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  • 06/29/2012 12:01 PM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • 06/25/2012 10:44 AM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • 06/21/2012 3:54 PM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • 06/21/2012 1:55 PM

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

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

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

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

  • 06/19/2012 4:30 PM

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

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

  • 06/19/2012 9:52 AM

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

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

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

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

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

  • 06/14/2012 4:28 PM

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

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

  • 06/14/2012 2:04 PM

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

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

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

  • 06/13/2012 2:40 PM

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

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

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


    Business Roundtable

    Distilled Spirits Council

    Emergency Committee for American Trade

    General Electric

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

    National Association of Manufacturers

    National Center for APEC


    U.S. Commerce Department

    U.S. Council for International Business

    U.S. Dairy Export Council

    U.S.-Russia Business Council

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

  • 06/13/2012 2:29 PM

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

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

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

  • 06/08/2012 4:59 PM

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

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

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


  • 06/08/2012 2:46 PM

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

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

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

  • 06/04/2012 2:53 PM

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

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

    • Trade and investment liberalization, regional economic integration

    • Strengthening food security,

    • Establishing reliable supply chains, and

    • Intensive cooperation to foster innovative growth.

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

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

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

  • 06/04/2012 1:58 PM

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

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