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December

  • 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.