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12/30/2014 - 2:00pm

The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) has made great strides in advancing President Obama’s economic agenda of creating jobs, promoting growth, and strengthening America’s middle class. In 2013, Made-in-America exports supported an estimated 11.3 million well-paying U.S. jobs, and in 2014, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative built on record-breaking exports, engagement, and trade enforcement to achieve strong results for American workers, manufacturers, service providers, farmers, and ranchers.

This year, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman and the staff of USTR in support of President Obama’s economic agenda, worked to create economic opportunity for American workers, farmers, and businesses by eliminating barriers to U.S. exports, trade, and investment.

We forged ahead on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a state-of-the art trade agreement that will guarantee Americans access to the rapidly growing economies of the Asia Pacific and raise labor, environmental, and other vital standards across the region – leveling the playing field for American workers and firms.

The United States and the European Union also took a renewed approach to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, which will strengthen our economic relationship with Europe – growing a relationship that will boost economic growth and add to the more than 13 million American and EU jobs already supported by transatlantic trade and investment.

What’s more, this year, under President Obama’s leadership, the United States played a critical role in realizing the first-ever fully multilateral trade agreement in the history of the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA). This deal will substantially lower the costs of trading across borders, and is projected to grow global GDP by hundreds of billions of dollars – delivering for the American economy and for our trading partners.

In July, the U.S. and 13 other partners launched negotiations on the Environmental Goods Agreement (EGA) at the WTO – the primary trade component of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan – which will make essential progress toward our environmental protection and economic goals by eliminating barriers faced by American exporters of environmental goods.

In November, the United States and China announced a major breakthrough in negotiations to expand the scope of goods covered by the World Trade Organization (WTO) Information Technology Agreement (ITA), which provided the basis for the resumption of plurilateral negotiations in Geneva.

USTR also continued negotiations on the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA), a free-trade agreement focused on services to promote fair and open competition across a broad spectrum of

service sectors. There are currently nearly two dozen participants in the TiSA negotiations, representing roughly two-thirds of global trade in services market exceeding $30 trillion – or approximately half of the global economy.

Throughout the year, the Obama Administration has undertaken the most ambitious upgrade of trade enforcement in modern U.S. trade policy to level the playing field and bring the full benefit of the U.S. trade agenda to Americans. The year has seen victories in trade enforcement cases that have benefited a wide range of sectors, including U.S. auto workers, farmers, and producers of high-tech goods that utilize rare earth materials, and the Administration is pursuing dispute settlement through our free trade agreements to protect labor rights with our trading partners.

"2014 was a banner year for President Obama's trade agenda, an important part of his goal to create economic opportunity for the American people," said U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman. "Under President Obama's leadership, we made tremendous progress and are closer to realizing several historic trade agreements that will grow our economy, support well-paying jobs, and strengthen the American Middle Class. 2015 promises to be a big year in trade as well, as we work to complete major trade priorities that will deliver for America's workers, farmers, ranchers, and businesses."

 The U.S. Trade Representative is committed to getting President Obama’s ambitious trade agenda right to benefit the American people. Our dedication to this mission can be seen in the following accomplishments made throughout the past year: 

Supported More American Jobs through U.S. Exports

Significantly Advanced the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Negotiations.   The United States worked with its TPP partners -- Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam -- throughout 2014, making significant progress toward agreement on access to each other's markets for goods, services and investment, and government procurement, as well as on ambitious trade and investment rules that will promote U.S. commercial and broader interests and values across the region. TPP Leaders met in November and reaffirmed their commitment to concluding a comprehensive, high-standard, and balanced agreement that supports job creation, spurs economic growth and prosperity, enhances their competitiveness, and promotes innovation and entrepreneurship. They also reaffirmed the importance of addressing emerging issues such as digital commerce and State-owned enterprises, and including binding commitments to strengthen protection of the environment and labor rights. Work to finalize the TPP will continue into 2015.

Advanced the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) Negotiations.   U.S. and European Union (EU) negotiating teams conducted four T-TIP negotiating rounds in 2014, discussing ways to increase transatlantic trade and its contribution to growth, jobs, and competitiveness in a wide range of areas, including new market access for goods, services, and investment and steps to reduce the costs associated with unnecessary regulatory and other non-tariff barriers to trade. During the November G20 Summit meeting in Australia, President Obama and EU leaders reaffirmed their commitment to an ambitious, comprehensive, and high standard T-TIP agreement. In December, Ambassador Froman and new EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström discussed plans for a "fresh start" in the T-TIP negotiations, which the negotiating teams have started to implement. A comprehensive T-TIP agreement would strengthen an economic partnership that already supports $1 trillion in two-way trade annually, $4 trillion in investment, and 13 million jobs across the Atlantic.

Continued Engagement with Japan to Achieve High-Standard Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.   U.S. negotiators and ministers held numerous negotiating sessions with their Japanese counterparts throughout the year to address agricultural market access issues, as well as automotive issues, focusing on non-tariff measures. The two sides continue to make progress in closing gaps, with regard to agriculture, autos and other market access and rules issues, and are committed to work together towards the successful conclusion of a high-standard, comprehensive TPP agreement.

Secured the Historic Trade Facilitation Agreement at the WTO.   In November, the United States with India and other WTO Members overcame an impasse in the Bali Package to allow the full implementation of a Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA). The TFA is the first multilateral trade agreement in the WTO’s 20 year history, and will reform global customs practices and substantially reduce the costs and time associated with goods crossing borders. The efficiencies generated by customs reforms in the TFA will significantly reduce the costs of trading for WTO Members, developed and developing countries alike, and some estimates suggest the global economic value of the new WTO deal could be worth $1 trillion.

Launched Negotiations on the WTO Environmental Goods Agreement (EGA).   In July, the United States and 13 other WTO Members, representing 86 percent of global trade in environmental goods, officially launched negotiations on the Environmental Goods Agreement, which aims to eliminate tariffs on a range of environmental goods. Tariffs on these environmental goods, including wind turbines, solar water heaters, and catalytic converters are unnecessarily high and limit the technological advancement for green technologies. The EGA provides an important opportunity to protect the global environment while unlocking economic opportunity for American workers and businesses.

Advanced Negotiations to Expand the WTO Information Technology Agreement (ITA).   In November, the United States and China announced a major breakthrough in negotiations to expand the scope of goods covered by the World Trade Organization (WTO) Information Technology Agreement (ITA). This bilateral breakthrough provided the basis for the resumption of plurilateral negotiations in Geneva. USTR will continue to work closely with all participants in the negotiation to bring about the successful conclusion an ITA expansion deal, which would be first major tariff-cutting deal at the WTO in 17 years, and would allow for an increase in Made-in-USA exports to growing markets. The ITA expansion is estimated to cover $1 trillion in trade, add $190 billion to the global economy and support tens of thousands of good-paying U.S. manufacturing and technology jobs.

Continued Progress in the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) Negotiations.   The United States continued negotiations in the TiSA, a free-trade agreement focused exclusively on services. Presently, twenty-three economies are participating in the TiSA negotiations, representing roughly three-quarters of the world’s $30 trillion services market. With every $1 billion in services exports supporting an estimated 5,900 U.S. jobs, promoting the expansion of services trade globally will pay dividends for the United States.

Supported Made-in-America Farm and Agriculture Exports through the "Made In Rural America" Export and Investment Initiative.  In February, President Obama directed his Administration to lead a new "Made in Rural America" export and investment initiative. Working through the White House Rural Council, the Initiative coordinates federal resources to help rural businesses and leaders take advantage of new investment opportunities and access new customers and markets abroad. Ambassador Froman and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative support the new initiative that will help businesses in rural America export more, particularly through our continued progress in the negotiation of plurilateral and bilateral trade agreements with our trading partners, and removing unwarranted non-tariff trade barriers to U.S. food and agricultural products.

Made Progress with China on Global Drug Supply Chain Integrity, Enhanced Market Access for Medical Devices and Innovative Pharmaceuticals:  This year, USTR’s engagement with China has yielded significant progress on two key fronts in the biopharmaceutical sector. To promote access to safe and high-quality medicines, at the July U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue, China committed to develop and seriously consider amendments to its Drug Administration Law. These changes would address a significant gap in regulatory oversight of manufacturers of bulk chemicals, including "export only" producers and distributors. China also agreed to create a multi-ministerial work mechanism focused on developing a regulatory and enforcement framework for high-quality medicines. Secondly, to expedite the introduction of medical devices and innovative pharmaceuticals to China, at the December U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade, China agreed to take concrete steps to streamline its regulatory review and approval system for new pharmaceuticals and devices. Cutting red tape in China’s medical device approval process will benefit patients by allowing them to receive better treatment earlier, while allowing more exports to China, the industry’s largest growth market. In addition to these steps, the U.S. and China have agreed to hold high-level expert dialogues with relevant agencies in the coming year to advance regulation and market access in these sectors.

Contributed to the Successful Entry Into Force of the Revised WTO Agreement on Government ProcurementIn April, the United States welcomed the entry into force of the WTO protocol amending the 1994 Government Procurement Agreement (GPA). The revised GPA expands business opportunities for American firms to supply goods and services to foreign governments, estimated to be worth between $80-100 billion annually. This adds to the $1 trillion already covered under the GPA, and establishes work programs that facilitate participation by small- and medium-sized businesses, while fostering best practices in sustainable procurement. 

Engaged with Americans to Promote the Benefits of Trade

Unlocked economic opportunities for American businesses in Boston, Massachusetts.  In an April trip to Massachusetts to highlight the state’s exports, Ambassador Froman joined Boston-based Atlas Devices in unveiling a factory expansion that will increase the company’s manufacturing capacity and support more jobs in Boston through continued success in exporting. Atlas Devices is a strong example of the effect exports can have on the success of American small businesses. Boston has longstanding ties to trade, and trade remains critical to the Boston and Massachusetts economies.

Highlighted Colorado’s Record-Breaking Exports.  In June, Ambassador Froman visited Denver to highlight the positive trajectory of U.S. exports in Colorado, and across the country. In 2013, Colorado exported a record $8.5 billion in goods, supporting an estimated 43 thousand jobs. Ambassador Froman toured Denver’s Epic Brewing Company to spotlight the high-quality jobs supported by small business exporters in Colorado and spoke at the World Trade Center Denver to underline the success of Colorado exporters and how they will benefit from the President’s trade agenda.

Spotlighted Minnesota’s Growing Exports.  In August, Ambassador Froman traveled to Minnesota to meet with small business owners to discuss how Made-in-America exports are fostering economic growth, supporting jobs, and unlocking opportunity across the state, and America. Ambassador Froman toured a Minnesota small business that is creating jobs by exporting using the web platform Etsy. According to reports, Etsy has 1 million artisans and craftspeople selling $1.3 billion of goods per year. The company began selling Made-in-America jewelry products on Etsy in 2011 and now boasts nearly 30 employees and annual sales of $2 million per year, one third of which are attributed to exports. During the trip, Ambassador Froman highlighted the benefits of President Obama’s trade agenda to Minnesotans, which exported $20.8 billion in goods in 2013, supporting 106 thousand jobs.

Promoted the Benefits of Made-in-America Agriculture Exports in Iowa.  In August, Ambassador Froman travelled to Des Moines to meet with a diverse range of Iowans, including family farmers, business leaders, and elected officials who represent the many ways Made-in-America exports benefit the local economy. Iowa is the United States’ second largest exporter of agricultural goods, and Ambassador Froman toured the Iowa State Fair with Senator Chuck Grassley to sample the pork, corn, and other agricultural goods Iowa farmers raise and export to consumers around the world. Following the fair, Ambassador Froman held a roundtable with local farmers, ranchers, and state and local agriculture leaders to receive input on how America’s trade policy benefits the state’s agricultural community. He later joined Governor Terry Branstad and Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds at the Governor’s Charity Steer Show to highlight Iowa’s strong beef exports, a significant source of economic prosperity for the state.

Underlined Ohio’s Record-Breaking Exports.  In October, Ambassador Froman traveled to Cleveland and Columbus to tout Ohio’s all-time-high exports and outline the ways President Obama’s trade agenda will help unlock economic opportunity for Ohioans. Throughout his trip, Ambassador Froman highlighted Cleveland and Columbus’s contribution to Ohio’s record-breaking $50.8 billion of Made-in-America goods exports, which supported an estimated 259,000 jobs in 2013. While in Cleveland, Ambassador Froman and U.S. Senator Brown toured Jet Incorporated, a small business creating jobs by designing, manufacturing, and exporting innovative wastewater treatment systems to 33 countries around the world. Ambassador Froman also participated in Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman’s MOMENTUM Small Business Conference & Expo, to stress the importance of Ohio’s over 16,000 exporting companies, nearly 90% of which are small and medium-sized businesses.

Touted Texas’ Made-in-America Exports.  In October, Ambassador Froman travelled to the Lone Star state to highlight the ways the Obama Administration’s historic trade agenda unlocks economic opportunity for Texans. In 2013, Texas exported a record-breaking $279.5 billion Made-in-America goods to the world – supporting 1.1 million jobs and contributing to the nation’s all-time high of $2.3 trillion exports. In San Antonio, Ambassador Froman and Congressman Henry Cuellar (TX-28) met with local business leaders and entrepreneurs at the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce to discuss how trade helps their companies grow and support jobs in the community. The Ambassador toured Rackspace, a managed cloud computer company in Windcrest, Texas, supporting local jobs by exporting to over 200,000 customers in 120 countries. Rackspace is emblematic of the high-tech American companies that stand to gain from current trade negotiations between the U.S. and the Asia Pacific region in the TPP, which includes inaugural and groundbreaking provisions to address barriers affecting the digital economy. Ambassador Froman and Congressman Pete Gallego (TX-23) also toured Concord Supply Company, a San Antonio small business with roughly 90 percent of its sales to international markets. Through exports, the company has been able to expand and support more local jobs.

Promoted Strong American Manufacturing and Exports in Baltimore.  To commemorate National Manufacturing Day and highlight the significant benefits manufacturing and Made-in-America exports deliver for Maryland’s economy, Ambassador Froman toured Zentech Manufacturing, a Baltimore small business and advanced manufacturer creating jobs in Maryland by assembling state-of-the-art circuit board technology, often used as inputs in American exports overseas. While at Zentech, Ambassador Froman met with local manufacturing workers and technical college students from Anne Arundel Community College to discuss the importance of advanced manufacturing to their everyday lives, their communities, and their families. In 2013, Maryland exported a record $11.8 billion in goods to the world. In the same year, Maryland exported $10.8 billion in manufactured goods, supporting an estimated 52,000 jobs.

Organized Small and Medium Sized Business Roundtables Across the United States to Participate in the Transatlantic Relationship.  Pursuant to a request by USTR, the United States International Trade Commission (USITC) issued a report entitled "Trade Barriers That U.S. Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises Perceive as Affecting Exports to the European Union." USTR requested that USITC undertake this study as part of USTR’s effort to gather input from the public on the ongoing T-TIP negotiations. The U.S. Trade Representative, along with the US International Trade Commission (USITC), the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), and the U.S. Department of Commerce worked together to convene 28 small business roundtables in cities around the United States, to hear from small businesses around the country about concerns and barriers they face while exporting to European Union. The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) aims to help U.S. companies, farmers, and workers unlock opportunity by finding new European customers and boost job growth. 

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

Challenged India’s Requirements Affecting U.S. Solar Product Exports.  In February, the United States requested WTO dispute settlement consultations with India concerning domestic content requirements in Phase II of India’s National Solar Mission ("NSM") and subsequently requested a WTO panel to examine India’s NSM measures. These domestic content requirements discriminate against U.S. solar cells and modules by requiring certain solar power developers participating in Phases I and II to use Indian-manufactured solar cells and modules instead of U.S. or other imported equipment. Moreover, India has now extended the domestic content requirements to more solar energy products than covered under Phase I of the NSM. In addition to the WTO consultations held on Phases I and II, the United States has engaged India on our concerns regarding the NSM over the last three years, including in bilateral fora such as the U.S.-India Trade Policy Forum and the U.S.-India Energy Dialogue, and at the WTO in various committees.

Challenged Indonesia’s Import Restrictions on Horticulture, Animals, and Animal Products.  In May, the United States requested WTO dispute settlement consultations with Indonesia to address Indonesia’s import licensing restrictions on horticultural products, animals, and animal products. Following previous consultations on Indonesia’s trade restrictive measures, these additional consultations, requested jointly with New Zealand, are to address recent modifications to Indonesia’s import licensing restrictions.

Prevailed in China’s Challenge of U.S. Countervailing Duty Law.  In March, a WTO panel found in favor of the United States and rejected China’s two challenges to U.S. Public Law 112-99, commonly referred to as the GPX legislation. In July, the WTO Appellate Body reversed certain interpretations by the panel but did not find that the GPX legislation inconsistent with WTO rules. The GPX legislation was enacted on March 13, 2012, to confirm the Department of Commerce’s ability to apply the U.S. countervailing duty (CVD) law on imports from non-market (NME) countries, including China. The failure of this challenge to our law is a significant victory for the United States. The WTO reports preserve the ability of the United States to remedy unfair subsidies and dumping by China, for the benefit of American businesses and workers.

Prevailed Against Chinese Duties on U.S. Exports of Automobiles.  In Maythe United States won a dispute at the World Trade Organization (WTO) on behalf of U.S. auto manufacturers and nearly 850,000 American automotive industry workers. The WTO dispute settlement panel agreed with the United States that China’s imposition of antidumping duties (ADs) and countervailing duties (CVDs) on American-made cars and sport-utility vehicles (SUVs) breached numerous international trade rules. The report, which was adopted by the WTO, marks the third recent WTO challenge that USTR has brought and won on China’s misuse of ADs and CVDs in a continuing effort to ensure American working families can seize all of the job-supporting opportunities available under U.S. trade agreements.

Prevailed on Numerous Indian Challenges to U.S. Countervailing Duties to Address India’s Unfair Steel Subsidies.  In July, a WTO panel rejected numerous Indian challenges to key aspects of U.S. countervailing duty laws and regulations, and most of the hundreds of challenges brought by India against case-specific Department of Commerce determinations in a countervailing duty proceeding covering hot-rolled carbon steel flat products from India. In December, the WTO Appellate Body rejected the vast majority of India’s appeals seeking additional findings on U.S. regulations and determinations. This dispute is another example of the Administration’s commitment to fight for American workers and industry by taking strong trade remedy measures against unfair subsidies and defending those actions when challenged by our trading partners.

Secured a Victory in Challenge to China’s Rare Earth Export Restraints.  In August, the United States won a major victory at the World Trade Organization (WTO), after challenging China’s export restraints on rare earths, tungsten, and molybdenum, which are used as key components in various U.S-made products for critical American manufacturing sectors, including hybrid car batteries, wind turbines, and energy-efficient lighting. The WTO Appellate Body, agreeing with an earlier panel report, found in favor of the United States’ challenge to Chinese export restraints that can skew the playing field against the United States and other countries in the production and export of manufactured products, while enabling China’s domestic downstream producers to produce lower-priced products from the raw materials and create significant advantages when competing against other markets. The reports, adopted by the WTO, send a clear signal to trading partners and display U.S. commitment to fighting on behalf of American businesses and workers.

Prevailed Against Argentina’s Import Licensing RestrictionsIn August, the United States secured a victory at the World Trade Organization when a WTO panel found that Argentina’s restrictions on the importation of U.S. goods breach international trade rules. The Panel also found in breach restrictive trade-related requirements imposed by Argentina, including requiring U.S. companies exporting to Argentina to first agree to export Argentine goods, make investments in Argentina, lower prices of their products, or refrain from repatriating profits to the United States. The U.S. exports billions of dollars of goods to Argentina each year, including exports of computers, industrial and agricultural chemicals, agricultural and transportation equipment, machine tools, parts for oil field rigs, and refined fuel oil. The panel report is currently under appeal.

Prevailed Against Indian Ban on U.S. Agriculture Products to Protect U.S. Farmers. In October, the U.S. won a major victory at the World Trade Organization (WTO) on behalf of U.S. farmers, including the U.S. poultry industry when a dispute settlement panel found in our favor a claim challenging India’s ban on various U.S. agricultural products – such as poultry meat, eggs, and live pigs – allegedly to protect against avian influenza. The panel agreed with the United States that India’s ban breached numerous international trade rules, including because it was imposed without sufficient scientific evidence. The U.S. poultry industry, which directly employs over 350,000 workers and consists of nearly 50,000 family farms – had been particularly affected by India’s restrictions. The WTO has agreed the panel report will be adopted or appealed in January 2015.

Successfully resolved a Long-Standing Dispute with Brazil over CottonIn October, the United States and Brazil reached an agreement to end the longstanding Cotton dispute in the WTO. Through this settlement, Brazil gave up its rights to countermeasures against U.S. trade or any further proceedings in this dispute. Brazil has also agreed not to bring new WTO actions against U.S. cotton support programs while the current U.S. Farm Bill is in force or against agricultural export credit guarantees under the GSM-102 program as long as the program is operated consistent with the agreed terms. This agreement completed discussions that began with a Framework Agreement signed in 2010.

Monitored Intellectual Property Protections and Obligations through the Special 301 Report. USTR released its annual "Special 301" Report on the adequacy and effectiveness of U.S. trading partners’ protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights. USTR maintained El Salvador’s status on the Special 301 list, noting significant and ongoing concerns with El Salvador’s protection and enforcement of intellectual property, including the treatment of geographical indications and pharmaceutical products. Israel, Italy and the Philippines were removed from the Special 301 Report Watch List, for their legislative and regulatory reforms in enhancing intellectual property rights enforcement. USTR announced that it would conduct an Out-of-Cycle Review of India, Kuwait, Paraguay and Spain. USTR also expressed growing concerns with respect to the environment for IPR protection and enforcement in India and other markets and serious, ongoing concerns about the protection and enforcement of trade secrets with respect to China.

Reinforced the United States’ Commitment to Fight Global Piracy and Counterfeit Goods with the Out-of-Cycle Review of Notorious Markets. The United States released the Special 301 Out-of-Cycle Review of Notorious Markets for 2013, which identifies global physical and online marketplaces that harm American businesses and workers through the infringement of intellectual property rights. The Notorious Markets report helps the US and foreign governments prioritize enforcement of the intellectual property rights that protect job-supporting innovation and creativity in the United States and around the world.

Concluded an Out-of-Cycle Review of IndiaIn April’s 2014 Special 301 Report, USTR announced that the U.S. would initiate an Out-of-Cycle Review (OCR) of India to evaluate progress toward achieving meaningful, sustained and effective engagement on IP issues with India. Over subsequent months, there were multiple engagements with Government of India officials at the staff and senior levels on the broad range of issues of concern to the United States and to U.S. stakeholders. India made useful commitments, including to institutionalize high-level engagement on IP issues, to pursue a specific work program and to deepen cooperation and information exchange with the United States on IP-related issues under the U.S.-India Trade Policy Forum. The United States looks forward to the 2015 Special 301 Review process, which will provide the next formal opportunity for a thorough review of India’s environment for IP protection and enforcement, including progress made on recent IP-related commitments and on engagement through the agreed work plan.

Elevated Kuwait to Special 301 "Priority Watch List"In November, the U.S. announced the removal of Kuwait from the Special 301 Report Watch List to the Priority Watch List. The Special 301 Report identifies trading partners that do not adequately and effectively protect intellectual property rights. The United States is encouraged by Kuwait’s recent accessions to the Berne and Paris Conventions and recent progress on enforcement against copyright infringement. However, the U.S. remains concerned about the lack of sustained enforcement action against trademark infringement and the lack of progress in passage of updates to Kuwait’s copyright legislation, which hamper the overall market environment for intellectual property-intensive industries. The U.S. seeks to actively engage Kuwaiti authorities on these issues in the context of the long-standing cooperation between our countries.

Proceeded with an Historic Labor Enforcement Case against Guatemala Under the CAFTA-DR. The United States proceeded with a labor enforcement case against Guatemala under the Dominican Republic – Central America – United State Free Trade Agreement, to ensure Guatemala implements the labor protections to which its workers are entitled. The United States has engaged extensively with Guatemala, and even signed a groundbreaking Labor Enforcement Plan in an effort to improve the country’s labor law enforcement. The enforcement of strong labor protections in Guatemala would send a positive signal to the world and help attract investment, expand economic activity, and promote inclusive growth.

Strengthened Fundamental Labor Rights and Practices in MyanmarIn August, Ambassador Froman became the first U.S. Trade Representative to visit to Myanmar, where he convened representatives of the U.S. government, Myanmar and other international governments, the International Labor Organization, the World Bank, and the International Finance Corporation to build support for a joint U.S.-Myanmar Initiative to improve labor conditions in Myanmar. In November, the United States launched a joint "Initiative to Promote Fundamental Labor Rights and Practices in Myanmar" together with the Myanmar, the International Labour Organization, Japan, and Denmark. The is designed to improve Myanmar’s system of labor administration through a multi-year labor law reform and foster strong relations among businesses, workers, civil society organizations, and the Government of Myanmar through a stakeholder consultative mechanism. It also supports broader efforts to promote responsible trade and investment practices and sustainable economic development.

Advanced Worker Safety and Labor Rights in Bangladesh. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative led an interagency review of Bangladesh labor rights, and concluded that despite important progress, Bangladesh must do more to address the worker rights and safety issues that led President Obama to suspend the country’s Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) trade benefits in June 2013. The U.S. is seeking improvements to achieve the shared goal of protecting workers from workplace tragedies like the April 2013 Rana Plaza building collapse. The United States continues to work with Bangladesh to address outstanding concerns, including factory inspections, progress on labor law reforms, and reports of harassment of and violence against labor activists who are attempting to exercise their rights.

Promoted Labor Rights in Peru. The United States convened the Labor Affairs Council of the U.S.-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement (TPA) to review progress made under the Labor Chapter of the agreement. The U.S. and Peru discussed ongoing cooperation on labor matters such as those related to the prevention and abolition of child labor, combatting forced labor, and addressing concerns related to subcontracting, and discussed areas of future cooperation, such as capacity building for labor inspections.

Supported Workers’ Associational Rights in Swaziland. In June, the United States withdrew Swaziland’s benefits under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) due to concerns about implementation of eligibility criteria related to worker rights. The U.S. Government concluded that Swaziland had not demonstrated progress in the protection of internationally recognized worker rights, including the freedom of association and the right to organize. The United States continues to engage with the Kingdom of Swaziland to ensure worker and civil society groups can freely associate, and AGOA eligibility can be restored.

Promoted Labor Rights in Morocco. The United States worked closely with Morocco to enhance opportunities to improve labor standards, by promoting dialogue to better understand each other’s labor situation, cooperate on labor issues, and facilitate interaction with the public on labor matters. USTR is working with the U.S. Department of Labor to facilitate a technical assistance project to combat child labor, improve livelihoods and support safe youth employment and a project to empower women through increased recognition, promotion and enforcement of their labor rights.

Convened the Inaugural Meeting of the Labor Affairs Council under the U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion AgreementIn January, officials from the United States and Panama met to promote labor rights and to enhance technical cooperation on labor matters under the U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement. The two countries discussed cooperation on various issues to promote labor rights, including labor inspections and subcontracting arrangements.

Promoted Labor Rights in Jordan. Government officials from the United States and Jordan convened the Labor Subcommittee under the United States-Jordan free trade agreement. The Subcommittee works to promote labor rights and enhance technical cooperation on labor matters, such as respect for labor rights and improving working conditions for foreign workers in Jordan’s growing garment sector. A key objective of the meeting was to support and advance the Labor Implementation Plan the two governments signed in 2013 to address labor concerns in Jordan’s garment factories, including anti-union discrimination against foreign workers, conditions of their accommodations, and gender discrimination and harassment.

Improved Labor Rights in Colombia. In April, USTR and the U.S. Department of Labor released a new report on the Colombian Action Plan Related to Labor Rights, which the United States and Colombia announced in 2011 to address a number of serious labor concerns. President Obama insisted that the Colombian government address these concerns to support ratification of the United States-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement. The new report describes concrete steps Colombia has taken to improve labor protection, including new laws, regulations and resources to strengthen labor law enforcement and prosecute cases of violence against trade union leaders and activists. The report also describes areas where important work remains, such as the collection of fines for labor violations and addressing new forms of abusive contracting, as well as extensive resources the United States is providing to Colombia to support these efforts.

Promoted Ocean Sustainability Through our Trade Engagement. In June, President Obama announced an executive action to combat illegal fishing and support trade in legal, sustainable seafood, and on December 18 the Administration published a set of 15 recommendations designed to enhance the tools we have available to combat illegal fishing and seafood fraud. The recommendations include direction to USTR to use our existing and future trade agreements to combat illegal fishing and seafood fraud, including through enhanced cooperation with our trading partners and commitments to enforce environmental laws. Promoting strong, enforceable environmental provisions are central objectives in the United States’ ongoing trade negotiations with the European Union and the Asia Pacific. The TPP and T-TIP will cover a significant amount of the world’s seafood trade, and present an opportunity to advance ground-breaking oceans and marine conservation commitments, including sustainable fisheries management, combatting illegal fishing, prohibiting harmful fisheries subsidies; and promoting the long term conservation of sharks and other threatened marine species.

Combatted Illegal Wildlife Trafficking and Illegal Logging Through the Trade Agenda. The United States is committed to fighting illegal wildlife trafficking and illegal logging, including through implementation of FTAs with trading partners like Peru, negotiations of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, and development and implementation of a National Strategy to Combat Wildlife Trafficking. In June, as part of these efforts, Ambassador Michael Froman toured facilities in New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport that serve to keep trade safe and help combat illegal trafficking in wildlife, and in July we toured the National Eagle and Wildlife Product Repository in Colorado which holds the intercepted wildlife products.

Identified and Addressed Telecommunications Trade Barriers. In March, USTR released the annual Report of the 1377 Review, which outlined barriers faced by U.S. telecommunications service and equipment suppliers, and identified specific telecommunications-related issues on which USTR focused its monitoring and enforcement efforts throughout the year. The Report also highlights longstanding and emerging barriers to U.S. telecommunications services and equipment exports, which – when unimpeded – are a significant source of jobs here at home. 

Engaged with Global Partners to Enhance Trade and Economic Growth

Made Progress with China on Key Trade Issues. In December, the United States joined China for the 25th Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade where they focused on key trade and investment issues. The U.S. and China made progress on important bilateral issues, including pharmaceuticals and medical devices regulatory reform, market access, intellectual property right protection and enforcement, innovation policies, and competition law enforcement, and continued to work towards building mutual trust and respect, promoting candid dialogue on bilateral issues and challenges, all designed to support jobs and exports in the U.S.

Strengthened Ties and Promoted Growth with the African Continent. In August, President Obama welcomed leaders from across the African continent for the inaugural U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit. The Summit marked the largest event any U.S. President has held with African heads of state and government, aimed at strengthening ties between the U.S. and one of the world’s most dynamic and fastest-growing regions. The Summit advanced the Administration’s focus on trade and investment in Africa, and during the Summit, Ambassador Froman convened the AGOA Forum with African trade ministers. AGOA is the cornerstone of U.S. trade policy with sub-Saharan Africa, and has contributed to the diversification and competiveness of sub-Saharan Africa’s economies, supported hundreds of thousands of jobs across the continent, increased global prosperity and market opportunities that accompany Africa’s rise.

Continued Bilateral Investment Treaty Negotiations with China. This year, negotiations toward a Bilateral Investment Treaty with China continued and intensified. The two sides made significant progress in the treaty text negotiations and agreed to initiate the critical "negative list" market access negotiations early in 2015. U.S. objectives include enhancing market access and protections for U.S. investors; encouraging the adoption of market-oriented policies that treat private investment in an open, transparent, and non-discriminatory way; and supporting the development of international law standards consistent with these objectives.

Strengthened relations with NigeriaIn March, USTR hosted the eighth meeting of the U.S.-Nigeria Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) Council to continue discussions on several shared objectives, including improving market access, utilization of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), protection of intellectual property rights, implementation of the new WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement, and improving the bilateral investment climate.

Marked Continued Gains in the U.S.-Republic of Korea Free Trade Agreement. In March, the United States and Korea marked the second anniversary of the KORUS agreement, noting strong results as the agreement continues to deliver new opportunities for American businesses and workers. For the first 10 months of 2014, U.S. goods exports to Korea are at record levels, totaling $37.2 billion, with October marking the thirteenth consecutive month of year-on-year increases. The Committees and Working Groups established under KORUS, including the Ministerial-level Joint Committee, succeeded in addressing a range of issues regarding the implementation of the agreement, including issues related to autos and financial services. USTR continues to work with its Korean counterparts to deliver the full benefits of KORUS, and to that end, both countries have agreed to continue to convene meetings in early 2015.

Streamlined Organic Trade with Korea. The United States and Korea announced new efforts to simplify organic trade and a shared commitment to ensure all traded organic processed products retain their organic integrity from farm to market. Organic processed products certified in the United States or Korea can now be labeled as organic in either country, which will allow American organic farmers, processors, and businesses greater access to Korea’s growing market for organic products. This deal serves as another foundation for future organic trade arrangements between the United States and other partners.

Strengthened Ties with the Philippines. In March, the U.S. and the Philippines agreed to a program of expanded engagement under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA). Following discussion on various bilateral, regional, and multilateral issues, USTR recognized the considerable efforts the Philippines has made to strengthen its intellectual property regime and overall framework for protecting worker rights.

Expanded Trade with Colombia. The United States and Colombia celebrated the second anniversary of the entry into force of the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement in May 2014. In 2013, U.S. goods exports to Colombia totaled $18.4 billion, up 28 percent in comparison to 2011, pre-FTA implementation. In the two years of the TPA, U.S. manufacturers have helped grow American jobs and substantially increased exports of transportation equipment, petroleum and coal products, processed food, and computer and electronic products, while farmers and ranchers have seen strong growth of agricultural exports, including in pork, beef, dairy products, soybeans, rice, grapes, and tree nuts.

Strengthened our Economic Relationship with Panama. In May, the United States and Panama held the first meeting of the U.S.-Panama Free Trade Commission, a forum to oversee the implementation of the U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement. The meeting underscored the importance of ensuring effective implementation of the Agreement, as well as the key role it plays in facilitating sustainable, broad-based economic growth and as an important catalyst in facilitating competiveness. The United States and Panama worked to ensure implementation of trade in goods and services, intellectual property rights, labor, and environment obligations to foster job creation and increase the economic prosperity for citizens in both countries.

Bolstered our Trade Partnership with Chile. In June, the United States and Chile held the ninth Free Trade Commission (FTC) Meeting in Santiago, Chile. The FTC reviewed implementation of the FTA and celebrated the 10th anniversary of the agreement. Since the FTA entered into force in 2004, two-way trade between the U.S. and Chile has more than quadrupled, growing by approximately 335%. This compares to 94% growth in total U.S. trade globally over the same time period.

Reinforced our Economic Relations with Peru. In June, the United States and Peru held the fourth meeting of the U.S.-Peru Free Trade Commission, and noted the fifth year of implementation of the U.S.-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement (PTPA). Since the PTPA went into effect in 2009, two-way trade between the U.S. and rose from $9.1 billion in 2009 to more than $18 billion in 2013.

Strengthened Trade and Investment Relations with Taiwan. U.S. and Taiwan trade authorities concluded the eighth Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) Council meeting under the auspices of the American Institute in Taiwan and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States. The U.S.-Taiwan TIFA serves as a key mechanism to make progress on the broad range of trade and investment issues important to the United States and Taiwan and strengthen robust commercial ties. At the 2014 TIFA, Taiwan took concrete steps to address trade concerns, including by lifting data center localization requirements, addressing technical barriers to trade, clarifying investment criteria, and made important commitment involving investment, agriculture, pharmaceuticals, and medical devices.

Supported Economic Security in Ukraine. USTR contributed to the Administration’s efforts to support the Ukrainian government's efforts to stabilize and expand its economy as well as protect it from unwarranted trade actions that hampered its exports. USTR officials visited Kyiv to collaborate with the Ukrainian government on steps to strengthen our bilateral trade and investment relationship.

Fostered Deeper Bilateral Trade and Investment Engagement with MoldovaIn March, Ambassador Froman and Moldova’s Prime Minister, Iurie Leancă convened the United States-Moldova Joint Commercial Commission. During the meeting, Ambassador Froman pledged U.S. support for Moldova’s efforts to integrate with Europe, highlighting the potential for economic prosperity. USTR officials traveled to Chisinau to identify opportunities for further collaboration.

Continued Engagement with Tunisia. In June, the United States and Tunisia convened the bilateral Council on Trade and Investment to discuss potential commitments on a range of issues, including market access, services, investment, and intellectual property rights. The U.S. and Tunisian delegations discussed potential new initiatives that could increase trade and investment flows in the short- to medium-term, the importance of cooperation in protecting intellectual property rights, as well as possibilities for facilitating the participation of female entrepreneurs and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in U.S.-Tunisian trade.

Increased ties with Angola. In April, The United States hosted the second meeting of the U.S.-Angola Council on Trade and Investment (the "TIFA Council"), established pursuant to the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement between the Government of the United States and the Government of the Republic of Angola. Angola is one of the United States’ most important trading partners in sub-Saharan Africa. Angola’s great potential is recognized by the many international partners and investors who see Angola moving in the right direction. Angola is currently a leading beneficiary of preferential access to the U.S. market under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), exporting mainly energy-related products and some forest products.

Strengthened ties with Madagascar. In June, The United States reinstated benefits for Madagascar under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), following the formation of Madagascar’s first democratic government since a 2009 coup d’état. The decision recognized the country’s return to democratic rule, and AGOA’s potential to help Madagascar create employment, expand bilateral trade, and contribute to the economic well-being and security of its people.

Promoted Trade and Development in Myanmar. In June, the United States held the first-ever Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) meeting with Myanmar, addressing economic reform, implementation of Myanmar’s WTO commitments, and labor rights.

Strengthened Engagement with India through the U.S.-India Trade Policy ForumIn November, Ambassador Froman led a U.S. Delegation to the U.S.-India Trade Policy Forum (TPF) in Mumbai India. The Trade Policy Forum is the premier bilateral forum for discussion and resolution of U.S. and India trade and investment issues, and provides the venue for evaluating progress in the economic relationship at the Ministerial level.

Used Trade to Empower Women in Pakistan. In May, the United States and Pakistan signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Joint Efforts to Empower Women and to Promote Women’s Entrepreneurship, to provide a mechanism and platform to discuss how to ensure women participate fully in the economy and have access to economic, trade, and investment opportunities.

Promoted Trade, Investment, and Regional Cooperation in Pakistan. This year, the United States and Pakistan continued work under their Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) to chart a path forward on improving bilateral trade and investment flows over the next five years. Among the areas of cooperation in the Joint Action Plan include diversifying agricultural production, enhancing intellectual property protection, implementing the World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement, engaging on Pakistan’s accession to the WTO Government Procurement Agreement, increasing trade in services, outreach to U.S. State and Local Governments, promoting entrepreneurship, and increasing dialogue between our respective private sectors.

Strengthened Ties with Bangladesh. In April, representatives of the governments of the United States and Bangladesh held the inaugural meeting of the United States-Bangladesh Forum on Trade and Investment (Forum), established to identify and address obstacles to increasing bilateral trade and investment. The U.S. and Bangladesh reaffirmed their commitment to increase bilateral trade and investment and address worker rights and safety issues in Bangladesh. Through the Forum, the United States proposed the creation of a Labor Affairs Committee and a Committee on Women's Economic Empowerment.

Promoted Trade and Investment with Afghanistan. In January, U.S. and Afghan officials met in Afghanistan to continue progress under the U.S.-Afghanistan Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA). Signed in 2004, the TIFA has been the primary forum for bilateral trade and investment discussions between the two countries, and this year gave the United States an opportunity to support Afghanistan’s efforts to accede to the WTO through the signing of a bilateral market access agreement.

Promoted Trade and Investment to Foster Inclusive Economic Development in Sri Lanka. In October, the United States and Sri Lanka continued their trade dialogue to evaluate progress under the United States-Sri Lanka Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA). The officials discussed market access, labor, trade promotion efforts, the U.S. Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), intellectual property rights, agriculture, and sector-specific investment challenges. Progress on all of these trade and investment issues fosters economic growth, thus providing a strong foundation for inclusive economic development as Sri Lanka emerges from years of civil war. A U.S.-Sri Business Forum, held on the margins of the TIFA Council meeting, brought representatives of U.S. companies to Sri Lanka to explore additional investment opportunities and to expand our already healthy trade relationship.

Promoted Trade, Investment, and Regional Cooperation in Central Asia. In June, the United States convened the ninth council meeting of the U.S.-Central Asia Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA), along with Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Afghanistan. The Council is the key vehicle for trade and investment discussions between the United States and the countries of Central Asia, and focused on issues, including World Trade Organization (WTO) membership, customs, investment, standards and sanitary measures, and women’s economic empowerment.

Increased ties with Iraq. In March, senior representatives of the governments of the United States and Iraq held the inaugural meeting of the United States-Iraq Council on Trade and Investment (TIFA Council), which was established under the United States-Iraq Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA). The dialogue under the TIFA reaffirms both governments’ commitment to increase bilateral trade and investment.

12/04/2014 - 12:45pm

POTUS

This week President Obama advocated for his historic trade agenda which, as he made clear, is “critical to growing America’s economy and advancing American leadership.” This was amplified by multiple administration officials, who also promoted President Obama’s trade agenda. The groundbreaking trade agreements we’re negotiating with the Asia-Pacific region and the EU are critical to President Obama’s strategy for unlocking economic opportunity because they will increase Made-in-America exports, bolster American competitiveness in the global economy, support jobs and economic growth, and strengthen the American middle class.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA

President Barack Obama to the Business Roundtable: “Trade: In Asia, there is a great hunger for engagement with the United States of America, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership is moving forward….We are optimistic about being able to get a deal done and we are reinvigorating the negotiations with the Europeans on a transatlantic trade deal. If we can get that done, that's good for American businesses, it's good for American jobs, and it's actually good for labor and environmental interests around the world.”

President Barack Obama to the National Foreign Trade Council: “Today, more than ever, bolstering international trade is critical to growing America’s economy and advancing American leadership….That’s why we’re working so hard to negotiate and finalize new trade agreements that will link the United States more closely with countries across both the Pacific and the Atlantic and will deliver benefits for all our people.”

OBAMA ADMINISTRATION OFFICIALS

White House Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett to the National Foreign Trade Council: “The record over the last century is clear: trade has helped usher in a period of peace and prosperity that is, quite simply, unrivalled in human history. Expanding trade has created a bright future for billions around the world, including millions of Americans right here at home. Between 1991 and 2011, as developing countries doubled their share of global trade, nearly 1 billion men and women and children were lifted out of poverty. In the United States, international trade has added 10% to America’s GDP. And in today’s terms, that’s an extra $13,600 in each pocket of every American family. The benefits of trade have been especially clear during the recent years. Since 2009, trade has contributed one-third of our economic growth, and during the past five years, the increase in American exports has supported an additional 1.6 million jobs. That’s the message that we have to get out, strongly and clearly, across our country.”

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest at Daily Press Briefing: “We’re looking for the kind of an agreement that’s going to open up overseas markets for American goods and services. That’s going to expand economic growth here. It’s going to create jobs here. It’s going to expand economic opportunity for American businesses and for middle-class families.”

Council of Economic Advisers Chair Jason Furman on CNBC: “We’re doing well…but there’s no debate with you that we should be doing better – no debate at all. And the question is what can we do to do better? The President is going to come here today and he’s going to be talking to the business community about how we can work together to advance our economy. And he's going to talk about three things. He's going to be talking about what we can do to reform our tax system, exactly as you just said, bring our rates down, but also close some of the loopholes – we have to worry about both halves of that; what we can do to invest in infrastructure, and that's something we can do as part of that tax reform; and what we can do to expand global trade with our partners in the Pacific and with Europe. Those are three areas that we could really work together with the business community to help move our economy.”

MEDIA

Wall Street Journal: “Obama Says Trade, Tax Policy Are Areas of Potential Bipartisan Cooperation…Speaking to a gathering of top business leaders from the country’s largest corporations, President Barack Obama sketched out what he said are potential areas of bipartisan cooperation going into his final two years in office. Appearing at the quarterly meeting of the Business Roundtable, Mr. Obama identified tax policy, trade, infrastructure and immigration as potential areas for legislative progress with Republican lawmakers.”

  • Wall Street Journal: “…here’s a rosier school of thought more broadly held by economists and corporate chiefs: One of the biggest potential upsides for the economy next year, both in the U.S. and abroad, could stem from political action. The benefits of action, in other words, outweigh the risks of inaction….President Barack Obama sounded a similar note in an address Wednesday to the Business Roundtable. ‘There remains enormous areas of potential bipartisan action,’ he said, pointing to tax policy, trade, infrastructure and immigration as areas for legislative progress with Republican lawmakers. Movement on any one of those would add another tailwind to the U.S. economy.”

New York Times: “On Wednesday, Mr. Obama lingered for nearly two hours with the chief executives of several of the largest American companies, rallying their support for an Asian trade deal and laying out his most detailed case yet for corporate tax reform.…Mr. Obama also stressed his determination to complete negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a 12-country trade agreement that is a centerpiece of the president’s strategic shift to Asia. Selling the pact at home, he said, will be just as important as negotiating it, and he was clearly seeking allies among the business executives.”

USA Today: “Obama pledges to work with majority Republicans…President Obama said Wednesday that while Republicans prepare to take control of the U.S. Senate, there are potential areas of bipartisan compromise that range from infrastructure to free trade….Obama acknowledged the new political circumstances — ‘the midterm elections did not turn out exactly as I hoped’ — but said he and his team will look for areas of agreement on the budget, trade, tax reform, and more money for road, bridge, and airport construction.”

Washington Post: “As he has before, Obama cited tax reform, trade and infrastructure as areas where he hopes to cut deals with Republicans, and he added that if progress is made in those areas, then perhaps the parties could revisit immigration reform legislation later next year.”

Associated Press: “Ahead of the Oval Office meeting, Obama outlined his most specific blueprint yet for striking compromises with Congress when the GOP takes full control of Capitol Hill next month. The president said there was ‘definitely a deal to be done’ on overhauling the nation's complicated tax code, but suggested it could take lawmakers more than six months to iron out the details of such an agreement. He said a deal on infrastructure spending could be included in a tax overhaul package and predicted progress on overseas trade agreements….McConnell, the Kentucky lawmaker who is soon to become Senate majority leader, has broadly agreed with Obama's calls for tax reform, improving the nation's infrastructure and inking free trade pacts.”

Reuters: “Obama sketches 2015 agenda of taxes, trade; meets McConnell…Obama told the Business Roundtable, a group of chief executives of top U.S. businesses, that he would like to pursue corporate tax reform, free-trade deals and reach agreement on an immigration overhaul to replace his controversial unilateral action last month that loosened immigration policies.”

CBS News: “Obama woos GOP on tax reform, immigration, free trade deals…On Wednesday, Mr. Obama also hailed fresh progress in negotiations over two new free trade agreements prized by Republicans. He cited a ‘great hunger’ among Asian nations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership and said that effort is ‘moving forward.’ He also said his administration, led by U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, is ‘reinvigorating negotiations’ with European countries on a Transatlantic trade deal….Republicans have sounded more bullish on the prospects for compromise on trade agreements than on some other issues. ‘At least on trade, I think there's a potential for agreement,’ McConnell said Tuesday.”

NBC News: “Obama identified tax reform, infrastructure and trade as top legislative priorities he will focus on with the GOP-controlled Congress he will inherit in his final two years as president. If progress is made on those issues, Congress may be able to turn its attention towards comprehensive immigration reform.”

11/21/2014 - 6:00pm

The United States has a vibrant culture of innovation, and our country’s creative and entrepreneurial spirit helps support millions of American jobs, promote economic growth, and create goods and services enjoyed by consumers around the world. That is why the United States, alongside the European Union, Switzerland, and Mexico, sponsored the first-ever World Trade Organization (WTO) Innovation Fair, to provide a forum for innovators from the U.S. and around the globe to discuss the multilateral frameworks that support and encourage innovative growth.

Innovation plays an important role in not only global economic development, but also in technological advancement and social entrepreneurship, as evidenced by the array of products showcased by the inventors, start-ups, small businesses and other experts attending the Fair. Over 20 innovators gave presentations, shared their experiences from the innovation process, and discussed the importance and benefits of intellectual property protection to each of their successes.

innovation-fair

The featured innovations ranged from medical devices that are adapted to the needs of local doctors and patients, to cutting-edge filtration systems that combat water-related diseases, from interactive hand-held devices for visually-impaired Internet users, to next generation clean tech super-conductors, each with new and unique benefits to their target markets. The Fair also provided an opportunity for innovators from around the globe -- start-up accelerators from Egypt, innovation incubators in Panama, inventors from the US, Japan and across Europe -- to share best practices and lay the foundation for potential future international innovation collaborations and partnerships.

innovation-fair2

The Fair took place alongside the WTO Council on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), which is responsible for administering the WTO TRIPS Agreement -- a multilateral agreement on intellectual property protection and enforcement. Intellectual property rights are especially important to inventors and creators to encourage their continued research and development, protect their hard work and investment, and promote technology diffusion.

innovation-fair3

The United States has a competitive advantage in innovation, and nearly 30 million Americans owe their jobs to intellectual property-intensive industries. Broad-based IP protection not only helps support our country’s strong entrepreneurial culture, but also ensures our innovative, Made-in-America products can be enjoyed by the more than 95% of global consumers outside of the U.S.  Innovation, and the intellectual property rights that protect them, make key contributions to technological advancement and economic growth across the globe, and the United States looks forward to continuing and supporting the dialogue on these important topics at the WTO.

To learn more about the WTO Innovation Fair and participants, please click here

11/14/2014 - 10:00am

“Last night, we reached a breakthrough in our ongoing efforts to expand the Information Technology Agreement. This is a WTO agreement that eliminates tariffs on high-tech products among 54 economies, including the U.S. and China… This is encouraging news not just for the U.S.-China trade relationship, it shows that the U.S. and China work together to both advance our bilateral economic agenda, but also to support the multilateral trading system.”
-U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman

Following the 2014 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ Meeting, President Obama and United States Trade Representative Michael Froman announced a major breakthrough in negotiations with China to expand the scope of goods covered by the World Trade Organization (WTO) Information Technology Agreement (ITA). The ITA will eliminate tariffs on information technology products, and the bilateral agreement between the U.S. and China will allow for the resumption and swift conclusion of negotiations for the first major tariff-cutting deal at the WTO in 17 years. A successful ITA expansion would allow for an increase in Made-in-USA exports to growing markets without the imposition of burdensome tariffs, and would support tens of thousands of good-paying U.S. manufacturing and technology jobs. To learn more about how the ITA will support economic growth at home and abroad, please click here.

Below are reactions to the announcement:

  • Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), Senate Finance Committee Chairman: “The original Information Technology Agreement helped grow companies big and small in Oregon by eliminating overseas tariffs on high-tech products almost two decades ago,” Wyden said. "Today's news of an agreement with China will pave the way for a successful ITA expansion deal, which means more good-paying jobs by opening global markets to Oregon manufacturers and exporters of advanced semiconductors, high tech medical equipment and other products.” [11/11/2014]
  • Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee: “After more than a year of stalled negotiations, the Administration’s progress with China to zero-out tariffs on information technology products, like medical devices, is welcome news. Expansion of the Information Technology Agreement would be a big win for American manufacturers, including many in my home state of Utah, who would then be able to increase their global footprint on cutting-edge technologies. Given the recent progress achieved on international trade policy at APEC, it is imperative the President now work with Congress in a bipartisan way to help pass Trade Promotion Authority. Renewal of this job-creating initiative will empower our nation to negotiate a high-quality Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement that will grow the economy, benefit the American people and achieve the goals of Congress.” [11/11/2014]
  • Linda Dempsey, Vice President of International Economic Affairs, National Association of Manufacturers (NAM): “Expanding the agreement to include ‘new technologies is critical not just for manufacturers of this equipment but for all the manufacturers that consume these technologies to make them more productive and globally competitive. The NAM applauds the administration's leadership and persistence in moving these negotiations forward and looks forward to the conclusion and implementation of an expanded ITA as quickly as possible’.” [11/11/2014]
  • Myron Brilliant, Executive Vice President and Head of International Affairs, U.S. Chamber of Commerce: “With economic growth disappointing in many countries, news of a breakthrough in the ITA negotiations is more than welcome. The ITA has been one of the most successful trade pacts in history, spurring growth and innovation across a host of cutting-edge industries. With so many new products created since the ITA was concluded two decades ago, expanding the agreement’s coverage is imperative. With trade in tech goods surpassing $4 trillion annually, the commercial significance of these negotiations is obvious. As stated in our goals coming into Beijing, a deal on the ITA is key to the success of China’s APEC year. We congratulate the U.S. and Chinese officials who have pushed these negotiations through a difficult stage and, hopefully, brought success within reach.”  [11/10/2014]
  • Gregory Gilligan, Chairman, American Chamber of Commerce in China: “This latest breakthrough – combined with the deal announced the previous day on extending the validity of visas for businesspeople, students and tourists – demonstrates how cooperation can create long-term benefits to the business interests of both countries.” [11/11/2014]
  • John Frisbie: President, U.S.-China Business Council: “Making a positive breakthrough on the ITA this week sets the tone for more ambitious agreements that are in discussion.” [11/11/2014]
  • Bruce Mehlman, Executive Director, Technology CEO Council (TCC): “This agreement represents a major breakthrough in global trade for the high tech sector. The information technology sector has changed dramatically in the 17 years since the ITA first went into effect. By updating the product scope and eliminating tariffs on more than 200 new products, a new and expanded ITA will support thousands of new manufacturing and technology jobs here in the U.S. and infuse billions of dollars in revenue to the global economy. We applaud the persistent efforts of President Obama and his Administration, including U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, as well as the Departments of Treasury and Commerce to move this agreement forward and keep ITA expansion as a top economic priority. We look forward to the swift completion of the final ITA agreement as soon as possible.”  [11/11/2014]
  • Gary Shapiro, President and CEO, Consumer Electronics Association (CEA): “It took hard work, and compromise on all sides, but today's breakthrough announcement from Beijing on the ITA marks a major path forward. President Obama, Ambassadors Froman and Punke, and their team at USTR have worked tirelessly over the past week to find a way forward. We commend them, Chinese hosts of APEC and leadership in Beijing for reaching a mutually acceptable path forward to continuing, and swiftly concluding, ITA discussions in Geneva. Today's breakthrough offers not only a strong deliverable for APEC leaders, but also a chance to advance the success of the World Trade Organization itself." [11/11/2014]
  • Gregg Melinson, Senior Vice President for Corporate Affairs, Hewlett Packard (HP): "The Information Technology Agreement (ITA) is an extremely significant trade pact for the high-tech sector, and we applaud the announcement of a deal which will expand product coverage and eliminate burdensome tariffs. This move will support and grow jobs throughout our industry, and we applaud the USTR and President Obama for driving this important trade expansion in Beijing this week." [11/11/2014]
  • Fred Humphries, Vice President of U.S. Government Affairs, Microsoft: “Microsoft welcomes the news from the APEC Leader’s meeting on the expansion of the Information Technology Agreement (ITA).  This is a significant and important development for China and the United States.  Microsoft will continue to work in support of ITA expansion as final negotiations are concluded in Geneva.” [11/11/2014]
  • Brian Toohey, President and CEO, The Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA): "The ITA has played a central role in helping the U.S. semiconductor industry drive innovation, create jobs, lower consumer prices and connect communities throughout the world. Today's agreement between the U.S. and China to expand the ITA is a hard-fought victory for the U.S. semiconductor industry and a big win for the U.S. economy and consumers around the world. We look forward to all ITA countries finalizing a deal as soon as possible."[11/11/2014]
  • Rich Templeton, Chairman, President, and CEO, Texas Instruments (TI): “Lowering barriers to trade advances innovation and growth for our companies but more importantly can expand the global economy. We see this as a true win-win for the participating countries and a needed boost for rules-based trade under the WTO. President Obama and Ambassador Froman deserve a great deal of credit for achieving this important breakthrough.” [11/11/2014]
  • Jeff Campbell, CISCO: “The agreement between the United States and China to expand the scope of the Information Technology Agreement represents a major breakthrough in the global trade agenda. This agreement is expected to eliminate duties on over 200 information and communications technology (ICT) product categories, representing approximately $1 trillion in annual global ICT sales. Now that the U.S. and China have reached agreement, we hope negotiators will resume talks early next month at the World Trade Organization in Geneva to expand the bilateral agreement to include more nations.  In doing so, this will help expand access to affordable technology, which will help improve standards of living and economic development around the world.”  [11/11/2014]
  • Senator Chris Dodd, Chairman and CEO, Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA): “MPAA commends the United States and China for reaching a crucial agreement on expanded product coverage in the negotiations to update the Information Technology Agreement (ITA). Once concluded, this agreement will encourage the growth of the U.S. and global motion picture industries by eliminating costly tariffs -- some as high as 30% -- on a wide range of digital and optical media and storage devices used in worldwide motion picture production, editing, distribution, and exhibition. MPAA is grateful for the hard work and leadership of President Obama, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman and the USTR team, who have worked tirelessly to narrow the differences with China to reach an understanding which will lead to a commercially significant agreement. MPAA also applauds China for contributing to the resumption of negotiations. We encourage all ITA participants to seize the momentum created by this agreement to resume and rapidly conclude the negotiations." [11/11/2014]
  • Steve Mollenkopf, CEO, Qualcomm: “I am very pleased that dialogue between the United States and China has resulted in a breakthrough understanding that will give a much needed boost to negotiations to expand the product coverage of the WTO Information Technology Agreement. Modernizing the list of products that will receive duty-free treatment under an expanded ITA will generate significant benefits for the information technology industries and consumers globally. In particular, the inclusion in the ITA product landscape of MCO semiconductors will catalyze new innovations, investment, jobs, global trade flows and consumer choice. Qualcomm encourages all WTO members to build upon this momentum and conclude ITA expansion negotiations at the earliest opportunity this year. I applaud United States Trade Representative Michael Froman and Chinese Minister of Commerce Gao Hucheng, and their teams, for their hard work and leadership.” [11/11/2014]
  • Intel: “We applaud the work that the United States Trade Representative (USTR) has done at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) to support America’s technology industry. The breakthrough bilateral agreement between the United States and China to expand product coverage of the Information Technology Agreement (ITA) enables the swift conclusion of a deal at the WTO that will cut tariffs on an estimated $1 trillion in annual global sales of information and communications  technology (ICT) products.  An expanded ITA will be a major win for the global information economy and ICT consumers around the world.  Fair and open trade creates job growth, increases innovation and strengthens the global economy.” [11/11/2014]
  • Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA): “The Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA), the leading association representing the manufacturers and suppliers of high-tech communications networks, today commended the White House and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative for their leadership in breaking the impasse to resume the negotiations to expand the World Trade Organization (WTO) Information Technology Agreement (ITA)… The breakthrough to resume the negotiations to expand the Information Technology Agreement would not have been possible without the tremendous amount of hard work by the White House and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative over the past year. It has been 17 years since the original ITA was concluded, and TIA is very pleased to see that the ITA expansion negotiations are back on track.” [11/11/2014]
  • Advances Medical Technology Association (AdvaMed): "AdvaMed strongly supports expansion of the ITA and we are pleased to see the agreement reached by the leadership of China and the US.  We hope that this will lead to continuation of a robust negotiation and swift passage of an expanded agreement. The ITA has the potential to reduce tariffs for several innovative medical technologies, benefitting manufacturers in the US, China and other countries.  Even more importantly, the agreement will lower healthcare costs and increase patient access to life-saving and life-enhancing technologies." [11/11/2014]
  • BSA / The Software Alliance: " ‘Updating the ITA to better account for these advances will remove tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of additional goods,’ BSA CEO Victoria Espinel said by email in response to a query.”
    Reuters: U.S. tech, software industry cheers China IT trade deal progress [11/11/2014]
  • Information Technology & Innovation Foundation: "Among the likely winners would be U.S. makers of semiconductors, medical products such as MRI and CT machines, and software and video game developers, said Stephen Ezell, senior analyst at the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation think tank. ‘It’s a win-win trade agreement that will benefit information and communications technology manufacturers and services firms across the Americas, Europe, and Asia, while also benefiting all consumers globally and raising global GDP by as much as $190 billion annually,’ he said by email.”  
    Reuters: U.S. tech, software industry cheers China IT trade deal progress [11/11/2014]
  • Japan Electronics and Information Technology Industries Association: “The Japan Electronics and Information Technology Industries Association, an industry body whose 280 members include Sony Corp. , Panasonic Corp. , Sharp Corp. and Toshiba Corp. , welcomed the deal. “We were waiting for this since the discussion between China and the U.S. stopped last November,” the group said. ‘If the discussion reopens in Geneva and the tariff elimination is expanded, it would be positive for the JEITA and Japan’s IT and electronics industry.’”
    Wall Street Journal: Global tech firms stand to gain from tariff drop [11/11/2014]
  • Information Technology Industry Council (ITIC): “‘This is particularly important for economies without credit cards,’ said John Neuffer, senior vice president for global policy at the Information Technology Industry Council in Washington. ‘They can go to the local kiosk and buy cards’ that let them download software.”
    Wall Street Journal: Global tech firms stand to gain from tariff drop [11/11/2014]
  • Micron: “Mark Durcan, Micron’s chief executive, said the new agreement ‘will certainly benefit all of us who conduct business and manufacture on a global basis, and we commend all the parties involved in reaching this milestone.’”
    Wall Street Journal: Global tech firms stand to gain from tariff drop [11/11/2014]
  • U.S. Chamber of Commerce: “The Chamber has worked over the past two years to build support for an ambitious expansion of the ITA. We’ve traveled to Geneva repeatedly to meet with negotiators from dozens of countries, and we’ve raised it as an issue in missions to foreign capitals (especially Beijing, as Chinese officials had been reluctant to eliminate many tariffs). The Chamber was one of 82 top business groups from dozens of developed and developing countries that in September issued a statement calling for action…The Chamber has said repeatedly that a deal on the ITA is key to the success of China’s APEC year, and so it is. It’s also a big win for the U.S.-China relationship, with benefits for consumers and industries worldwide. We congratulate U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Michael Punke, as well as the Chinese officials who have pushed these negotiations through a difficult stage and, hopefully, brought success within reach.”
    U.S. Chamber of Commerce: Trade Pact to Slash Taxes on $1 Trillion in Goods [11/11/2014]
  • Information Technology Industry Council (ITI): “ITI applauds the sustained effort by President Obama and his team at USTR for their unrelenting efforts to achieve this deal and break the logjam…With this bilateral deal to expand product scope, a number of important goods will now be included in the final round of talks, such as next-generation semiconductors called MCOs, a range of medical equipment, a wide array of sophisticated measuring devices, and point-of-sale cards to download software and games. These additional product lines will add significant commercial value to the overall agreement.”
    Information Technology Industry Council: Breakthrough Achieved on Information Technology Agreement: Next Stop, Geneva [11/11/2014]
10/15/2014 - 12:00pm

“This is a major victory for American farmers.  The WTO panel agreed with the U.S. case that India lacks any scientific basis to restrict U.S. agricultural products, including U.S. poultry products.  Our farmers produce the finest – and safest – agricultural products in the world. This is the fourth major WTO victory the U.S. has announced this year as we continue to unlock economic opportunity for our workers, farmers, and businesses.  This victory affirms the Administration’s commitment to ensuring WTO Members play by the rules, and that America’s farmers, workers and businesses get the fair shot they deserve to sell Made-in-America goods under WTO rules.”
- U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman 

United States Trade Representative Michael Froman announced that the United States has won a major victory at the World Trade Organization (WTO) on behalf of U.S. farmers, including the U.S. poultry industry.  The WTO dispute settlement panel has found in favor of the United States in a dispute challenging India’s ban on various U.S. agricultural products – such as poultry meat, eggs, and live pigs.  This ruling is the latest of four significant actions taken by the Obama Administration to protect American farmers, and level the playing field for American workers.

Below are reactions to the announcement:

  • USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack: “Our farmers and producers deserve a level playing field – and this dispute reflects that we will accept nothing less. I am pleased that the WTO Panel determined that India’s ban on poultry is inconsistent with its commitments under the WTO SPS Agreement.  USDA will work in close partnership with USTR to ensure that U.S. poultry producers and processors have access to this important market.” [10/14/2014]
  • Sen. John Isakson (R-GA): “This is a great victory for the United States and Georgia poultry, in particular. I have been working to open up India to U.S. poultry since this issue was brought to my attention. I thank USTR, USDA, my colleagues in Congress and U.S. poultry producers for working toward this important decision. I am pleased that the WTO panel affirmed that measures to ensure food safety must be based on science and not a desire to restrict market access. Georgia is the fourth largest poultry-producing region in the world, so this means a great deal to our state economy.” [10/14/2014]
  • Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA 6th): “Today’s announcement sends a strong message that the United States will demand a level playing field for U.S. grown and made products in the international marketplace and that the WTO will not tolerate member countries imposing artificial trade barriers. American agriculture is dependent on access to global markets and a vibrant trade policy. This ruling opens the door for increased market access of U.S. livestock products, including poultry, which plays a key role in Virginia’s economy. I look forward to seeing the positive economic impact of this ruling.” [10/14/2014]
  • Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR): “When countries put up baseless barriers to American agricultural products, we need to stand up for strong enforcement of the rules.  Today’s decision is a well-deserved victory for hard-working American farmers across the country.” [ 10/14/2014]
  • Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE): “Today’s ruling is a welcome sign that trade barriers erected by unscientific restrictions on American agricultural exports will not stand. There is still work to be done to open India’s enormous market to American farmers, but this decision has the potential to restore great economic opportunity for them and our country. Agriculture has always been a vital part of Delaware's economy and today about 70 percent of our state’s agricultural exports come from the poultry industry. In recent years we have been successful in addressing China and Mexico’s trade barriers that kept Delmarva poultry out of those important markets and my hope is we’re on our way to doing the same in India.” [10/14/2014]
  • Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE): “Delaware has long been a global leader in the production of poultry products that adhere to the most rigorous and comprehensive of safety measures. India’s unsubstantiated claims about the risk of avian influenza in American poultry have prevented Delaware chicken-growers from exporting their high-quality products to an important and growing market. Exports play a critical role in the health of America’s poultry industry, making it important that the United States fight the unfair protectionist policies of some of the biggest markets in the world. While today’s WTO ruling doesn’t mean automatic access to the Indian market, it is an important step forward in that fight. Delaware's poultry community is one of the largest employers in the state, providing jobs for thousands of Delawareans and generating billions of dollars for our economy. My seat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee affords me a unique opportunity to fight for Delaware’s poultry growers abroad, and I am committed to using that opportunity to help open new markets and increase exports. I will work with the U.S. Trade Representative and my colleagues in the Senate to ensure that this ruling is fully implemented and that these barriers to fair trade are torn down.” [10/14/2014]
  • Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD): “The best poultry in the world is raised right here in Maryland. Ensuring that our poultry producers have complete access to the global food market is incredibly important to sustaining this very important Delmarva industry.  Thanks to the efforts of USTR, USDA, and Congress, the latest ruling from the WTO strikes down an unfounded ban on U.S. poultry—an important step in ensuring a level playing field for domestic agriculture.” [10/14/2014]
  • Rep. John Carney (D-DE At Large): "This is good news for Delaware. The poultry industry is a critical piece of Delaware's economy, and open markets are key to our farmer's ability to grow their businesses. On behalf of Delaware farmers, I've pushed hard to stop India's unfair restrictions on poultry exports. I'm extremely pleased that a successful resolution has been reached. Delaware is well-positioned to take advantage of India's growing market." [10/14/2014]
  • USA Poultry & Egg Council President James Sumner and National Chicken Council President Michael Brown: “India’s ban was thinly veiled protectionism. This ruling should send a signal to India and other countries that have placed similar bans on U.S. poultry that they are inconsistent with WTO rules and with guidelines established by the World Organization for Animal Health. Our industry believes that free and fair trade – particularly with food – should never be used as a political bargaining chip. Indian consumers deserve access to affordable and safe protein, which the U.S. has the ability to provide. We thank former USTR Ron Kirk for initiating the complaint against India, and (current) Ambassador Michael Froman for continuing to pursue the case for a favorable outcome.” [10/14/2014]
  • Wall Street Journal: U.S. Scores Win in Poultry-Trade Case With India - The World Trade Organization sided with Washington in the 2012 case, brought after India banned U.S. agricultural products, including poultry, eggs and live pigs, in 2007, blaming the restrictions on concerns about the spread of avian influenza. The WTO panel struck down India’s rules in part because it said the bans “are not based on scientific principles and are maintained without sufficient scientific evidence.” Highly pathogenic strains of bird flu haven’t been detected in the U.S. since 2004, before the Indian ban, U.S. officials said. [10/14/2014]
  • Reuters: U.S. chicken exports to India more likely after WTO ruling - India broke World Trade Organization rules by blocking imports of U.S. poultry and other farm products because of unsubstantiated bird flu fears, a WTO dispute panel ruled on Tuesday, potentially opening up an estimated $300 million a year export market for the United States. India had claimed its import restrictions, imposed in 2007, were justified by international rules on animal health, but the panel agreed with the United States and found that India's measures were not based on international standards and were discriminatory. [10/14/2014]
  • Associated Press: WTO Sides With US Farmers in Dispute With India - United States Trade Representative Michael Froman said a WTO dispute settlement panel had ruled against Indian restrictions on U.S. imports of meat and eggs that were intended to prevent avian influenza from entering that country. The restrictions began in 2007. The United States argued in a 2012 challenge that there was no scientific basis for the restrictions and that they were inconsistent with international guidelines. There has not been an outbreak of high-pathogenic avian influenza in the United States since 2004, officials said. [10/14/2014]
  • Politico: WTO hands U.S. victory on India poultry - The World Trade Organization on Tuesday ruled that India’s ban on poultry and other U.S. agricultural imports to protect against avian influenza violates global trade rules. The settlement panel’s ruling hands the United States its fourth significant WTO win this year. [10/14/2014]
  • Dow Jones: US Scores Poultry-Trade Win in Poultry-Trade Case with India - The U.S. claimed a victory for its poultry producers Tuesday in a trade case involving India's restrictions on U.S. meat over bird-flu concerns. The World Trade Organization sided with Washington in the 2012 case, brought after India banned U.S. agricultural products, including poultry, eggs and live pigs, in 2007, blaming the restrictions on concerns about the spread of avian influenza. [10/14/2014]
  • McClatchy: Game of chicken ends: WTO rules in favor of U.S. poultry - U.S. poultry producers on Tuesday hailed what they called a favorable ruling from the World Trade Organization that they hope will force India to open its large market to American exports. The announcement of the favorable WTO ruling came from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, which said a dispute-resolution panel determined that India unfairly blocked U.S. exports of chicken products, meat, eggs and live pigs. [10/14/2014]
09/25/2014 - 12:30pm

By Christina Sevilla, Deputy Assistant USTR for Small Business

A key goal of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) is to identify new ways to help small businesses compete globally. We’re working to increase small business participation in transatlantic supply chains, and businesses across the U.S. and the EU are eager for the opportunities that T-TIP will deliver when complete. This week I travelled to Poland and met with several local companies doing business in and supporting jobs across the U.S., and who are interested in expanding trade through T-TIP.

During my visit, I toured the ROSA Lighting factory, a small Polish business that stands to benefit from T-TIP. ROSA manufactures custom outdoor street lamps with 250 workers, uses American-made diodes and other parts in their products, and exports to 50 countries in Europe and the Middle East. It’s a perfect example of how small businesses in communities around the world are tied to the global marketplace and supply chains to produce and sell their goods.

ROSA-Poland
At the ROSA Lighting factory. From L to R: Stanislaw Rosa, CEO, ROSA Lighting; Christina Sevilla, USTR; Klaudia Czech, Commercial Director, ROSA; Lori Cooper, U.S. Department of Commerce; Artur Rosa Technical Director, ROSA; Angela Palazzolo, U.S. Embassy Warsaw

ROSA recently completed a project in San Diego, California and is interested in expanding relationships with American suppliers of electrical equipment, which will support more jobs in the U.S. CEO Stanislaw Rosa hopes that T-TIP will strengthen US-EU cooperation and unlock more opportunities by increasing interest in U.S. and Poland small business partnerships. These sentiments were echoed throughout the meeting of the Fourth European Congress of Small and Medium Enterprises, where I spoke with several European small businesses looking to expand their businesses through T-TIP.

RYTM-L
At RYTM-L. From L to R: Christina Sevilla, USTR; Jerzy Wodecki, CEO, RYTM-L; Marcin Bujakowski, Logistics Manager, RYTM-L

Not too far from ROSA is RYTM-L, a manufacturer of flame retardants and other aerosols for the auto and construction industries with 50 workers.  During my visit, CEO Jerzy Wodecki told me that he hopes T-TIP will make it easier for U.S. and EU businesses to comply with each other’s regulations for chemicals and to get their products approved and certified by each other’s governments, which is often a costly process for small businesses.  Jerzy pointed out that his company uses chemical compounds and valves from U.S. suppliers as inputs into his company's finished products, which are then exported throughout the EU. It is a win-win-- the kind that we’re working toward throughout T-TIP. 

The U.S. and Poland have a two-way trade relationship of $8.7 billion, supporting jobs at small and medium enterprises in Poland and across America through vital supply-chain relationships. Less red tape, decreased tariffs, increased efficiency, and strengthened small business cooperation are just a few of the ways T-TIP can help even more small businesses grow.

To learn more about how T-TIP will benefit your small business, please click here.

09/18/2014 - 6:45pm

gUATEMALA

“As President Obama has made clear, our trade agreements must advance both our interests and our values, they must be monitored closely, and the obligations of our trading partners must be enforced.  Central to that commitment are strong, enforceable labor standards. These standards level the playing field for American workers and help ensure that global competition is driven by entrepreneurship and innovation, not by exploitation or injustice....We remain hopeful that Guatemala can achieve a resolution that results in concrete improvements for workers on the ground and sends a positive signal to the world that would help attract investment, expand economic activity, and promote inclusive growth.”
-U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman

United States Trade Representative Michael Froman today announced that the United States is proceeding with a labor enforcement case against Guatemala under the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) – first-ever labor dispute under any free trade agreement. This is the latest in a series of significant actions taken by the Obama Administration to stand up for labor rights and level the playing field for American workers.

Below are reactions to today’s announcement:

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka: “We welcome today’s historic decision by the U.S. government to resume the arbitration process with Guatemala, to ensure that the government of Guatemala will live up to the commitments made under CAFTA to enforce workers’ basic rights and Guatemalan labor laws….We applaud the actions of our government today.” [AFL-CIO, 9/18/2014]

  • AFL-CIO Trade & Globalization Policy Specialist Celeste Drake: “Today, for the first time ever, the U.S. government announced that it will begin the formal consultations that are used to resolve trade disputes in the area of labor rights enforcement….The AFL-CIO welcomes today’s announcement by the U.S. government to resume the arbitration process with Guatemala, to ensure that the government of Guatemala will live up to the very basic commitments it made to effectively enforce its own labor laws.” [AFL-CIO, 9/18/2014]

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR): “This moment is long in coming. Guatemala has failed to enforce its labor laws again and again, and its workers continue to suffer as a result. Our trading partners cannot turn a blind eye to their trade obligations, including those that are in place to protect workers…Labor rights are a pillar of our nation’s trade policy, which makes today’s action so important. Both USTR and the Department of Labor have put hundreds of hours into developing the facts of this case, and on top of that, put hundreds more into trying to resolve this matter with Guatemala. One thing is clear: to have a strong enforcement record, you cannot enforce some of the rules some of the time. All of the rules must be enforced all of the time. That includes labor and environmental commitments.” [Senate Finance Committee, 9/18/2014]

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD): “International trade is good for America, but it must be based on international standards that protect workers, both at home and with our trading partners. I applaud the administration for holding Guatemala accountable to its current commitments under CAFTA. Guatemala’s workers are suffering because their country is not upholding its own laws. Trade must not reduce us all to the lowest common-denominator…” [Senate Finance Committee, 9/18/2014]

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH): “It’s critical that the U.S. holds Guatemala accountable on its trade commitments and this action is an important first step…For too long, Guatemala has failed to uphold and enforce its labor laws – endangering workers and misleading businesses and trade partners. I’m glad to see USTR restart litigation and look forward to a result that provides justice for Guatemalan workers and lives up to the agreements required by CAFTA.”[Senate Finance Committee, 9/18/2014]

House Committee on Ways & Means Ranking Member Rep. Sandy Levin (D-MI): “It is high time that Guatemala be held to the labor obligations to which it committed a decade ago…Guatemala’s failure to enforce its labor laws weakens its economy and damages the opportunity for its citizens to earn a decent livelihood at a time when large numbers of unaccompanied minors and others are fleeing to escape violence and poverty in their home countries. I appreciate the hard work that USTR, the Department of Labor, the AFL-CIO and others have devoted to this important cause.” [Office of U.S. Rep. Sander Levin, 9/18/2014]

Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY): “I applaud the efforts of the USTR and the Labor Department to hold Guatemala accountable for failing to carrying out its commitments under the Action Plan and for its failure to enforce labor laws that will protect its workers’ rights…We have an obligation to ensure that our trading partners are upholding the terms negotiated in our Trade Agreements. I am proud to join my colleagues and labor unions to send a strong message that the United States will not overlook any failures to maintain and enforce laws that meet international labor standards.” [Office of U.S. Rep. Sander Levin, 9/18/2014]

Rep. Xavier Becerra (C-DA): “Only meaningful improvements in economic and security conditions and strengthening institutions of democratic governance in Guatemala can provide a lasting and sustainable solution to its many challenges, and today's actions by USTR and the Department of Labor are an important step in the right direction…Trade should be about removing barriers, improving standards for working men and women, and lifting all boats so we can trade as partners and as equals.” [Office of U.S. Rep. Sander Levin, 9/18/2014]

New Democrat Coalition – Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI), Rep. Rick Larsen (D-WA), Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA), and Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY): “Today’s announcement by U.S. Trade Representative Froman and Labor Secretary Perez sends a clear, unequivocal message to our trading partners: we will not take enforcing our standards lightly…International competition should be a race for innovation advantage, not a race to the bottom on labor standards. We commend USTR and the Labor Department for continuing to stand by the rights of workers in Guatemala by initiating this action. Smart, vigorous enforcement, coupled with a robust system of international trade agreements aimed at selling our products around the globe can be a win-win for everybody, but only if our trading partners play by the rules.” [New Democrat Coalition, 9/18/2014]

Politico: “The United States said Thursday it is restarting trade litigation against Guatemala for failing to meet labor provisions of the U.S.-Central American Free Trade Agreement, potentially paving the way for fines or even trade sanctions to be imposed for the first time in a labor dispute….The USTR said in a fact sheet on its overall labor record that the United States is “negotiating the strongest labor protections in history” in both the proposed TPP and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the European Union. In addition to Guatemala, the Obama administration has used trade negotiations and preference programs to push for stronger worker protections in Colombia, Jordan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Swaziland, Haiti and Burma, USTR said.” [Politico Pro, 9/18/2014 (pay-walled)]

Reuters: “The United States ramped up pressure on Guatemala to better protect workers' rights on Thursday by restarting a trade case that could lead to hefty fines for the Central American nation. U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said the Obama administration would push ahead with legal action under a free trade agreement to make Guatemala meet international standards on labor rights and working conditions….Guatemala, whose economy is around the size of that of the U.S. state of Alaska, could face fines of up to $15 million a year or the suspension of trade benefits if an arbitration panel finds it has violated labor provisions in the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR).” [Reuters, 9/18/2014]

Huffington Post: “The United States accused Guatemala this week of failing to live up to the labor standards spelled out in the countries' trade agreement, pursuing a case that could lead to fines if Guatemala doesn't move to better protect its workers. U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said he was moving ahead with the case in hopes that Guatemala, a partner of the U.S. in the Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), would make ‘concrete improvements’ in enforcing labor laws already on its books.” [Huffington Post, 9/18/2014]

The Hill: “US ramps up pressure on Guatemala over labor rights…U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman announced Thursday that the United States will push ahead with a labor rights case against Guatemala. Froman said that while Guatemala has made progress on implementing a labor enforcement plan forged in April 2013, there is still more work to be done on workers' rights provisions required under the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement.” [The Hill, 9/18/2014]

09/05/2014 - 5:00pm

This week, Ambassador Michael Froman joined Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker to announce two unprecedented reports illustrating the millions of American jobs supported by Made-in-America goods exports. The Department of Commerce reports showed not only the number of jobs supported by goods exports from each of the 50 states, but also exports from the United States’ 387 Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs). The reports found that in 2013, overall goods and services exports supported over 11.3 million U.S. jobs, and that U.S. metropolitan areas exported more than $1.4 trillion in goods.

To view the complete Jobs Supported by Goods Exports from States 2013, please click here. To view the report on U.S. Metropolitan Area Exports 2013, please click here.

President Obama’s number one priority is expanding opportunity for all Americans, and trade has been a key tool in fueling U.S. economic growth, and strengthening the middle class.

U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman has been traveling to states across the U.S. to see that growth locally and talk with small businesses and their workers to learn how they share their Made-in-America goods with the world.

AMF-EPICIn Denver, Ambassador Froman toured the Epic Brewing Company which supports high-quality jobs in Colorado and Utah by exporting a variety of micro-brewed beer to countries across the world.

AMF-IOWAThroughout Iowa, Ambassador Froman met with farmers, families attending the state fair, business leaders, and elected officials who represent the many ways that selling Made-in-America exports benefit the local economy.

For example, in Maxwell, Iowa Ambassador Froman visited the Kimberley Family Farm which exports corn and soybeans to countries across Asia. He also met with Des Moines’ Kemin Industries, Inc., which manufactures and exports over 500 specialty ingredients for the food, feed, pharmaceutical and beauty industries.

AMF-MNIn Minnesota, Ambassador Froman visited Minneapolis-based Jewelry by Johan, a small jewelry business that exports worldwide using the Etsy web platform. Since the company began selling goods online in 2011, the company has grown to 30 employees with annual sales of $2 million, one-third of which results from exports to nearly 30 countries.

AMF-CascadeIn Washington, Ambassador Froman toured Seattle’s Cascade Designs, Inc. which helps support local jobs by exporting outdoor recreation goods like sleeping bags, snowshoes, and wheelchairs to over 40 countries around the globe.

These companies represent a few examples of the many ways trade and Made-in-USA exports support American jobs, grow the economy, and strengthen the American middle class.

The United States is currently negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) which will help connect U.S. goods and services exports with countries across the Asia-Pacific region and throughout Europe, helping to support additional jobs here at home.

08/06/2014 - 1:00pm

By Christina Sevilla, Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Small Business

In the United States and in the European Union, small and medium businesses are the backbone of the economy and critical motors of growth and job creation. Small businesses that export grow faster, add jobs faster, and pay higher wages than small companies in the same sector that serve purely domestic markets. Helping more small and medium enterprises do business and find partners across the Atlantic, and unlocking opportunities for more jobs and growth on both sides, is a key objective of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP).

As President Obama has said, “the trade and investment partnership that we are pursuing between the European Union and the United States is a major opportunity to build on millions of jobs on both sides of the Atlantic already supported by U.S.-E.U. trade. Such an agreement would result in more trade, more jobs and more export opportunities, including for small businesses.”   For U.S. small and medium companies, the EU represents a considerable market, with over 92,000 U.S. small businesses across the fifty states exporting there in 2012.

In July, following on the 6th round of T-TIP negotiations in Brussels, I met with small and medium companies in Germany, Austria and Luxembourg already doing business with the United States and expecting that the T-TIP will further reduce costly tariff and non-tariff barriers, creating new opportunities for growth.  Based on expectations of increased customer sales, these European small and medium firms are opening plants and operations in Mississippi, Alabama, and Pennsylvania, creating high-wage jobs for U.S. workers in manufacturing, engineering, and sales.

Feuer L to R: Dept. of Commerce’s Lori Cooper, Feuer Powertrain CEO Bernd Gulden, USTR’s Christina Sevilla

With the assistance of the U.S. Consulate General in Leipzig, Germany, I visited the Feuer Powertrain company in Nordhausen, Germany, which manufactures engine components in five plants.  Due to increasing North American demand and expected increases in sales with the T-TIP, Feuer’s CEO Bernd Gulden has made the company’s first foreign investment in Tunica, Mississippi, erecting a new plant, in which V8 engine motor parts will be manufactured. Forty employees from the Mississippi and Tennessee region will be hired this year, and in four to five years that number is expected to grow to 300.  Feuer Powertrain finds that a skilled labor force and lower energy costs make the U.S. an attractive place to invest, and expects to train new workers and establish an apprenticeship program with local Mississippi technical colleges and high school graduates. Mr. Gulden said that retaining highly-skilled workers is important to the success of his company, and therefore he intends to set wages significantly higher than the prevailing wage in the Mississippi Delta region. 

FertingerL to R: Fertinger CEO Veit Schmid-Schmidfelsen, USTR’s Christina Sevilla, and Fertinger manufacturing worker Katharina Scherlak

With the assistance of the U.S. Embassy in Vienna, I also visited Fertinger company, a small and medium business with 200 employees manufacturing air conditioning components.   CEO Veit Schmid-Schmidfelsen expects the T-TIP will expand business with the United States and is opening a facility in Auburn, Alabama starting next year, beginning with 10 employees including workers and engineers.  He also expects to collaborate with the local university to establish training and apprenticeship programs for workers. 

LuxembourgL to R: USTR’s Christina Sevilla, U.S. Ambassador to Luxembourg Robert Mandell, and U.S. Embassy Luxembourg’s Heidi-Hakone Jovanovic at the Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce

In Luxembourg, U.S. Ambassador Robert Mandell and I met with small and medium businesses and industry associations at the Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce.   Small Luxembourg companies such as Rotarex, a family-owned company manufacturing industrial valves and fittings, has a subsidiary in Mount Pleasant, Pennsylvania employing 30 workers.

T-TIP will reduce trade barriers which can be especially costly to smaller firms, and expand opportunities for U.S. –EU trade and investment in order to help sustain and grow high-wage jobs on both sides.

To learn more about the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, please visit www.ustr.gov/ttip.

For more information on the benefits of T-TIP on small- and medium-sized enterprises, please click here.

07/30/2014 - 4:00pm

The Obama Administration is committed to creating jobs, strengthening domestic manufacturing, and promoting sustainable economic growth that benefits American families. That is why USTR is pursuing trade negotiations that contribute to those goals by unlocking new economic opportunities for American workers, businesses, farmers, and ranchers.

The United States is currently participating in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) negotiations with 11 growing Asia-Pacific countries. TPP is designed to help create opportunity for Americans by opening these markets to U.S. goods and services, setting high-standard trade rules, and addressing 21st century issues in the global economy. 

There are a lot of myths suggesting that TPP would overturn or undermine our ability to buy American or even prevent states and local governments from implementing their own procurement processes.  These assertions are incorrect.

There is nothing in TPP that will ban federal, state, or local governments from buying American.  In fact, under TPP we are working to ensure that more countries around the world have the ability to buy American in order to help support jobs here at home. TPP will tear down barriers in other countries to create opportunities for our workers in fast-growing markets where governments are significant buyers of goods and services. 

Here are some important facts you should know regarding TPP and government procurement:

 1. TPP will make NO CHANGES to our procurement laws on the federal, state, or local level or undermine existing requirements. 
  • TPP’s rules on non-discrimination in government procurement are not new – they reflect 35 years of laws passed by the U.S. Congress and already govern our relations with more than 50 countries. 
  • Since 1979, under U.S. leadership, the United States and nearly all other industrialized countries, including 8 of the 11 countries that will be TPP partners, have agreed to government procurement rules to ensure a level playing field – a level playing field that benefits the United States. 
  • TPP will do nothing to prevent tax dollars from being used on procurement projects at any level of government right here at home.
  • Nothing in TPP will restrict the ability of governments to make purchases in accordance with their environmental policies.

 

2. TPP will only cover a part of federal procurement and does not cover state or local procurement. 
  • TPP will ensure that our small and minority business preference programs, as well as programs for distressed areas, transportation services, food assistance, and farm support are maintained.
  • TPP will make no changes to existing restrictions, including those on Department of Defense procurement and federal assistance to state and local transportation projects. 

 

3. TPP will not cover state or local government procurement.
  • Nothing in TPP will in any way impact how state and local governments implement their own procurement policies.  No state, local, county, or municipal government is covered by TPP.
  • TPP will not restrict the ability of states to make purchases in accordance with their environmental policies.

 

4. TPP will support job creation not only by helping Americans buy American, but by unlocking new opportunities around the world to sell American.
  • TPP will support American jobs and innovation by opening up new markets for American products in growing economies across the globe.  TPP countries are fast-growing markets where governments are expanding their buying and building as they grow more prosperous. 
  • When TPP is enacted, eight of our TPP partners will already be party to government procurement agreements with the United States.  TPP will open three additional markets to American products.  TPP will also promote rule of law and good governance by promoting fair and transparent purchasing rules, like those we already have in the U.S. 
  • TPP will support U.S. exports in products that we specialize in and foreign governments need, like American-made machinery; and medical, infrastructure, transportation, and IT equipment, and U.S. services.  These are exports that support family-wage middle class jobs across the U.S.

 

5. Of course the U.S. market is larger than those of other countries.  We have the largest economy in the world. 

  • TPP’s market access opportunities for the United States go beyond government procurement.  They cover virtually every good or service that the United States can export.  Because the United States has the largest economy in the world, our market is, by definition, larger than anyone else’s market.  But because we are already the most open economy in the world with the most competitive businesses and workers, we also stand to gain significantly from new opportunities.