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  • 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.