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  • 03/30/2012 2:20 PM

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

    Ambassador Kirk with Rwandan President Paul Kagame

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

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

  • 03/29/2012 2:17 PM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • 03/22/2012 5:26 PM

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

    Watch the interviews:

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

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

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

  • 03/21/2012 5:34 PM

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

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

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

    For additional information and resources, below are some key online tools to make it easier for small businesses across the country to get involved in trade and exporting  -- Business USA provides small business owners with the advice on how to navigate foreign markets and what financing options and trade opportunities are available for your specific needs. It also has the tariff search tool, which allows users to find tariff information on specific industrial goods covered under the U.S. FTAs. The tool shows the tariff applied on the date the FTA enters into force and the rates each subsequent year as the tariffs are eliminated under the agreement.  -- This tool offers workshops for businesses ready to leap into the international market. It helps more mature businesses expand their exports as well as those who are just getting started.


  • 03/21/2012 4:30 PM

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

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

    Ambassador Kirk meets with Florida Gubernatorial Fellows

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

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

  • 03/19/2012 11:52 AM

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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


  • 03/16/2012 8:00 AM

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

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

    Korea Business Council

    National Milk Producers Federation

    National Association of Manufacturers

    National Association of Wheat Growers

    U.S. Dairy Export Council

    Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S.

    NW Cherries

    USSEC- Soybeans

    US Meat Export Federation

    U.S. Poutry and Egg Industry



  • 03/15/2012 5:05 PM

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

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

    What some of our government leaders are saying so far:

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

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

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

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

  • 03/15/2012 5:01 PM

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

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

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

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

  • 03/14/2012 4:50 PM

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


    Ambassador Kirk meets with Panamanian Commerce and industry Minister Quijano

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

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

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

  • 03/14/2012 3:55 PM

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

    See what people are saying so far:

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

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

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

    Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH)

    Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)

    Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)

    United Steelworkers

    U.S.-China Business Council (USCBC)

    American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI)


    Read the full press release.

  • 03/12/2012 2:11 PM

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

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

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

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

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

  • 03/12/2012 11:47 AM

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

    Ambassador Kirk shakes hands with Finnish Prime Minister Stubb

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • 03/08/2012 5:44 PM

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

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

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

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

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

  • 03/08/2012 4:59 PM

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • 03/08/2012 3:37 PM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • 03/07/2012 4:15 PM

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

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

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

  • 03/07/2012 10:27 AM

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

  • 03/06/2012 6:51 PM

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

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

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

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

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

  • 03/06/2012 6:01 PM

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

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

  • 03/05/2012 1:11 PM

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

    Negotiators also began discussions on sanitary and phytosanitary measures.

  • 03/04/2012 4:46 PM

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

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


    Presenter & Organisation


    An Indigenous Perspective on the TPPA

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


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

    Ali’itasi Esther Stewart, Moana Nui


    Jobs, Decent Work and the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement

    Amy Schwebel, ACTU


    Bill Rosenberg, NZCTU


    Paul Bastian, AMWU


    Georgios Altintzis, ITUC


    Labour Rights

    Mr Trung Doan, Committee to Protect Vietnamese Workers


    Regulations for state owned enterprises

    Sean Heather, US Chamber of Commerce


    SOEs and Privatisation

    Professor Jane Kelsey, University of Auckland


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

    Deborah K. Sy, Harrison Institute Georgetown University Law Center


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

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


    Investment: priorities for Australian business

    Patrick Coleman, Business Council of Australia


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

    Lori Wallach, Public Citizen


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

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


    Sanya Reld Smith, Third World Network


    Kyla Tienhaara, Australian National University


    Investment and Services Panel





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

    Professor Andrew Mitchell, Melbourne Law School


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


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

    Rebecca LaForgia, Senior Lecturer Adelaide University Law School


    Trade, diets and health - implications for the TPPA

    Dr Ann Marie Thow, University of Sydney


    Professor Sharon Friel, Australian National University


    Globally Integrated Customs and the TPP: an Industry Perspective

    Andrew Jackson, IBM


    The benefits of services trade reform through the TPP

    James Bond, President, Australia Services Roundtable


    TPP - A World Class Trade Agreement

    Russell Scoular, Ford Asia Pacific & Africa


    Ian Mearns, Ford Australia


    Agricultural Panel

    Charles Mcelhone, National Farmers Federation Australia


    Robert Pettit, Dairy Australia


    Andrew McCallum, Meat and Livestock Australia


    Warren Males, Canegrowers


    TPP and IUU – Alphabet Fish Soup

    Alistair McFarlane, New Zealand Seafood Industry Council


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

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



    Leigh Obradovic, Distilled Spirits Industry Association of Australia


    The Trans-Pacific Partnership and Asia-Pacific Integration

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

    Aspects of the TPP that could affect an open Internet

    Susan Chalmers, InternetNZ

    Technology Sector Priorities for Promoting ICT and Internet Growth

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

    Fulfilling the Promise of the Digital Age:  Balancing IP Interests

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


    Ray Argall, President Australian Directors Guild

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

    Gwen Hinze, Electronic Frontier Foundation

    IP Protection and Enforcement

    Gina Vetere, US Chamber of Commerce


    Kaaren Koomen, (TBA)

    US proposal for the intellectual property chapter

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

    Issues related to the Intellectual Property provisions of the TPP

    Brendan Molloy, Pirate Party

    TPPA should promote Access to Knowledge

    Krista Cox, Knowledge Ecology International

    Ruth Lopert, George Washington University

    Ellen Broad, Australian Digital Alliance

    Brett Smith, Free Software Foundation


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


    Intellectual Property Rights and Pharmaceuticals

    Leah Summers, Mylan




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


    Faith Wong, Hovid Bhl


    Intellectual Property Rights and Pharmaceuticals

    Shawn Brown, Generic Pharmaceutical Association of America


    Martin Cross, Alphapharm


    Maria Fabiana Jorge, MFJ International



    Naomi Pearce, Chair IP Working Group of GMiA


    Protecting the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme in the TPPA

    Dr Deborah Gleeson, La Trobe University


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


    Public Health in the Asia-Pacific Region

    Peter Maybaruk, Public Citizen


    Mary Assunta, Cancer Council Australia


    Rob Lake, Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations


    Do Dang Dong, Vietnam Network of People Living with HIV


    Matthew Cleary, Medicines Sans Frontiers, Australia


  • 03/03/2012 5:29 PM

    In Saturday’s session of TPP negotiations in Melbourne, Australia, expert-level negotiations continued on legal issues, investment, technical barriers to trade, rules of origin, intellectual property rights, labor, and horizontal issues.

    Tomorrow, on-site stakeholders will be given the opportunity to present their views on the agreement directly to TPP negotiation teams. Approximately 250 stakeholders from Australia, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Vietnam, and the United States will be attending.

  • 03/02/2012 5:23 PM

    On Friday, Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiators from the United States, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam continued talks for the 11th round of TPP in Melbourne, Australia. Today’s negotiations focused on horizontal issues, investment, technical barriers to trade, labor, intellectual property rights, rules of origin, and legal issues.

    The negotiations began on Thursday, when negotiators covered a broad range of topics including horizontal issues such as investment, technical barriers to trade, labor, intellectual property rights, rules of origin, and legal issues.

    The goal of the TPP is to create an ambitious, 21st-century agreement that will enhance trade and investment among the TPP partner countries, promote innovation, economic growth and development, and support the creation and retention of jobs. The Asia-Pacific region is home to some of the fastest growing economies in the world, and TPP will help open more markets to American businesses and exports.

    Specifically, the TPP will feature new cross-cutting issues not previously included in trade agreements. In addition, the agreement focuses on integrating small- and medium-sized businesses more competitively to regional supply chains. Additional export opportunities for American businesses can help create more job opportunities for American workers, and will help grow the American economy.

  • 03/01/2012 4:34 PM

    Elected officials from across the country are applauding the President’s executive order establishing the Interagency Trade Enforcement Center.  After the President’s announcement this week, U. S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and Secretary of Commerce John Bryson welcomed the establishment of the unit. 

    Below is a sampling of what they’re saying so far.

    Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)

    Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH)

    Congressman Jim McDermott (D-WA)

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

    Congressman John Dingell (D-MI)