranchers and representatives from various food and agriculture organizations and businesses across the U.S. Each committee provides information on negotiating objectives and various technical issues throughout the process of the negotiation and implementation of trade agreements.

    Thanks to consultations with these committees, USTR and USDA receive critical advice from those on the front lines of the industry, ensuring that U.S.-grown agricultural exports continue to thrive.

  • 11/30/2012 5:24 PM

    Standards Alliance AnnouncementJulia Doherty of USTR and Virginia Brown of USAID at the announcement of the Standards Alliance, a new U.S. sponsored assistance facility.

    Geneva, Switzerland – This week, Virginia Brown, Director of USAID's Office of Trade and Regulatory Reform, announced a new U.S.-sponsored assistance facility called the “Standards Alliance” to help build capacity among developing countries to improve implementation of the Technical Barriers to Trade Agreement (TBT). Ms. Brown is in Geneva as part of the U.S. Delegation to the World Trade Organization (WTO) Committee on Technical Barriers to Trade, led by Senior Director for Technical Barriers to Trade Julia Doherty from the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR).

    Standards and technical regulations are critical to global trade, and play an essential role in the Obama Administration’s strategy to increase U.S. exports. U.S. companies benefit when the standards and regulations adopted by developing countries better align with global norms and practices, as this enables U.S. producers to make one product and export it to many countries.

    The new Standards Alliance will also help developing countries adopt globally recognized standards and norms for products, and will assist those countries in clarifying and streamlining their regulatory processes for products. This will reduce the costs and bureaucratic hurdles associated with exporting for U.S. producers, while enabling developing countries to improve the quality and safety of the products they export abroad.

  • 11/30/2012 4:19 PM

    Washington, D.C. - Today Ambassador Kirk met with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Konstyantyn Gryshchenko. Ambassador Kirk expressed strong U.S. concern about Ukraine’s request to alter tariff bindings on more than 350 products that it agreed to when it joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2008. This action is unprecedented and could undermine the multilateral trading system, which is why almost all of Ukraine’s significant trading partners—over a third of all WTO Members—have joined us in raising similar concerns. Ambassador Kirk and Foreign Minister Gryshchenko agreed to continue working to increase trade and investment between the U.S. and Ukraine, including in the bilateral Trade and Investment Council.

    Click here to view Ambassador Kirk’s November 8 letter to Ukrainian First Deputy Prime Minister Valeriy Khoroshkovskiy regarding Ukraine’s request to alter tariff bindings and here to view WTO Members’ November 26 joint statement on this matter.

  • 11/30/2012 3:07 PM

    Kirk ShuvalovAmbassador Kirk meets with First Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, Igor Shuvalov

    Washington, D.C. - United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk met today with the First Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, Igor Shuvalov. Ambassador Kirk reported on the advancement of legislation in the U.S. Congress to repeal Russia’s Jackson-Vanik status and allow the granting of Permanent Normal Trade Relations between our countries, and expressed hope that the United States and Russia would soon be able to apply the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement between them. Ambassador Kirk highlighted the importance of Russia abiding by all of its WTO obligations, including with regard to the possibility of unjustified, non-science based restrictions on imports of U.S. meat. They also discussed specific measures to enhance the bilateral economic relationship, such as the establishment of a regular trade policy dialogue, an IPR Action Plan, and a bilateral investment treaty.

  • 11/28/2012 2:45 PM

    Yesterday, Ambassadors Kirk and Sapiro met with Miami-Dade County Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz and Miami-Dade County officials at the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) in Washington, D.C.

    Ambassador Kirk welcomed the group and shared updates on the ongoing work at USTR, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Commissioner Diaz thanked Ambassador Kirk for his efforts to enact free trade agreements and spoke specifically of the recently implemented Colombia and Panama trade agreements.

    Eighty-six percent of U.S. exports of consumer and industrial goods to Panama became duty-free when the U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement was implemented last month, offering benefits for a range of U.S. products, including information technology equipment, agricultural and construction equipment, aircraft and pharmaceuticals. The agreement also provides U.S. companies greater access to Panama's $22 billion services market, by eliminating measures that prevented Panamanian firms from hiring U.S. professionals as well as market restrictions in cable television.

    In the five months following enactment of the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement earlier this year, U.S. goods exports to Colombia are up 20 percent over the same period last year. U.S. goods imports from Colombia for May to July 2012 were up 7 percent over the same period last year.

    The group also discussed the Miami Free Zone, Miami-Dade County’s Foreign Trade Zone, the expansion of the Panama Canal, and PortMiami’s infrastructure.

  • 11/20/2012 3:51 PM

    This week, families all across the United States will come together on Thanksgiving to spend time with their loved ones and eat a signature Thanksgiving dinner. Chances are most of their favorite Thanksgiving food staples will be grown and raised here in America. But did you know that people all over the world love American-grown Thanksgiving fare too?

    Here’s a sampling of traditional Thanksgiving foods exported from the United States to food-lovers throughout the world.

    Turkey:

    Turkey is the centerpiece of Thanksgiving in America, the signature dish that brings everything together. Apparently, Americans aren’t the only ones who love a good turkey; the United States exported over $520 million in fresh, frozen, whole or cut turkey to the world in 2011.

    Potatoes:

    Potatoes any way, be it mashed, baked, au gratin, fried, or French fried, almost always make their way into our Thanksgiving meals. The United States exported $255 million of that super starch to the world in 2011.

    Fresh Cranberries:

    No Thanksgiving meal is complete without the requisite side dish of cranberry sauce. Fresh cranberries can also be added to a salad, or dessert and many people also enjoy drinking a glass of cranberry juice. In 2011, the U.S. exported $19 million worth of fresh cranberries to the world.

    Apples:

    The dessert table at Thanksgiving dinners wouldn’t be complete without the customary apple pie, a signature American dish. Last year, the United States exported $952 million worth of apples, which represented a 13% increase from the amount exported the year before.

    Wine:

    During the holiday season, many people like to relax and enjoy a glass of wine with friends and family. From Thanksgiving until New Year’s Day, people around the world will kick back with wine exported from the United States. In fact, our wine exports totaled almost $1.25 billion last year. This billion dollar industry is branching out worldwide, and supports jobs here at home.

    Pumpkin Seeds:

    Whether used in soup, salad or traditional pumpkin pie, pumpkins are another must-have at any Thanksgiving dinner. In 2011, the United States exported $2 million worth of pumpkin seeds.

    Pecans:

    In addition to the traditional apple and pumpkin pies, many people around the country will enjoy a slice of warm pecan pie for dessert on Thanksgiving Day. In 2011, the United States exported $183 million of pecans.

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that every $1 billion of U.S. agricultural exports supports approximately 8,400 jobs on and off the farm. Those export-supported jobs enable farmers, ranchers, and workers to provide for their families and communities all across America. In 2011, the United States exported $137.4 billion worth of agricultural products to the rest of the world in support of more than one million U.S. jobs. That’s why here at USTR, we are thankful for international trade that enables U.S. exporters to ship billions of dollars worth of agricultural products grown and raised in America to customers around the world.

  • 11/15/2012 5:49 PM

    Today, Ambassador Kirk spoke at the U.S.-Panama Business Council’s Panama Week 2012 luncheon. His remarks focused on entry into force of the U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement and the Obama Administration’s comprehensive approach to trade throughout the Western Hemisphere.

    “Entry into force of the U.S.-Panama trade agreement is good news for businesses and workers in both Panama and the United States. By eliminating tariffs and other barriers to U.S. exports of goods and services, the agreement continues to build on a strong baseline of growing two-way trade and investment between our countries,” said Ambassador Kirk.

    Ambassador Kirk specifically thanked Panamanian Trade Minister Ricardo Quijano and Panamanian Ambassador to the United States Mario Jaramillo for their tireless efforts to bring the agreement to fruition. Ambassador Kirk also thanked members of the U.S.-Panama Business Council for their steadfast support and advocacy for the agreement. He encouraged private sector representatives to keep in touch with both the U.S. and Panamanian governments in the months ahead.

    The U.S.-Panama trade agreement marks a major milestone in the strong U.S.-Panama partnership and reflects the Obama Administration’s continuing focus on trade with Latin America. With the U.S.-Panama trade agreement entering into force, 12 out of the United States’ 20 free trade agreement partner countries are located in the Western Hemisphere.

  • 11/14/2012 1:46 PM

    On Tuesday, November 13th, Ambassador Kirk and Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis co-hosted a meeting of the Labor Advisory Committee (LAC) for Trade Negotiations and Trade Policy at the Department of Labor. They were joined by LAC chairman and International President of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM), Thomas Buffenbarger. Members in attendance included Clayola Brown, National President of the A. Philip Randolph Institute; Edwin Hill, President of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers; Gregory Junemann, President of the International Federation of Professional & Technical Engineers, and Lee Moak, President of the International Air Line Pilots Association.

    LAC Chairman Buffenbarger began the meeting by welcoming the committee members and outlining areas of interest. Secretary Solis followed and delivered remarks regarding the United States Department of Labor’s commitments to support the creation of good-paying jobs for American workers, enforce United States labor laws, and maintain an open dialogue with labor unions and the Office of the United States Trade Representative.

    Ambassador Kirk thanked the members for their service and congratulated Chairman Buffenbarger on being re-elected as LAC chair. Ambassador Kirk subsequently discussed the importance of having a balanced trade policy that helps American small businesses, farmers, and ranchers access new markets while maintaining core trade values. He went on to provide updates on the Obama Administration’s trade agenda, and touched on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations, the success of the Interagency Trade Enforcement Center (ITEC), the continuing effort to ensure Permanent Normalized Trade Relations (PNTR) with Russia, and the exploratory talks of a potential trade agreement with the European Union.

    Committee members noted the Obama Administration’s strong commitment to continue engagement with labor unions, and discussed the ongoing TPP negotiations, the enforcement of labor laws, and the possibility of adding labor unions to the industry trade advisory committees.

    The LAC is co-administered by the Office of the United States Trade Representative and the Department of Labor. The committee provides advice and recommendations on issues and general policy matters concerning labor and trade negotiations, including operation of trade agreements. This was the 7th meeting that Ambassador Kirk attended.

  • 11/14/2012 1:37 PM

    Note: This is a cross post from the Office of Management and Budget's website. To see the original post, please click here.

    November 13, 2012

    Executive Office of the President
    Office of Management and Budget

    STATEMENT OF ADMINISTRATION POLICY
    H.R. 6156 – Russia and Moldova Jackson-Vanik Repeal Act of 2012
    (Rep. Camp, R-MI, and 14 cosponsors)

    The Administration strongly supports H.R. 6156, which would extend Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) treatment to the products of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Moldova.

    In order for American businesses, workers, farmers and ranchers to reap the same economic benefits in Russia's markets that other WTO members receive, the Congress must end the applicability of title IV of the Trade Act of 1974 to Russia and authorize the President to extend PNTR to Russia. H.R. 6156 is about providing opportunities for American businesses and workers and creating jobs here at home.

    The Administration seeks to promote the rule of law and respect for human rights around the world and intends to continue working with the Congress to support those seeking a free and democratic future for Russia. The Administration supports Moldova's ongoing reform efforts and its aspirations for further integration into European institutions.

  • 10/26/2012 9:39 AM

    By Tiffany Enoch, Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement

    On Wednesday, October 24th, Ambassadors Kirk and Marantis hosted the biannual Trade Advisory Committee on Africa (TACA) meeting in Washington, D.C. Ambassador Kirk reflected on the work of the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) over the last year, touching on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), USTR’s completion of the trade agreements with Korea, Colombia, and Panama, and President Obama’s creation of the Interagency Trade Enforcement Center (ITEC).

    TACA Meeting Members of the Trade Advisory Committee on Africa (TACA) meet at USTR.

    Ambassador Kirk also focused on the maturing trade relationships between the U.S. and many African countries. He touched on the newly negotiated Trade Investment Framework Agreements (TIFAs) with Angola and South Africa, which led to significant improvements in U.S. relations with both of these countries. He also mentioned his 2011 trip to Zambia for the African Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) Forum, where he announced the African Competitiveness and Trade Expansion Initiative (ACTE) to build trade capacity in Africa. Ambassador Kirk described how the Obama Administration, alongside stakeholders, secured the renewal of AGOA’s Third Country Fabric Provision, which supports jobs in Africa and in the U.S. He lauded the President for launching a youth leadership initiative to help engage Africa’s future leaders, and for starting the African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program to help empower Africa’s women. Ambassador Kirk closed by discussing the President’s new “U.S. Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa,” which will serve as a blueprint for our strategic engagement with the region.

    TACA MeetingAmbassador Kirk briefs TACA members on trade developments in Africa.

    Following Ambassador Kirk remarks, Ambassador Marantis briefed TACA members on his recent visit to East Africa to advance the U.S. – East African Community (EAC) Trade and Investment Partnership. The EAC partnership seeks to enhance regional integration and trade relationships among the five EAC partner states (Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda). During his trip, Ambassador Marantis met with senior officials, visited exporters who benefitted from AGOA, and met with local members of the American Chamber of Commerce. In addition to reporting on his trip, Ambassador Marantis discussed the long-term future of AGOA.

  • 10/23/2012 11:57 AM

    By Melanie Wheeler, USTR Press Office 

    Yesterday, key government officials, trade stakeholders, and members of the press were on hand to witness U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and Panamanian Minister of Commerce and Industry Ricardo Quijano sign a letter exchange setting a date for the entry-into-force of the U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement (TPA). This letter-exchange and the pending entry-into-force represent a conclusion to a comprehensive negotiating process—negotiation of the Agreement was concluded in 2006, Panama’s government gave it its seal of approval in 2007, and President Obama signed the agreement into law on October 21, 2011. This is the third such agreement to enter-into-force under the Obama Administration within a year of its signing, following the Korean and Colombian agreements.

    Panama EIF Letter ExchangeAmbassador Kirk and Panamanian Minister of Commerce and Industry Ricardo Quijano
    exchanged letters in which they determined that the U.S.-Panama Trade
    Promotion Agreement will enter into force on October 31, 2012.

    Beginning October 31st, Panama will eliminate tariffs on more than 86 percent of U.S. industrial and consumer goods. Almost half of U.S. agricultural goods, which currently face average tariffs of 15 percent, will immediately become duty-free. All tariffs on industrial goods will be eliminated within 10 years, and most of the remaining tariffs on agricultural goods will be eliminated over the next 15 years. U.S. service providers will gain significantly greater access to Panama’s $22 billion services market, and will enjoy greater protections as they do so. As Ambassador Kirk reminded those in attendance, “Panama is one of the fastest growing economies in Latin America, expanding 10.6 percent in 2011, with forecasts of between five to eight percent annual growth through 2017. That adds up to support for more well-paying jobs across the United States.”

    Here’s what other stakeholders are saying about yesterday’s event:

    United States Department of Agriculture

    "The U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement (Panama TPA) enters into force next week, eliminating tariffs and other barriers to U.S. goods and services, promoting economic growth, and enhancing trade between the United States and Panama. Last year, President Obama insisted that we get this agreement with Panama right-alongside pacts with South Korea and Colombia-forging a better deal for America's workers and businesses that led to strong bipartisan support in both houses of Congress. Altogether, these agreements will bring an additional $2.2 billion in agricultural exports.”

    -Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack

    Link

    United States Department of Commerce

    “New U.S. trade agreements mean more export opportunities for American companies–and more American jobs. The U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement goes into effect next week, and will eliminate the majority of tariffs that U.S. exporters currently face. The agreement guarantees expanded access for U.S. manufactured and agricultural products, as well as to Panama’s $22 billion services market, including in priority areas such as telecommunications, computer, distribution, express delivery, energy, environmental, and professional services. The Commerce Department and the Obama administration stand ready to assist U.S. companies take full advantage of the new opportunities this trade agreement presents.”

    -Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank

    Link

    Senate Committee on Finance Chairman Max Baucus

    “’Free trade agreements like the Panama FTA will give the U.S. economy a much-needed boost and create new jobs for American workers here at home,’ Senator Baucus said. ‘Enhancing and expanding access to rapidly growing foreign markets like Panama is an opportunity for American workers, farmers, ranchers and businesses.’”

    Link

    House Committee on Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp

    “Today's announcement is welcome news for U.S. workers, farmers, ranchers and job-creators. Implementing the U.S.-Panama trade agreement will create new jobs and more paychecks here at home. I congratulate the teams in both countries for their diligent work. In these difficult economic times, we must take advantage of every opportunity to spur growth and create jobs here at home. We must build off this success and continue to promote a robust and ambitious trade and investment agenda that will increase American prosperity and allow us to lead again.”

    Link

    House Committee on Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee Chairman Kevin Brady

    “I welcome the announcement that the U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement will enter into force on October 31, 2012. We can now begin to regain the market share for U.S. goods and services lost in Panama during the years this agreement sat on the shelf. While I am pleased that entry into force will occur soon, finally implementing an agreement that was completed over five years ago is merely treading water. Much more work needs to be done, such as prompt completion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and exploration of new market access initiatives for U.S. goods and services abroad.”

    Link

    House Committee on Ways and Means Human Resources Subcommittee Chairman Erik Paulsen

    "Today’s announcement is welcome news for Minnesota workers, farmers, and employers. Our state’s job-creators export nearly $24 million worth of goods to Panama - $7 million of that right here in our own district. With this new agreement we create a level playing field for American businesses in Panama and help create new U.S. jobs and economic growth. But there is more to be done. It is vital that we continue to promote a robust and ambitious trade agenda by completing initiatives like the Trans-Pacific Partnership in order to promote more exports."

    Link

    U.S. Chamber of Commerce

    “’This critical agreement will ignite economic growth and job creation in the U.S. and Panama,” said U.S. Chamber Senior Vice President for International Affairs Myron Brilliant. “With this step, we can take the century-old U.S.-Panama alliance to the next level.’

    The agreement will level the playing field for U.S. workers, farmers, and companies by immediately eliminating Panamanian duties on more than 87% of U.S. exports. It will also open services markets and strengthen intellectual property rights.”

    Business Roundtable

    “’Implementation of the U.S.-Panama FTA is welcome news as we work to get our economy moving again,’ said Doug Oberhelman, Chairman & CEO of Caterpillar Inc., and Chair of BRT’s International Engagement Committee. ‘Panama is an important strategic and commercial partner for the United States, and this overdue free trade agreement will increase U.S. exports to the fast-growing region, supporting U.S. economic growth and American jobs in the process.’”

    Link

    Emergency Committee for American Trade

    “Calman Cohen, President of the Emergency Committee for American Trade (ECAT), issued the following statement today on the Administration’s announcement that the U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement would enter into force on October 31, 2012: ‘ECAT welcomes the long-sought implementation of the U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement (TPA). This high-standard trade and investment accord will provide new markets for American farmers, ranchers, manufacturers and service providers in Panama.’”

    Link

    Americas Society/Council of the Americas

    “Council of the Americas welcomes today’s announcement that the U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement will enter into force on October 31, 2012. The U.S. Congress voted to approve the agreement by a large bipartisan majority last October. Today, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and Panama’s Minister of Commerce and Industry Ricardo Quijano exchanged letters setting October 31 as the date for implementation.”

    Link

    National Cattlemen’s Beef Association

    “‘The cattle industry has been waiting on implementation of this agreement for a long time and we’re looking forward to increased trade opportunities with Panama,’ said Bob McCan, NCBA vice president and a Texas cattleman. ‘The U.S.-Panama Free Trade Agreement immediately eliminates the 30 percent tariff on prime and choice beef cuts and all other duties will be phased out over the next 15 years. This is a positive step forward for American cattlemen and women.’”

    Link

    American Soybean Association

    "The enactment of the free trade agreement with Panama at the end of the month is a big win for soybean farmers," said ASA President Steve Wellman, a soybean farmer from Syracuse, Neb. "Panama is one of the most rapidly-growing economies in Latin America, and represents a valuable market for American soy and the many products like poultry and pork for which soy is critical in the production process. We commend the American and Panamanian governments for their work on seeing this agreement to completion and we look forward to continuing a successful partnership with our friends in Panama."

    Link

     

  • 10/22/2012 5:32 PM

    Today, Deputy United States Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis concluded his visit to East Africa with a stop in Nairobi, Kenya. On Friday, Ambassador Marantis met with Kenyan Minister of Trade Moses Wetang’ula and discussed the growing U.S.-Kenya bilateral trade relationship, and the U.S.-East African Community (EAC) Trade and Investment Partnership. They also discussed the recent renewal of the African Growth and Opportunity Act's (AGOA) Third Country Fabric provision and its role in the employment of tens of thousands of Kenyan women.

    Following the meeting with Minister Wetang’ula on Friday, Ambassador Marantis participated in the U.S.-EAC trade ministerial meeting, in which the two sides made substantial progress on each component of the partnership, including the establishment of a Commercial Dialogue.

    Amb Marantis KenyaAmbassador Marantis meets with AGOA exporters at "COMPETE," the East and
    Central African Trade Hub

    Today, Ambassador Marantis opened the Third Annual African AmCham Summit, during which he highlighted the growing opportunities for U.S.-Africa trade and investment and the important role the American and African private sectors play. Ambassador Marantis also met with a number of AGOA exporters which have been supported by “COMPETE,” the East and Central African Trade Hub. COMPETE works to increase trade and investment between the United States and East Africa and reduce barriers to regional and international trade. Following his visit to the Trade Hub, Ambassador Marantis toured Butterfly Properties, a real estate construction and development company, to personally witness how U.S. exports to Africa can create jobs in the United States and support economic growth in Africa. Butterfly imports molds from Waffle-Crete International, a Kansas-based concrete firm, to introduce new U.S. building technology in Kenya. The technology is expected to revolutionize the building industry in Kenya by creating safer, greener, and stronger structures at a faster rate than traditional building.

    Amb Marantis KenyaAmbassador Marantis tours Butterfly Properties in Nairobi, Kenya

    Ambassador Marantis then met with Trademark East Africa, a multi-donor funded organization devoted to enhancing East African regional and international trade. Ambassador Marantis concluded his visit to East Africa by delivering remarks to U.S. and local business leaders at the African AmCham Summit reception. In his remarks, he underscored the strength of the U.S.-Africa economic relationship and the benefits of two-way trade and investment between Africa and the United States.

  • 10/18/2012 1:31 PM

    This week, as part of his visit to East Africa, Deputy United States Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis traveled to Tanzania for a series of meetings and site visits with government officials and local stakeholders.

    On Tuesday, Ambassador Marantis met with Tanzanian Vice President Mohammed Bilal to discuss the U.S.-East African Community (EAC) Trade and Investment Partnership and its mutual benefits for the two countries and the region. The meeting marked another important step to solidify the new partnership.  On the same day, Ambassador Marantis took part in a luncheon with the Tanzanian American Chamber of Commerce Board and the African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program (AWEP), where he sought views and suggestions from local Tanzanian business leaders on how to increase bilateral trade and investment. He concluded the day with a visit to Footloose Handicrafts, one of the biggest exporters of locally-made handicrafts to the United States under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). The company organizes small-scale craft producers into cooperatives and provides them with training, market information, and a variety of other services to improve the quality of their products.  After the visit, Ambassador Marantis spoke to the local press about the potential for greater U.S.-Tanzanian trade and investment, including opportunities in the apparel sector resulting from Congress’ recent extension of AGOA's Third Country Fabric Provision.

    ADM FootlooseAmbassador Marantis visits Footloose Handicrafts Limited, a company that exports
    Tanzanian Handicrafts to the United States

    The following day, Ambassador Marantis met senior members of the Tanzanian Government from a variety of ministries including the Ministry of East African Cooperation and the Ministry of Trade and discussed Tanzania's interest in taking advantage of AGOA and attracting U.S. Investment, and how the U.S.-EAC Trade and Investment Partnership will help accomplish and further these goals.  They also discussed the partnership’s potential to further EAC regional integration and economic growth, as well as strengthen economic ties between the United States and Tanzania.  After the meetings, Ambassador Marantis toured the Port of Dar es Salaam, which is the third largest port on the east coast of Africa and a strategic entry and exit point for major Eastern and Southern African transit corridors.  He praised the vast improvements at the port and underscored the importance of improving the Port’s infrastructure and performance.

    Ambassador Marantis closed out his visit to Tanzania when, in his capacity as a board member of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), he participated in a meeting with Tanzania-based U.S. companies and OPIC Chief of Staff John Morton.  The meeting focused on OPIC's growing investments in sub-Saharan Africa.

    Ambassador Marantis is in East Africa to advance the U.S.-East African Community (EAC) Trade and Investment Partnership, a model initiative to enhance regional integration among the five EAC partner states (Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda) and two-way trade and investment between the EAC partner states and the United States. While on his three country visit, Ambassador Marantis will conduct bilateral meetings with partner state senior officials, visit African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) exporters, meet with various private sector organizations—including a meeting of all U.S. American Chambers of Commerce in sub-Saharan Africa—and participate in a special EAC trade Ministerial meeting with key leaders from all five EAC partner states.

  • 10/17/2012 3:47 PM

    On Wednesday, October 17, 2012, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk delivered keynote remarks at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and National District Export Council’s workshop on “Defeating Foreign Trade Barriers.” Small and medium-size business owners and members of the National District Export Council were on hand for Ambassador Kirk’s remarks and for the subsequent workshop activities.

    In his remarks, Ambassador Kirk explained how the efforts of the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) to remove trade barriers can assist small businesses by eliminating tariffs, improving intellectual property rights protection, and easing customs administration to get products to market more quickly. He touched on the Small Business Network of the Americas (SBNA), a promising new small business initiative rolled out by the Obama Administration in April 2012. The SBNA will expand the pool of available resources for small business development, enhance access to business counseling services for entrepreneurs, and foster small business growth by providing a framework to connect businesses across the Western Hemisphere. USTR and our partner agencies will play an important role in this new initiative by connecting Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) in the United States with their counterparts in foreign countries, who have leads on export and business opportunities.

    ARK WorkshopAmbassador Kirk addresses participants at the "Defeating Foreign Trade Barriers" Workshop hosted by the 
    U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National District Export Council

    Ambassador Kirk pointed to the U.S.-EU Transatlantic Economic Council Small and Medium-Sized Enterprise (SME) Workshops as a developing forum for government engagement with small business stakeholders. USTR, the Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Department of Commerce (DOC), in coordination with our EU partners, launched the workshops in 2011 in an effort to identify trade barriers facing small businesses, share best practices, and increase U.S.-EU cooperation in small business trade promotion.

    The Interagency Trade Enforcement Center (ITEC), Ambassador Kirk said, is another key element of the Administration's focus on removing barriers to small business exports. The ITEC, created by executive order of President Obama, is charged with monitoring our trade partners to ensure that they abide by their obligations. Most small businesses don’t have the time or resources to fight unfair trade practices on their own, and the ITEC’s comprehensive, all-hands-on-deck approach will enhance the United States’ ability to investigate and pursue enforcement cases critical to the needs of U.S. workers and companies of all sizes.

    Ambassador Kirk wasn’t the only representative from USTR to participate in the workshop; USTR staff participated in panels and roundtables on non-tariff barriers, company success stories, intellectual property rights (IPR), trade facilitation and customs, government procurement, and standards and regulatory cooperation.

  • 10/15/2012 5:13 PM

    Today, Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis began his three country East Africa visit in Burundi where he met with senior government officials and members of the private sector. Ambassador Marantis met with Second Vice President Gervais Rufyikiri, Commerce Minister Victoire Ndikumana, and other officials who were participating in a conference focused on rooting out corruption in Burundi. The officials discussed the Burundian government’s reform agenda and its policies to increase economic growth and reduce poverty, particularly through increased trade and investment. Ambassador Marantis commended the Burundian Government on its efforts to reform the local business environment, which has significantly improved Burundi's ranking in the World Bank’s “Doing Business” report. He encouraged them to continue such reforms.

    Ambassador Marantis also pressed them to develop a national strategy to take advantage of the export opportunities provided by the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). In addition, he discussed how the new U.S.-East African Community (EAC) Trade and Investment Partnership can benefit Burundi, the EAC, and the United States by promoting investment and reducing bottlenecks to trade.

    Ambassador Marantis in AfricaPictured right to left: U.S. Charge d'Affairs Sam Watson;
    Ambassador Demetrios Marantis;
    Burundian Minister of Commerce, Industry, Post, and Tourism Victoire Ndikumana;
    Second Vice President of Burundi Gervais Rufyikiri
     

    Ambassador Marantis then visited the Kazoza I’kawa Coffee Washing Station, one of the many coffee processing facilities in the country that have benefited from U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) assistance. Ambassador Marantis and local coffee farmers discussed how the open U.S. market for African-produced products, like coffee - coupled with development assistance provided by the United States - can create opportunities to increase incomes and reduce poverty in Burundi.

    At his last stop of the day in Bujumbura, Ambassador Marantis met with local private-sector stakeholders. Participants at the meeting acknowledged the improved business climate in Burundi, but said that more could be done to help them take advantage of increased business opportunities in the region and with the United States.

    Ambassador Marantis is in East Africa to advance the U.S.-East African Community (EAC) Trade and Investment Partnership, a model initiative to enhance regional integration among the five EAC partner states (Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda) and two-way trade and investment between the EAC partner states and the United States. While on his three country visit, Ambassador Marantis will conduct bilateral meetings with partner state senior officials, visit African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) exporters, meet with various private sector organizations—including a meeting of all U.S. American Chambers of Commerce in sub-Saharan Africa—and participate in a special EAC trade Ministerial meeting with key leaders from all five EAC partner states.

  • 10/12/2012 3:47 PM

    By Tiffany Enoch, Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement

    On Wednesday, October 10th, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk hosted a conference call with members of the Intergovernmental Policy Advisory Committee (IGPAC). The IGPAC is comprised of representatives from state and local governments and organizations, who provide policy advice and recommendations to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR).

    Ambassador Kirk discussed a number of key trade issues on the call, including the critical role of the Interagency Trade Enforcement Center (ITEC). The ITEC, created by President Obama’s executive order earlier this year, draws on the expertise of many federal agencies to enforce trade agreements with our international trading partners. Ambassador Kirk spoke at length about ITEC’s enhanced enforcement efforts, and detailed some of the pending and completed enforcement cases before World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute panels.

    Ambassador Kirk also briefed the Committee on the admission of Mexico and Canada into the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the importance of securing permanent normal trading relations (PNTR) with Russia, the positive effects of trade agreements on jobs and growth, and the benefits of a potential comprehensive trade agreement between the United States and the European Union. IGPAC members engaged with Ambassador Kirk on these and other issues, and offered recommendations from their state and local perspectives.

  • 10/11/2012 4:43 PM

    By Isaac Faz, Acting Assistant USTR for Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement

    Today, Ambassador Kirk hosted the Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations (ACTPN) at its biannual meeting in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. Ambassador Kirk reviewed the work of the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) over the last year, and also touched on its continuing efforts to negotiate the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), expand trade opportunities in Africa, and enhance trade enforcement with the help of the newly formed Interagency Trade Enforcement Center (ITEC).

    ACTPN MeetingHarold "Terry" McGraw of McGraw-Hill Companies moderates Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations Conference

    Director of the National Economic Council Gene Sperling and Deputy National Security Advisor Michael Froman delivered trade-related updates to the Committee as well. Director Sperling spoke on the need to do everything we can to strengthen America’s economic recovery while maintaining long-term fiscal discipline, and to ensure that we invest in infrastructure, skills, and research and technology. Deputy National Security Advisor Froman addressed ongoing international trade initiatives, and reiterated the importance of granting permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) to Russia. Establishing PNTR with Russia will ensure that U.S. businesses, workers, and innovators can reap the full benefits of Russia’s membership in the World Trade Organization (WTO).

    ACTPN meetingAmbassador Kirk speaks at this year's second ACTPN meeting.

    Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis, Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Miriam Sapiro, USTR General Counsel Tim Reif, and Director of ITEC Brad Ward all provided additional input for the committee members. During the open discussion, members asked specific questions on a range of topics that included China, the TPP, a potential trade agreement with the European Union, and the recently implemented trade agreement with Colombia.

    In closing, Ambassador Kirk thanked the members for their service and noted that October 11, 2012, was the 50th Anniversary of USTR, which was established in 1962 by President John F. Kennedy.

  • 10/04/2012 4:23 PM

    By Kate Villarreal, Press Assistant 

    Yesterday, United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk kicked off this year’s Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) at a launch event attended by Executive Office of the President (EOP) employees in the South Court Auditorium of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. Ambassador Kirk is serving as the EOP Chair for the CFC, which, through the collective contributions of more than 120,000 civilian and military federal employees in the National Capital Area, is part of the largest workplace giving campaign in the world.

    ARK CFCAmbassador Kirk addresses EOP employees at the CFC kickoff event

    Ambassador Kirk spoke to attendees about the importance of giving, and he outlined a vision to increase participation across the spectrum of hardworking EOP staff. “The size of the gift doesn’t matter,” he said. “Give until it feels good.”

    He also talked about the power of the individual in bringing about change, pointing out that many charitable organizations were founded by strong and compassionate individuals who saw needs in their communities, and then took action to meet those needs.

    After the opening remarks, Kim Muñoz from the Quality of Life Foundation and Rebecca Milner of the International Medical Corps shared information about the work of their charitable organizations. The Quality of Life Foundation provides support for wounded veterans and their families. The International Medical Corps provides humanitarian assistance, medical care, and training to areas affected by disaster and conflict.

    For more information on the CFC and workplace giving, please see here.

  • 10/01/2012 6:42 PM

    Last Friday, United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk traveled to Miami to discuss how President Obama’s trade and economic agenda is supporting more jobs for people in Florida and across the country. In the morning, he participated in a White House Business Council meeting with local business leaders at Miami Dade College. The discussions focused on a variety of topics that impact businesses in Florida, including passage and entry into force of the new trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama, as well as the importance of infrastructure.

    Later in the morning, Ambassador Kirk spoke to and took questions from members of the Beacon Council – a Miami-based non-profit that helps to attract and keep businesses in the Miami area. The conversation focused on President Obama’s plan to grow American jobs and strengthen the middle class through increased exports of ‘Made in America’ products. Ambassador Kirk highlighted the key trade policy accomplishments of the Obama Administration, and the positive impact they’ve had on employment rates and growth of exports for the Miami region.

    “In terms of trade, we are opening up markets abroad so that leaders like you can expand your businesses internationally,” Ambassador Kirk said in his remarks. “Goods exports from the greater Miami region were up more than 20 percent last year to $43.1 billion overall. That total includes, for example, $10.2 billion worth of computers and electronic products, $5.8 billion worth of transportation equipment, and $3.8 billion worth of machinery,” he said.

    “More importantly, those dollar amounts support real paychecks for tens of thousands of Floridians working in export industries. And we are working to help you do even better,” said Ambassador Kirk.

    After his speech at the Beacon Council, Ambassador Kirk participated in a roundtable meeting with The Council of the Americas, where the group discussed enforcement issues, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and the addition of new TPP member countries Mexico and Canada. They also talked about the economic relationship between the U.S. and Brazil.

    Ambassador Kirk’s visit to Miami highlights the Obama Administration’s commitment to ensuring that ’Made in America’ remain the most powerful brand in the world, and that the United States remains the best place in the world to innovate, invest, build a business or get a job.

  • 09/28/2012 10:06 AM

    Ambassador Kirk and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson hosted a meeting of the Trade and Environment Policy Advisory Committee (TEPAC) on September 27th at USTR. TEPAC is comprised of a broad range of representatives from non-governmental organizations, the private sector, think tanks, and academia, and provides policy advice on issues relating to trade and the environment. Ambassador Kirk told the TEPAC about the ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations, as well as the next steps in the U.S.-European Union (EU) High Level Working Group. Ambassador Kirk also provided updates on recent developments in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, including a read-out of the APEC Leaders’ meeting in Vladivostok, Russia where APEC members agreed on a ground-breaking list of 54 environmental goods on which they will cut tariffs to five percent or less by 2015.

    TEPAC meeting
    Administrator Jackson, TEPAC Chair Joseph Black, and Ambassador Kirk at this week's TEPAC meeting.

    Administrator Jackson gave a report on the EPA’s export promotion initiative, including the creation of a new online web portal (http://export.gov/envirotech/) that will be launched October 1st at the Water Environment Federation’s Annual Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC) with the Department of Commerce. In addition, Administrator Jackson also updated members on work being undertaken in the North American Commission on Environmental Cooperation, and outcomes from the recent CEC Council Meeting hosted by EPA last July. Following their remarks, Ambassador Kirk and Administrator Jackson answered questions from TEPAC members, that touched on a broad range of trade and environment matters.

  • 09/25/2012 1:27 PM

    Earlier this month, the U.S. Association of Small Business Development Centers (ASBDC) held its annual conference in New Orleans, and Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Small Business Christina Sevilla was on hand to highlight some of the early successes of the Obama Administration’s Small Business Network of the Americas (SBNA) initiative. The SBNA seeks to link U.S. Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) and the clients they serve to similar small business support centers and networks in partner countries through online trade platforms and business competitions.

    Taking a key step forward, representatives from the ASBDC, the University of Texas San Antonio Institute for Economic Development, and Brazil's Micro and Small Enterprise Service (SEBRAE) signed a Memorandum of Understanding to link their trade platforms and clients on a central website (www.SBDCglobal.com). This platform is expanding to include international SBDCs in Mexico, Central America, Colombia, and the Caribbean, and will help small businesses take better advantage of trade agreements between the United States and countries in the region.

    DAUSTR Sevilla RemarksDeputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative Christina Sevilla speaks to the U.S.
    Association of Small Business Development Centers International Interests section

    Precision 2000, a small general contracting and construction management business based in Atlanta, Georgia, is already benefitting from these new developments. Precision 2000’s CEO, Guiomar Obregon, received strategic advice and export counseling from Rick Martin and Antonio Barrios of the Georgia SBDC network at University of Georgia and Kennesaw State University. Obregon and her workforce have used this guidance to actively pursue construction contracts in the Colombian market, and she anticipates that contracts secured for construction services in Colombia will help Precision 2000 support jobs in Georgia.

    Mickey Conway, a Colombian-American business development specialist at the Clemson University SBDC at Greenwood, is also looking to use the SBNA to help U.S. small businesses expand to Latin America. He hopes that “the expansion of the SBDC network to Latin America can create new business contacts for South Carolina companies.” Conway is organizing a visit to Colombia, the United States’ newest trade agreement partner, by a delegation of South Carolina and Arkansas SBDC counselors and small businesses owners, who hope to explore and pursue trade opportunities there.

  • 09/25/2012 12:07 PM

    Yesterday, eleven stakeholder witnesses spoke before the Trade Policy Staff Committee (TPSC) to give testimony on Canada’s entry into the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement. The TPP is a multilateral trade agreement that will boost U.S. exports to the growing economies of the Asia-Pacific region. As preparations begin for Canada’s entry, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) and its interagency partners are soliciting public comments to help inform negotiating work and strengthen U.S. proposals.

    USTR public hearing on TPP and Canada
    Stakeholders testify at yesterday's hearing.

    Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Southeast Asia and the Pacific Barbara Weisel opened the hearing with a prepared statement in which she explained how Canada’s entry into the TPP could offer a promising platform for regional economic integration. Following the statement, stakeholders representing agriculture, pharmaceutical, intellectual property, automaker, and homebuilder industry associations, along with business, non-governmental organizations, and organized labor, testified before the Committee. They raised several topics for discussion including customs, rules of origin, technical barriers to trade, intellectual property, transparency, state-owned enterprises and enforcement.

    In a statement, William Roenigk, speaking on behalf of the National Chicken Council and the USA Poultry and Egg Export Council, said that Canada joining the TPP would be a positive opportunity for the poultry industry, “provided that Canada agree – in advance – to put its import protection policies on the negotiating table and if there is an appropriate and successful conclusion to the negotiations.”

    USTR public hearing on TPP and Canada
    Members of the Trade Policy Staff Committee (TPSC), at a hearing chaired by Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Trade Policy and Economics, Doug Bell.

    The United States trades more with its northern neighbor than with any other single nation, and as witness Jodi Bond from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce told the TPSC in her testimony, a quarter trillion dollars are spent by Canadians on U.S. exports every year, representing twenty percent of total U.S. exports and supporting 8 million American jobs. However, lowering tariffs, reducing non-tariff barriers to trade, and aligning regulatory measures could strengthen this relationship even further, acting as an “economic shot in the arm,” according to Bond, the Vice President of the Americas at the U.S. Chamber.

    At the conclusion of testimony, Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Trade Policy and Economics Doug Bell thanked the stakeholders for their efforts and said the information shared would “be of great value” to USTR with respect to TPP negotiating positions.

     USTR public hearing on TPP and Canada
    Members of the public listen to testimony at the public hearing yesterday.

    The TPP provides the opportunity for the U.S. and Canada to update their trade framework to reflect the technological advancements and regulatory complexities of the twenty-first century, and holds great opportunities for supporting quality jobs in the U.S.

  • 09/24/2012 10:13 AM

    By Kate Villarreal, Press Assistant 

    On Friday, the Office of the United States Trade Representative and interagency partners convened a public hearing to receive testimony on Mexico’s inclusion in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

    Counselor and Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Trade Policy and Economics Doug Bell presided over the proceedings. He opened the hearing by inviting stakeholders to give testimony to be shared with interagency panel members and TPP negotiators. Barbara Weisel, Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, and John Melle, Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for the Americas, also participated.


    Members of the public hear testimony at the TPP Mexico Hearing

    Ten speakers from a range of stakeholder groups gave testimony, addressing issues related to agriculture, intellectual property rights, labor, manufacturing, and other areas. Witnesses included members of the Sweetener Users Association, the USA Poultry and Egg Export Council, the National Chicken Council, Knowledge Ecology International, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the International Intellectual Property Alliance, Coalition for a Prosperous America, the Association of Global Automakers, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO.


    A representative from the International Intellectual Property Alliance testifies at the TPP Mexico Hearing

    Following each testimony, USTR representatives and agency counterparts asked questions to clarify stakeholder concerns. At the hearing’s conclusion, Assistant USTR Bell said comments would be taken back to the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiators.


    Representatives from Knowledge Ecology International testify at the TPP Mexico Hearing

    Friday’s hearing follows last week’s conclusion of the most recent TPP negotiating round in Leesburg, Virginia. A full transcript of the hearing will be posted on ustr.gov as soon as it’s available.

  • 09/20/2012 11:23 AM

    Yesterday Ambassador Kirk greeted Texas Panhandle Honor Flight veterans and joined them for a wreath laying ceremony at the Navy Memorial. Honor Flights transport veterans to Washington, D.C. each year to visit and reflect at various memorials honoring their service.

    Ambassador Kirk welcomed the group to Washington and thanked them for their past service and sacrifice on behalf of President Obama. “As the son of a World War II veteran and as a proud Texan, I am honored to be here to express my appreciation for you and your families and recognize your service,” said Ambassador Kirk.


    Ambassador Kirk Welcomes Veterans
    Ambassador Kirk Addresses Veterans from the Panhandle Honor Flight

    The Panhandle Honor Flight veterans are visiting Washington with America Supports You Texas, an Abilene, Texas-based organization which raises funds to sponsor the trips. This year’s Panhandle flight includes veterans of World War II, Korea, Vietnam and Afghanistan, as well as active military personnel and volunteer “guardians” who support and assist the vets during the three-day trip. Honor Flights prioritize the most senior veterans – WWII survivors – as well as terminally ill veterans. This marks the second year that Ambassador Kirk has received the visiting Honor Flight group.

  • 09/19/2012 3:37 PM

    Last Thursday, Ambassador Ron Kirk traveled to the Norridgewock, Maine factory of U.S. athletic footwear manufacturer New Balance. Ambassador Kirk, who was joined by the company’s President and CEO Rob DeMartini and Congressman Mike Michaud (ME-2), toured the facility and met with New Balance workers to discuss the footwear industry and the company’s footwear production techniques. After the tour, Ambassador Kirk took questions from workers on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement.

    Ambassador Kirk speaks with a New Balance workerAmbassador Kirk speaks with a New Balance worker in
    Norridgewock, ME

    "I want to thank the people at New Balance for giving me the opportunity to visit their Norridgewock factory, and for their willingness to engage with USTR as we negotiate the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement,” said Ambassador Kirk.

    Ambassador Kirk poses for a photoAmbassador Kirk poses for a photo with Congressman
    Mike Michaud (ME-2), Factory Manager Raye Wentworth,
    and New Balance CEO Rob DeMartini

    New Balance President and CEO Rob DeMartini was pleased that Ambassador Kirk made the trip to Norridgewock. “We are encouraged by the Ambassador’s visit and by his openness to hearing our perspective on this crucial matter of public policy, manufacturing and American jobs,” he commented.

  • 09/18/2012 11:36 AM
    Pursuant to the Office of the United States Trade Representative’s (USTR) “Request for Comments on Negotiating Objectives with Respect to Canada’s Participation in the Proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Agreement” published in the Federal Register (docket number USTR-2012-0015) on July 23, 2012, USTR is pleased to call to the attention of the public the opportunity to attend a public hearing on this matter. The hearing will be held on Monday, September 24, 2012, at 9:30 a.m., at 1724 F Street, Rooms 1 & 2, Washington, DC 20508. Open seating is available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Media inquiries should be directed to USTR’s Office of Public Affairs (202) 395-3230.
  • 09/18/2012 11:05 AM
    Pursuant to the Office of the United States Trade Representative’s (USTR) “Request for Comments on Negotiating Objectives with Respect to Mexico’s Participation in the Proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Agreement” published in the Federal Register (docket number USTR-2012-0014) on July 23, 2012, USTR is pleased to call to the attention of the public the opportunity to attend a public hearing on this matter. The hearing will be held on Friday, September 21, 2012, at 9:30 a.m., at 1724 F Street, Rooms 1 & 2, Washington, DC 20508. Open seating is available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Media inquiries should be directed to USTR’s Office of Public Affairs (202) 395-3230.
  • 09/14/2012 10:59 AM

    On Wednesday, Ambassador Kirk joined Members of Congress at an event focused on the future of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). The event marked the successful passage of bipartisan legislation to extend the third-country fabric provision of AGOA, which President Obama signed into law last month. The provision, which was due to expire at the end of September, will support sustainable economic growth and development by boosting trade with Africa.

    In his remarks, Ambassador Kirk emphasized President Obama’s commitment to a strong and enduring U.S.-Africa partnership for the 21st century.

    “AGOA is an integral part of our broad vision for strong partnership between the United States and Africa,” said Ambassador Kirk. “That is why the Obama Administration looks forward to working with Congress to extend AGOA beyond 2015, in order to provide the certainty businesses need to grow trade and create jobs.”

    Ambassador Kirk also described how the Presidential Policy Directive (PPD) for sub-Saharan Africa issued this past June provides a blueprint for advancing cooperation and trade between the United States and Africa even further.

    Along with Ambassador Kirk, Lesotho Ambassador Molapi Sebatane, U.S. Senator Chris Coons, U.S. Senator Mark Begich, and U.S. Representatives Jim McDermott, Charles Rangel, Ed Royce and Karen Bass all spoke at the event. The program was sponsored by both the AGOA Action Coalition and the Africa Society and was moderated by Rosa Whitaker, the former Assistant United States Trade Representative for African Affairs.

  • 09/11/2012 5:07 PM

    Today, Ambassador Kirk traveled to Seat Pleasant, Maryland to commemorate the lives of those lost on September 11th, 2001 by participating in a local community service project at the Eastern Avenue Apartments. The apartment complex, run by the Volunteers of America Chesapeake, provides housing for families and adults who are on their way to self-sufficiency.

    At 8:46 a.m. Eastern Time, Ambassador Kirk led volunteers in a moment of silence to mark the moment that the first plane hit the World Trade Center in New York City eleven years ago. Following remarks by Ambassador Kirk and representatives of sponsoring organizations, the group undertook projects to beautify the apartments and surrounding community, including landscaping, planting flowers, and applying fresh coats of paint.

    This 9/11 Day of Service project was organized by MyGoodDeed and The Mission Continues, a local not-for-profit organization that mobilizes military veterans to continue leadership efforts in their communities. MyGoodDeed also helped secure the formal designation of September 11 as a National Day of Service and Remembrance. The event was sponsored by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS).

     

    Ambassador Kirk participates in 9/11 Day of Service

    Ambassador Kirk participates in a service project at the Eastern Avenue Apartments.

     

    Group portrait at 9/11 Service Event

    CNCS Chief Executive Officer Wendy Spencer (left), Ambassador Kirk, and representatives from MyGoodDeed,

    The Mission Continues, and Volunteers of America Chesapeake

  • 09/11/2012 9:18 AM

    by Mawish Raza, Intern for Public and Media Affairs

    United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk spoke at a White House briefing yesterday for the National Farmers Union. Farmers from across the nation joined as senior administration officials discussed how federal agencies are incorporating agriculture into policy creation.

    During his speech, Ambassador Kirk discussed the importance of the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative in working closely with other agencies to maximize the full liberalization of trade negotiations. He highlighted the benefits that have resulted from trade agreements with Korea and Colombia that took effect earlier this year, including a significant increase in agricultural exports. Ambassador Kirk also mentioned the significance of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) for agricultural trade. As the 14th round of TPP negotiations continue this week in Leesburg, Virginia, he spoke of the positive impact that would result from this growing partnership with the Asia-Pacific region.

    Felicia Escobar, Senior Policy Director of the Domestic Policy Council for Immigration, Rohan Patel, Associate Director for Public Engagement for the Council on Environmental Quality, Dan Utech, Deputy Director for the Office of Energy and Climate Change, Rob Johansson, Deputy Chief Economist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Doug McKalip, Senior Policy Advisor for the Domestic Policy Council, were also among those scheduled to present at the event.Ambassador Kirk speaks to the farmers union at a White House Briefing

    Ambassador Kirk speaks to the farmers union at a White House Briefing.

  • 09/09/2012 9:58 PM

    By Isaac Faz, Acting Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement

    On Sunday, September 9th, USTR hosted stakeholder engagement events at the 14th Round of the Trans-Pacific Partnership in Leesburg, Virginia. Negotiators from all nine TPP countries took a break from negotiations in order to speak to and hear from the public about a wide range of issues in the agreement. Over 450 stakeholders registered to attend the engagement event – a 49% increase from registration for similar events at the 13th Round in San Diego, California in July. From 11 am – 2 pm, stakeholders were able to speak directly with delegates from all TPP countries and deliver presentations on a topic of interest.

    The registered stakeholders represented more than 200 organizations; more than 90 organizations registered for a table to display reports, blogs, studies and promotional materials at the "direct engagement" event. The Leesburg round of direct engagement participants increased by 75% from San Diego and included first-time attendees Third Way, Precision Tune Auto Care and the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce . This event also included past participants such as the Sierra Club, Public Citizen, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Public Knowledge, and Google, among many others.

    Stakeholders were also able to supplement their direct one-on-one table engagement through lecture-style presentations. The presentations allow stakeholders to choose a topic of interest and present to interested TPP delegates. This portion of the stakeholder event saw an 81% jump in participation from San Diego, and all who registered for presentations were accommodated. The interest was high and space was limited, but the presenters definitely had full audiences in each of the four rooms allocated for presentations. USTR was pleased to be able to expand the allotted presentation times slightly in light of cancellations by a few of the many registered presenters.

    To conclude the day, TPP Chief negotiators (excepting Brunei, whose chief was still en route to the talks) led a ninety minute stakeholder briefing and participated in a question and answer session. Over 150 stakeholders attended the briefing and asked questions on topics ranging from intellectual property issues, investor-state disputes, labor and the environment. The Trans-Pacific Partnership round in Leesburg will end on September 15th.

  • 09/07/2012 2:42 PM

    As the 14th Round of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations kicks off in Leesburg, VA, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) is welcoming stakeholders to participate by engaging with negotiators, sharing their views and asking questions. Trade agreements like the TPP help small- and medium-sized businesses – like Fulton Bank, which will have a representative at the Stakeholder Engagement event this Sunday – support more jobs at home by opening up new markets for exporters and lowering tariff and non-tariff trade barriers. Many small- and medium-sized American businesses are in the services industry, and one of the most important goals of the TPP is to increase opportunities for those businesses.

    Fulton Bank, a full-service commercial bank operating in Virginia, Delaware and Pennsylvania, stands to benefit from the TPP. Currently, service providers like Fulton Bank face many challenges in the global marketplace including local establishment requirements (laws that require banks to have a physical presence in a country to transact business) and significant restrictions on investment. In an increasingly competitive global environment, businesses like Fulton Bank want full and free access to the global marketplace to increase their sales and create more jobs here at home. Frederico Manno, a Vice President at Fulton Bank, shared his thoughts on the TPP and the benefits it would have for the commercial banking industry:

    “I believe the eventual passing of this Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement will lower or reduce considerably tariffs and duties and, therefore, it will only help trade among [participating] countries. Consequently, it will just increase the flow of banking business around the world to include international wire payments, foreign exchange transactions, letter of credit instruments and financing to support the export-import trade business that is necessary for the well-being of our global societies. Fulton Bank and other commercial banks will benefit from this path.”

    As the TPP negotiations advance, USTR will continue reaching out to stakeholders across the country, seeking their input to craft a 21st century trade agreement that will help U.S. businesses stay globally competitive and support jobs for more Americans.

    The 14th round of TPP negotiations began on September 6.

  • 08/07/2012 5:27 PM

    The renewal of the third-country fabric (TCF) provision of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) – passed by Congress last week – is welcome news for apparel workers in Africa and will contribute to a strong foreign policy foundation in the Sub-Saharan Africa region.

    In many Sub-Saharan African countries, manufacturers use fabric from international sources to produce apparel because the regional fabric supply is limited. These same apparel manufacturers then export their finished products to the United States. Normally, these products would be subject to U.S. import duties, but the TCF provision lifts those duties and helps to support jobs and the manufacturing industry in certain lesser-developed Sub-Saharan African countries. The benefits of the TCF provision also extend to American apparel retailers; it helps them reduce their costs, diversify their supply chains, and create more apparel options for American consumers. The TCF provision was scheduled to expire in September of this year, but on August 2nd, Congress acted to renew it, safeguarding thousands of jobs for textile workers throughout Sub-Saharan Africa.

    luckymills
    U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk visiting the Lucky 1888 Mills in Tema, Ghana.

    In addition to supporting jobs, the renewal of the TCF provision will help the U.S. achieve many of its regional foreign policy objectives. President Obama’s new “U.S. Strategy for Sub-Saharan Africa” describes “sustainable, inclusive economic growth” as a “key ingredient to security, political stability, and development” in the region. The TCF provision, which helps to support stable employment for textile workers, many of whom are women, is making a strong contribution toward that goal.

    U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk recently traveled to Ghana to highlight the Obama Administration’s new Sub-Saharan African Strategy, and to demonstrate the benefits of the TCF provision. In the course of his visit, Ambassador Kirk toured the Lucky 1888 Mills in Tema, Ghana, and met with workers. Lucky 1888 Mills, which uses the TCF provision to export to the United States, employs approximately 500 women in quality jobs with competitive wages.

  • 08/03/2012 8:47 AM


    Ambassador Kirk speaks at the U.S. Trade and Development Agency.

    On Wednesday, United State Trade Representative Ron Kirk spoke at the Trade and Development Interagency Intern Panel hosted by the United States Trade and Development Agency (USTDA). The event brought together interns from across the federal government to learn more about the federal government’s trade and development related agencies, and the ways they work to increase economic growth and support U.S. jobs.

    Ambassador Kirk was the keynote speaker; he discussed his role as the U.S. Trade Representative and key events and trends in U.S. trade policy since early 2009. The Obama Administration has made it a priority to listen to Americans, to hear their concerns and suggestions about trade. From this, Ambassador Kirk said the U.S. was able to take actions like improving and advancing initiatives like the U.S- Korea Free Trade Agreement – which won the support of American autoworkers as well as the business community when Congress approved it last year. He also talked about trade and American jobs, and he encouraged the audience of interns to learn not only one language but two, three, or even more. He said good judgment, the ability to solve problems, and the confidence to get things done are key element to a successful career.

    Jon Carson, Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, and Sharon Bomer-Lauritsen, the Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Agricultural Affairs and Commodity Policy, also spoke at the event.


    Ambassador Kirk takes a question from a member of the audience.

  • 07/30/2012 4:49 PM

    Last Monday, Russia notified the World Trade Organization (WTO) that it had accepted its terms of accession and is prepared to become the organization’s 157th member on August 22, 2012. As the United States welcomes Russia’s Membership in the WTO, the Obama Administration is working closely with Congress to ensure that the WTO Agreement will apply between the United States and Russia. When the WTO Agreement is in full effect between the United States and Russia, U.S. exporters will be able to access all of the job-supporting benefits that come with Russia joining the rules-based global trading system.

    A significant benefit of Russia’s WTO Membership is improved market access for U.S. goods exports to Russia. Until now, Russia had no tariff bindings, meaning it could increase its tariffs without limit and without notice. Over the past few years, Russia has occasionally raised tariffs on a number of U.S. exports, such as combine harvesters, steel pipes and rolled products, rice, and processed cheese, just to name a few. As a WTO Member, Russia has not only reduced many tariff rates, it has established limits on the tariff level it can apply to all products, providing certainty and predictability to U.S. exporters.

    These commitments will bring significant benefits to American farmers, ranchers, and manufacturers. For example, soybeans are the largest source of farm cash receipts in Ohio. Under the WTO Agreement, Russia has committed to cut soybean tariffs to zero, which could create significant opportunities for soybean farmers in the Buckeye State. Importantly, the WTO Agreement also provides the United States with the enforcement tools necessary to ensure Russia fulfills its WTO commitments.

    Similarly, Russia has committed to provide greater and more predictable access to its services market. In sectors such as audio-visual, telecommunications, and financial services, Russia is allowing foreign companies to operate as 100 percent foreign-owned enterprises. These provisions will give U.S. service providers additional certainty and security to help them expand their businesses in Russia’s large and growing market.

    As part of its WTO accession terms, Russia has also committed to provide stronger protection for U.S. intellectual property rights. Russia’s enhanced IPR commitments will support well-paying jobs in America’s innovative and creative industries.

    Without the WTO Agreement in place, many of these job-supporting benefits would be unavailable to U.S. exporters, manufacturers, creators, and workers. At the same time, competitors from other WTO Member countries will soon begin to enjoy these benefits, which creates the potential for our exporters to be put at a disadvantage. That is why the Administration is working closely with Congress to secure legislation terminating the application to Russia of the Jackson-Vanik amendment, which currently precludes permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) with Russia. When adopted, legislation authorizing PNTR with Russia will provide American businesses, workers, and families an equal opportunity to access the full benefits of Russia’s WTO Membership.

  • 07/30/2012 4:14 PM

    Last Week, United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk attended an Export Promotion Cabinet and Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee (TPCC) Principals Meeting at the U.S. Department of Commerce. The meeting provided an opportunity for Cabinet officials to discuss opportunities and options for increasing exports and the Obama Administration’s overall trade agenda.

    A major topic of discussion at the meeting was the Administration’s new strategy toward Sub-Saharan Africa, which is part of the President’s Presidential Policy Directive (PPD) released on June 14 during the African Growth and Opportunity Act Forum in DC. President Obama announced this new strategy of engagement with the region, stating that, “it is in the interest of the United States to improve the region’s trade competitiveness, encourage the diversification of exports beyond natural resources, and ensure that the benefits from growth are broad-based.” The strategy sets forth four strategic objectives: (1) strengthen democratic institutions; (2) spur economic growth, trade and investment; (3) advance peace and security; and (4) promote opportunity and development.

    The Office of the United States Trade Representative is playing an integral role in implementing President Obama’s new plan. One of the most important aspects of this strategy is to increase bilateral trade and investment by facilitating the interaction between America’s private sector and Africa. Many small- and medium-sized businesses are unaware of the vast opportunities in Africa. Some of the steps taken by the Administration to render these opportunities more accessible include focusing on improving infrastructure in Sub-Saharan Africa to decrease transportation costs; increasing economic governance and transparency to lessen dependence on aid; and establishing institutional reforms to create an enabling trade environment. To further home in on this point, the theme of this year’s AGOA forum was “Enhancing Africa’s Infrastructure for trade.”

  • 07/27/2012 5:27 PM

    Washington, D.C. – Senior U.S. and Chinese trade officials provided updates on recent developments in U.S.-China trade and investment relations at today’s U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT) mid-year review meeting in Washington.

    Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco Sánchez and Deputy United States Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis co-chaired the meeting with Chinese Vice Minister of Commerce Wang Chao. Ambassador Islam Siddiqui, Chief Agricultural Negotiator, USTR, and Janet Nuzum, Associate Administrator, Foreign Agricultural Service, USDA, also participated in the meeting.

    The two governments reviewed implementation of commitments made at the 2011 JCCT and began preparations for the 2012 JCCT meeting, which is to be held in the United States later this year.

    Ambassador Marantis said, “We leverage the JCCT process to resolve trade and investment policy challenges, and the Mid-Year Review is a key opportunity to develop momentum for this year’s JCCT plenary and ensure that China fully implements last year’s commitments.”

    “The U.S.-China trade relationship remains one of the most important in the world, but the relationship must be fair, balanced, and mutually beneficial,” Sánchez said. “We will continue to push China to take concrete steps that open its markets to and level the playing field for U.S. goods and services, to ensure that these principles guide our bilateral trade ties.”

    China is a critical destination for U.S. manufactured goods and services, as America’s third largest export market, following neighboring Canada and Mexico. Between 2009 and 2011, U.S. goods exports to China grew by nearly 50 percent.

    The JCCT, established in 1983, is the main forum for addressing bilateral trade concerns and promoting commercial opportunities between the United States and China.

  • 07/25/2012 4:00 PM

    Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis visited the Bay Area on July 23 and 24 to discuss and solicit input on various Obama Administration trade initiatives in the Asia-Pacific, especially ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations.


    Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis, DAUSTR for Intellectual
    Property Probir Mehta, and AUSTR for Public Engagement Christine Turner visit
    Google's headquarters in Mountain View, CA.

    During that time, Ambassador Marantis met with key San Francisco and Silicon Valley based companies -- including Twitter, Google, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Square -- where he discussed the importance of promoting innovation in the TPP, and highlighted USTR's new proposal on copyright exceptions such as fair use in the intellectual property chapter of TPP, e-commerce provisions, and other issues. Ambassador Marantis also discussed challenges in Asia-Pacific trade with the biopharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences and electric vehicle designer and manufacturer Tesla Motors.


    Ambassador Marantis visits the Tesla Motors manufacturing facility in Fremont, CA.

    While in San Francisco, Ambassador Marantis also joined Department of Commerce Under Secretary for International Trade Francisco Sánchez for a working lunch event organized by the Bay Area Council. There the two officials briefed local business leaders on recent developments in U.S. trade policy, including negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and U.S. trade and investment relations with China and India.

  • 07/25/2012 10:20 AM

    Yesterday, Ambassador Kirk visited with the U.S.-Russia Business Council to discuss the Obama Administration’s commitment to securing permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) with Russia as soon as possible. The meeting took place just a day after Russia notified the World Trade Organization (WTO) that it has accepted its terms of accession to the WTO; Russia will become the 156th Member of the WTO on August 22, 2012.

    In opening remarks, Ambassador Kirk stressed the importance of terminating application of the Jackson-Vanik amendment and extending PNTR to Russia.

    After his remarks, Ambassador Kirk engaged in direct dialogue with U.S.-Russia Business Council members about PNTR for Russia and related issues.

    Ambassador Kirk at a meeting of the U.S.-Russia Business Council
    Ambassador Kirk discusses Russia PNTR with U.S.-Russia Business Council Chairman Ed Verona at a
    meeting with U.S.-Russia Business Council members.

  • 07/23/2012 4:05 PM

    At USTR, we pride ourselves on our commitment to public engagement. We try to solicit input from every end of the opinion spectrum when we craft new trade policies, because we know that successful trade agreements depend on buy-in from concerned stakeholders. We apply that same commitment to our efforts to negotiate the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, an ambitious, next-generation, Asia-Pacific trade agreement that reflects U.S. priorities and values and seeks to create jobs here at home.

    Today, we posted two announcements in the Federal Register. These two notices request input from the public, stakeholder groups, and members of Congress on how we should update our TPP negotiating priorities in light of the inclusion of Canada and Mexico in the list of TPP member countries. Instructions for participation online, or in person, are included in the documents posted below. The next negotiating round of the TPP will take place in Leesburg, Virginia from September 6-15, 2012. For more information on TPP engagement, please visit www.ustr.gov/tpp.

    Request for Comments on Negotiating Objectives With Respect to Canada's Participation in the Proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Agreement

    Request for Comments on Negotiating Objectives With Respect to Mexico's Participation in the Proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Agreement

  • 07/23/2012 3:22 PM

    On Friday, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk traveled to Pittsburgh, PA to meet with local labor and business leaders and discuss opportunities to support more American jobs through exports. This was his fourth visit to Pittsburgh as U.S. Trade Representative.

    He kicked off his visit with a roundtable discussion hosted by the National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC). The event, entitled “Winning in the Global Economy,” focused on the role of international trade and investment in the success of America’s economy. Ambassador Kirk highlighted the Obama Administration’s continuing efforts to create new export opportunities for American businesses and workers. Ambassador Kirk and NFTC members discussed recently implemented trade agreements with Korea and Colombia, and the pending implementation of the Panama trade agreement. They also discussed forward-leaning trade initiatives including the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, an ambitious agreement created to enhance trade and investment among the TPP member countries, and new World Trade Organization initiatives such as the International Technology Agreement.


    Ambassador Kirk at the National Foreign Trade Council Luncheon

    Following his event with NFTC, Ambassador Kirk toured economic development projects surrounding Pittsburgh International Airport. He was joined on the tour by Export-Import Bank Vice Chair Wanda Felton, United Steelworkers President Leo Gerard, Allegheny County Executive Richard Fitzgerald, and Executive Director and CEO of the Allegheny County Airport Authority Brad Penrod. The area surrounding the airport has office buildings, research and development space, a hotel, and jet hangars. Airport and local government authorities are hoping to turn a 195-acre tract of land into a major new economic development site. The area is already part of a foreign trade zone, which allows companies to import goods, create products, and resell them outside of the United States without having to pay import fees. To advance trade goals, Allegheny County and the airport authority also plan to designate the complex as a licensed World Trade Center. The World Trade Center designation is expected to benefit Pittsburgh’s economy by facilitating international business, trade, and investment.


    Ambassador Kirk Tours the Airport Park with (from left):
    Allegheny County ExecutiveRichard Fitzgerald, Export-Import Bank
    Vice Chair Wanda Felton, and United Steelworkers President Leo Gerard

    After the tour, Ambassador Kirk and the delegation met with other local business and civic leaders to discuss plans for the development of the airport, market-opening measures, exports, the Obama Administration’s efforts to increase trade enforcement, and Pittsburgh’s economic transformation.

  • 07/23/2012 10:35 AM

    On Friday, July 20, 2012, Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Miriam Sapiro gave remarks at PortMiami in Miami, Florida to highlight the implementation of the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement and to celebrate Colombian Independence Day. Miami-Dade County Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz and Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez also spoke at the event. During the event, both the Mayor and the Commissioner honored Ambassador Sapiro and the Office of the United States Trade Representative by presenting her with the key to Miami-Dade County.

    After the formal program, Jose Perez-Jones, Senior Vice President of Seaboard Marine – the largest ocean transportation company operating out of the Port of Miami – guided the group to view the unloading and reloading of a ship called the M/V Vega Scorpio Voyage # 1, which is carrying U.S. goods destined for Colombia. Some of the commodities being shipped to Colombia include: department store merchandise, auto parts, cotton, yarn, locomotive parts, machinery and equipment for mining, float glass, foodstuffs, trucks, vehicles, orange juice concentrate, frozen foodstuffs, deli foodstuffs, confectionary products, and fresh fruits.

    After the event at PortMiami, Ambassador Sapiro spoke about the Obama Administration’s trade agenda at a round table hosted by the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce. Her remarks focused on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Russia’s accession to the WTO, and the Panama Trade Promotion Agreement.


    Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Miriam Sapiro tours the Port of
    Miami in front of the M/V Vega Scorpio Voyage #1, which
    carries U.S
    goods destined for Colombia, including auto parts,
    cotton, and
    fresh fruits.

     

  • 07/20/2012 10:09 PM

    Ambassador Marantis addresses the Washington Council on International Trade
    Ambassador Demetrios Marantis gives remarks before the Washington
    Council on International Trade

    Following yesterday's speech before the Washington Council on International Trade, Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis met with key stakeholders today, including union leaders and representatives of NGOs, to hear their views and address their concerns, particularly regarding the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

    Ambassador Marantis meets with labor stakeholders
    Ambassador Marantis hears concerns from stakeholders during a roundtable meeting at the
    Labor Temple in Seattle, WA.

    In a roundtable meeting hosted by the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace, Ambassador Marantis met with Washington State Senator Maralyn Chase and representatives from the Sierra Club, United Steelworkers, Association of Western Pulp and Paper Workers, Witness for Peace, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, the AFL-CIO, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, and the Washington Fair Trade Coalition, among others, to discuss issues of concern related to trade policy and the TPP agreement. This meeting again highlighted USTR's ongoing engagement with a broad range of stakeholders with diverse points of view. Ambassador Marantis pledged to continue the discussion, offering stakeholders the opportunity for in-depth briefings with subject matter experts from USTR's negotiating team.

    Ambassador Marantis and Senator Maria Cantwell visit the FC Bloxom produce export
    Ambassador Marantis and Senator Maria Cantwell visit the FC Bloxom produce export
    facility south of downtown Seattle, WA.

    Ambassador Marantis also met with officials from the Gates Foundation and traveled to Everett, Washington to view the Boeing 787 production line and to meet with Boeing officials. Finally, Ambassador Marantis met with Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) to highlight the benefits of the U.S.-Korea Trade Agreement experienced by Washington State thus far. Since the agreement's implementation on March 15 of this year, Washington State growers have reported significant increases in exports of produce to South Korea. Producers of cherries in Washington State, in particular, have reported a doubling of cherry exports to South Korea compared to the same period last year.

    ambassador marantis at Boeing
    Ambassador Marantis at Boeing in Everett, WA after viewing the 787 production line.

  • 07/20/2012 2:35 PM

    By Ambassador Ron Kirk

    As the nineteenth International AIDS Conference kicks off in Washington, DC, experts and activists from around the world are bringing together their best ideas to fight this disease. As part of this conversation, some are taking a careful look at trade policy issues and so is the Obama Administration.

    Stakeholders on all sides of this issue recognize the need to balance trade’s long-standing role in the promotion of pharmaceutical innovation through intellectual property rights with the imperative to ensure access to life-saving medicines for people around the world.

    The Obama Administration is committed to developing policies that do both. We believe that we can increase access to medicines and support innovation for the development of new and improved drugs for HIV/AIDS and other diseases. And with input from the public, global health and development experts, innovative and generic drug companies, and Federal agencies that serve these sectors, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative is working in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) – a major Asia-Pacific trade agreement now under negotiation – to get this balance right.

    We all know that innovation is essential to create new tools in the fight for global health, and the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the Global Fund for AIDS, TB and Malaria, FDA, NIH and U.S. generic and innovator companies with voluntary licensing programs are demonstrating that innovation and access can thrive together with the right policies.

    We have never wavered in our support for the Doha Declaration on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) and Public Health, including affirming that the TRIPS Agreement can and should be interpreted and implemented in a manner supportive of WTO members' right to protect public health.

    We have underscored this priority in the TPP, and stated clearly that the “TPP countries have agreed to reflect in the text a shared commitment to the Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health.”

    Furthermore, in the TPP we are seeking to expand U.S. exports of both innovative and generic drugs in a way that drives access to medicines in the developing world while promoting innovation.

    It is a difficult balance to strike. We have heard a great deal of feedback on our early proposals -- including on the treatment of lesser-developed countries, such as Vietnam -- and are carefully reflecting upon that feedback.

    We want to get the balance right and to work with the public and with our trading partners to get there. This process will take some time and, as we work over the course of the next several months, we will be very interested in additional input.

    Trade alone can’t provide access to medicines. So these trade policies we are refining will go hand in hand with other approaches by the Obama Administration to encourage pharmaceutical innovation and promote access to medicines. Here are some great examples of what’s going on across the government in this regard:

    • Anti-retroviral drugs purchased by PEPFARare now over 98 percent generic and the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria, to which the U.S. is the largest donor, also procures a high percentage of effective and low cost generic medicines to treat HIV/AIDS.

    • Innovative approaches by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to provide tentative approval for generic drugs have contributed to PEPFAR’s success. This has led to nearly 150 antiretrovirals being made available, at lower cost; as a result, the U.S. will directly support life-saving antiretroviral treatment for 6 million men, women and children worldwide by the end of 2013.

    • The U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) and co-patent owner the University of Illinois at Chicago were the first patent holders ever to share their intellectual property with the Medicines Patent Pool Foundation. President Obama leveraged our contribution and last year along with the other G-8 Leaders called on all rights holders – public and private – to consider entering into license agreements with the Foundation. USTR supported that call by citing this kind of patent-sharing practice in its 2012 “Special 301” Report.

    • The NIH successfully licensed a technology developed by the FDA to the international non-profit PATH to develop MenAfriVac, a lifesaving meningitis vaccine for sub-Saharan Africa. The Serum Institute of India Limited now produces that vaccine at low cost. Over 20 million people have been vaccinated in Africa’s meningitis belt at below USD $0.50 because of this effort. To replicate this success and expedite technology transfer to not-for-profit institutions with a demonstrated commitment to global health, the NIH developed a model licensing agreement which was subsequently adopted by the G8.

    • The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) launched Patents for Humanity to reward companies that use patented technologies for humanitarian endeavors. Winning participants will receive vouchers for accelerated processing for select matters in front of the PTO.

    With a full complement of efforts, the Obama Administration intends to ensure that access to medicines is as robust as in prior administrations, and to ensure that important programs like PEPFAR remain effective. We’ll continue to work with you to deliver on that promise.

  • 07/20/2012 1:45 PM

    This week, Ambassador Kirk received the Distinguished Service Award at the Washington International Trade Association and Foundation (WITA/WITF) annual awards dinner.

    Congressman Kevin Brady presented the award to Ambassador Kirk noting that the Ambassador “consulted relentlessly with Members of Congress of every stripe” as the Administration worked to secure bipartisan support for trade agreements with Korea, Colombia, and Panama.

    Kirk at WITA
    Congressman Kevin Brady presented Ambassador Kirk with the WITA/WITF Distinguished Service Award

    Ambassador Kirk accepted the award on behalf of all USTR employees, and in observance of USTR’s 50th anniversary this year. He spoke particularly about the privilege of working with the staff of USTR. These smart, passionate, and dedicated professionals have upheld a strong tradition of public service for the last five decades, and the work of USTR – opening markets, leveling the playing field, and keeping America competitive – is enormously relevant for hard-working families across the United States. That’s why trade and exports remain a vital part of President Obama’s blueprint to build an economy that lasts with better jobs for more Americans.

    Kirk at WITA
    Ambassador Kirk accepts the WITA/WITF Distinguished Service Award on behalf of all USTR employees

    Ambassador Kirk also thanked and congratulated Congressman David Dreier who received WITA/WITF’s Lifetime Achievement Award for his statesmanship and tireless devotion to advancing bipartisan U.S. trade policy.

    USTR was created through the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, in which Congress called for President Kennedy to appoint a Special Representative for Trade Negotiations to conduct U.S. trade negotiations. To find out more about USTR’s 50th anniversary this year, please visit www.ustr.gov/50.

  • 07/17/2012 11:04 AM
    We’ve agreed that the United States and Thailand will resume our formal dialogue under our bilateral Trade and Investment Framework Agreement.  During a visit to Bangkok late last week, Assistant USTR for Southeast Asia and the Pacific Barbara Weisel reached agreement with her counterpart, Commerce Department Director General Srirat Rastapana, to resume regular meetings under the TIFA to address bilateral trade issues, to coordinate on issues in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) forums, and to develop specific initiatives that would further build our bilateral relationship.  In addition, they discussed regional trade initiatives and pathways to Asia-Pacific trade integration, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership.  The United States and Thailand will hold a TIFA meeting as soon as possible...watch for updates from USTR.
  • 07/16/2012 11:28 AM

    Last week, United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk traveled to Accra to promote increased trade between the United States and Ghana. Ambassador Kirk consulted with U.S. businesses in the area, met with Ghanaian government officials, and visited the USAID West African Trade Competitiveness Hub. Ambassador Kirk also highlighted President Obama’s recently announced Presidential Policy Directive (PPD) for Sub-Saharan Africa. The President’s new strategy puts a special emphasis on increasing trade and investment with sub-Saharan Africa, a region which is home to 6 of the 10 fastest growing markets in the world, including Ghana.


    U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk visited the USAID West African Trade
    Competitiveness
    Hub in Accra, Ghana.

    The United States and Ghana have maintained a robust and growing trade relationship over the last thirteen years. In 1999, the U.S. and Ghana signed a Trade & Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) which provides a strategic framework and principles for a constructive dialogue on trade and investment issues between the two countries. Ghana has also benefitted from the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), enacted in 2000, a Clinton-era bill that helps to stimulate economic growth in the region and assists eligible countries like Ghana in exporting goods to the United States. The increase in trade has led to growth for both economies. Since AGOA was enacted, U.S. exports to Ghana have increased by over 1 billion dollars from 2001 to 2011, and U.S. imports from Ghana have increased by nearly 600 million dollars during that same period.

    Increased trade with Ghana has helped many U.S. businesses grow and create jobs. Ambassador Kirk visited one such business, the Cargill Cocoa Processing Facility in the port of Tema, Ghana last week. Cargill, a U.S.-based company, expanded its operations to Ghana in 2007 in order to take advantage of Ghanaian cocoa beans, which some consider to be the finest in the world. Cargill’s expansion to Ghana helped the company to improve its product, created new Ghanaian jobs, and also helped to support the jobs of thousands of Americans employed in the cocoa/chocolate sector, and related sectors such as dairy, nuts, baked goods, and baking products. Cargill’s success shows the promise of the vibrant and growing trade and investment relationship between Ghana and the United States.

    For more information on how your small business can benefit from increased trade with West Africa please visit: USAID West Africa Trade Hub.

  • 07/12/2012 4:47 PM

    Ambassador Kirk continued his visit in Ghana today with a visit to Lucky 1888 Textile Mills. Lucky -- located in the free trade zone of Tema just outside of Accra -- is a true U.S-Ghana trade success story. Approximately 500 Ghanaian women have quality jobs at the factory making medical scrubs that are exported to the United States for sale at Walmart stores. Lucky Mills wouldn't exist if it weren't for the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). The factory specifically benefits from the Third Country Fabric provision of AGOA, which is due to expire in September. Given the importance of the Third Country Fabric Provision to the Employees of Lucky Mills, the people of Ghana, and the rest of Sub-Saharan Africa, Ambassador Kirk looks forward to working closely with Congress to secure the urgent renewal of this provision.


    U.S Trade Representative Ron Kirk visits with workers at the Lucky Textile Mills in
    Tema, Ghana.

    Following Lucky Mills, Ambassador Kirk then toured Cargill's cocoa processing facility in Tema. There are currently about 420 people that are directly or indirectly employed as a result of this investment. During the tour, Ambassador Kirk and the delegation were able to see first-hand how cocoa beans are processed into cocoa powder that is exported to Europe and the United States for use in baking products for companies like General Mills and Kraft.

    Lucky Mills and Cargill are proof that AGOA is working to create jobs in Africa, while helping to provide quality exports to the U.S. and world markets.

  • 07/11/2012 4:28 PM

    Ambassador Kirk is in Accra, Ghana this week on his first trip to this West African country as United States Trade Representative. Since Ghana's independence over a half century ago, the United States has enjoyed a strong partnership with Ghana -- which continues to grow stronger to this day. This is why President Obama visited Ghana during his first official trip to Africa as President of the United States three years ago. And now Ambassador Kirk is visiting Ghana to focus attention on the growing trade and investment relationship between the two countries.

    He kicked off the day today by visiting Ghana's Ministry of Trade and Industry to meet with Trade Minister Hannah Tetteh. During the meeting they discussed both countries' mutual interest in considering the possibility of a U.S.-Ghana bilateral investment treaty (BIT), which would fit well into Ghana’s strategy of attracting private investment and diversifying its economy. It would also represent a major milestone in our bilateral economic relationship. A BIT with the United States would send a powerful signal to American and other foreign investors that Ghana is committed to adopting and maintaining a favorable investment climate. Ambassador Kirk and Minister Tetteh have had a strong, productive working relationship over the last few years and they expressed their mutual interest in continuing to work together as they explore the possibility of pursuing a U.S.-Ghana BIT.

    Ambassador Kirk then met with George Aboagye, Chairman of Ghana's Investment Promotion Centre to discuss options for increasing investment in Ghana. U.S. foreign direct investment (FDI) in Ghana was 974 million dollars in 2006 -- the last year for which data is available. However, Chairman Aboagye mentioned Ghana's eagerness to expand its range of U.S. investment beyond oil exploration to include energy services and non-energy sectors.


    U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and USAID West Africa Trade Hub Director
    Vanessa Adams take questions from members of the press at the West Africa Trade
    Hub in Accra, Ghana.

    Following meetings with Ghanaian government officials, Ambassador Kirk visited USAID's West Africa Trade Hub in Accra. The Trade Hub focuses on economic development and job creation by providing technical assistance and training to export-ready West African companies -- which has helped to significantly increase their competitiveness. Since 2007, the Trade Hub has facilitated over 100 million dollars in exports from the region and trained more than 7,000 people in business skills. Ambassador Kirk met with Trade Hub officials and their West African partners to discuss the Trade Hub's success over the last eight years in breaking down barriers to trade within the region and increasing the skills and competitiveness of many West African companies.

  • 07/09/2012 3:59 PM

    As the 13th Round of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations continues in San Diego, California, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative is providing stakeholders with the opportunity to speak with negotiators, ask questions, and share their views. By opening up new markets for exporters and lowering tariffs, trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership help small- and medium-sized companies support more jobs at home. FruitPros LLC, a three-person small business headquartered in Chula Vista, California, is a good example of a company that would stand to benefit from the TPP.

    FruitPros, like many small businesses, relies on exports for nearly all of its total sales. Carlos Velarde, a representative from FruitPros, explains that large U.S.-based companies like Costco and Walmart generally only purchase fruit in bulk; businesses like FruitPros that deal in smaller quantities usually “export to Mexico and other Latin American countries.” This situation makes companies like FruitPros particularly vulnerable to trade restrictions. When Mexico implemented punitive duties on U.S. products in 2010, FruitPros sales dropped by over 60 percent.

    The certainty that the TPP would provide with respect to tariffs, duties, and trade infrastructure would undoubtedly help small businesses like FruitPros compete in the global market. According to Mr. Velarde, “If we [the United States] do not have favorable trade agreements with our key trading partners, the U.S. economy loses out to other countries like Chile, China, or Argentina, who are also big producers of agricultural products.” For Velarde and his team at FruitPros, favorable trade agreements create opportunities to target more customers and create jobs.

    In addition, Mr. Velarde believes that more open markets will benefit U.S. producers and consumers. “Successful trade opens up markets for our many producers…Many people don’t realize how many products we are blessed to produce. Our nation is vast with technology and natural resources…Opening up markets enables our consumers to purchase products at lower costs and it also allows our producers to target other consumers for their products.”

     FruitPros
    FruitPros ships fine fruit to clients around the world

    Stakeholders like FruitPros LLC play an essential role in shaping trade policy, and a good opportunity for those stakeholders to interact with negotiators is at TPP Stakeholder Engagement Events, where delegates from each participating nation spend time with members of the public to talk about progress and goals. In San Diego, nearly three hundred stakeholders registered to discuss trade policy and the TPP with representatives from each country. In fact, 85 percent of stakeholders surveyed said that they were able to communicate their message to negotiators whose work is relevant to their interest.

    USTR’s engagement efforts aren’t limited to stakeholder events at negotiating rounds. USTR has worked for years to involve stakeholders, visiting 35 states over the course of the TPP negotiations to meet with citizens, business leaders, and employees. In addition, trade officials have participated in hundreds of town-hall meetings to get input and perspective from a wide variety of stakeholders.

    As part of the Obama Administration’s comprehensive and balanced approach to trade, USTR will continue to seek input from a wide range of sources including citizens, NGO representatives, business owners, government officials, and any other interested parties in the process of trade negotiations.

    The 13th round of TPP Negotiations is being held in San Diego, California, from July 2nd to July 10th.

  • 07/03/2012 12:17 PM

    The copyright system is an engine of free expression and a major building block in the world economy. It plays a critical role in promoting and disseminating American works of authorship, and the balance of rights and exceptions and limitations achieved in U.S. law provides diverse benefits for large and small businesses, consumers, authors, artists, and workers in the information, entertainment, and technology sectors.

    A robust copyright framework ensures that authors and creators are respected, investments (both intellectual and financial) are promoted, that limitations and exceptions provide an appropriate balance, and that enforcement measures are effective.

    An important part of the copyright ecosystem is the limitations or exceptions placed on the exercise of exclusive rights in certain circumstances. In the United States, for example, consumers and businesses rely on a range of exceptions and limitations, such as fair use, in their businesses and daily lives. Further, under the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), the United States provides safe harbors limiting copyright liability, which help to ensure that legitimate providers of cloud computing, user-generated content sites, and a host of other Internet-related services who act responsibly can thrive online.

    TPP -- Copyright Exceptions and Limitations

    For the first time in any U.S. trade agreement, the United States is proposing a new provision, consistent with the internationally-recognized “3-step test," that will obligate Parties to seek to achieve an appropriate balance in their copyright systems in providing copyright exceptions and limitations for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. These principles are critical aspects of the U.S. copyright system, and appear in both our law and jurisprudence. The balance sought by the U.S. TPP proposal recognizes and promotes respect for the important interests of individuals, businesses, and institutions who rely on appropriate exceptions and limitations in the TPP region.

    The United States is proposing this at the current round of TPP talks in San Diego.  The proposal has benefited from the input of a wide range of stakeholders, and we look forward to discussing it further and sharing more information as the TPP negotiations progress.

  • 07/02/2012 9:28 AM

    The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement was created to enhance trade and investment among the TPP partner countries. These countries include the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei Darussalam, Chile and Peru. Both Mexico and Canada have also been invited to join the TPP but will not be participating in this week’s negotiations.


    Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Congressional Affairs Mac Campbell
    talks with stakeholders at the TPP negotiations in Dallas in May. 

    This week, trade policy makers and stakeholders from nine Asia-Pacific nations will be gathering in San Diego, California to participate in the 13th Round of the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations. TPP negotiators are seeking creative and balanced approaches to 21st century trade and investment issues that greatly affect California, the second largest state exporter in the United States.

    U.S. negotiators will be discussing how to enhance trade and investment opportunities in some of California’s leading goods exports. These include innovative computer and electronic products, transportation equipment, machinery, and chemicals, for example. In addition, TPP negotiators are seeking to enhance trade in services, which employ 3 out of every 4 California workers on average.

    Companies like Casa Herrera, a family-run food production manufacturing company in Southern California, see the negotiations as creating opportunities that allow them to add more jobs. Casa Herrera was founded by Frank Herrera in 1951 and now employs 130 employees, including 11 members of the Herrera family. The company is known for selling food manufacturing machinery that can produce more than 92,000 tortillas per hour.

    Jonathan Lacour, Casa Herrera’s Vice President for Legal Affairs, believes the success of the TPP will benefit the company. He says discussions to increase and modernize food production among TPP countries could provide more employment opportunities within the company. “A ten percent increase in sales would mean an additional 50 or so jobs,” he said.

    Overall, the TPP represents a significant opportunity for California exporters to build on their already strong ties to the Asia-Pacific region. In 2011, the state exported $66.1 billion worth of goods to the Asia-Pacific region, and current negotiations will strengthen ties to this region – a region that represents 40 percent of total global trade. And with Mexico and Canada set to join TPP negotiations following Congress’ 90-day consultation period, the TPP also offers California an opportunity to further develop its trade relations with its top two export markets. In 2011, California exported $26 billion to Mexico and $17.2 billion to Canada.

  • 06/29/2012 12:01 PM

    United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk issued the following statement in response to the World Trade Organization (WTO) Appellate Body’s ruling today in the country of origin labeling (COOL) dispute between the United States and Canada and Mexico:

    “We are pleased with today’s ruling, which affirmed the United States’ right to adopt labeling requirements that provide information to American consumers about the meat they buy,” said Ambassador Kirk. “The Appellate Body’s ruling confirms that families can still receive information on the origin of their meat and other food products when they shop for groceries. The Obama Administration remains committed to ensuring that information on the origin of all food products covered by COOL is available to American families so they can make informed purchasing decisions.

    “We are also pleased that the Appellate Body overturned the initial finding that COOL is more trade restrictive than necessary to provide consumers with valuable information on the food they buy,” Ambassador Kirk added. “In doing so, the Appellate Body agreed with the United States and declined to accept any of the alternatives that Canada and Mexico claimed we should have used instead.”

    While overturning some of the Panel’s key findings against the United States, however, the Appellate Body continued to find fault with certain aspects of COOL’s design. Due to COOL’s recordkeeping and verification requirements, it upheld the Panel’s finding that COOL provides less favorable treatment to Canadian and Mexican cattle and hogs than American livestock.

    Canada and Mexico initiated this dispute against the United States in December 2008. Among other claims, Canada and Mexico alleged that the COOL statute and COOL implementing regulations discriminate against their livestock exports to the United States and violated U.S. WTO obligations. Canada and Mexico also alleged that the U.S. COOL requirements were more trade restrictive than necessary. In November 2011, the WTO Panel affirmed that the United States and other WTO Members have the right to adopt country of origin labeling requirements. However, the Panel – among other findings – disagreed with the way the United States designed its requirements.

    In March 2012, the United States appealed certain aspects of the panel’s findings while Canada and Mexico filed cross-appeals. The Appellate Body upheld the Panel’s finding that the United States has the right to adopt country of origin labeling requirements. It also overturned the finding that COOL is more trade restrictive than necessary. The Appellate Body declined to make findings on the other conditional and cross-appeals made by Canada and Mexico.

    The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has worked closely with the Office of the United States Trade Representative on this case. We look forward to continuing to work with USDA to ensure that American consumers have relevant information to inform their food purchasing decisions. The next step in the process is for the WTO Dispute Settlement Body to adopt its recommendations and rulings. The United States will then have a reasonable period of time to comply.

    For additional background on this case, please visit this link.

  • 06/25/2012 10:44 AM

    Weekly Trade Spotlight: U.S.-Turkey Trade and Investment Relations
    June 25, 2012

    United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk is traveling to the Turkish cities of Istanbul and Ankara with Acting Secretary of Commerce Dr. Rebecca Blank this week to hear directly from stakeholders and attend the second meeting of the U.S.-Turkey Framework for Strategic Economic and Commercial Cooperation (FSECC). This trade spotlight highlights the importance of U.S.-Turkey trade and investment relations.

    U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and former Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke teamed with their Turkish co-chairs in 2009 to launch the U.S.-Turkey Strategic Economic and Commercial Dialogue (FSECC). By addressing issues including intellectual property rights, investment climate, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals, the U.S.-Turkey trade relationship is maturing and becoming more sophisticated. Developing services such as banking and industries like manufacturing are well positioned to increase in influence and size.

    U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk delivers remarks at the American Turkish Council's Annual Conference  

    With a GDP that has tripled since 2001, Turkey’s growing economy presents significant trade opportunities for U.S. businesses. Strategically located at the crossroads between Europe, the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia, Turkey’s trade profile is rising at both regional and global levels. This potential is supported by an 8.5 percent economic increase in 2011, second only to China. But Turkey still has not reached its full economic potential, and the U.S. has worked hard to strengthen trade and investment relations that will benefit American businesses and manufacturers for today and the future.

    In 1980 two-way trade in goods between Turkey and the United States was around $900 million. In 2011, it was over $20 billion, making it the United States’ 32nd largest goods trading partner. U.S. goods exports to Turkey totaled nearly $15 billion in 2011, which represents almost a 39 percent increase from 2010 and a 292 percent increase from 2000. The top U.S. export categories were aircraft, iron and steel, mineral fuel, cotton yarn and fabric, and machinery. Additionally, Turkey is the United States’ 10th largest agricultural export market, with 2011 bringing in a total of $2.5 billion. Leading categories of agricultural exports were cotton, wheat, tree nuts, and live animals.

    U.S.-Turkey trade and investment relations hold immense promise for the U.S. economy. Turkey’s ability to influence economic and political reform throughout its surrounding area, combined with rapid economic growth, has led USTR to work hard to strengthen and improve our already constructive relationship. These efforts will generate new investment and export prospects for American businesses and manufacturers, ultimately creating new jobs and opportunities here in the United States.

  • 06/21/2012 3:54 PM

    With Russia set to join the World Trade Organization (WTO) this August, Ambassador Ron Kirk testified before Congress this week to advocate for passage of legislation terminating application of the Jackson-Vanik Amendment and authorizing the President to extend permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) to Russia.

    On Wednesday, June 20, 2012, Ambassador Kirk testified before the House Ways and Means Committee to affirm the economic benefits of establishing PNTR with Russia for American workers, businesses, farmers, and ranchers.

    In his remarks, the Ambassador urged Congress to terminate application of the Jackson-Vanik Amendment, which would otherwise prevent the United States from taking full advantage of Russia’s imminent accession to the WTO. The Jackson-Vanik Amendment is a 1970s-era provision that conditions U.S. trade relations with specific countries on meeting certain requirements, including allowing free emigration. The conditions in the Jackson-Vanik Amendment would prevent the U.S. from extending unconditional permanent normal trade relations to Russia as required by the WTO Agreement.

    Ambassador Kirk Testifies
    United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk and Secretary of Agriculture
    Tom Vilsack testify before the Senate Finance Committee on PNTR with Russia.

    If Jackson-Vanik remains in place, the WTO agreement will not apply between the U.S. and Russia. In that unfortunate event, American businesses and exporters would be at a competitive disadvantage in Russia compared to their foreign competitors. On the other hand, the Ambassador noted that with PNTR, U.S. businesses will be in a better position to increase their exports to Russia, in support of additional American jobs.

    Ambassador Kirk also highlighted how establishing PNTR with Russia will give the U.S. the tools to enforce Russia’s WTO commitments. Ambassador Kirk highlighted how U.S. negotiators successfully secured additional commitments from Russia in areas such as intellectual property, market access, and transparency. The Ambassador stressed that in contrast to previous accession agreements, these Russian commitments have already been fulfilled and will be in effect on day one of Russia’s WTO membership.

    Ambassador Kirk was joined by Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns, who emphasized that the economic needs of the American people, and the Russian people’s vision for their own future, both point towards the need to end application of Jackson-Vanik and the beginning of a new chapter in our economic and trade relations with Russia.

    On Thursday, June 21, 2012, Ambassador Kirk and Secretary Burns testified again, this time before the Senate Finance Committee. There, Ambassador Kirk again urged the committee to take action to authorize PNTR and terminate application of Jackson-Vanik before Russia joins the WTO in August. By doing so, the U.S. will have equal access to Russia’s economy, the seventh largest in the world.

    Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack joined the ambassadors at the Senate hearing. He emphasized that extending PNTR to Russia is not a favor, but instead a significant opportunity for U.S. farmers, ranchers and producers to better access Russia’s growing consumer market.

    Learn more about Jackson-Vanik, PNTR, and Russian WTO accession here.

  • 06/21/2012 1:55 PM

    Earlier this week the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement invited stakeholders interested in the TransPacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations to a briefing at the USTR. Public Citizen, AFL-CIO, Humane Society International, Universities Allied for Essential Medicines, and Public Knowledge were among the organizations represented at the briefing. Assistant U. S. Trade Representative (AUSTR) for Southeast Asia and the Pacific Barbara Weisel led the discussion of the panel. The other speakers included the Deputy Assistant U. S. Trade Representatives for Southeast Asia & the Pacific Daniel Watson, for Labor Affairs Timothy Wedding, and for Intellectual Property and Innovation Probir Mehta. They were also joined by Senior Procurement Negotiator Jean Grier, and the Directors for International Environmental & Conservation Policy Kelly Milton, for Services and Trade Negotiations Todd Nissen, and for Investment Affairs Daniel Bahar.

    The panel apprised the assembled stakeholders of recent happenings with regard to TPP negotiations, such as the inclusion of Mexico into negotiations, and the status of discussions with Canada. (The meeting occurred just before the announcement that Canada, too, would be joining the negotiating countries.)

    After an overview from AUSTR Weisel, stakeholders had the opportunity to ask her and the panel questions and present any concerns. The panelists addressed inquiries about the schedule of the San Diego negotiations, the environmental implications of TPP, and transparency. Finally, the panelists provided attendees with updates regarding specific chapters of TPP, such as the environment and investment components.

    The next round of the Trans-Pacific Partnership will take place in San Diego, California from July 2nd through July 10th.

  • 06/19/2012 4:30 PM

    On Monday, June 18, Ambassador Kirk hosted German Vice-Chancellor and Minister of Economics and Technology Philipp Röesler. In his dual capacity as Minister of Economics, Röesler is responsible for trade, energy, technology, and business matters. During their meeting, Ambassador Kirk and Minister Röesler discussed the work on potential transatlantic trade initiatives that is being conducted by the U.S.-EU High Level Working Group on Jobs and Growth. Ambassador Kirk raised U.S. concerns on certain EU regulations that unjustifiably impede U.S. agricultural exports to the EU, and the two trade officials also discussed the outlook for multilateral trade negotiations in the WTO.

    ARK with German Vice-Chancellor Philipp Roesler
    Ambassador Ron Kirk Meets with German Vice-Chancellor and
    Minister of Economics and Technology Philipp Röesler

  • 06/19/2012 9:52 AM

    The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) is a vital trade preference program that provides duty-free entry into the United States for almost all products from AGOA-eligible countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

    For the past 12 years, AGOA has helped a wide range of African countries expand and diversify trade with the United States. Last week, USTR joined the State Department in hosting the annual African Growth and Opportunity Act Forum in Washington. The theme for this year’s AGOA Forum was “Enhancing Africa’s Infrastructure for Trade. Discussions at the forum focused on developing transport, energy and telecommunications to improve Africa’s competitiveness and promote regional trade; improving the business climate and effective regulation of key infrastructure sectors; advancing African regional economic integration; and highlighting trade opportunities for U.S. businesses in Africa.

    Ambassador Kirk at the Brookings Institution
    Ambassador Kirk delivers remarks at a Brookings Institution
    event entitled, "The Africa Growth and Opportunity Act:
    Looking Back, Looking Forward.” (Photo by Sharon Farmer for Brookings)

    On Thursday, Ambassador Kirk co-chaired the opening plenary session of the Forum with Ghanaian Minister of Trade Hannah Tetteh. The session, including Ambassador Kirk’s remarks, addressed the importance of infrastructure to the capacity to trade, the importance of competitiveness and AGOA utilization. The following day, Ambassador Demetrios Marantis delivered remarks at the Forum’s closing ceremony at the State Department, along with Ethiopian Minister of Trade and Industry Kebede Chane.

    In addition to these themes, AGOA stakeholders discussed the need for the U.S. Congress to renew the critical third-country fabric provision of AGOA, which allows African apparel producers to use fabrics made by a third party and still receive duty-free treatment for their exports to United States. If Congress does not act to renew it, the third-country fabric provision will expire on September 30, 2012. With expiration of this provision looming on the horizon, many American retailers have already begun to cancel orders – disrupting the flow of their business and leaving African exporters empty-handed. If the provision is allowed to expire, hundreds of thousands of women and small business owners in AGOA-eligible countries will likely lose their jobs. Recognizing the importance of renewing and extending the third-country fabric provision, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, along with many other administration officials are urging, Congress to take action and sustain this vital trade tool that supports jobs on both sides of the Atlantic.

  • 06/14/2012 4:28 PM

    On Tuesday, June 12th, United States Trade Representative Chief Counsel for Administrative Law Dave Apol and the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement hosted a phone call with more than 80 Trade Advisory Committee members. All Trade Advisory Committees were invited to participate, and members from all committees were represented on the call.

    The phone call was scheduled to address questions about how members of advisory committees can consult with non-committee members and constituents regarding certain documents or meetings. Participants on the call discussed the advisors’ role as representatives of their organizations and respective sectors, and the necessity of communication between advisors, their constituents, and USTR. During the call Mr. Apol provided examples of various scenarios and answered questions from the committee members.

  • 06/14/2012 2:04 PM

    On Wednesday, Assistant United States Trade Representative for Japan, Korea and Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Affairs Wendy Cutler met with a group of visiting Korean journalists here at USTR. Ms. Cutler was the chief negotiator of the recently implemented U.S.-Korea Trade Agreement, the first U.S. trade agreement with a North Asian country. During the meeting, Ms. Cutler lauded the close working relations between the two countries that made the groundbreaking agreement possible and said that it is being implemented smoothly. She described successful meetings of the various joint committees that are helping to ensure implementation continues to go as planned. She also emphasized the mutual benefits the trade agreement provides, especially for U.S. and Korean small businesses. Two-way trade has already increased since implementation this March, a trend that is expected to continue as the agreement reaches its full potential.

    AUSTR Wendy Cutler Speaks with Korean Journalists
    Assistant USTR for Japan, Korea & APEC affairs Wendy Cutler Meets with a Group of Visiting
    Korean Journalists at USTR.

    The journalists are participating in “Bridging the Gaps in Understanding between Korea and the United States,” a two-week exchange program that has brought seven Korean journalists to the U.S. to meet with leaders in business, government, non-governmental organizations, and other members of the community. Seven U.S. journalists are currently on a similar tour through South Korea. The goal of this program is to promote awareness of the political, economic, security, cultural and social issues of each country.

  • 06/13/2012 2:40 PM

    On June 12, 2012 a bipartisan group of senators proposed legislation to terminate the application to Russia of the Jackson-Vanik Amendment. The Jackson-Vanik Amendment is a 1970s-era provision that conditions U.S. trade relations with specific countries on their meeting certain requirements, including allowing free emigration. The conditions in the Jackson-Vanik Amendment would prevent the U.S. from extending unconditional permanent normal trade relations to Russia as required by the WTO Agreement.

    Passing the proposed legislation will clear the path for U.S. businesses, farmers, and workers to have the same access to Russia’s markets as their foreign competitors, and will position those same stakeholders to reap the full benefits of Russia’s upcoming WTO membership.

    Included below are statements of support from a wide range of trade stakeholders:

    Boeing

    Business Roundtable

    Distilled Spirits Council

    Emergency Committee for American Trade

    General Electric

    Governors from Washington, South Dakota, Arkansas, Michigan, Iowa, North Dakota, Utah, Georgia, Connecticut, South Carolina, Delaware, Alabama, Mississippi, and Vermont

    National Association of Manufacturers

    National Center for APEC

    TechAmerica

    U.S. Commerce Department

    U.S. Council for International Business

    U.S. Dairy Export Council

    U.S.-Russia Business Council



    Link to December 2011 blog post on Russia's accession to the World Trade Organization

  • 06/13/2012 2:29 PM

    Ambassador Kirk and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson hosted a meeting of the Trade and Environment Policy Advisory Committee (TEPAC) on June 11th at USTR. TEPAC is comprised of a broad range of representatives from non-governmental organizations, the private sector, think tanks, and academia, and provides policy advice on issues relating to trade and the environment. Ambassador Kirk provided TEPAC with an update on the ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations, and commented that “interest [in the negotiations] is growing exponentially.” Ambassador Kirk also provided updates on the trade agreements with Korea, Colombia, and Panama, and on recent developments in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, including a read-out of the APEC Trade Ministers’ meeting in Kazan, Russia.

    Administrator Jackson explained how environmental standards can help drive innovation and markets. She provided a report on the EPA’s export promotion initiative, including a report on the EPA Technology Market Summit, as well as information on work being undertaken in the North American Commission on Environmental Cooperation. Following their remarks, Ambassador Kirk and Administrator Jackson engaged in an informative discussion with TEPAC members, which touched on a broad range of trade and environment matters.

    TEPAC Meeting
    Ambassador Kirk and Administrator Jackson Co-host the TEPAC Meeting
    at USTR

  • 06/08/2012 4:59 PM

    On the second day of his visit to Astana, Kazakhstan, Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis met with Kazakh Prime Minister Karim Massimov, Deputy Prime Minister Kairat Kelimbetov, Minister of Agriculture Asylzhan Mamytbekov, Minister of Economic Integration Zhanar Aitzhanova, Deputy Foreign Minister Kairat Umarov, and Chairman Umirzak Shukeyev of Samruk-Kazyna.

    Ambassador Marantis reiterated the strong support of the United States for Kazakhstan to complete its WTO accession process by the end of this year. He reviewed with key ministries the tremendous progress Kazakhstan has made in the past several years. The U.S. and Kazakhstan signed a bilateral goods trade agreement in November of 2010, and a bilateral services trade agreement in September of 2011. Both sides are accelerating work on remaining multilateral issues in the run-up to Kazakhstan's July 2012 meeting of its WTO Working Party.

    Ambassador Marantis also had wide-ranging discussions with his counterparts on ways to increase bilateral trade and investment between the two countries as well as improve regional integration. An important aspect of these discussions focused on the U.S.-Kazakhstan bilateral working group, established under the U.S.-Central Asia TIFA. The working group is the primary forum for bilateral trade and investment discussions between the two countries.

          

  • 06/08/2012 2:46 PM

    Deputy United States Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis yesterday led a U.S. delegation to Astana, Kazakhstan for discussions on the U. S. - Kazakhstan bilateral trade and investment relationship and Kazakhstan's efforts to join the World Trade Organization (WTO). Ambassador Marantis met with Minister of Oil and Gas Sauat Mynbayev and Minister for Trade and Economic Integration Zhanar Aitzhanova. At these meetings, Ambassador Marantis praised the growing bilateral trade and investment relationship between the two countries, as well as Kazakhstan's progress toward WTO accession.

    Ambassador Marantis with Ambassador Mynbayev
    Ambassador Marantis Meets With
    Kazakhstan Minister of Oil
    and Gas Sauat Mynbayev

    Ambassador Marantis with Ambassador Aitzhanova
    Ambassador Marantis Meets With Kazakhstan
    Minister for Trade and Economic Integration
    Zhanar Aitzhanova

  • 06/04/2012 2:53 PM

    apecIn the last decade, the Asia-Pacific Region has been home to some of the fastest growing economies in the world. In the coming years, increased trade opportunities between the United States and Asia will become increasingly important to continued economic growth, and to the creation of more jobs here at home. This week’s trade spotlight highlights the importance of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, which is comprised of Australia; Brunei Darussalam; Canada; Chile; People’s Republic of China; Hong Kong, China; Indonesia; Japan; Republic of Korea; Malaysia; Mexico; New Zealand; Papua New Guinea; Peru; The Philippines; Russia; Singapore; Chinese Taipei; Thailand; The United States; and Viet Nam.

    This week Ambassadors Kirk, Marantis, and Punke are attending the APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade Meeting in Kazan, Russia. The meetings, held June 4-5, are attended by all trade ministers who represent the 21 “member economies” of APEC. Topics of discussion include:

    • Trade and investment liberalization, regional economic integration

    • Strengthening food security,

    • Establishing reliable supply chains, and

    • Intensive cooperation to foster innovative growth.

    Established in 1989, APEC member economies now comprise 41% of the global population, 54% of total GDP and 44% of the world’s trade. APEC is especially important to U.S. exporters, with nine of the top 15 U.S. export markets for goods being APEC member economies. In 2010, almost 60% of U.S. exports went to APEC countries, and U.S. goods exports totaled $774 billion, a 25% increase from 2009. The top exports categories to APEC member economies in 2010 were machinery, electrical machinery, vehicles, mineral fuel and medical instruments. Additionally, APEC member economies are large export markets for U.S. agricultural products, with agricultural exports totaling almost $84 billion in 2010.

    Because of this important trade relationship, American workers across the country are benefiting. The continued growth of APEC member economies provides an opportunity for increased consumption of American-made goods and services by consumers throughout APEC member economies. Through new initiatives, such as the ambitious 21st century Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, USTR is working to improve and grow the United States’ relationship with APEC member economies in an effort to help create new investment and export opportunities for American businesses and more jobs for workers here at home.

    This week’s meeting will further the dynamic partnership of APEC, and aid in its continued success as a leader of the 21st century where significant and meaningful achievements are made to further liberalize trade and investment in the region for American workers.

  • 06/04/2012 1:58 PM

    On Thursday, USTR officials participated in a public session as part of a series of U.S.-Peru Environmental Meetings that took place May 29-31 in Washington, D.C. During the public session, U.S. and Peruvian government officials, and stakeholders from environmental organizations, engaged in a robust conversation on the U.S.-Peru trade agreement and its relationship to the Amazon rainforest. U.S. and Peruvian officials addressed implementation and enforcement questions and emphasized their commitment to rule of law, transparency and the environment. By connecting the sustainable land management practices of indigenous Amazonian populations to international efforts to curb the trade of illegal timber, an overriding sentiment emerged that economic growth and environmental protection can be mutually supportive.

    Amy Karpel, USTR Director for Environment & Natural Resources, Addresses
    U.S. and Peruvian Officials on May 31, 2012.

     

     

     

  • 05/25/2012 2:09 PM

    As we continue to celebrate the accomplishments of American small businesses during National Small Business Week, the Obama Administration is working to develop ways of helping make these businesses even more competitive. Increasing access to high-growth foreign markets, addressing non-tariff barriers in these countries and making our regulatory regimes work together more seamlessly are among the best ways USTR can contribute to the Administration’s efforts to help our small businesses compete.

    To achieve this goal, we are focusing heavily on the Asia-Pacific region, which includes some of the fastest-growing economies in the world. USTR extensively consulted with small and medium-sized businesses to better understand the issues they face in trying to compete in the Asia Pacific and globally. We also drew ideas from the work done at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum on small and medium-sized businesses. These businesses told us that the key barriers that they faced were related to tariffs, different rules of origin in different agreements, complex customs procedures, regulatory and other non-tariff barriers, and the difficulty of accessing the laws, regulations, and other information about foreign markets. We have developed proposals to address each of these issues for the TPP negotiations.

    The TPP is an ambitious, 21st-century trade agreement, which currently includes Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. Through these proposals, we hope to help U.S. small businesses, a key source of job creation, integrate more fully and compete more effectively in the global economy.

    Radi Al-Rashed, a small-business owner in north Texas, voiced his support for the TPP, stating, “International Chem-Crete Corporation exports to some of these countries. The TPP agreement can create jobs, promote competitiveness and advance exports. It can also increase transparency.” Mr. Al-Rashed is the President and CEO of International Chem-Create Co, and is a member of the North Texas District Export Council.

  • 05/25/2012 11:30 AM

    National Small Business WeekThis week is National Small Business Week, celebrating the importance of small and medium-sized enterprises to the American economy.

    Buffalo Wire Works, located in downtown Buffalo, New York, manufactures and supplies wire cloth, plate, and screening media and accessories. It has 120 employees and is looking to expand to approximately 170 in the near future, continuing its investment in the Buffalo community. According to CEO Joe Abramo, “Buffalo Wire Works is booming in the inner city, and is willing to invest to support additional growth!” Buffalo Wire Works has a very strong presence in Latin America and Mr. Abramo notes that, “Who we sell to is so diverse because it is not just one industry. We sell to a variety of different industries and have a diverse customer base.”

    Farther south, Maximus Coffee Group, located in Houston, Texas is a local staple in the community—and not just because of its dependency on caffeine. Founded in 2006, Maximus Coffee Group is one-half of the de Aldecoa family business, the other half being Cadeco Industries. While Cadeco Industries processes over one million pounds of coffee each day, Maximus Coffee Group is an integrated roasting, decaffeination, soluble and packaging facility.

    Maximus Coffee Group and Cadeco Industries have been well positioned to lead the US in coffee production and maintain Houston’s role a coffee center. Part of its success is due to its roughly 375 employees, with additional external support roles filled by vendors and suppliers. When asked whether the passage and implementation of free trade agreements has allowed Maximus Coffee Group to expand, Executive Vice President Leo Vasquez responded that “The more global markets are opened on an even basis, the more jobs are created here in the United States.”

    Taking advantage of Houston’s port has been critical to the company’s success, allowing it to export and import millions of pounds of coffee worldwide each year. Maximus Coffee Group exports to Canada, Mexico, Indonesia, Eastern Europe, Spain, Malaysia, and Korea, allowing them to build a good working relationship with the Houston Port, as well as government officials supportive of the local and state business climate.

    Commenting on USTR’s recent successes, Mr. Vasquez said, “Even though we are considered a small to mid-size business, we’re playing in the global industry. Our plant in Houston is one of the largest and most diverse coffee plants in the world. We are directly affected by tariffs and taxes around the world. It is a big help to have USTR looking out for us. USTR’s efforts can directly benefit us, the U.S. entrepreneurial company, as well as the bigger corporate players.”

  • 05/25/2012 12:00 AM

    On the occasion of World Trade Week and National Small Business Week, Deputy Assistant USTR for Small Business and Market Access Christina Sevilla spoke to the International Trade Council of Greater Kansas City, Missouri about how the Obama Administration’s trade agenda benefits small businesses. Of the nearly 4,400 companies which export from Missouri, 85 percent are small and medium size firms that employ fewer than 500 employees. The recent entry-into force of trade agreements with Korea and Colombia gives American small business greater access to robust economies in Asia and Latin America, and presents new opportunities for Missouri companies.

    Bio-Microbics, a small business that manufactures water and wastewater treatment systems at two facilities in Shawnee, Kansas and Sunset Hills, Missouri, heavily relies on exports to drive business. Bio-Microbics President Robert Rebori remarked that "international sales are the reason we exist," with 80 percent of company revenue derived from exports, thus supporting well-paid jobs in Kansas and Missouri. Rebori stated that the company exports “Made in America” products to 60 countries around the world, including India, Russia, and China. Rebori finds that high tariffs are one of the key barriers that his small company faces, as they drive up costs and affect pricing vis-a-vis foreign competitors. Other trade agreements with partners like Peru and Chile have helped Bio-Microbics gain market access through tariff elimination. Now, with the recent addition of the Colombia trade agreement, which entered into force on May 15th, Rebori looks forward to competing for new customers in that market. Bio-Microbics has been recognized with the President's E Award for U.S. Exports, as well as the Kansas Exporter of the Year Award.

    Small Business Panel Meeting
    Small business panel with Dan Ward, Western Forms; Bob Rebori, Bio-Microbics;
    DAUSTR Christina Sevilla; ITAC 11 Small and Minority Business Advisor Fred Baehner

    Economic development officials in Missouri also see expanded opportunities with the recently implemented U.S. - Korea trade agreement. Krista Hinrichs, International Business Manager for the Pacific Rim at Missouri's Department of Economic Development, notes that "Missouri exports to Korea have increased nearly 150 percent in the first quarter of 2012 over the same quarter last year." Additionally, the state’s International Trade and Investment Office in Seoul has the state’s small businesses poised to take advantage of new opportunities made available by the trade agreement.

    Under the President’s National Export Initiative, USTR is working to continue opening markets in Asia, Latin America and around the world for the benefit of U.S. small businesses and companies of all sizes.

  • 05/24/2012 3:14 PM

    On Tuesday, May 22, 2012, a U.S. Government team held the second technical level review of 2012 called for under the Colombian Action Plan Related to Labor Rights. The U.S. team was led by Bennett Harman, Deputy Assistant USTR for Latin America, and Carol Pier, Acting Deputy Under Secretary for International Labor Affairs. They met with David Luna, Vice Minister of Labor; Andres Villamizar, General Director of the National Protection Unit; and Jorge Perdomo, Vice Prosecutor General. The purpose of the meetings was to continue cooperation and dialogue on implementation of the Labor Action Plan.

    USG GOC Meeting
    United States Government Team Meets with Colombian Vice Minister of Labor David Luna

  • 05/21/2012 9:41 AM

    Today marks the beginning of National Small Business Week, a time to reflect on the importance of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to the American economy. Recognizing the vital role of small businesses in the United States, the Obama Administration has taken steps to ensure that American small businesses will be able to grow and create jobs for hardworking Americans. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative is working to expand exports by U.S. small businesses and support American job creation and economic growth.

    One of the most ambitious steps the Administration has taken to help small businesses succeed in the 21st century global economy is the National Export Initiative. Under this initiative, USTR is working more closely than ever with our partner agencies to provide American companies of all sizes with the export opportunities and the resources they need to succeed in the global market place.

    Among the major achievements in opening global markets was the entry into force on March 15, 2012 of the historic United States-Korea Trade Agreement, giving American businesses, farmers, ranchers, and service providers unprecedented access to South Korea’s $1 trillion economy. The Agreement eliminates tariffs on 95 percent of industrial and consumer goods, making it substantially easier for small businesses to export their products to Korea and grow their companies. The Agreement also opens South Korea’s $580 billion services market, including areas where U.S. small businesses are particularly competitive, such as information and communications technology services. The Agreement also removes barriers especially difficult for small businesses, such as removing the requirement to establish an office in South Korea before conducting trade. To see testimonials from American small business on the benefits of the trade agreement, click here.

    On May 15, 2012, just two months after the United States- Korea Trade Agreement entered into force, the U.S.-Colombia Trade Agreement did the same. Colombia is the third largest economy in Latin America, and this the new Agreement will make it easier and less expensive for U.S. small businesses to start or expand their exports into this important Latin American market.

    Colombia is already a significant export market for U.S. small businesses. In 2010, almost 13,000 U.S. SMEs exported $4.0 billion in merchandise to Colombia, accounting for approximately one-third of U.S. merchandise exports to Colombia. Upon entry into force of this agreement, 80 percent of American consumer and industrial products will become duty-free. The elimination of tariffs will remove the tax on U.S. goods, which should increase demand for U.S. products and help increase export opportunities to Colombia.

    The Colombia Trade Agreement calls for a greater amount of transparency regarding foreign laws and regulations, important, because many times, small businesses lack the resources to successfully navigate the web of foreign laws and regulations. This Agreement creates a more transparent process and removes a significant barrier for small businesses trying to export their products to Colombia.

    The entry into force of United States-Korea and United States.-Colombia trade agreements are significant achievements in the Obama Administration’s effort to make American small businesses more competitive in the global economy, and create more quality jobs for Americans.

    Work to implement the U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement is also underway. Panama is one of the fastest growing economies in Latin America, expanding 10.6 percent in 2011, with annual growth forecast ranging between 5% and 8% through 2017. The U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement will support American jobs, expand markets, and enhance U.S. competitiveness by eliminating tariffs and other barriers to U.S. exports and expanding trade between our two countries – including trade by U.S. small businesses, who employ so many Americans and contribute so greatly to our economy today.

  • 05/17/2012 4:14 PM

    On Monday, May 14, Ambassador Kirk joined Secretary Hilda Solis at the Department of Labor for a meeting of the Labor Advisory Committee on Trade Negotiations and Trade Policy. Members in attendance included R. Thomas Buffenbarger, Chair of the Labor Advisory Committee and International President of Machinists; Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO; Clayola Brown, National President of the A. Philip Randolph Institute; Raymond Hair, President of the American Federation of Musicians; Gregory Junemann, International President of Professional and Technical Engineers; and Veda Shook, International President of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA.

    Ambassador Kirk engages members of the Labor Advisory Committee
    Ambassador Kirk engages members of the Labor Advisory Committee

    Secretary Solis began the meeting by commenting on the U.S. Department of Labor’s continued commitment to worker protection and enforcement of U.S. labor laws. Ambassador Kirk focused on three key topics during the discussion; updating the committee members on the 12th Round of Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, the trade agreement with Colombia, and the President’s National Export Initiative (NEI). Ambassador Kirk and Secretary Solis also noted the Obama Administration’s ongoing work with the government of Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos to address labor concerns in Colombia.

    Ambassador Kirk speaks with AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka
    Ambassador Kirk speaks with AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka

    Referring to the NEI, Ambassador Kirk emphasized the creation of 1.2 million jobs and the goal to level the playing field so that U.S. businesses can compete internationally. The Ambassador also updated the members on the recent Strategic and Economic Dialogue meetings in China.

    From Left to Right: Assistant USTR for Labor Lewis Karesh, Ambassador Kirk, and Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis
    From Left to Right: Assistant USTR for Labor Lewis Karesh, Ambassador Kirk, and Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis

    The Labor Advisory Committee is co-chaired by the U.S. Trade Representative and the Secretary of Labor. The committee advises and provides recommendations on issues and general policy matters concerning labor and trade negotiations, including operation of trade agreements.

  • 05/17/2012 3:24 PM

    This morning Ambassador Kirk hosted the Advisory Committee on Trade Policy and Negotiations (ACTPN) meeting at the White House. The Committee, chaired by Terry McGraw and vice chaired by John Surma, had a robust discussion on various topics including the entry into force of the Korea and Colombia trade agreements, the ongoing negotiations in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), repealing Jackson Vanik and moving toward permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) with Russia, and the National Export Initiative.

    ACPTN Members were able to ask questions and provide feedback during the meeting.
    ACPTN Members were able to ask questions and provide feedback during the meeting.

    Ambassador Kirk began the meeting by highlighting the Interagency Trade Enforcement Center (ITEC); which was created by executive order. The ITEC will provide additional resources for USTR and other agencies to ramp up enforcement efforts and ensure a level playing field for U.S. businesses at home and abroad. Additionally, he provided updates on the 12th round of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which officially concludes this week.

    Ambassador Kirk hosts the ACTPN meeting at the White House. From left to right, Council of Economic Advisors Alan Krueger, Vice-Chair and U.S. Steel CEO John Surma, Ambassador Kirk, Chair and McGraw-Hill Companies CEO Harold McGraw, White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew, Deputy Assistant to the President and National Security Advisor for International Affairs Michael Froman
    Ambassador Kirk hosts the ACTPN meeting at the White House. From left to right, Council of Economic Advisors Alan Krueger, Vice-Chair and U.S. Steel CEO John Surma, Ambassador Kirk, Chair and McGraw-Hill Companies CEO Harold McGraw, White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew, Deputy Assistant to the President and National Security Advisor for International Affairs Michael Froman

    The Ambassador was followed by remarks from the White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew, Deputy Assistant to the President and National Security Advisor for International Affairs Michael Froman, and chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors Alan Krueger. Mr. Lew thanked the ACTPN members for their leadership and stated the one of the members’ task is to focus on the economy of the future and the role of trade, which plays an integral part by discussing fair rules and market access. Mr. Lew also said that the “key is to have an environment where trade agreements are sustainable, as it is important to lay a foundation for trade policy.” With the G8 and G20 summits approaching, Mr. Froman emphasized that trade is always on the agenda and that it is “hard to overestimate the importance of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.” Mr. Krueger described the record level of exports, an increase in U.S. manufacturing jobs, and the opportunity to expand, especially with regards to improving international trade strategy.

    ACTPN Member and CEO of Grocery Manufacturers Association Pam Bailey ask a question.  United Steelworkers Leo Gerard sits to her right and Business Software Alliance CEO Robert Holleyman sits to her left.
    ACTPN Member and CEO of Grocery Manufacturers Association Pam Bailey ask a question. United Steelworkers Leo Gerard sits to her right and Business Software Alliance CEO Robert Holleyman sits to her left.

    Chair McGraw continued the discussion raising the need to find new ways for growth, through collaboration.  The meeting then changed to an open forum, where members voiced their concerns on a wide variety of issues and asked questions. The Ambassador and Chair McGraw concluded the meeting, thanking everyone for their time and substantive contributions to the discussion.

    ACTPN is a Presidential appointed and statutorily created Advisory Committee that provides advice tothe President and the Unites States Trade Representative. Today’s meeting included members that represent labor, agriculture, manufacturing, services, and non-governmental organizations.

  • 05/15/2012 5:09 PM

    Washington, D.C. – Elected officials, as well as business and industry leaders, are applauding the entry into force of the U.S-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement today – which means that 80 percent of American exports of industrial and manufactured products to Colombia are now duty-free. President Obama and Colombian President Santos announced that the agreement would enter into force today during the Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia on April 15.

    Since the agreement won Congressional approval last fall, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative has worked diligently with the Colombian government to bring it into force quickly and correctly. The agreement will boost America’s exports to Colombia and help to support well-paying jobs for American workers.

    Here’s what leaders are saying so far:

    • “This Agreement will provide American businesses, farmers, and ranchers with significantly improved access to the third largest economy in South America. It immediately eliminates or reduces tariffs on almost all U.S. industrial exports to Colombia, presenting new opportunities for U.S. exporters to enter or expand their presence in Colombia’s growing economy. In addition, it provides significant new access to Colombia’s $180 billion services market, supporting increased opportunities for U.S. service providers.” -- U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson

     

    • "For America's farmers, ranchers, and agricultural businesses, the timing could not be better. U.S. agriculture is currently experiencing one of its best periods in history thanks to the productivity and resourcefulness of American farmers and agribusinesses. Much of the record growth these past few years is related to President Obama's leadership on trade. Last year, the President insisted that we get this agreement with Colombia right—alongside pacts with South Korea and Panama—that led to strong bipartisan support in both houses of Congress. In 2010, the President committed to double U.S. exports in five years. Two years later, we are on pace to meet that goal.” -- U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack

     

    • “Exporting goods to South America just got easier for America’s small businesses. Today, the U.S. – Colombia Trade Agreement goes into effect, opening yet another fast-growing market to goods made in America. This exciting agreement marks a significant development in the Obama Administration’s efforts to expand access to American goods in emerging markets around the world.” – SBA Administrator Karen Mills

     

    • “Colombia is dropping tariffs on our manufactured and agricultural goods, and that means the door is opening for American workers and businesses to grow. This a major economic win that levels the playing field for American workers and businesses. Colombia’s economy is growing quickly, and it’s a lucrative market for the world-class products made here in the U.S. This trade deal is worth a billion dollars in new U.S. exports and thousands of new jobs at home, and that’s just the kind of boost our economy needs.” -- Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT)

     

    • “Today’s entry into force is cause for celebration. I appreciate and applaud the significant effort by the administrations of both Presidents Obama and Santos to ensure prompt implementation of the agreement after Congress approved it in October. Now we can begin reaping the substantial benefits that the Colombia trade agreement unlocks. The U.S. International Trade Commission has estimated that the agreement will increase U.S. exports by $1.1 billion and increase U.S. GDP by $2.5 billion. That means substantial U.S. job creation, which we so greatly need in this difficult economy.” -- Representative Dave Camp (R-MI), Ways and Means Chairman

     

    • “Entry into force of this agreement is very good news for U.S. workers, farmers, manufacturers, and service exporters. We can now begin to recapture export market share that we lost in Colombia during the years that the trade agreement was not in force. Now that we are ‘back on the field’ in Colombia and Korea, I look forward to rapid implementation of the Panama trade agreement, as well.” -- Representative Kevin Brady (R-TX), Trade Subcommittee Chairman

     

    • “Today’s announcement is great news for American workers, manufacturers, farmers, and service providers. As it stood, average Colombian tariffs on U.S. exports ranged from 7.4 to 14.6 percent. This agreement levels the playing field for American workers, increasing our market access so American companies can compete fairly and grow jobs here at home. With the potential to increase U.S. exports by $1.1 billion and increase U.S. GDP by $2.5 billion, this agreement shows the world we are serious about pursuing a robust trade agenda. I applaud the bipartisan work done to ensure the passage of this agreement, and look forward to the swift implementation of the Panama trade agreement as well.” -- Representative Erik Paulsen (MN-03), Ways and Means Committee Member

     

    • “Colombia has been the world’s greatest turnaround story of the past decade. Given the Colombian economy’s rapid growth, this landmark agreement will open the door to exciting new business opportunities and job creation in the U.S. and Colombia. Rather than rest on our laurels, we must continue to push forward with a bold job-creating trade agenda. The Chamber’s trade priorities include congressional approval of permanent normal trade relations with Russia, new trade agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership and proposed accords with the European Union and several other markets, as well as renewal of the president’s trade negotiating authority.” -- Thomas J. Donohue, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce

     

    • “This is a very good day for wheat farmers. The tariff situation has basically forced our largest customer, historically, in South America to buy more wheat from Canada and Argentina. Now our customers in Colombia will not have to pay the tariff and we can compete equally on the basis of quality, supply and service. Implementing this FTA is particularly important to U.S. wheat farmers, who rely on exports to market about half of their crops each year. In marketing year 2010/2011, Colombia imported from Gulf and Pacific Northwest tributaries about 800,000 metric tons of U.S. wheat from five of six classes.” -- Randy Suess, a wheat farmer from Colfax, WA, and chairman of U.S. Wheat Associates (USW)
  • 05/14/2012 9:52 AM

    Yesterday, lead negotiators from each of the nine Trans-Pacific Partnership countries sat down for a briefing and conversation with dozens of stakeholders interested in the progress, process, and substance of the 12th round of TPP talks happening outside Dallas, Texas this week. Some highlights:

    Barbara Weisel, Assistant USTR for Southeast Asia and the Pacific and the lead negotiator for the U.S. opened the briefing with an apology to all the moms working at the TPP round on Mother's Day... and then provided an overview of Saturday's stakeholder presentation event. Weisel noted that initial feedback indicates the new format provided the opportunity for more in-depth, substantive exchanges between stakeholders and negotiators, and that feedback from presenters at the event will be factored into stakeholder presentation planning for the next round of TPP talks. Those, she said, will occur the first week in July at a U.S. location to be finalized soon.

    Weisel said that good progress has been made thus far by a number of negotiating groups (see USTR's daily readouts at www.ustr.gov to see what negotiating groups are meeting on what days) and that one negotiating group, discussing small and medium-sized enterprises, has finished its talks and will not have to meet in upcoming rounds. She noted that the negotiators on every topic have tried to be as available as possible to stakeholders in crafting negotiating positions and that they will continue to seek to do so as they consider counterproposals and work to revised text. She also noted that the trade ministers of the TPP countries will meet in a few weeks in Kazan, Russia on the margins of the meeting of APEC ministers related to trade.

    The floor was opened for questions and a robust exchange followed lasting well past the hour originally allotted for the conversation, which featured questions from stakeholders at the table and in audience chairs including leaders from the AFL-CIO, Citizens Trade Campaign, Coalition for a Prosperous America, the Emergency Committee for American Trade, Friends of the Earth, Grocery Manufacturers Association, Maine Citizens Trade Policy Commission, Public Citizen, and the Sierra Club – among others.

    The first question, from Citizens Trade Campaign, was a request that text be made available to the public so that stakeholders could have more informed positions when speaking with negotiators. Weisel said that while the U.S. position is that constantly evolving TPP chapter texts cannot be released to the public, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative has been and remains committed to discussing in-depth with a wide range of stakeholders the formation of U.S. positions, the substance of negotiations as they take place, and how issues should be handled by negotiators as talks continue.

    Other topics for questions, which were answered variously by Weisel and chief negotiators from Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam, included the status of discussions as to whether Japan, Mexico and Canada will join the TPP talks - Weisel noted that chief negotiators are briefing each other in Texas this week on the status of bilateral consultations with those countries - and what type of consultations the governments do with their environmental ministers on the issue of investor-state dispute settlement provisions. The chief negotiators also answered several questions on domestic procurement provisions and the balance being sought on intellectual property rights and Internet freedom in the TPP's intellectual property chapter. Because of particular interest and concerns surrounding provisions on investor-state dispute settlement and state-owned-enterprises, Weisel said that there will be further stakeholder briefings on those issues - in addition to a broad U.S.-only stakeholder briefing session - when U.S. negotiators return to Washington, DC following this round of negotiations.

  • 05/12/2012 8:08 PM

    Dallas, TX – Today, stakeholders representing a range of interests and policy areas spoke directly with negotiators about the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP), currently in the twelfth round of negotiations at the Intercontinental Hotel. USTR organized a Direct Stakeholder Engagement Event on-site at the hotel where the TPP talks are underway, to provide a venue for non-governmental organizations, academia, business and industry groups to have substantive conversations with negotiators about their areas of concern.

    An NGO stakeholder (right) engages a TPP negotiator

    An NGO stakeholder (right) engages a TPP negotiator.

    Several dozen organizations participated in the direct engagement event, representing stakeholders in labor, the environment, intellectual property, consumers, textiles and apparel, agriculture and other policy areas.

    Among the participants were the AFL-CIO, American University Washington College of Law, the Business Software Alliance, the National Milk Producers Association, the National Oilseed Processors Association, Occupy Dallas, PhRMA, Public Citizen’s Global Access to Medicines, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The open format allowed negotiators representing the nine Trans-Pacific Partnership countries to discuss areas of concern directly with participants.

    One NGO representative said "This format was a big improvement and a useful way to proceed".

    Another said "We were glad that many negotiators in our issue area attended, as well as some chiefs (negotiators), and we hope that continues".

    Negotiators also responded favorably to the opportunity to sit down and dialogue with stakeholders.

    "The opportunity for negotiators to discuss issues one-on-one and in depth was extremely useful,” said USTR Chief Negotiator Barbara Weisel. “This direct engagement with stakeholders with different perspectives on the issues will result in a better agreement."

    Stakeholders and negotiators discuss issues of concern.

    Stakeholders and negotiators discuss issues of concern.

    Stakeholder Event Participants at TPP Round 12

    AdvaMed

    AFL-CIO, ITUC, MTUC

    Alphapharm Pty Limited

    American Automotive Policy Council

    American University

    American University Washington College of Law

    Association of American Publishers

    Biotechnology Industry Organization

    Business Software Alliance

    Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids

    Citizens Trade Campaign

    Coalition for a Prosperous America

    Coalition of Service Industries

    Computer & Communications Industry Association

    Copyright Alliance

    Electronic Frontier Foundation

    FedEx Express

    Footwear Distributors & Retailers of America

    Friends of the Earth

    Generic Pharmaceutical Association

    Global Intellectual Property Center

    Grocery Manufacturers Association

    Institute for Policy Innovation

    International Dairy Foods Association

    Internet New Zealand

    Knowledge Ecology International

    Maine Citizen Trade Policy Commission

    MFJ International, LLC

    Motion Picture Association of America

    Mylan

    National Council of Textile Organizations

    National Foreign Trade Council

    National Milk Producers/U.S. Dairy Export

    Council

    National Oilseed Processors Association

    Occupy Dallas

    Personal Care Products Council

    PhRMA

    Property Rights Alliance

    Public Citizen, Global Access to Medicines

    Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch

    Public Knowledge

    Rubber and Plastic Footwear Manufacturers Association

    Semiconductor Industry Association

    Sierra Club

    Software & Information Industry Association

    Third World Network

    TPP Apparel Coalition

    U.S. Business Coalition for the TPP

    U.S. Chamber of Commerce

    Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association

    (VITAS)

    Wal-Mart Stores,Inc

  • 05/12/2012 1:26 PM

    On Friday, Ambassador Kirk visited Brookhaven Community College in Farmers Branch, Texas to talk with students about keeping college affordable. More than 7.4 million students with federal student loans will see their interest rates double on July 1, unless Congress steps in to keep them low. For each year they are allowed to double, the average student with these loans will rack up an additional $1,000 in debt. Ambassador Kirk spoke about the need for Congressional action to prevent these interest rates from spiking. Following his remarks, he answered questions from students.

    Ambassador Kirk at Brookhaven College

    Ambassador Kirk at Brookhaven College

  • 05/12/2012 1:03 PM

    By Christine Turner, Assistant USTR for Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement

    Friday at the 12th round of Trans-Pacific Partnership talks outside Dallas, Probir Mehta, Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Intellectual Property and Innovation, and I had a great opportunity to hear from and speak with U.S. and international stakeholders at a lunch session hosted by Public Knowledge discussing copyright enforcement. Speakers included Rashmi Rangnath of Public Knowledge, Jonathan Band of Library Copyright Alliance, Susan Chalmers at Internet New Zealand, Gwen Hinze of Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Jodie Griffin of Public Knowledge. Each gave presentations on issues including fair use, first sale doctrine, proportional response to infringement and the interests of users.

    Panelists at the Copyright Enforcement session hosted by Public Knowledge

    Panelists at the Copyright Enforcement session hosted by Public Knowledge

    A key point the speakers highlighted was that enforcement mechanisms should be set up so as not to hamper due process or access to information. Many negotiators from various TPP countries were on hand to hear this message. The speakers also discussed the important challenges of balancing the interests of users of information with those of copyright holders -- especially given the dynamic and ever-changing nature of technology and how intellectual property is shared. The session highlighted the need for balanced legal systems to respect freedom of expression, creativity, AND innovation and provide remedies that properly protect intellectual property while also providing for access to information.

    Many of the groups represented at the Public Knowledge lunch will continue engaging with TPP intellectual property negotiators and other stakeholders at the Direct Stakeholder Engagement Event on Saturday, May 12.

    Rashmi Rangnath, Director of the Global Knowledge Iniatiative speaks with Christine Turner

    Rashmi Rangnath, Public Knowledge Director of the Global Knowledge Iniatiative and Assistant USTR Christine Turner

  • 05/11/2012 5:10 PM

    Yesterday, the Trade Advisory Committee on Africa (TACA) met with Ambassador Kirk to discuss trade policy and initiatives in Africa. This is the first TACA meeting of the year and was held in advance of the 2012 African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Forum hosted by the U.S. in mid-June.

    The Ambassador began the meeting by noting progress on the passing and implementation of the three free trade agreements (FTAs) with Korea, Colombia, and Panama. In addition, Ambassador Kirk highlighted the development of the President Obama’s new Presidential Policy Directive for Africa, which will allow for broader Africa engagement. He also pointed to the possibility of using Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs) to accelerate growth between the U.S. and African countries, one of which is being negotiated with Mauritius.

    As Ambassador Kirk also pointed out during the TACA meeting, renewing AGOA's Third Country Fabric Provision before its expiration on September 30, 2012 remains a top administration priority. TACA members also emphasized the importance of renewing the Third Country Fabrics provision, referencing its importance as a bipartisan issue that should not be allowed to lapse. Other members commented on the importance of issues such as agribusiness and infrastructure development as well.

    The discussion also focused on the President’s National Export Initiative, suggesting that increasing trade with Africa could help meet the President’s goals to double exports by the end of 2014. To promote growth in Africa, the advisors suggested including additional government agencies, the private sector, and building relationships with more government officials in Africa.

    Ambassador Kirk concluded the meeting with a positive outlook on Africa’s trade and growth potential: "Africa has enormous resources— and somewhere between petroleum and textiles is great opportunity to do much more."

    Ambassador Kirk Participates in TACA Meeting

    Ambassador Kirk Participates in TACA Meeting


    TACA provides the U.S. Trade Representative with policy advice on issues involving trade and development in sub-Saharan Africa. AGOA is the cornerstone of America’s trade and investment policy with sub-Saharan Africa. AGOA’s performance and effectiveness are closely tied to its Third-Country Fabric (TCF) provision, which is set to expire in September 2012. Swift passage of legislation extending AGOA’s TCF provision is necessary to ensure AGOA’s continued success – and the stability, development, and economic growth of sub-Saharan African countries. Congress has extended the TCF provision twice with bipartisan support.


  • 05/10/2012 3:39 PM
    TPP DallasU.S. trade negotiators and officials are busy welcoming to Texas many of the more than 300 stakeholders from non-governmental organizations, academia, business, and the public who have accepted the invitation to be on-site at the 12th Round of the Trans-Pacific Partnership talks. The following groups – as well as a number of members of the public who are here as concerned citizens – will be on hand here to engage directly with negotiators and help shape the substance of the talks. Many are choosing to participate in a special Saturday event to present directly to individual negotiators about their views on issues in TPP, and hear more about how the talks are going. More information about TPP, including a detailed summary of the outlines of the agreement announced by TPP Leaders last November, can be found at www.ustr.gov/tpp.


    Stakeholders Participating in 12th Round TPP Talks
  • 05/08/2012 4:56 PM

    Guthrie met on May 8 with Texas AFL-CIO President Becky Moeller, Texas AFL-CIO Communications Director Ed Sills, Texas AFL-CIO Secretary Treasurer John Patrick, Lone Star Sierra Club Chairman Hal Suter, Texas Apollo Alliance Coordinator David Cortez, and Texas Fair Trade Coalition Director Bob Cash, as well as Arthur Stamoulis from the Citizens Trade Campaign, accepting a petition the group had organized and hearing their views on transparency in the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations and on a wide range of substantive issues being discussed. More than 300 stakeholders from non-governmental organizations, academia, business, and the public have accepted the U.S. Trade Representative’s invitation to be on-site at the TPP talks, to engage directly with negotiators and help shape the substance of the talks. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative has been pleased to engage with organizations like the AFL-CIO and the Sierra Club to formulate approaches on key issues such as TPP’s labor provisions and ensuring that state-owned enterprises don’t unfairly disadvantage U.S. workers, and on groundbreaking conservation proposals, which can be found on the USTR website here.

    Assistant U.S. Trade Representative Guthrie Hears From TPP Stakeholders
    Assistant U.S. Trade Representative Guthrie Hears From TPP Stakeholders

  • 05/04/2012 5:56 PM

    Monday, May 7

    Ambassador Sapiro will participate on a panel at Transatlantic Week, organized by the Transatlantic Policy Network (TPN)

    Washington, D.C.

    Closed Press

     

    Tuesday, May 8

    Ambassador Kirk will participate in a panel entitled “Perspectives on Hemispheric Trade” at the 42nd Annual Conference on the Americas

    Washington, D.C.

    Open Press

     

    Ambassadors Kirk and Sapiro will meet with Chilean Foreign Affairs Minister Alfredo Moreno

    Washington, D.C.

    Closed Press

     

    Wednesday, May 9

    Ambassador Sapiro will deliver remarks on “Fighting Counterfeiting and Piracy: A Call for Dialogue” at an event at the French Embassy

    Washington, D.C.

    Closed Press

     

    Thursday, May 10

    Ambassador Kirk will meet with the Trade Advisory Committee on Africa (TACA)

    Washington, D.C.

    Closed Press

     

    Ambassador Sapiro will meet with former Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende

    Washington, D.C.

    Closed Press

     

    Ambassador Siddiqui will deliver remarks on the U.S.-EU Organic Equivalence Arrangement at a luncheon hosted by EU Ambassador to the U.S. Joao Vale de Almeida

    Washington, D.C.

    For more information, please contact Giulio Menato at the Delegation of the European Union to the U.S.

     

    Ambassador Marantis will attend the 2012 Global Commerce Leadership Circle Reception

    Washington, D.C.

    Closed Press

     

    Friday, May 11

    Ambassador Marantis will travel to Dallas for the 12th Round of Negotiations of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (May 11-13)

    Dallas, TX

    Open Press Events

    **Additional events may be announced throughout the week

  • 05/04/2012 4:25 PM

    United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk and Deputy United States Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis visited Beijing this week as part of a U.S. delegation to participate in the fourth round of the United States-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED). In Beijing, Ambassadors Kirk and Marantis joined S&ED co-chairs Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton – along with Commerce Secretary Bryson and other U.S. Government officials – for high-level discussions around several key issues related to the U.S.-China bilateral relationship.

    During the S&ED's Economic Track trade and investment discussions, in which USTR plays a leading role, the United States made progress on several priority issues, including stepped up IPR enforcement and increasing sales of legitimate products, prioritizing enforcement against trade secrets theft, giving IP non-discriminatory treatment wherever it is owned or developed, a new comprehensive offer by China in 2012 to join the WTO Government Procurement Agreement, opening new areas to foreign investment, and beginning intensive discussions with China to ensure that market access is, in fact, not tied to technology transfer.

    In addition, throughout the talks this week, Ambassadors Kirk and Marantis stressed that China is a critical and key trading partner for the United States. China's annual trade growth averaged 13.9 percent between 1979 and its accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001 – and since then that growth has accelerated to 21.6. As the world's fastest growing major economy, China offers huge opportunities for American businesses, workers, farmers, and ranchers. Therefore, the United States has a strong interest in China's continued economic growth.

    However, as Ambassador Kirk has noted, as China grows, it must afford opportunities to companies from all countries fairly, consistently, and in accordance with international trading rules. For the United States, ensuring a level playing field for American workers and businesses is critical to creating new opportunities from our bilateral trade and investment relationship with China.

    The U.S.-China relationship has deepened and matured over the last few years. And President Obama has been very clear that we need to work together to balance our trade relationship with China and advance mutually beneficial interests. Our shared goal and challenge is to address important systemic issues in order to minimize the obstacles facing American and Chinese companies and promote a more healthy trade and investment relationship.

    For more specifics on topics and issues discussed during the S&ED, see the U.S.-China Joint Fact Sheet and the U.S. Fact Sheet, which can be found at www.treasury.gov.

  • 04/26/2012 4:53 PM

    Last week, Deputy Assistant USTR for Small Business and Market Access Christina Sevilla spoke on the “Exporting for Small Business” panel at the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Units (OSDBU) Annual Conference.  The OSDBU Procurement Conference is a national conference fostering business partnerships between the Federal Government and small, minority-owned, veteran-owned, service-disabled veteran-owned, HUBZone, and women-owned businesses.  Now in its 22nd year, the OSDBU Directors Conference is a premier event for small business throughout the United States.

    According to organizers, this was the first time that the OSBDU conference -- primarily focused on Federal Government contracting opportunities for small business --- also included a panel on Small Business exporting with interagency participation, given the National Export Initiative’s goal of doubling U.S. exports by the end of 2014 and priority attention to small businesses who are new to exporting.  And according to the Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency, minority-owned firms are more likely to export compared to non-minority-owned firms, regardless of firm size.  For example, minority-owned firms in wholesale trade; professional, scientific and technical services; and finance and insurance were more likely to export compared to non-minority firms in those same industries.  Among firms generating 50% to 100% of their annual $1 million plus sales through exports, minority-owned firms were four times (4.2%) as likely to export compared to non-minority firms (1%). Minority firms are also five times more likely to conduct business in a language other than English compared to non-minority owned firms.

    Christina Sevilla speaks on Exporting for Small Business panel at OSDBU Conference
    Deputy Assistant USTR Christina Sevilla, second from right, participates in "Exporting for Small Business" panel

    Foreign language capability can be a huge advantage for U.S. minority and diaspora entrepreneurs seeking to make export sales to U.S. trade agreement partners in Latin America, Asia, the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere. Sevilla spoke about the benefits to small businesses of U.S. trade agreements, such as the new agreements with Colombia and Korea.  Trade agreement partners can be easier markets for small firms to access due to the reduction and elimination of tariff barriers, non-tariff barriers, and speedier customs procedures to get products to market under the agreements.  Reducing tariff costs and cutting red tape can make a big difference to a small company seeking to export for the first time or to enter a new market.

    She also highlighted new opportunities for small business suppliers to access foreign government procurement markets under the revised WTO Government Procurement Agreement (GPA) that will be available when it enters into force, possibly as early as 2013.  For example, the revised agreement will give U.S. suppliers access to more than 150 additional central government entities in European Union Member States, including Bulgaria, Finland, France, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Romania, and Sweden.  U.S. suppliers will also gain access to a number of additional central government entities in other GPA Parties, including in Aruba, Hong Kong, Israel, Liechtenstein, Korea, and Switzerland.

    Small and minority-owned and women-owned firms which have successfully competed for U.S. government contracts may now consider foreign government contracts a promising new opportunity opened up by U.S. trade negotiations.

  • 04/24/2012 1:39 PM
  • 04/23/2012 12:50 PM

    Ambassador Kirk tries his hand at hammering a pewter mug at the Royal Selangor pewter company in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, before meeting with leaders of the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers. Ambassador Kirk is in Southeast Asia this week to outline key U.S. trade objectives with regard to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

     Ambassador Kirk hammers a pewter mug in Malaysia

    Following his two-day stop in Kuala Lumpur, Ambassador Kirk will fly to Singapore where he will deliver a speech at Singapore Management University.

  • 04/18/2012 7:53 AM

    Washington, DC – Elected officials and leaders across business, industry, agriculture and services issued statements supporting President Obama and Colombian President Santos’ announcement on Sunday that the U.S-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement would enter into force on May 15, 2012.

    Since the agreement won strong bipartisan approval in Congress last fall, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative has worked diligently with stakeholders and the Colombian government to ensure all necessary steps were taken to secure what President Obama called a “high standards agreement.”

    Upon entry into force on May 15, 80 percent of U.S. exports of industrial and manufactured products to Colombia will become duty free. This will boost U.S. exports, and help to support more and better jobs for American workers.

    Here’s what leaders are saying so far:

    “This is great news for ranchers, farmers and businesses in Montana and across the country. In just thirty days, U.S. exporters and workers will be competing on a level playing field in this crucial market for American goods, and this will boost U.S. exports by a billion dollars and create the jobs we need here at home. We know that when Americans compete on a level playing field, they win. So this agreement entering into force is vital to giving U.S. workers a leg up in the global economy by removing Colombia’s barriers to our manufactured and agricultural goods from Montana and across the country.” – Max Baucus (D-MT), Senate Finance Committee Chairman

    “This agreement will have a positive economic impact in Miami-Dade County, where international trade already generates billions of dollars for our community,” – Jose “Pepe” Diaz, Miami-Dade County Commissioner

    “This landmark agreement opens the door to new business opportunities, economic growth, and job creation in the U.S. and Colombia. Today our two countries can celebrate as we take our partnership to a new level.” – Thomas Donahue, U.S. Chamber President and CEO

    “The U.S. – Colombia trade agreement will increase opportunities creating jobs for America’s small and minority businesses which are the primary exporters in foreign markets. This will enhance business deals between the two countries and bring Latin America closer as a trading partner.” – Roger A. Campos, President & CEO, Minority Business RoundTable

    “We are extremely pleased to see this FTA set for implementation. Our extensive efforts over the nearly six years since the agreement was first signed have finally become a reality and U.S. wheat exports will now compete on an equal basis with other major exporters." – Alvaro de la Fuentes , U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) Regional Vice President for South America

    “[Retail Industry Leaders Association] RILA and our members are delighted to see that the benefits of the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement will finally be realized next month. We applaud President Obama and U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk for their work to implement this long-anticipated trade promotion agreement. The Colombia FTA will benefit retailers by bringing certainty and stability to the trade relationship between the United States and Colombia” – Stephanie Lester, Vice President of International Trade, Retail Industry Leaders Association

  • 04/18/2012 7:51 AM

    Yesterday, Ambassador Kirk held a conference call with members of the Intergovernmental Policy Advisory Committee (IGPAC). Ambassador Kirk provided an update on implementation of U.S. trade agreements with Korea, Colombia, and Panama, as well as the Obama Administration’s enhanced efforts to enforce U.S. trade rights.

    The discussion focused on the benefits of the trade agreements, including the recent announcement by President Obama during the Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia that the U.S.-Colombia trade agreement will enter into force on May 15, 2012. Ambassador Kirk noted the positive response to the President’s announcement, adding that USTR certified that Colombia has met the requirements for entry into force of the agreement. Ambassador Kirk also noted progress made by the Colombian government under the Colombia Action Plan Related to Labor Rights, including the establishment of a new ministry of labor and additional resources to prosecute perpetrators of violence against union members.

    Ambassador Kirk also highlighted USTR’s efforts to enforce U.S. trade agreements, saying that while “trade expansion is one aspect of our work, equally critical is trade enforcement.” He described USTR’s lead role in the Interagency Trade Enforcement Center (ITEC), which was established by President Obama. As laid out in the President’s Blueprint for America and as part of the Obama Administration’s commitment to leveling the playing field for international trade, ITEC will draw from various agencies to focus on enforcement and pursue trade issues with more resources than previously available. Ambassador Kirk cited a recently filed World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute settlement case against China’s export restraints on rare earths as an example of a complex case that requires the kind of rigorous analysis that ITEC will enable.

    To conclude, the Ambassador commented that steps need to be taken by Congress as Russia joins the WTO this year. Specifically, he said Congress needs to repeal the Jackson-Vanik amendment, so that the United States has more WTO enforcement tools available and to ensure that U.S. exporters can compete on a level playing field against their international competitors in Russia.

  • 04/16/2012 1:34 PM

    Assistant United States Trade Representative for Europe and the Middle East L. Daniel Mullaney recently led a delegation of USTR, Commerce and State Department officials to meet with the Government of Tunisia under the auspices of the U.S.-Tunisia Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) Council, relaunched last fall. Tunisia is charting a path towards greater economic openness, transparency, and deepening bilateral trade and investment ties with the United States, and with partners in the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region.

    USTR officials Mullaney, Deputy Assistant USTR for Eurasia and the Middle East Mark Mowrey, Deputy Assistant USTR for Small Business Market Access Christina Sevilla, Department of Commerce North Africa desk officer Christopher Wilken, and U.S. Embassy-Tunis Commercial Attache Isabel Rioja-Scott met with a large Tunisian delegation at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, led by Ambassador Faysal Gouia. The two sides discussed issues under the Market Access, Services, Investment and Intellectual Property Rights working groups and specific steps that the parties could take to improve the business climate and lay the groundwork for greater and more comprehensive trade liberalization, which would support Tunisia’s economic growth and employment goals. The U.S. delegation also met with officials responsible for Small and Medium Enterprises, and the Tunisian private sector, including the Tunisian American Chamber of Commerce, the Tunis Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the Tunisian Union for Industry, Commerce, and Artisans (UTICA), to hear their views on how to strengthen U.S.-Tunisia commercial ties and regional integration. The Tunisian private sector is particularly interested in attracting investment, franchising opportunities, forging business partnerships with U.S. firms including in third country markets, and helping small and medium businesses find trade opportunities with American and regional partners.

    America and Tunisia have a history of diplomatic and commercial ties dating back more than 200 years, from the American Friendship Treaty with Tunisia signed in 1799. The U.S. is committed to a strong partnership and growing two-way trade with Tunisia as it transitions to a new era of openness.

     
     USTR-led delegation at TIFA meeting with the Government of Tunisia

     
    USTR-led delegation meets with Tunisian private sector representatives

     

  • 04/13/2012 3:09 PM

    This weekend, Ambassador Kirk will accompany President Obama at the sixth Summit of the Americas (SOA) in Cartagena, Colombia. This year’s Summit theme, “Connecting the Americas: Partners for Prosperity,” reinforces the spirit of partnership that has been at the core of the Obama administration’s policy.

    Through equal partnership and the power of proximity, the United States is working effectively with an increasingly capable set of partners to address key challenges facing the people of the Americas. President Obama and Ambassador Kirk will focus on advancing core U.S. interests in the region.

    At the fifth Summit of the Americas in 2009 in Trinidad & Tobago President Obama challenged the region to embrace regional cooperation based on partnership and shared responsibility. Many nations embraced that call and the results have been significant. Key commitments include:

    • Promoting Robust and Inclusive Economic Growth: As improving economic policies governance continues to lift millions of people in the region out of poverty and into the middle class, opportunities for U.S. firms abound, and we are moving decisively to seize them.

    • Strengthening Energy Partnerships: The United States receives more than half its imported energy from the Western Hemisphere. Experts believe that proportion will increase significantly in the coming years, making stronger partnerships essential. Canada is our largest supplier of imported energy, and Mexico is our third largest. We also have also launched strategic energy dialogues with Brazil and Colombia – two leading energy exporters of the future.

    • Promoting Educational Exchanges for Partners of the Future: The interpersonal and cultural connections that bind the United States and our regional neighbors are among our strongest assets. Through the 100,000 Strong in the Americas, we will increase educational exchanges in both directions by assisting students find opportunities for foreign study and developing public-private partnerships to fund them.

    • Improving Citizen Security: The Administration has put the security of people in their daily lives across the Americas at the center of a next-generation citizen security strategy that emphasizes an integrated and multilateral partnership to strengthen the institutions that will build and sustain the rule of law, address the root causes of crime, and guarantee long-term public security.

    • Building New Global Partnerships for the 21st Century: The Inter-American Democratic Charter (IADC), a product of the Summit process, is an essential tool for the collective defense of democracy. The United States will continue to work with our strong regional partners through the IADC framework.

  • 04/13/2012 9:24 AM

    The United States, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and the Dominican Republic held the sixth meeting of the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) Environmental Affairs Council (EAC) today in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and the State Department represented the United States at this meeting.

    During the meeting, the CAFTA-DR Parties reaffirmed their strong commitment to work together to preserve and protect the environment through implementation of the CAFTA-DR Environment Chapter and the Environmental Cooperation Agreement. The success of the implementation of the Environment Chapter along with cooperative activities under CAFTA-DR demonstrates the importance of increased trade and stronger environmental protection.

    The Council Members also met with members of the public. The Council Members shared progress on implementation of the Environment Chapter and on important results achieved on environmental cooperation and capacity building. The CAFTA-DR Secretariat for Environmental Matters gave a presentation during the public session regarding the enforcement of environmental laws under the CAFTA-DR Environment Chapter.

    The CAFTA-DR entered into force for the United States and El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua during 2006, for the Dominican Republic on March 1, 2007, and for Costa Rica on January 1, 2009. To date, the United States has dedicated more than $77 million to support trade and environment capacity building through environmental cooperation in the CAFTA-DR region. CAFTA-DR environmental cooperation focuses on efforts to strengthen implementation and enforce environmental laws, protect biodiversity, increase market-based conservation, and improve private sector environmental performance.

  • 04/12/2012 5:01 PM

    Yesterday the Administration’s Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator, released an economic report on intellectual property-intensive industries and their impact on the U.S. economy. The report, “Intellectual Property and the U.S. Economy: Industries in Focus” was written by the Department of Commerce, working with the President’s Council of Economic Advisors and the chief economists of the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, Department of Labor, and other Federal agencies. This report identifies the full range of sectors that generate intellectual property, as well as the jobs, exports, and wage premiums those sectors support.

    The findings of this report underscore a key point included in the President’s Trade Agenda: “promoting [a] trade policy that keeps pace with 21st century innovation can support the growth of well-paying IP trade-related job in the United States.” Specifically, the report found that intellectual property is critical to our balance of trade, since goods from the IP-intensive industries account for 60% of all US merchandise exports, and 19% of our services exports. The study also shows that intellectual property is a key driver of our economy: IP-intensive industries create 27.1 million jobs and indirectly support another 12.9 million jobs. All told, nearly 30 percent of all U.S. jobs are directly or indirectly attributable to the IP-intensive industries. And these are jobs that pay well. The average weekly wage in the IP-intensive industries overall is 42% higher by 2010 and its 73% for patent industry jobs and 77% for copyright industry jobs.

    The findings in this report highlight the importance of intellectual property through our economy. USTR will continue to grow and sustain innovative jobs through our trade agenda, including by advancing a robust intellectual property chapter in the TPP negotiations; ensuring that our trade agreements are properly implemented; and using the “Special 301” process of reporting on intellectual property protection and enforcement and bilateral engagement, to enhance the protection and enforcement of IPR in our trading partners, and ensure greater market access so that legitimate U.S. exports of IP-intensive products can reach global consumers.

  • 04/06/2012 2:14 PM

    Yesterday Ambassador Ron Kirk and Secretary of Commerce John Bryson attended a plenary meeting of the Industry Trade Advisory Committees (ITACs) at the Department of Commerce. They provided remarks and participated in a question and answer session with ITAC advisors. Remarks referenced the overall competitiveness of U.S. products, trade barriers, the benefits of the free trade agreements and President Obama’s commitment to enforcement.

    With respect to enforcement, the Interagency Trade Enforcement Center (ITEC) is intended to level the playing field for American workers and businesses by bringing a more aggressive “whole-of-government” approach to addressing unfair trade practices, and it will significantly enhance the capabilities of the United States to challenge unfair trade practices around the world. The ITEC will provide more resources to ensure that everyone is competing on a level playing field. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative has a leading role in trade enforcement and will be appointing the ITEC Director.

    Ambassador Kirk speaks to members at ITAC meeting
    Ambassador Kirk speaks to members at ITAC meeting

    The remarks also focused on the wide range of U.S. trading partners and their effects on U.S. businesses, including comments on Japan, Canada and Mexico’s desire to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Ambassador Kirk emphasized that trade with Canada and Mexico topped $1 trillion last year, additionally he commented on the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement, which entered into force on March 15th.

    Additional briefings were provided to the ITACs by USTR staff, including Tim Reif, General Counsel for USTR; Christine Turner, Assistant USTR for Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement; L. Daniel Mullaney, Assistant USTR for Europe and the Middle East; Barbara Weisel, Assistant USTR for the South East Asia Office; Chris Wilson, Assistant USTR for WTO and Multilateral Affairs; and Christine Bliss, Assistant USTR for Services and Investment.

    The USTR and the Department of Commerce created the Industry Trade Advisory Center to jointly administer the work of sixteen ITACs, a Committee of Chairs, and over 375 industry executives.

  • 04/04/2012 1:29 PM

    Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis visited Los Angeles's dynamic apparel, fashion, and creative industries on April 2 and 3 to discuss the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and other trade expansion and enforcement initiatives. He first visited 3 apparel manufacturers -- Karen Kane, New Fashion Inc, and Blue River Denim -- for a close view of the success these factories have had in manufacturing and promoting high fashion "Made in the USA" apparel. Ambassador Marantis also gathered with a group of designers, apparel manufacturers, retailers, and other industry leaders at the California Market Center for a roundtable discussion of issues that concern them, including ways that trade agreements, like the TPP and the recently entered into force U.S.-Korea trade agreement, can boost U.S. made apparel exports to the region. They also discussed how President Obama's newly announced Interagency Trade Enforcement Committee (ITEC) can help address increasing concerns with counterfeiting and intellectual property rights.

    Ambassador Marantis at New Fashion Products Inc.
    Ambassador Marantis at New Fashion Products Inc.

    Ambassador Marantis visits Blue River Demin
    Ambassador Marantis visits Blue River Demin

    Ambassador Marantis at Karen Kane Factory
    Ambassador Marantis at Karen Kane Factory

    On Tuesday, Ambassador Marantis participated in a roundtable discussion with representatives of LA-based film studios, independent filmmakers, unions, and the Mayor's office to talk about the Obama Administration's trade agenda and export opportunities for U.S. creative industries. Highlighting the $12 billion trade surplus in this export-intensive sector, Ambassador Marantis outlined how the Administration is working to further enhance opportunities by pursuing trade agreements like the TPP, enforcing those agreements, and strengthening relationships on the bilateral, regional, and multilateral levels. Discussion topics included the recent successful negotiation of enhanced market access for US films in China, the path forward to an ambitious outcome in the TPP negotiations, and how the TPP can help LA-based small- and medium-sized businesses.

  • 04/03/2012 4:45 PM

    On Saturday, USTR held a meeting of the U.S.-Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Trade and Investment Council in Georgetown, Guyana. Assistant United States Trade Representative (AUSTR) for the Western Hemisphere John Melle led the U.S. delegation. Director of Trade for Trinidad and Tobago Norris Herbert led the CARICOM delegation. CARICOM is a group of 15 Caribbean nations and dependencies. The Trade and Investment Council was established on July 22, 1991.

    During the March 31 meeting, the United States and CARICOM leaders discussed progress towards a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA). The United States expressed openness to a potential extension of benefits available under the Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI) to eligible CARICOM member states and other Caribbean nations. The Council agreed to explore greater cooperation on various issues including small businesses and intellectual property, among others. The United States and CARICOM pledged to continue close cooperation, and agreed to hold the next Council meeting in the United States.

    Following the Council meeting AUSTR John Melle stated, “Our joint goal is for the Council to serve as a forum for deepening and strengthening our work on trade and economic issues. I am pleased to say that we made progress on a number of important issues and renewed our commitment to facilitate the growth of trade and investment among our countries.”

  • 03/30/2012 2:20 PM

    On Thursday, Ambassador Kirk met with Rwandan President Paul Kagame, where he congratulated President Kagame on the recent ratification and entry into force of the U.S.-Rwanda Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT), and on the progress made in deepening trade and investment relations under the U.S.-Rwanda Trade and Investment Framework Agreement.

    Ambassador Kirk with Rwandan President Paul Kagame

    Ambassador Kirk and President Kagame discussed how to capitalize on the ratification of BIT to foster greater investment between the United States and Rwanda. They also considered regional issues, including a potential new trade and investment partnership between the United States and the East African Community.

    Total two-way goods trade between Rwanda and the United States was $149 million in 2011, up from $51 million in 2010. U.S exports in 2011 were $119 million and U.S imports totaled $31 million. The large increase in trade was driven by Rwanda’s purchase of Boeing aircraft. Other top U.S. exports in 2011 were vaccines, medical devices, and electronics. Coffee comprised over 95 percent of U.S. imports from Rwanda in 2011. Other leading imports from Rwanda were tungsten, pyrethrum (a natural insecticide), and baskets.

  • 03/29/2012 2:17 PM

    On Wednesday, the Emergency Committee for American Trade (ECAT) presented the 2012 ECAT Trade and Investment Leadership Award to United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk and Speaker of the House Representative John Boehner (R - OH). The award recognized Ambassador Kirk and USTR’s achievements in international trade, particularly the passage of historic trade agreements with South Korea, Panama and Colombia.

    Terry McGraw, ECAT Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of McGraw Hill, presented the award to Ambassador Kirk. Mr. McGraw thanked Ambassador Kirk for his hard work and dedication to opening new markets for American businesses. In presenting the ECAT award to Ambassador Kirk, Mr. McGraw stated:

    “Ambassador Kirk’s outreach to the American people to explain the importance of trade and investment was vitally important to the successes of 2011, including most importantly the passage of the trade agreements with Korea, Colombia and Panama.”

    These trade agreements will help to open new export opportunities for American businesses, which will help stimulate growth and create more jobs here at home. The U.S–South Korea trade agreement, which entered into force on March 15, will help support 70,000 jobs from increased goods exports alone.

    Mr. McGraw also recognized the hard work of the professional staff at USTR, saying:

    “In addition to applauding Ambassador Kirk, ECAT also recognizes tonight the extremely talented professional staff that provides the backbone to much of America’s trade and investment policy. The small, talented and expert professional staff at USTR – joined by incredibly capable staff at other U.S. agencies, including the Departments of Commerce, Treasury, State and Agriculture – performs at the highest caliber every day.”

    Before dinner, Ambassador Kirk delivered brief remarks to the guests. In his remarks, Ambassador Kirk highlighted USTR’s goals for the upcoming year including working with Congress to terminate Russia’s Jackson-Vanik status so that American firms will enjoy the full benefits of Russia’s WTO membership. He thanked Members of Congress for the bipartisan support of the trade agreements – noting the leadership of Senate Finance Committee Chairman Senator Max Baucus (D – MT) and Chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means Representative Dave Camp (R – MI4) as well as Congressional staff who work closely with USTR to move the country’s trade agenda forward.

    He also discussed the progress of ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks, stating:

    “This year, we are seeking to conclude a landmark TPP agreement that will address cross-cutting issues such as promoting regulatory coherence among our countries, enhancing the participation of small businesses into Asia-Pacific trade, and building regional supply chains that promote U.S. jobs.”

    ECAT was founded in 1967 by several business leaders in order to promote economic growth through international trade and investment.

  • 03/22/2012 5:26 PM

    On Wednesday, Ambassador Kirk, Ambassador Siddiqui, and USTR General Counsel Tim Reif spoke with AgriTalk Radio, a nationally syndicated talk radio for rural America with programming focused on issues that connect agricultural producers and consumers. The three answered questions on the progress USTR has made in trade over the past year, including the recent implementation of the US.-Korea free trade agreement and its impact on the agricultural industry.

    Watch the interviews:

    U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk talks about implementation of the Korea Free Trade Agreement, the Trans Pacific Partnership, the future of DOHA and the Dallas Cowboys.

    US Chief Ag Negotiator Islam Siddiqui talks about pending implementation of free trade agreements as well as ag trade disputes and possible new trade agreements with Japan and Russia.

    USTR General Counsel Tim Reif talks about trade enforcement action the U.S. is seeking against India, China and others.

  • 03/21/2012 5:34 PM

    Wednesday morning, Ambassador Kirk spoke at the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC) Legislative Summit Welcome Breakfast to discuss the substantial economic benefits of international trade and to update the group on recent developments at USTR.

    Ambassador Kirk speaks at the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Legislative Summit (March 21,2011)

    The event, focusing on the economic power of the Hispanic Business community, featured Members of Congress, and business leaders from across the country. The event was designed to connect Hispanic business leaders with policy experts, regulators, elected officials and corporate leaders to collaborate, network and champion polices that keep the Hispanic business community moving forward. Participants also engaged in discussions on how to spur economic growth, innovation, and entrepreneurship. Ambassador Kirk highlighted President Obama’s Blueprint for an America Built to Last, a series of ideas to build an economy that works for everyone by growing trade and ultimately creating more jobs here at home. In order to do this, the President is putting more focus on helping small businesses get involved in trade. Already, these new trade opportunities are taking effect -- just the other week, the U.S.-Korea trade agreement was implemented. The agreement will support an additional $10 billion worth of U.S. exports and more than 70,000 American jobs.

    For additional information and resources, below are some key online tools to make it easier for small businesses across the country to get involved in trade and exporting

    www.businessusa.gov  -- Business USA provides small business owners with the advice on how to navigate foreign markets and what financing options and trade opportunities are available for your specific needs. It also has the tariff search tool, which allows users to find tariff information on specific industrial goods covered under the U.S. FTAs. The tool shows the tariff applied on the date the FTA enters into force and the rates each subsequent year as the tariffs are eliminated under the agreement.

    www.export.gov  -- This tool offers workshops for businesses ready to leap into the international market. It helps more mature businesses expand their exports as well as those who are just getting started.

     

  • 03/21/2012 4:30 PM

    U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk met Tuesday with faculty and students from Governor Scott’s Gubernatorial Fellows Class.

    The Gubernatorial Fellows Program, the state equivalent of the White House Fellows program, is a leadership opportunity for Florida’s next generation to gain firsthand experience in state government. All fellows are embarking on careers in government and politics.

    Ambassador Kirk meets with Florida Gubernatorial Fellows

    The meeting focused on jobs, trade, and the economy. The Fellows asked the Ambassador about exports, manufacturing, and the energy sector. The Ambassador highlighted the benefits of increased trade and export opportunities. He noted that, “If you trade right, you can have cheaper t-shirts and laptops and still have jobs.” He also mentioned that the goal for the United States is to be one of the world’s biggest exporters.

    Finally, Ambassador Kirk commented on the importance of public service, and applauded the Gubernatorial Fellows Program for their interest in public service.

  • 03/19/2012 11:52 AM

    Last Friday, Ambassador Kirk, the U.S. Trade Representative, visited Houston to discuss the benefits of trade with local officials and business and civic leaders. The visit came just one day after the U.S.-Korea trade agreement entered into force and opened Korea’s $1 trillion market to U.S. products.

    Texas is already one of the main exporters to Korea with an average of over $5 billion a year in recent years. Texas’ top exports to Korea -- including chemicals and machinery -- will see substantial immediate benefits from the agreement. It is estimated that the Korea trade agreement will increase overall U.S. exports to Korea by at least $11 billion.

    Ambassador Kirk first stopped at the Port of Houston, where he toured the Ship Channel and Turning Basin. Port officials provided an overview of the Port’s vital role in trade and distributing goods from Texas around the world. 

     Interim Director of the Port Authority Colonel Leonard Waterworth, Mayor Pro-Tem of the City of Houston Ed Gonzlez, Congresswoman Jackson Lee, Commissioner Lanier and Ambassador Ron Kirk

    The Ambassador also discussed increased trade opportunities offered by the pending expansion of the Panama Canal. Currently, approximately two-thirds of the Panama Canal’s annual transits are bound to or from U.S. ports. The U.S. Panama trade agreement and the expanded canal represent an important opportunity for the United States – both in terms of volume/transits and the larger ships that will be able to pass through. 

     

    Ambassador Kirk  Ambassador Kirk delivering the keynote address to the Greater Houston Partnernship (GHP)

    Following the Port tour, the Ambassador delivered a keynote address to the Greater Houston Partnership (GHP), where he also participated in a question and answer session. In his speech, Ambassador Kirk referenced President Obama’s Blueprint for An America Built to Last, and discussed how trade benefits American companies and American workers. He highlighted efforts to create a level playing field for U.S. exporters through strong trade enforcement actions, including the President’s creation of an Interagency Trade Enforcement Center (ITEC) and last week’s announcement of a new case against China’s export restraints on rare earth minerals.

    The Ambassador closed his day by attending a White House Roundtable Discussion co-hosted with the City of Houston and Mayor Pro-Tem Ed Gonzalez. Attended by other local elected officials, the discussion focused on the job-supporting benefits of trade to grow Houston’s economy.

     

                            Ambassador Kirk with Congresswoman Jackson Lee (left) & Commissioner Lanier (center)

     

  • 03/16/2012 8:00 AM

    American stakeholers are applauding the entry into force of the U.S.-Korea trade agreement. At President Obama’s direction, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative worked with Congress, stakeholders, and the Korean government to address outstanding issues with the agreement and win its overwhelming bipartisan approval in Congress last fall. Today, thousands of tariffs on U.S. exports to Korea will be eliminated, non-tariff barriers to U.S. goods and services will come down, and new protections will come into place for U.S. exporters, investors, and intellectual property rights holders.

    Here is a sampling of what they are saying so far:

    Korea Business Council

    National Milk Producers Federation

    National Association of Manufacturers

    National Association of Wheat Growers

    U.S. Dairy Export Council

    Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S.

    NW Cherries

    USSEC- Soybeans

    US Meat Export Federation

    U.S. Poutry and Egg Industry

     

     

  • 03/15/2012 5:05 PM

    On Thursday, USTR’s partners across government applauded the entry into force of the U.S.-Korea trade agreement.

    At President Obama’s direction, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative worked with Congress, stakeholders, and the Korean government to address outstanding issues with the agreement and win its overwhelming bipartisan approval in Congress last fall. Today, thousands of tariffs on U.S. exports to Korea will be eliminated, non-tariff barriers to U.S. goods and services will come down, and new protections will come into place for U.S. exporters, investors, and intellectual property rights holders.

    What some of our government leaders are saying so far:

    “Not only will the agreement provide a significant economic boost to both of our economies, it will strengthen the U.S. partnership with a key ally in a strategically important region. This is a powerful signal of America's commitment to the Asia Pacific and to securing and sustaining our role as a regional leader and Pacific power.” -- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

    “Today is a monumental day for American farmers and ranchers. Under the new U.S.-Korea trade agreement, two-thirds of the tariffs imposed on U.S. food and agricultural products exported to South Korea are being eliminated.” -- Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack

    “This agreement will help open up access to the world’s 12th-largest economy by eliminating Korea’s tariffs on almost 80 percent of U.S. exports of industrial goods on entry into force. It will bolster the continued expansion of U.S. exports, which supported an increase in 1.2 million jobs from 2009 to 2011. In short, it will present real and immediate new opportunities (PDF) for U.S. exporters seeking to enter or expand their presence in the Korean market.” -- U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson

    “Made in America” goods will gain easier entrance into the Korean market thanks to the US-Korea trade agreement terms. The agreement will eliminate tariffs on over 95 percent of industrial and consumer goods within five years.” -- Small Business Administrator Karen Mills

  • 03/15/2012 5:01 PM

    On Thursday, Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Miriam Sapiro delivered the keynote address at an event hosted by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF). The event focused on the economic importance of the Information Technology Agreement (ITA), and why its expansion will help fuel economic growth, drive innovation, and create jobs in the United States and globally. Former U.S. Trade Representatives, Ambassadors Susan Schwab and Charlene Barshefsky also spoke at the event.

    A new report by ITIF found that expanding the ITA would increase U.S. exports of information and communication technology (ICT) products by $2.8 billion, support 60,000 new U.S. jobs and boost global GDP by $190 billion annually.

    Ambassador Sapiro noted that “the Obama Administration is working hard to build support for expanding both ITA product coverage and membership.” She went on to say that “the time for ITA Participants to negotiate an expansion to the Agreement is right, but we have to frame the negotiations for success.”

    The Ministerial Declaration on Trade in Information Technology Products, better known as the ITA, was concluded by 29 participants in December 1996, and entered into force in 1997. The agreement removed tariffs on eight categories of ICT products and has been a catalyst for expanding trade and investment in the global technology market. As a result, from 1996 to 2008, global trade in ICT products increased from $1.2 trillion to $4.0 trillion. Today, 73 WTO Members and States or separate customs territories are signatories of the ITA.

  • 03/14/2012 4:50 PM

    U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk met today with Panamanian Commerce and Industry Minister Ricardo Quijano to discuss progress on the implementation of the U.S.-Panama trade agreement. Ambassador Kirk highlighted the importance of Panama as a vital commercial partner and cited the pending expansion of the Panama Canal as a critical opportunity for increased trade to support American jobs. Both Ambassador Kirk and Minister Quijano agreed to continue working intensively to bring the Agreement into force as quickly as possible, while ensuring that all obligations are fully met.

     

    Ambassador Kirk meets with Panamanian Commerce and industry Minister Quijano

    Efforts are proceeding with a sense of urgency as both the United States and Panama are eager to seize the benefits of a win-win agreement that will enhance both trade between and jobs in our countries. For U.S. exporters, the benefits are clear: the U.S.-Panama trade agreement creates significant liberalization of trade in goods and services, including financial services.

    Nearly 90 percent of U.S. exports of consumer and industrial products to Panama will be duty-free immediately upon entry into force of the agreement, with remaining tariffs on these products phased out over ten years. The agreement also provides for immediate duty-free treatment for over half of U.S. agricultural exports to Panama (by value) with duties on most other agricultural goods phased out between 5 to 12 years and 15 to 20 years on certain agricultural products.

    Along with these tariff reductions, the agreement includes important disciplines relating to customs administration and trade facilitation, technical barriers to trade, government procurement, investment, telecommunications, electronic commerce, intellectual property rights, and labor and environmental protection. All of these measures will create a level playing field for U.S. exporters competing in Panama’s critical market.

  • 03/14/2012 3:55 PM

    Elected officials and industry leaders are applauding the Obama Administration for filing a complaint against China at the World Trade Organization (WTO) concerning China’s unfair export restraints on rare earths, as well as tungsten and molybdenum. These materials are key inputs in a multitude of U.S made-products and American manufacturing sectors, including hybrid car batteries, wind turbines, energy-efficient lighting, steel, advanced electronics, automobiles, petroleum, and chemicals.

    See what people are saying so far:

    Congressmen Dave Camp (R-MI) and Kevin Brady (R-TX)

    Congressmen Sander Levin (D-MI) and Jim McDermott (D-WA)

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

    Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH)

    Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)

    Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)

    United Steelworkers

    U.S.-China Business Council (USCBC)

    American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI)

     

    Read the full press release.

  • 03/12/2012 2:11 PM

    Two years into the Obama Administration’s National Export Initiative, the United States is on track to meet President Obama’s goal of doubling U.S. exports by the end of 2014. In 2011, overall U.S. goods and services exports exceeded $2.1 trillion. U.S. exports have increased at an annualized rate of 15.6 percent – a pace greater than the 15 percent required annually to meet the President’s goal.

    And according to a new Brookings Institute study released last week, “Export Nation 2012”, U.S. metropolitan areas are driving national export growth and jobs supported by trade. The metro areas of New York NY -Newark NJ, Los Angeles-Long Beach CA, Chicago-Naperville-Joliet IL, and Dallas-Forth Worth-Arlington and Houston TX were the top five ranking areas for export-supported jobs. According to Brookings, in terms of job creation, the rapid growth of U.S. export sales translated into significant job gains in 2010, with the United States adding 600,000 new export-supported jobs. This means job gains not only in the exporting industries themselves, but also for the suppliers to the exporting sector ,as well as the transportation and wholesale trade businesses hauling merchandise exports around the country.

    Midwestern metros in particular experienced most of their export growth from manufacturing industries. In Milwaukee-Waukesha WI and Youngstown OH, for example, manufacturing contributed more than 90 percent of the metro export sales growth in the first year of recovery 2009-2010, in the leading industries of machinery and transportation equipment.

    At the Brookings Export Nation forum, Deputy Assistant USTR for Small Business Market Access and Industrial Competitiveness Christina Sevilla met with city and state officials who are developing customized strategies to power their local economies through exports based on Brookings findings - including exports by small U.S. companies into big foreign markets being opened by new U.S. Free Trade Agreements. Carlos Valderrama , Senior Vice President at the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, remarked that his region’s strategy includes targeting export-ready firms to enter markets where the U.S. has negotiated Free Trade Agreements. Mr. Valderrama notes that California companies are “targeting the Pacific Rim and Latin American countries where the U.S. has more than 15 FTAs. This is a great advantage for us, since our exporters want to do business with countries where we have the umbrella of an international agreement,” since the FTAs open the foreign market to U.S. goods and services and help ensure that foreign governments play by the rules.

    Katie Clark, Executive Director of the Minnesota Trade Office, sees small companies in the Minneapolis –St. Paul area benefitting from trade with large new FTA partners like Korea. Ms. Clark noted that the Governor’s recent trade mission to Seoul helped Earth Clean, a small Minneapolis-based company that makes biodegradable fire retardants, make a $4.3 million sale to a Seoul-based distributor. Ms. Clark said, “we would like to see even more small Minnesota businesses like Earth Clean sell products in Korea.”

  • 03/12/2012 11:47 AM

    On Monday, Ambassador Kirk met with Finnish Minister of European Affairs and Foreign Trade Alexander Stubb to discuss increasing trade and investment initiatives that promote jobs, growth, and competitiveness in the U.S. and the EU. The main topic of discussion centered around the U.S.-EU High Level Working Group on Jobs and Growth, an initiative announced by Leaders in November 2011. Co-chaired by Ambassador Kirk, the Working Group will identify and assess options for strengthening the U.S.-EU economic relationship, including ways to generate more transatlantic trade and investment that supports job growth.

    Ambassador Kirk shakes hands with Finnish Prime Minister Stubb

           Ambassador Kirk shakes hands with the Finnish Minister of European Affairs and Foreign Trade Alexander Stubb
  • 03/09/2012 12:32 PM

    On Thursday, Ambassador Kirk met with distinguished scholars, and faculty from the Cox School of Business at Southern Methodist University.

    The discussion began with comments on the American economy and its changing role in trade. The Ambassador noted that "the biggest force in the world is the American consumer." With regards to the U.S.'s open economy, he said that "the more we get out of the way, the better you are," in reference to lowering trade barriers that place added burdens on the consumer.

     Ambassador Kirk talks with students from SMUAmbassador Kirk meets with students from Southern Methodist University's Cox School of Business

    As the U.S. seeks to engage in more trade agreements, Ambassador Kirk said that a free trade agreement is a great validator because it signifies that a country is a good place to do business and is held to high standards in products and services.

    Answering a question about intellectual property, the Ambassador commented that it is important to negotiate the strongest IP standards possible in order to protect American products, and those of other countries. Responding to a question on the European Union and its effects on the U.S. economy, Ambassador Kirk noting that "our foreign direct investment in Brussels is twice what it is in China," and that the U.S.'s largest trade relationship is with Europe. At the same time, the Ambassador said that trade with Europe should not limit the U.S.'s relationships to trans-Atlantic trade, but should also incorporate other countries, such as those involved in the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

    The Ambassador discussed the impact of natural gas on the U.S. economy and its potential to decrease dependence on external energy sources. Echoing the President's State of the Union blueprint, Ambassador Kirk noted that investment in natural gas would create substantial job opportunities for Americans. The Ambassador concluded by signaling America's potential to become net exporters as emerging economies open their economies and are able to purchase American products.

    A nationally ranked private university with seven degree-granting schools, SMU is located in the heart of Dallas and is home to 11,000 students. The SMU Cox School of Business is consistently ranked as a top business school in the nation and around the world. The Cox School was founded in 1920 as the Department of Commerce at SMU, at the request of the Dallas business community.

  • 03/08/2012 5:44 PM

    Today Ambassador Kirk participated in a panel at the day-long White House Business Council, Council of Urban Professionals and Business Forward–Business Leader Forum. More than 150 diverse leaders attended the forum, which was hosted by Senior Advisor to the President Valerie Jarrett and Chairman and CEO of Ariel Investments John Rogers. The purpose of the forum was to build relationships with local leaders in the private sector and discuss how the Obama Administration can help the private sector create more jobs and grow the economy.

    Ambassador Kirk, along with the Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economic Affairs, Michael Froman, Treasury Under Secretary for International Affairs Lael Brainard, and Deputy SBA Administrator Marie Johns, held a panel focused on U.S. policies to facilitate competition in a global economy. The discussion was moderated by the White House Deputy Director of Public Engagement, Greg Nelson.

    During the discussion, Ambassador Kirk talked about the benefits of increased trade and export opportunities, and how they can help businesses of all sizes become more competitive in the global economy. Ambassador Kirk highlighted the benefits of the new U.S.-Korea trade agreement, which will go into effect on March 15 and immediately eliminate tariffs on 80 percent of U.S. exports of industrial products to Korea. This means that American exporters will have greater opportunities in the South Korean market, which will help grow the economy and create jobs here at home.

    Ambassador Kirk also discussed the ambitious Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement, which is currently in the 11th round of negotiations in Melbourne, Australia. The TPP will give American businesses unprecedented access to new markets in the Asia-Pacific region, resulting in more export opportunities in one of the fastest growing areas of the world. This will help American businesses expand, and fulfill their goal of creating more jobs for American workers.

    Finally, Ambassador Kirk and the panel answered questions on how to increase technology and services exports to Asia, the changing dynamics in the Chinese market and how facilitating trade helps U.S. businesses reach the 95% of the world’s consumers living outside the U.S.

  • 03/08/2012 4:59 PM

    U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk met today with Canadian Trade Minister Ed Fast to discuss Canada’s interest in joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations.

    Ambassador Kirk and Minister Fast discussed each government’s engagement with its domestic stakeholders and consultations with other TPP partners on Canada’s interest in joining the TPP talks.

    Ambassador Kirk and Canadian Minister Fast Meet in Washington, DC
    Ambassador Kirk and Canadian Minister Fast Meet in Washington, DC

    The United States, along with Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam, are working to craft a high-standard agreement that addresses new and emerging trade issues and 21st-century challenges through the TPP. In November 2011, Canada expressed its interest in joining the TPP negotiations. Canada and the United States, along with Mexico, are members of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which entered into force in 1994. Canada is the United States’ largest export market, with exports increasing over 12 percent in 2011.

    The top U.S. exports to Canada in 2011 were vehicles, machinery, electrical machinery, mineral fuel and oil, and plastic. Additionally, the U.S. exported $19 billion worth of agricultural products to Canada in 2011, including fresh vegetables, fresh fruit, red meats, and snack food.

    The United States and Canada are scheduled to meet later this month for further discussions.

  • 03/08/2012 3:37 PM

    By Mary Ryckman, Senior Policy Advisor for Trade and Development -- Women's Issues

    President Obama has proclaimed March to be Women’s History Month. And, today, people around the world are observing International Women’s Day. In honor of these events, I’d like to share how and why U.S. trade policy helps women work and succeed in global markets, which supports jobs here at home.

    Increasing the participation of women in the workforce addresses basic issues of fairness while producing positive economic benefits. For example, there is a direct link between increased female labor participation and growth: UNWOMEN reports that gross domestic product (GDP) would be 9 percent higher in the United States, 13 percent higher in Europe and 16 percent higher in Japan, if women had work opportunities on par with men. In addition, helping women to be active in the economy is an investment in our future. Women disproportionately spend more of their earned income on food, healthcare, home improvement, and schooling – helping families raise the next generation of productive workers.

    With these benefits in mind, let’s explore some of the ways in which U.S. trade policy helps women seize more economic opportunities.

    Let’s start with the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), a program that provides enhanced access for developing countries' exports into the United States. Women comprise much of the labor force in many of these countries, both in larger-scale manufacturing operations and in the home. Programs like GSP give women in developing countries more economic opportunities through trade. In turn, their efforts help to build better markets for U.S. exports that support American jobs.

    Next, let’s look at the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), a program that provides preferential access to the U.S. market for imports from eligible sub-Saharan African countries. AGOA has helped to create thousands of jobs in the African apparel sector, and about ninety percent of these jobs have gone to women in places where there are few other ways of earning an income in the formal sector. AGOA additionally provides opportunities for preferential access to the U.S. market for value added agricultural products from sub-Saharan Africa, such as cassava flour, tomato paste, nuts, jams, jellies, and other food products. As about eighty percent of sub-Saharan African farmers are smallholders, and the majority of these smallholder farmers are women, the preferences AGOA provides for agricultural products can go a long way to enhance the participation of women in the economy through trade.

    In addition to supporting GSP and AGOA, we are taking positive steps with Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) economies to help more women work and succeed through trade.

    Last September, the U.S. hosted the APEC Women in the Economy Summit (WES) as “the premier event” to bring together senior private and public sector representatives for a dialogue on fostering women's economic empowerment among the APEC economies. Women entrepreneurs and business owners from all over the country attended to make policy recommendations to the Administration. This meeting culminated in a Declaration that committed the twenty APEC economies to continue work to advance women’s access to markets, capital, capacity building, and other training opportunities across the Asia-Pacific region.

    You can find more information here on the Administration's full record of support for women.

  • 03/07/2012 4:15 PM

    During Wednesday’s Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiating session in Melbourne, Australia, negotiators continued to discuss financial services, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, legal issues, rules of origin, environment, telecommunications, competition, non-conforming measures, government procurement, and intellectual property rights.

    Negotiators also began discussions on e-commerce, market access, and customs issues.

    In addition to today’s negotiations, TPP chief negotiators from each economy participated in a stakeholder briefing to discuss the status of negotiations. This open forum, hosted by Australia, provided approximately 250 stakeholders an on-site opportunity to discuss issues of interest in the negotiations. The chief negotiators noted that good progress is being made across the negotiating groups.

  • 03/07/2012 10:27 AM

    Today U.S. Trade Representative Kirk is testifying on the President’s 2012 Trade Agenda before the Senate Finance Committee. You can watch the hearing live on the Committee’s website starting at 10:00 a.m. EST.

  • 03/06/2012 6:51 PM

    On Monday, Ambassador Kirk addressed the National Association of Counties (NACo) meeting in Washington, D.C. At the meeting, he spoke with members of the International Economic Development Task Force about the importance of trade in boasting America’s economy.

    Ambassador Kirk highlighted several key points that President Obama made in his State of the Union address, including the new Interagency Trade Enforcement Center (ITEC). The President signed an Executive Order last week creating the ITEC to protect American workers and businesses by ensuring that our trading partners play by the rules.

    Ambassador Kirk said that “we aren’t fighting for American workers when other countries are creating an uneven playing field.” He noted that American business leaders have not asked for an advantage in the global markets, but want a fair playing field where they can operate their businesses. As Ambassador Kirk states frequently, “trade only works if everyone plays by the same rules.”

    Ambassador Kirk discussed several other important trade topics, including the impact of the U.S.-Korea Trade Agreement that enters into force next week, on March 15. He also announced spoke about Business USA, a new tool for small- and medium-sized businesses, and the importance of infrastructure for economy.

    The National Association of Counties (NACo) is the only national organization representing county government. NACo's Board of Directors represents counties across America and county leaders develop and shape the association's mission and goals.

  • 03/06/2012 6:01 PM

    Negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement continued on Tuesday in Melbourne, Australia. Negotiators held talks on financial services, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, legal issues, rules of origin, and intellectual property rights.

    In addition, negotiators began to discuss issues relating to the environment, telecommunications, competition, non-conforming measures, and government procurement.

  • 03/05/2012 1:11 PM

    Today, at the 11th round of Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations in Melbourne, Australia, negotiators focused on legal issues, financial services, temporary entry, regulatory cooperation and trade capacity building, rules of origin, and labor issues.

    Negotiators also began discussions on sanitary and phytosanitary measures.

  • 03/04/2012 4:46 PM

    Today, the United States and other Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) partners concluded a fourth day of talks in Melbourne, Australia. Negotiations focused on financial services, investment, temporary entry, and trade remedies. Negotiators also began discussions on regulatory cooperation and trade capacity building.

    In addition to today’s negotiations, Australia, the host for the round of negotiations, provided stakeholders on-site the opportunity to share their views directly to the TPP negotiating teams. Approximately 250 stakeholders from a wide range of industry, civil society, and other groups attended, with at least 38 groups making presentations. The presentation schedule is listed below.

    Title

    Presenter & Organisation

     

    An Indigenous Perspective on the TPPA

    Sina Brown-Davis of Ngati Whatua Kaipara descent, Te Ata Tino Toa

     

    O fea iai le Pasefeka? (Where is the Pacific?)

    Ali’itasi Esther Stewart, Moana Nui

     

    Jobs, Decent Work and the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement

    Amy Schwebel, ACTU

     

    Bill Rosenberg, NZCTU

     

    Paul Bastian, AMWU

     

    Georgios Altintzis, ITUC

     

    Labour Rights

    Mr Trung Doan, Committee to Protect Vietnamese Workers

     

    Regulations for state owned enterprises

    Sean Heather, US Chamber of Commerce

     

    SOEs and Privatisation

    Professor Jane Kelsey, University of Auckland

     

    Exceptions and Carve-outs: Analysis of Past FTAs and BITs / Case Study for the TPPA

    Deborah K. Sy, Harrison Institute Georgetown University Law Center

     

    At the Crossroads: Are the TPP Negotiations Heading Towards Rhetoric or Reality?

    Linda Menghetti, Emergency Committee for American Trade and the U.S. Business Coalition for TPP

     

    Investment: priorities for Australian business

    Patrick Coleman, Business Council of Australia

     

    Lessons for TPP: How past U.S. FTA financial services and investment rules constrain use of capital controls, prudential financial regulation

    Lori Wallach, Public Citizen

     

    Investment rules and investor state dispute settlement in the TPPA: expropriating the right to delegate?

    Dr Patricia Ranald, University of Sydney and Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network

     

    Sanya Reld Smith, Third World Network

     

    Kyla Tienhaara, Australian National University

     

    Investment and Services Panel

    TBA

     

    TBA

     

    Investment and trade challenges as a tobacco industry strategy to undermine implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control: lessons for the TPPA negotiations

    Professor Andrew Mitchell, Melbourne Law School

     

    Jonathan Lieberman, McCabe Centre for Law and Cancer, Cancer Council Victoria and Union for International Cancer Control

     

    The merits of including public participation within the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement

    Rebecca LaForgia, Senior Lecturer Adelaide University Law School

     

    Trade, diets and health - implications for the TPPA

    Dr Ann Marie Thow, University of Sydney

     

    Professor Sharon Friel, Australian National University

     

    Globally Integrated Customs and the TPP: an Industry Perspective

    Andrew Jackson, IBM

     

    The benefits of services trade reform through the TPP

    James Bond, President, Australia Services Roundtable

     

    TPP - A World Class Trade Agreement

    Russell Scoular, Ford Asia Pacific & Africa

     

    Ian Mearns, Ford Australia

     

    Agricultural Panel

    Charles Mcelhone, National Farmers Federation Australia

     

    Robert Pettit, Dairy Australia

     

    Andrew McCallum, Meat and Livestock Australia

     

    Warren Males, Canegrowers

     

    TPP and IUU – Alphabet Fish Soup

    Alistair McFarlane, New Zealand Seafood Industry Council

     

    Insights into sourcing decisions and how to craft an agreement that successfully promotes apparel sourcing in the TPP region

    Stan Raggio, Executive Vice-President for Global Sourcing, Gap Inc.

     

    TBA

    Leigh Obradovic, Distilled Spirits Industry Association of Australia

     

    The Trans-Pacific Partnership and Asia-Pacific Integration

    Michael Plummer, Eni Professor of International Economics, The John Hopkins University, SAIS-Bologna

    Aspects of the TPP that could affect an open Internet

    Susan Chalmers, InternetNZ

    Technology Sector Priorities for Promoting ICT and Internet Growth

    Greg Slater, Information Technology Industry Council (ITI), Alliance for Network Security (ANS), and Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA)

    Fulfilling the Promise of the Digital Age:  Balancing IP Interests

    Tim Conway, World Information Technology and Services Alliance (WITSA)

    TBA

    Ray Argall, President Australian Directors Guild

    US experience of Internet intermediary liability under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act

    Gwen Hinze, Electronic Frontier Foundation

    IP Protection and Enforcement

    Gina Vetere, US Chamber of Commerce

    TBA

    Kaaren Koomen, (TBA)

    US proposal for the intellectual property chapter

    Professor Sean Flynn, Associate Director of the Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property at American University Washington

    Issues related to the Intellectual Property provisions of the TPP

    Brendan Molloy, Pirate Party

    TPPA should promote Access to Knowledge

    Krista Cox, Knowledge Ecology International

    Ruth Lopert, George Washington University

    Ellen Broad, Australian Digital Alliance

    Brett Smith, Free Software Foundation

    TBA

    Kate Lynch, CEO of Generic Medicines Industry Association of Australia (GMiA)

     

    Intellectual Property Rights and Pharmaceuticals

    Leah Summers, Mylan

     

    TBA

     

    Jose Luis Cardenas, Asociacion Industrial de Laboratorios Farmaceuticos (ASILFA)

     

    Faith Wong, Hovid Bhl

     

    Intellectual Property Rights and Pharmaceuticals

    Shawn Brown, Generic Pharmaceutical Association of America

     

    Martin Cross, Alphapharm

     

    Maria Fabiana Jorge, MFJ International

     

    TBA

    Naomi Pearce, Chair IP Working Group of GMiA

     

    Protecting the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme in the TPPA

    Dr Deborah Gleeson, La Trobe University

     

    Professor Thomas Faunce, College of Law and College of Medicine, Biology and the Environment, Australian National University

     

    Public Health in the Asia-Pacific Region

    Peter Maybaruk, Public Citizen

     

    Mary Assunta, Cancer Council Australia

     

    Rob Lake, Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations

     

    Do Dang Dong, Vietnam Network of People Living with HIV

     

    Matthew Cleary, Medicines Sans Frontiers, Australia

     

  • 03/03/2012 5:29 PM

    In Saturday’s session of TPP negotiations in Melbourne, Australia, expert-level negotiations continued on legal issues, investment, technical barriers to trade, rules of origin, intellectual property rights, labor, and horizontal issues.

    Tomorrow, on-site stakeholders will be given the opportunity to present their views on the agreement directly to TPP negotiation teams. Approximately 250 stakeholders from Australia, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Vietnam, and the United States will be attending.

  • 03/02/2012 5:23 PM

    On Friday, Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiators from the United States, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam continued talks for the 11th round of TPP in Melbourne, Australia. Today’s negotiations focused on horizontal issues, investment, technical barriers to trade, labor, intellectual property rights, rules of origin, and legal issues.

    The negotiations began on Thursday, when negotiators covered a broad range of topics including horizontal issues such as investment, technical barriers to trade, labor, intellectual property rights, rules of origin, and legal issues.

    The goal of the TPP is to create an ambitious, 21st-century agreement that will enhance trade and investment among the TPP partner countries, promote innovation, economic growth and development, and support the creation and retention of jobs. The Asia-Pacific region is home to some of the fastest growing economies in the world, and TPP will help open more markets to American businesses and exports.

    Specifically, the TPP will feature new cross-cutting issues not previously included in trade agreements. In addition, the agreement focuses on integrating small- and medium-sized businesses more competitively to regional supply chains. Additional export opportunities for American businesses can help create more job opportunities for American workers, and will help grow the American economy.

  • 03/01/2012 4:34 PM

    Elected officials from across the country are applauding the President’s executive order establishing the Interagency Trade Enforcement Center.  After the President’s announcement this week, U. S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and Secretary of Commerce John Bryson welcomed the establishment of the unit. 

    Below is a sampling of what they’re saying so far.

    Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)

    Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH)

    Congressman Jim McDermott (D-WA)

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

    Congressman John Dingell (D-MI)

  • 02/29/2012 1:04 PM

    Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis today completed two days of consultations on ways to expand and further improve the bilateral trade relationship with the Philippines. In his meetings with Finance Secretary Purisima and Trade and Industry Secretary Domingo, Ambassador Marantis expressed support for President Aquino's anti-corruption initiatives, as well as U.S. interest in continuing to expand engagement and finding new avenues of cooperation under the auspices of the bilateral U.S.-Philippines Trade and Investment Framework Agreement.

    Ambassador Marantis reiterated U.S. willingness to work with the Philippines as it explores potential future participation in the nine-member Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement, a priority trade initiative of the Obama Administration and the key platform for U.S. economic engagement in the Asia-Pacific. He noted that the United States is prepared to undertake bilateral initiatives, such as the bilateral customs administration and trade facilitation agreement signed last November, that can serve as building blocks toward Philippine participation in the TPP.

    Ambassador Marantis also highlighted the work the United States is undertaking in the Partnership for Growth (PFG), and that through the PFG, the United States can assist the Philippine government in policy reforms it is pursuing, including ones that could serve as building blocks toward participation in the TPP. PFG is a key development initiative of the Obama Administration and the Philippines is one of only four countries, and the only Asian country, in the PFG.

    With Agriculture Secretary Alcala, Ambassador Marantis pointed to the expanding multi-billion dollar agricultural trade relationship between the United States and the Philippines. He stressed the importance of finding a mutually beneficial solution to trade disruptions affecting the meat sector as soon as possible.

    Ambassador Marantis also met with Justice Undersecretary Baraan where they discussed steps being taken by the Philippine government in addressing the issues raised in the ongoing GSP review of worker rights in the Philippines, including the prosecution of cases involving the killing and harassment of labor leaders.

    Ambassador Marantis also called on Senator Edgardo Angara and Congressman Rufus Rodriguez, where he highlighted the importance of the bilateral trade relationship and conveyed U.S. interest in, and commitment to, continue working with the Philippines to elevate the relationship and find new avenues of cooperation.

  • 02/29/2012 10:07 AM

    U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk is testifying before the House Committee on Ways & Means this morning. You can watch the hearing live on the Committee’s website starting at 10:00 a.m. EST.

  • 02/28/2012 1:07 PM

    Ambassador Kirk and Secretary Bryson just released this statement welcoming President Obama’s signature of an Executive Order officially launching the Interagency Trade Enforcement Center (ITEC). President Obama first announced that he would create this new trade enforcement center in his State of the Union address.

    Trade enforcement has been a consistent priority of the Obama Administration. For example, we have brought cases against China in the World Trade Organization (WTO) at essentially twice the rate of the previous seven years. The ITEC will build upon this strong track record and continue to level the playing field for American workers and businesses by bringing a more aggressive “whole-of-government” approach to addressing unfair trade practices.

    By increasing the resources devoted exclusively to trade enforcement, as well as leveraging existing resources more efficiently across the Administration, ITEC will significantly enhance our capabilities to challenge unfair trade practices around the world. A more level playing field will enable American exporters to create more jobs in the United States and hire more workers here at home.

    As Ambassador Kirk stated earlier today, “President Obama and I have been very clear from day one that we will not hesitate to fight for every American job, every dollar worth of U.S. exports, and every chance for American producers to compete that depends on having a level playing field in global markets. As with every enforcement action, our goal here is to get real results for American exporters and support American jobs that depend on trade. The ITEC will help us do that in unprecedented ways.”

    You can learn more about the ITEC from President Obama’s Executive Order.

  • 02/28/2012 12:34 PM

    Today, Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis began a two-day visit to Manila, Philippines, by delivering the keynote address to a combined audience of U.S. and Filipino business leaders, including the Management Association of the Philippines, the Makati Business Club, and the American Chamber of Commerce. The Philippine Ambassador to the United States, Jose Cuisa, also addressed the audience and participated in a question and answer session alongside Ambassador Marantis.

    In his speech, "Charting a Future Course for an Historic Trade Relationship," Marantis expressed optimism about prospects for expanded U.S. trade and investment with the Philippines, a longtime trading partner and strategic ally in Asia. He highlighted current themes of our bilateral trade engagement, noting the recent agreement by the United States and the Philippines on customs cooperation and trade facilitation. He also called attention to the importance of President Aquino's efforts to fight corruption and create the right conditions for sustained broad-based economic growth, which the United States is supporting through the Partnership for Growth program of development assistance. He stressed the importance of improvements in the intellectual property environment and pressed for the resolution of non-tariff barriers affecting our meat trade as positive steps to improve our bilateral trade and investment relationship.

    During the speech, Ambassador Marantis highlighted progress being made in negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a high standard, broad-based regional trade agreement that will be the key platform for future U.S. economic engagement in the Asia-Pacific region. The Philippines has expressed interest in potentially joining TPP at some point in the future, although it is not currently part of the initiative. Ambassador Marantis expressed U.S. willingness to be helpful as the Philippines considers potential participation, both in explaining potential obligations and in creating building blocks to potential membership.

    Ambassador Marantis also began a series of consultations with the Aquino Administration, Members of Congress, and business leaders today in Manila. Details of these meetings will follow in tomorrow's post.

  • 02/27/2012 6:42 PM

    On Sunday, Ambassador Kirk attended the annual Southern Governors’ Association (SGA) Winter Business Meeting in Washington, D.C. Puerto Rico Governor and SGA Chairman Luis Fortuño introduced Ambassador Kirk. .

    Ambassador Kirk highlighted President Obama’s recent State of the Union address by discussing the implementation and enforcement of the three pending trade agreements. pecifically, he spoke about creating a level playing field for American businesses as new markets open for American products. Ambassador Kirk also noted that the implementation date for the U.S.-Korea trade agreement is March 15. In addition, the U.S. government is meeting with Colombian and Panamanian governments to review the obligations of their respective trade agreements, and ensuring that the necessary laws and regulations go into effect.

    Ambassador Kirk discussed how the trade agreements will benefit Americans here at home, including how U.S. jobs will be supported by increased exports to Korea, Panama, and Colombia once the agreements take effect. , Ambassador Kirk also noted that on the first day that the U.S.-Korea trade agreement goes into effect, almost 80 percent of U.S. exports of industrial products and almost two-thirds of agricultural products to Korea will become duty-free.

    Furthermore, Ambassador Kirk touched on the importance of expanding trade to Latin America, noting that Chile and Peru are two of our partners in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

    The Ambassador concluded by stating: “strong trade enforcement and market-opening measures will boost U.S. exports and jobs in your communities. That’s the bottom line. As you work to attract job-building trade and investment to your states, we are working to keep U.S. producers globally competitive around the world.”

  • 02/27/2012 3:22 PM

    On Friday, February 27, Ambassador Kirk attended the Washington International Trade Association’s annual Governors and Ambassadors Reception. Billed as the event where “state affairs meet global affairs,” the evening offered opportunities for state leaders to interact with representatives from countries around the world. Ambassador Kirk spoke with several governors in attendance including Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear and Washington Governor Christine Gregoire.

    Ambassador Kirk at the WITA Governors and Ambassadors Reception

    Ambassador Kirk thanked everyone in the audience for supporting the Obama Administration’s historic trade achievements in 2011 including passage of legislation approving trade agreements with Korea, Colombia, and Panama as well as the renewal of Trade Adjustment Assistance and trade preference programs. The Ambassador also highlighted a busy trade agenda for 2012 with goals such as concluding an ambitious Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, securing legislation to authorize permanent normal trade relations for Russia as it joins the World Trade Organization (WTO), and a continuing a strong focus on trade enforcement.

    Ambassador Kirk also honored Singapore Ambassador Chan Hang Chee, who will be returning home this summer after 16 years representing Singapore in the United States. “Ambassador Chan was integral to the successful negotiation and passage of the United States-Singapore trade agreement in 2003 and is playing a similarly key role in the TPP negotiations,” said Ambassador Kirk. “Here in Washington, she is one of the brightest stars of the diplomatic corps. She is well-known around town as an extraordinarily effective and capable envoy. And she is highly respected as an intellectual leader on all issues related to the Asia-Pacific, including trade.”

    New Zealand Ambassador Michael Moore spoke on behalf of TPP countries Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam. He stressed that there is consensus among TPP partners to set high standards for market access across all major sectors. At the same time, he said, TPP partners envision and welcome the potential for TPP to grow as new partners demonstrate a willingness and ability to meet the high standards for TPP.

  • 02/27/2012 1:44 PM

    Deputy United States Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis continued his visit to Southeast Asia with a wide range of meetings in Brunei on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and other bilateral trade and investment issues. Brunei is one of the nine members of the TPP.

    Ambassador Marantis held a broad discussion of the U.S.-Brunei trade and investment relationship today with Prince Mohamed, Brunei's Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Ambassador Marantis highlighted the importance of joint efforts to conclude the high-standard TPP, per the goal set by President Obama, the Sultan, and the seven other TPP leaders at the APEC meetings in Honolulu last November. He also looked forward to further positive cooperation with Brunei on bilateral, ASEAN, and APEC issues.

    During his two day visit to Brunei, Ambassador Marantis also met with senior government officials responsible for TPP issues, including Minister of Development Pehin Suyoi, Permanent Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office Dato Roselan, Deputy Finance Minister Dato Bahrin, and Home Affairs Permanent Secretary Dato Majid. In addition, Ambassador Marantis met with Brunei's chief TPP negotiator, Dato Jock Hoi, where he engaged in comprehensive discussions on the full range of issues being considered as part of the TPP. He underscored the importance of ambitious outcomes in key areas such as labor, environment, and intellectual property rights. He called attention to the need for improved market access offers, including in important sectors of services and investment.

    Ambassador Marantis and Brunei's chief TPP negotiator, Dato Jock Hoi
    Ambassador Marantis and Brunei's chief TPP negotiator, Dato Jock Hoi

    Ambassador Marantis, Home Affairs Permanent Secretary Dato Majid and U.S. Ambassador Dan Shields  
    Ambassador Marantis, Home Affairs Permanent Secretary Dato Majid and U.S. Ambassador Dan Shields

    Ambassador Marantis also had the opportunity to engage with representatives of the U.S. business community in Brunei, and expressed optimism about further growth in bilateral trade and investment as Brunei continues to open and diversify its economy.

    Ambassador Marantis is now headed to Manila, where he will discuss the range of issues affecting the U.S.-Philippines bilateral trade relationship.

  • 02/24/2012 6:38 PM

    Deputy United States Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis today concluded a three-day visit to Hanoi where he discussed ways to advance the growing trade and economic relationship between the United States and Vietnam bilaterally and in the context of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

    Ambassador Marantis met today with Deputy Prime Minister Vu Van Ninh, where he discussed how the United States and Vietnam are working together to realize the goal set in November 2011 by President Obama, President Sang, and the other seven TPP leaders to dedicate the resources necessary to conclude this landmark agreement as rapidly as possible. They also reviewed the positive trend in the overall economic and trade relationship, highlighting the impressive growth of nearly 20 percent in two way bilateral trade in 2011. Both committed to redoubling efforts to address bilateral trade challenges as they arise.

    Ambassador Marantis and Deputy Prime Minister Vu Van Ninh
    Ambassador Marantis and Deputy Prime Minister Vu Van Ninh

    Ambassador Marantis also met with a number of key Ministries responsible for issues under negotiation in TPP. With Ministry of Information and Communications Vice Minister Nguyen Thanh Hung, Ambassador Marantis underscored the importance of making strides in the area of telecommunications and e-commerce, including promoting free data flows. With Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development Vice Minister Bui Ba Bong, Ambassador Marantis pressed to improve market access for agricultural products and urged Vietnam to lift its ban on offals as quickly as possible. Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Bui Thanh Son and Ambassador Marantis focused on the tremendous growth in bilateral trade and investment since the 2001 entry into force of the U.S.-Vietnam BTA.

    From Vietnam, Ambassador Marantis will travel to Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei, and Manila, Philippines as part of an extended Southeast Asia visit to discuss bilateral trade and investment issues and the TPP.

  • 02/22/2012 2:00 PM

    On February 21, Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis arrived in Hanoi, Vietnam, for three days of meetings with senior Vietnamese government officials to discuss issues of importance in our bilateral trade and investment relationship, and issues relating to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations.

    Ambassador Marantis began his visit by meeting with Vietnam's Vice Minister for Labor, Invalids, and Social Affairs, Nguyen Thanh Hoa, where he discussed anticipated revisions to Vietnam's labor and trade union laws in the context of the TPP.

    Ambassador Marantis next met with Vice Minister of Public Security To Lam, where he discussed the importance of our strong bilateral relationship, and addressed issues of concern to the United States, including the blocking of Internet service providers, and the connection between our trade relations and Vietnam's human rights position.

    In a meeting with the Minister of Industry and Trade, Vu Huy Hoang, Ambassador Marantis discussed the opportunities offered by the TPP and reviewed a number of key issues under negotiation, including market access for goods and services, investment, and e-commerce. The two sides also discussed outstanding bilateral trade issues, including market access for U.S. exports of variety meat products.

    Ambassador Marantis concluded his first day by attending a reception hosted by the American Chambers of Commerce of Hanoi and Singapore, where he gave brief remarks alongside U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam David Shear, and U.S. Ambassador to Singapore David Adelman.

  • 02/22/2012 11:38 AM

    On Tuesday, Ambassador Kirk hosted a roundtable discussion with members of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM). The roundtable focused on the importance of manufacturing and trade, as President Obama laid out in his Blueprint for An America Built to Last. The Ambassador commented on NAM’s recognition of the benefits of trade and how trade contributes to American job creation. The companies that participated in the roundtable covered a wide range of products, from chemicals to rare metals to paper.

    Ambassador Kirk discussed USTR’s accomplishments and ongoing initiatives designed to open new markets for manufacturing exports. He noted that the percentage of global manufacturing has not changed in the past 20 years, signifying that U.S. manufacturing presence has not diminished. Ambassador Kirk discussed how 2011 was a historic year for trade, as the United States successfully passed free trade agreements (FTAs) with South Korea, Panama, and Colombia. In 2011, 41 percent of U.S. goods exports went to FTA partner countries. Additionally, manufacturing exports to FTA partners increased by almost 17 percent within the last year.

    Ambassador Kirk Hosts NAM for a State of the Union Roundtable

    Participants also shared ways that they have been able to utilize the FTAs to boost domestic production and in turn, invest domestically instead of internationally. Ambassador Kirk encouraged companies to “let us help you with the things you can’t do” regarding opening foreign markets to U.S. products and services.

    In addition, Ambassador Kirk announced today that the U.S.-Korea trade agreement will take effect on March 15, 2012. Beginning March 15, almost 80 percent of U.S. exports of industrial products to Korea will become duty-free. This trade agreement with Korea opens up an economy of over $1 trillion to American manufacturers, businesses and farmers, and will help create many jobs here at home. This is significant for the manufacturing companies that face disadvantages when offering their products abroad, or have to pay substantial amounts for tariffs and customs when importing intermediary goods. Ambassador Kirk expressed that “we’re trying to strike the right balance” between opening and regulating markets, especially to prevent further disadvantages for American companies.

    Another important initiative Ambassador Kirk discussed is the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). TPP will help open new markets to American manufacturers and make it easier for them to export their products to every corner of the globe.

    The Ambassador reinforced President Obama’s commitment to growing America’s manufacturing industry in an effort to make it the most efficient and the most productive in the world. “There are a lot of things we can do in North America to increase our competitiveness,” part of which is “relying on U.S. ingenuity.”

  • 02/09/2012 6:03 PM

    Today, Ambassador Kirk traveled to Virginia to discuss job creation and President Obama’s “Blueprint for An America Built to Last” with local business and civic leaders. The first stop on the trip was Dominion Resources GreenTech Incubator (DRGI) in Ashland, where the Ambassador was greeted by Mayor Faye Prichard. During his visit, Ambassador Kirk toured the state of the art incubator facility with Charles Hartgrove, Town Manager of Ashland, and Robert Skunda, the President and Chairman of DRGI. The Ambassador spoke with several of the business owners about their plans to develop alternative and renewable energy products and create good jobs for American workers.

    Ambassador Kirk also met with current and former members of DRGI, as well as other local officials in a small discussion on trade, jobs, and energy. In his remarks, Ambassador Kirk talked about President Obama’s State of the Union address and the blueprint the President laid out for the American economy. This included emphasis that over the past few years, renewable energy use has nearly doubled, and that in 2011, the United States reclaimed the position as the world’s leading investor in clean energy. Ambassador Kirk also stated that “the President challenged us to double exports, [and] we are ahead of pace to double exports by 2014.”

    Ambassador Kirk at the DGRI Roundtable 

    Ambassador Kirk answered questions on a range of issues, including ways to spur job creation. In another reference to the State of the Union address, Ambassador Kirk said that “the trade agreements will level the playing field, and this is especially important because a majority of exporters are small businesses.”

    Founded in November 2009 by five founding partners, the Dominion Resources GreenTech Incubator (DRGI) seeks to attract clean energy innovators eager to accelerate the successful growth of their early stage businesses. Member companies of DRGI benefit from access to staff expertise and beta testing on the Dominion Resources power grid, business advisory boards, support services plus networking, educational programs, and physical space to work and operate. Bill Daughtrey, DRGI’s Entrepreneur-in-Residence, provides one-on-one mentoring and business consultation to member companies to prepare them for moving successfully from idea to a viable technology based business.

    DRGI is managed by the Virginia Biosciences Development Center (VBDC). Over the past 15 years VBDC has successfully incubated nearly 70 biosciences companies in its incubation program at the Virginia BioTechnology Research Park. VBDC boasts of more than 40 graduates including three publicly traded companies.

    Following the tour at DRGI, Ambassador Kirk participated in a State of the Union Roundtable event at the Greater Richmond Chamber of Commerce (GRCC). He was greeted by John Easter, Senior Vice President of Government & Community Affairs at the GRCC, and introduced by the Mayor of Richmond, Dwight C. Jones.

    Ambassador Kirk at the GRCC Roundtable

    Ambassador Kirk’s remarks focused on jobs, trade, and the economy. His comments echoed the State of the Union address, in which the President focused on creating American jobs and opening new export possibilities with free trade agreements. The participants discussed how small to mid-size businesses can get involved in trade. The open conversation focused on key trade initiatives like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), and the impacts and implementation of the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS).

    Ambassador Kirk at the GRCC Roundtable

    The GRCC includes nine jurisdictions of the Richmond Region, including the City of Richmond, the Town of Ashland, and the Counties of Charles City, Chesterfield, Goochland, Hanover, Henrico, Powhatan, and New Kent. The Greater Richmond Chamber monitors various legislative and regulatory matters at the local, state, and federal levels. The GRCC’s 2012 public policy priorities are transportation funding, workforce development, and early childhood investment. The President and CEO of the GRCC is Kim Scheeler.

    The Richmond region is home to some of the world's most successful businesses, including a national and international mix of seven Fortune 500 and four Fortune 1000 companies. 

  • 02/06/2012 12:04 PM

    In the last decade, Brazil has been one of the fastest growing emerging markets. It is currently the largest economy in Latin America, and seventh largest in the world. This week’s trade spotlight highlights the importance of U.S.-Brazil trade relations and how the relationship benefits American farmers, ranchers, entrepreneurs, and workers.

    As one of the fastest growing emerging markets, and a country that the International Monetary Fund projects is poised for continued growth, Brazil is an important trading partner for the United States. In 2010, U.S. goods and services trade with Brazil was $81 billion, with exports accounting for $52 billion and imports accounting for $29 billion. This resulted in a goods and services trade surplus of nearly $23 billion for 2010, a 61 percent increase from 2009.

    Brazil is the 10th largest goods trading partner with the U.S., with goods trade surplus of more than $11 billion in 2010. Trade in services between the U.S. and Brazil totaled more than $21 billion in 2010. Additionally, the services surplus for the United States was more than $11 billion.

    In 2010, Brazil was the United States’ 8th largest goods export market. U.S. goods exports to Brazil were more than $35 billion, a near 36 percent increase from 2009. Overall, U.S. exports to Brazil accounted for nearly 3 percent of total U.S. exports in 2010. The top U.S. exports to Brazil were machinery, aircraft, and electric machinery. Additionally, the U.S. exported $578 million worth of agricultural products to Brazil in 2010. The leading categories of agricultural exports were wheat, cotton, dairy products and sugars and sweeteners.

    Because of this important trade relationship, American workers across the country are benefiting. For example in March 2011, WindStream Technologies, a New Albany, Indiana based alternative energy company, agreed to a $10 million deal with a Brazilian clean tech company to produce 30,000 wind turbines. These turbines will be distributed and used in Brazil. This agreement will help to create more than 100 new jobs in Indiana.

    Additionally, Rhino Assembly Corporation, a small business in Charlotte, North Carolina, has developed a relationship with ASA Brazil, a tool and equipment distributor. This relationship has resulted in robust sales and the hiring of new employees in North Carolina.

    The continued growth of the Brazilian economy provides an opportunity for increased consumption of American-made goods and services by Brazilian consumers. As a result, USTR is working to improve and grow the United States’ relationship with Brazil in an effort to help create new investment and export opportunities for American businesses and more jobs for workers here at home.

  • 02/03/2012 11:09 AM

    Earlier today, Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Miriam Sapiro delivered the keynote speech at the mid-Winter meeting of the General Executive Board of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), the world’s largest entertainment union. Ambassador Sapiro focused her remarks on the Obama Administration’s successful efforts to combat intellectual property theft. She described the robust intellectual property provisions contained in recently approved U.S. trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea, as well as in the recently-signed Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA).

    Ambassador Sapiro also underscored the important role the U.S. entertainment industry plays in creating and sustaining jobs in the United States, noting the $12 billion annual trade surplus that the United States runs in movies, television and other audiovisual services.

  • 01/23/2012 12:22 PM

    Following Thursday’s Council meeting of the United States-Mozambique Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) in Mozambique, on Friday, January 20, Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis met with a group of U.S. and Mozambican company representatives. They discussed the investment climate, opportunities and challenges to doing business in Mozambique, and how Mozambican companies, including women owned small- and medium-sized businesses can export to the United States under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).

    After the meeting, Ambassador Marantis visited Pescas do Sul, a medium-sized seafood processing company in Maputo with a staff of about 60 employees. He discussed the importance of Mozambique complying with turtle excluder devices (TED) regulations so companies like Pescas do Sul can participate in the lucrative U.S. market for seafood products.

  • 01/20/2012 5:55 PM

    Today, Ambassador Ron Kirk spoke to the members of the International Affairs Standing Committee at the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) 80th Winter Meeting in Washington, D.C.  Mayor Jean Quan, of Oakland, California and Chair of the International Standing Committee introduced him.

    Ambassador Kirk discussed President Obama’s agenda to create jobs, noting that since the economic recovery began, there have been 22 straight months of private sector job creation.  This has resulted in 3.2 million new jobs for American workers.  “Manufacturing is not dead in America, manufacturing is alive,” stated Ambassador Kirk.  The manufacturing sector has seen remarkable growth, one of the strongest periods since the late 1990s, with 334,000 new jobs in the past two years.

    Ambassador Kirk further commented that while progress has been made in some sectors, it is important to continue to invest in innovation, education, and infrastructure.  Further advancement in these sectors will reduce the deficit and rebuild communities all across the country.  Promoting trade is one such way to invest in our local communities.

    Ambassador Kirk described key USTR initiatives to keep American producers and companies competitive—allowing job-supporting opportunities through trade.  This included working to implement trade agreements with Korea, Colombia, and Panama, and advancing negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership.  USTR is also focused on the enforcement of trade agreements so they adhere to World Trade Organization (WTO) requirements and fostering increased trade with developing countries in Africa and Latin America .

    The Ambassador concluded his remarks by highlighting President Obama’s “Insourcing American Jobs” event last week at the White House.  He encouraged America’s community leaders to express their needs in order to sustain strong and growing communities with better jobs for more Americans.

    The USCM is the official nonpartisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more. There are more than 1,200 such cities in the country today, and each city is represented by its mayor. Mayors contribute to the development of national urban policy by serving on one or more of the Conference’s standing committees.

  • 01/19/2012 6:32 PM

    On January 18, Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis traveled to Maputo, Mozambique to advance trade and investment relations between the United States and Mozambique. On January 19, Ambassador Marantis co-chaired, with Mozambican Minister of Industry and Commerce Armando Inroga, the third Council meeting of the United States-Mozambique Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA).

    The TIFA Council works toward deepening and strengthening commercial ties, and facilitates a high-level dialogue to help increase commercial and investment opportunities by identifying and working to remove barriers to trade and investment flows between the United States and Mozambique.

    Ambassador Marantis was joined at the TIFA Council meeting by U.S. Ambassador to Mozambique Leslie Rowe, and a U.S. delegation representing a number of agencies including the Departments of State and Agriculture, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), and the USAID-funded Southern Africa Trade Hub.

    Ambassador Marantis Hosts TIFA Council Meeting
    Ambassador Marantis Hosts TIFA Council Meeting

    The TIFA Council meeting provided an opportunity to review progress, identify challenges, and develop specific steps and strategies to grow and diversify our bilateral trade and investment relationship with Mozambique. During the government-to-government meeting, officials from the United States and Mozambique explored common objectives, which included improving the utilization of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), increasing export diversification, improving the investment climate, and protecting intellectual property rights (IPR).

    The TIFA Council also discussed Mozambique’s Millennium Challenge Account compact. In addition, officials discussed trade capacity building and U.S.-provided technical assistance to support and facilitate Mozambique’s continued progress and success.

    Ambassador Marantis Makes Remarks during the TIFA Council Meeting
    Ambassador Marantis Makes Remarks during the TIFA Council Meeting

    As a result of the deliberations, the two sides agreed to a number of follow-up actions, including a possible Mozambique trade mission to the United States on the margins of the AGOA forum in June; U.S. assistance to help promote AGOA diversification to apparel, fruit juice, and other value-added products; and U.S. assistance in implementation of an Intellectual Property (IP) strategy - including training judges, enacting a framework for geographic indicators, and a branding strategy for Mozambique. Additionally, we announced a USAID grant of up to $500,000 that will help Mozambique with trade facilitation.

    Ambassador Marantis also visited the Maputo Clothing Company - a Mozambican firm that at one point exported apparel to the U.S. under AGOA, but is not presently doing so. The purpose of the visit was to understand the challenges that Mozambican exporters have had with AGOA and whether further technical assistance from our regional trade hubs would help exporters in Mozambique position themselves to make use of AGOA.

    Ambassador Marantis Visits the Maputo Clothing Company
    Ambassador Marantis Visits the Maputo Clothing Company

  • 01/18/2012 12:09 PM

    Following yesterday’s consultations under the U.S.-Mauritius Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA), Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis met with Mauritius Prime Minister Navin Ramgoolam. During their lengthy meeting, they discussed a number of issues regarding the U.S. economic relationship with Mauritius and the broader sub-Saharan region, including the extension of the African Growth and Opportunity Act’s (AGOA) third country fabric provision, the U.S.-Mauritius Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT), regional integration, and the future of the U.S.-Africa trade and investment relationship beyond the current 2015 end of AGOA preferences.

    Ambassador Marantis and Mauritius Prime Minister Navin Ra
    Ambassador Marantis meets with Prime Minister Navin Ramgoolam

    Ambassador Marantis also delivered a speech, entitled “Paving the Way to Future Growth,” focused on U.S. trade policy for Mauritius and for the sub-Saharan Africa region more broadly. Ambassador Marantis gave the speech at an event hosted by the Mauritius Chamber of Commerce and Industry where he interacted with an audience of about 50 representatives from the business community, academia, and the Mauritian government.

    Ambassador Marantis Makes Remarks to the Mauritius Chamber of Commerce and Industry
    Ambassador Marantis delivers a speech at an event sponsored by the Mauritius Chamber of Commerce and Industry 

    Ambassador Marantis also held a meeting with Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration, and International Trade Arvin Boolell, and Minister of Information and Communication Technology Tassarajen Pillay Chedumbrum on a range of bilateral trade issues, including U.S.-Mauritius cooperation in the critical information and communications technology (ICT) sector and on working more closely in World Trade Organization (WTO) trade facilitation negotiations.

    In addition, Ambassador Marantis met with private sector representatives, and toured Plastinax Austral. Plastinax is an eyeglasses producer and one of the many Mauritian firms taking advantage of duty-free access to the U.S. market under AGOA. Due to growing exports to the United States and other markets over the last two years, Plastinax has almost doubled the number of its workers to 400.

    Ambassador Marantis tours Plastinax Austral, an eyeglasses producer
    Ambassador Marantis tours Plastinax Austral, an eyeglasses producer

  • 01/17/2012 4:58 PM

    Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis began a visit to Mauritius yesterday by leading a high-level U.S. delegation for talks with the Mauritian government under the U.S.-Mauritius Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA). The TIFA establishes a high level forum for advancing a cooperative partnership on trade and investment issues, and this was the fifth TIFA Council meeting with Mauritius. Ambassador Marantis and Mauritian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration, and International Trade Arvin Boolell, opened the meeting with a wide range of government and private sector participants. During the TIFA meeting, the two governments discussed a broad range of issues of importance to the bilateral U.S.-Mauritian trade and investment relationship, including the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), the World Trade Organization (WTO) Doha negotiations and trade facilitation, the ongoing U.S.-Mauritius Bilateral Investment Treaty discussions, intellectual property rights, services trade, information communication and technology (ICT) principles, and trade capacity building, among other issues.

    Ambassador Marantis and Minister Boolell open the U.S.-Mauritius Trade and Investment Framework Agreement Discussions
    Ambassador Marantis and Minister Boolell open the U.S.-Mauritius Trade and Investment Framework Agreement Discussions

    U.S. officials from the Department of State and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) also participated in the meeting. The Mauritian TIFA delegation included government officials from a number of ministries with responsibility for various trade and investment issues on the agenda, as well as others representing industry associations and interests.

    As a result of the TIFA discussions, the two governments agreed on a number of key issues, including conclusion of the BIT, negotiation of a joint statement on ICT principles, technical support on IPR, and development of a new AGOA strategy.

    Ambassador Marantis and the TIFA delegation were also welcomed at a reception during which they had the opportunity to discuss the U.S.-Mauritius trade and investment relationship with government and U.S. and Mauritian private sector representatives.

    On Monday evening, Ambassador Marantis and the U.S. Charge d'Affaires Troy Frittel presented certificates to four Mauritian teachers who completed the e-Teacher Scholarship Program offered by the University of Oregon. The United States and Mauritius hope to step up work on e-education under the TIFA.

  • 01/17/2012 12:34 PM

    This week, Chief Agricultural Negotiator Isi Siddiqui will travel to Florida to discuss how agricultural exports are a vital part of Florida’s economy. USTR’s weekly trade spotlight focuses on how trade benefits Florida’s business and workers.

    Florida is known for many things. Whether it’s for sunny beaches, amusement parks or the everglades, people flock to Florida for a variety of reasons. However, what most people may not know is that Florida is the fourth largest state exporter in the United States.

    From agriculture to manufacturing to services, Floridians all across the sunshine state depend on trade for their paycheck. For example, in 2008, jobs supported by Florida’s goods exports were estimated to be 168,000 – and these jobs pay 13-19 percent higher than the national average wage.

    While most people think of Florida for its citrus and citrus juices – and for good reason as Florida is the third largest state exporter of fruit – many people forget about Florida’s booming manufacturing sector. Exports of computers, transportation equipment, chemicals, and machinery led to an 89 percent increase in exports in just 10 years. One of seven manufacturing workers in Florida depends on exports for their job.

    The same goes for workers in the agricultural sector. More than 25,400 jobs in Florida are supported both on and off the farm in food processing, storage, and transportation by agricultural exports. These exports will only increase once tariff barriers are removed with Korea, Colombia, and Panama upon the implementation of these trade agreements.

    Besides working to implement trade agreements with Korea, Colombia, and Panama to help Florida exporters, USTR is working on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). This new 21st-century agreement will provide new opportunities for Florida businesses to export to various Asia-Pacific countries, opening new markets for high-quality Florida goods to be sold around the world.

  • 01/11/2012 2:30 PM

    This morning, Ambassador Kirk joined President Obama at the “Insourcing American Jobs” forum at the White House. This forum focused on increasing the trend of companies choosing to “insource” jobs and make new investments in the United States. The event was attended by 22 experts, labor leaders, elected officials, and business leaders from large and small companies. The forum provided an opportunity for participants to speak about their experiences and discuss additional steps for job creation in America.

    The forum was broken down into three roundtable segments: the economics of bringing jobs back, company experiences with onshoring, and how partnership can help break down barriers. The discussions varied from “insourcing” trends to onshoring decision making to Federal efforts and additional business partnerships. In conjunction with the forum, the White House today released a report that details the emerging trend of “insourcing” and how companies are increasingly choosing to invest in the United States. The full report can be found here.

    As part of the Obama Administration’s efforts to rebuild an economy where hard work pays off and responsibility is rewarded, USTR is working to implement trade agreements with Korea, Colombia, and Panama as well as negotiate the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement. These agreements will provide important opportunities for American businesses to hire workers and create good jobs here at home. In addition, they provide an opportunity to “insource” jobs for American workers by selling high-quality and high-value American products around the world.