The White House issued a statement from President Obama on Sunday, December 8, regarding the World Trade Organization Agreement. You can view the statement here.
You can also view Ambassador Froman's statement following the 9th Ministerial Conference of the world trade organization here.
On December 7, the 9th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO) achieved its first fully multilateral agreement in its almost twenty year history, creating a new opportunity for economic prosperity for each of the 159 WTO members. The topics of the five-day ministerial conference included development of smaller countries, trade streamlining, and food security improvement, marking a new era for the WTO, the Doha Round, and international trade. Elected officials, Members of Congress, and private and public sector stakeholders have also expressed their support for this landmark achievement. Below is a sampling of what others are saying so far – check back for periodic updates.
“This new deal, and particularly the new trade facilitation agreement, will eliminate red tape and bureaucratic delay for goods shipped around the globe. Small businesses will be among the biggest winners, since they encounter the greatest difficulties in navigating the current system. By some estimates, the global economic value of the new WTO deal could be worth hundreds of billions of dollars.”
- President Barack Obama
“The breakthrough agreement reached in Bali by the World Trade Organization (WTO) reaffirms the commitment of the international community to an open trade system which boosts global growth and jobs, and cuts poverty.”
- Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF)
"The WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement is great news for the entire global trading community, and will help to restore the role of the WTO as a place to conclude trade deals whose benefits are spread broadly around the world. I applaud the work of United States Trade Representative Michael Froman and look forward to further achievements at the WTO, including expansion of the Information Technology Agreement."
- Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.)
“The successful WTO negotiations in Bali mark an important first step towards reducing global trade barriers in the 21st century. American entrepreneurs and workers can compete with anyone on a level economic playing field. Expanding free and fair trade is a national imperative that will create job opportunities for our own people and help others around the world rely less on foreign assistance and benefit more from the free enterprise system.”
- U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL)
“Success in Bali gives the WTO a chance to consider its future course. One immediate priority will be to conclude negotiations to expand the product coverage of the Information Technology Agreement, which has delivered a cornucopia of technology products to the world. Extending free trade to the hundreds of new tech products invented since that agreement was reached in 1996 will multiply its benefits.”
- U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas J. Donohue
“ The WTO Bali package is an important achievement and its trade facilitation agreement will enhance the flow of U.S. goods and services and enable American companies to be more competitive in today’s global marketplace.”
- Doug Oberhelman, Chairman and CEO of Caterpillar Inc., and Chair of Business Roundtable’s International Engagement Committee
“Manufacturers are pleased to see the WTO conclude a strong and binding Trade Facilitation Agreement that will cut red tape at borders throughout the world and boost economic activity. Predictable, efficient and transparent customs procedures will help manufacturers in the United States more effectively and efficiently access the 95 percent of global customers that live outside our borders.”
- National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) Vice President of International Economic Affairs Linda Dempsey
“The merits of this agreement are manifold. It is the first multilateral trade agreement concluded since the founding of the World Trade Organization almost 20 years ago. It replaces the disappointments of the past decade with a constructive precedent for the WTO and its membership to build upon, going forward.”
- President of the Emergency Committee for American Trade (ECAT) Calman J. Cohen
“WTO members have delivered a dose of holiday cheer to a struggling global economy. We congratulate ministers on making the tough choices necessary to push this package of agreements past the finish line. They have demonstrated once again the critical importance of multilateral trade liberalization.”
- USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson
"This break-through agreement among 159 nations is a giant step forward for businesses large and small in expediting the movement of goods globally and reducing unnecessary paperwork. While there remain areas where additional progress is necessary, the trade facilitation agreement provides a new base from which we can continue to elevate customs standards. This could further support the pending Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations."
- UPS chairman and CEO Scott Davis
The Council on Foreign Relations has published a new report on U.S. trade and investment policy. Some highlights from the report:
EXPORTS SUPPORT BETTER, HIGHER-PAYING JOBS – AND THE AMERICAN PEOPLE KNOW IT
• Obama Administration policies have focused on boosting exports and attracting investment, supporting more and better-paying jobs for Americans than non-export jobs – but continued success requires pursuing “more opportunities for the United States in global markets” and making sure to take “full economic advantage of those openings.”
• The American people understand the benefits of trade. According to Gallup, 57 percent of Americans emphasize the economic potential of exports while only 35 percent emphasized threats from foreign imports. This is the highest level of support for trade in the twenty year history of the poll.
THE KEY TO SUCCESS IS TO PURSUE NEW MARKET OPENING AGREEMENTS
• U.S. exports are at record highs and that a larger share of U.S. GDP comes from international trade than it did twenty years ago – but future U.S. economic growth depends on the ability to capture a larger share of emerging markets that are creating a global middle class of consumers.
• Because the United States is most competitive where trade barriers are highest, further trade liberalization is an important priority for the U.S. economy. “The policy challenge facing the U.S. government is to continue to address those areas of weakness so that greater economic benefits will flow from increasing U.S. integration into the global economy.”
• TPP and TTIP “could deliver the biggest market opportunities in a generation” and that if they are ratified, it will increase the share of U.S. trade covered under FTAs from 39 to 64 percent.
SERVICES, IN PARTICULAR, ARE A HUGE OPPORTUNITY
• The large U.S. trade surplus in services due to our highly skilled workforce in tradable services like engineering, architectural design, financial consulting, or legal services. In particular, travel, financial services, and royalties and license fees for U.S. inventions play a key role in driving U.S. leadership in the services sector.
• Only 5 percent of U.S. business services firms export, compared to 25 percent of manufacturers – meaning that there is a huge potential space for a job-creating expansion in services trade.
During the Ninth WTO Ministerial Conference in Bali, Ambassador Michael Punke joined trade ministers and ambassadors from the Friends of Fish group to mark their shared commitment to the elimination of harmful fisheries subsidies. The group’s twelve member countries, which include Argentina, Australia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Iceland, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Peru, the Philippines, and the United States, pledged to refrain from introducing new, or expanding existing, subsidies that contribute to overfishing or overcapacity. By putting an end to harmful fisheries subsidies, WTO Members can help ensure that fishermen maintain a sustainable supply of fish to provide consumers at home and abroad, and a critical means to support their families.
Ambassador Punke delivers a statement with Friends of Fish members
During the joint statement, Ambassador Punke emphasized the United States' commitment to work with WTO members to discipline harmful fisheries subsidies that not only distort global markets and place additional stress on the many of the world's rapidly depleting fisheries resources, but also jeopardize our oceans for future generations. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), thirty percent of the world’s fish stocks are reported to be overfished, and in some cases at risk of collapse. Ambassador Punke also highlighted the ongoing Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations as an important opportunity for the United States and other ‘friends of fish’ to set an example on this important issue.
The Doha Ministerial Conference first launched negotiations to improve disciplines on fisheries subsidies, and the Friends of Fish group was established to target and prohibit harmful subsidies that contribute to overfishing and overcapacity of fish environments. To learn more about Friends of Fish and WTO fisheries subsidies work, please click here. To read the full statement by Friends of Fish at the Ninth WTO Ministerial Conference, please click here.
Hanukkah, the eight-day Jewish holiday that celebrates the Maccabee re-dedication of the Holy Temple of Jerusalem, has come to a close. Last week, Ambassador Michael Froman represented President Obama in the annual lighting of the National Menorah on the Ellipse in Washington, DC. This White House event, traditionally held on the first day of Hanukkah, has been celebrated annually since 1979. Ambassador Froman was joined by members of the Jewish community, members of Congress, and various foreign dignitaries. Below are Ambassador Michael Froman’s remarks from the lighting of the National Menorah, as delivered.
Ambassador Michael Froman lights the National Menorah
“It’s a pleasure and an honor to be here tonight to light the national menorah.
“At Hanukah, we remember the story of a small and brave band of Maccabees, rising up to liberate their people, to rebuild their temple, to light the eternal flame.
“The story of Hanukah is a timeless one. It’s a story of right over might, of people fighting for freedom, of the struggle that continues today as people strive to celebrate their faith.
“It’s a story of miracles, the miracle of the oil that lasted eight days and the miracles we experience every day: the miracle of a baby’s smile, of a child’s discovery; the miracle of falling in love, of doing anything in your power for your family, of devoting yourself to the service of your community, your country.
“Tomorrow night, Jews all over the world will light candles to celebrate the first night of Hanukah, the festival of lights. But here in the United States, this is a special year. For the first time in 100 years, the first day of Hanukah falls on Thanksgiving.
“That gives us even more reasons to count our blessings, to remember the contributions of those who came before us and to make new memories tis holiday season.
“On behalf of President Obama, the First Lady and all who serve in this Administration, best wishes to you and your family for a Happy Hanukah, a Happy Thanksgiving and a healthy and happy holiday season.”
This week, Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for South and Central Asia Mara Burr spoke at the Afghan American Chamber of Commerce, and moderated a panel entitled “Empowering Women to Promote Economic Growth and Stability.” The event marked the progress of the U.S.-Afghanistan Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA), signed in 2004 to improve the bilateral trade and investment relationship between the U.S. and Afghanistan. A key goal of the TIFA is to promote economic opportunities for both Parties. In 2011 the United States and Afghanistan agreed that promoting economic opportunities for women is a high priority for the TIFA Council and created a TIFA Working Group on women’s economic empowerment. In June 2013, the United States and Afghanistan signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), reinforcing the joint efforts to enable the economic empowerment of Afghan women.
Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative Mara Burr speaks at the Afghan American Chamber of Commerce
The objective of the MOU is to provide the U.S. and Afghan governments with a framework for cooperative work under the auspices of the TIFA Council and provide a platform for addressing barriers to women’s entrepreneurship while creating initiatives to help women start, run, and grow their own businesses. The MOU promotes the economic empowerment of women, and helps ensure that women are afforded economic and business opportunities comparable to their male counterparts.
“A key aspect of development for Afghanistan is ensuring that it is taking advantage of all of its resources, both women and men, to contribute to its economic growth” said Burr. The focus of the panel discussion was how governments and the private sector can work together to identify and eliminate impediments to women entrepreneurs and women business owners.
Under the MOU, the U.S. and Afghanistan acknowledge the importance of promoting business opportunities for women as a means to improve their bilateral trade relationship, and strengthen the overall global economy. To learn more about the U.S.-Afghanistan Memorandum of Understanding, please click here.
In the Trans-Pacific Partnership the United States is working to do something new and important when it comes to medicines in the TPP region: striking the right balance to make life-saving medicine more widely available while creating incentives for the development of new treatments and cures.
USTR’s public engagement process – sharing information and integrating feedback into our negotiating positions –helps us in our efforts to pursue the strongest possible outcomes in the 12-country Trans-Pacific Partnership. This week we have another example of how our interactions with Congress and stakeholders has informed our thinking and helped us refine what we’re trying to do in the TPP.
In October of 2011, the United States publicly announced an initial proposal regarding intellectual property rights related to pharmaceuticals, particularly access to innovative and generic medicines in the Asia-Pacific region. We got a wide range of feedback on this proposal and other pharmaceutical IPR issues – from access to medicines (particularly in developing countries) to the array of options for the term of patent protection for research-intensive, leading-edge biologic medicines.
In response to that input, we began talking with our trading partners in recent months about a new set of ideas that would give more weight to concerns of developing countries. While intellectual property issues – particularly with regard to pharmaceuticals – are some of the toughest items to negotiate, we hope these ideas willlead us to a sound solution amenable to all partners in the TPP talks. During last week’s meetings in Salt Lake City, we listened to helpful, in-depth feedback from our TPP partners on these ideas.
Access to Medicines
The United States is a leading voice both for strong IPR protections and for access to medicines for the world’s poor, including in developing country TPP partners. We believe the best approach to pharmaceutical IPR issues in the TPP would be one that offers countries flexibility based on their individual circumstances. That’s why we’ve begun to work with TPP partners to gauge their interest in a “differential approach,” and to identify ways to tailor potential flexibilities based on countries’ existing laws and international obligations.
This flexible approach is based on precedent: Previous U.S. trade agreements covered by the May 10, 2007 bipartisan agreement. Under May 10, developing free trade agreement partners (like Peru) were offered greater flexibility relative to more developed trade agreement partners (like Korea). In TPP, we are seeking to pursue a similar idea, using previous agreements – like those with Peru, Australia, Chile, Korea, and Singapore – as benchmarks, but keeping an open mind as to how these standards can be tailored to reflect the situations of individual partners.
One critical area of innovation that’s responsible for U.S. jobs and innovation is biologic medicines. These new drugs offer great potential for new treatments and cures that will benefit all of humankind and the United States is doing its part to ensure that the incentives will be there not just to increase the availability of existing drugs but to ensure that there is a strong pipeline of new medicines.
Biologic drugs need data protection because those drugs require enormous amounts of time and money to develop. Before entrepreneurs (in the United States and across the world) are willing to make the investment in new therapies, they want to know that they will have rights to their own research for a certain period of time in order to see a return on their investments.
In the TPP negotiations, opinions vary on the best term of patent protection for biologics. Standards also vary across the TPP region. Some TPP countries currently have no data protection for biologic drugs. Some have 5 years. Others have 8. Traditionally, the U.S. approach to trade negotiations has been to base proposals on existing U.S. law, where the current standard is 12 years.
Reflecting input from stakeholders, the U.S. now supports a more flexible approach under which partners could retain reasonable patent pre-grant opposition procedures. These procedures, available in some countries, allow third parties to formally object to a patent at the initial application phase. Based on stakeholder input and ongoing discussions with TPP countries, we believe that other elements in TPP will meet the larger goals of ensuring that patents are of high quality and provide appropriate incentives for innovation, while ensuring access to medicines.
Informed by ongoing discussions with Congress and stakeholders from across the public and private sector, U.S. negotiators will work with counterparts from the other TPP countries to reach a 12-country agreement on how the final TPP should tailor pharmaceutical IPR protection to reflect the situations of individual countries and address the term of data protection for biologics.
Check out the US News and World Report article on the importance of reauthorizing Trade Promotion Authority, here.
To learn more about Trade Promotion Authority, please click here: www.ustr.gov/trade-topics/trade-promotion-authority
“USTR is Thankful for…”
This week, families around the United States are spending time with their loved ones to share the Thanksgiving holiday. Whether they’re enjoying traditional roast turkey and stuffing or innovative culinary creations, this time of year highlights the bounty of American agricultural products. From cranberries and potatoes to apples and pumpkins, American farmers export many of the traditional treats enjoyed on the tables of American families, and of families all over the world.
President Obama’s ambitious trade agenda has encouraged a dramatic increase in U.S. exports to other countries to stimulate the economy and grow jobs for the middle class. His trade agenda protects and promotes the creation of thousands of jobs within the U.S. every year, and encourages the use of American-grown products around the world. In the spirit of the Thanksgiving holiday, here’s a look at some of America’s most popular Thanksgiving foods that were exported to countries around the world in 2012:
Turkey is the foundation of American Thanksgiving dinners. Interestingly enough, Americans are not alone in their love of a plump, juicy turkey. In 2012, the United States exported $586 million in turkeys, a 12% increase from 2011.
American-grown potatoes, produced in areas like the plains of Iowa, are served in many delicious varieties: mashed, baked, scalloped, fried, au gratin, and even sweet potato pies. Whether you like your potato baked or in a casserole, you are not alone! The United States exported $235 million worth of potatoes in 2012.
A Thanksgiving feast is not complete without a fresh serving of cranberry sauce. Cranberries are a multi-purpose food product with uses from juicing to baking. The United States is the largest producer of cranberries in the world. The U.S. exported $21 million worth of cranberries in 2012, an 11% increase from 2011.
Americans love their beans, especially green beans and lima beans, and they are a staple on many families’ dinner tables. While casseroles are a popular vehicle for green beans in the United States, around the world, beans are popular in everything from curries to soups and even pastries. In 2012, the U.S. exported $42 million worth of beans to families around the world.
There is nothing more American than apple pie, but apples are also used around the world in everything from salads to cider. Last year, the United States exported $1.1 billion worth of apples, showing an increase of 14% since 2011.
As families and friends celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday, meals are served, drinks enjoyed, and memories made. Football is also an important part of the American holiday tradition, and who doesn’t enjoy a cold beer while cheering on their favorite team? Last year, the U.S. exported $448 million worth of beer, an increase of 21% from the previous year.
A quintessential symbol of Autumn, pumpkins are an important part of the Thanksgiving meal, and lend themselves to delicious soups, salads, and pies. In 2012, the United States exported $21.7 million worth of pumpkin.
Corn is an important dish on the holiday table. Whether eaten as cornbread, or enjoyed in its purest form, corn on the cob, this American product is a vital part of Thanksgiving Day. In 2012, the U.S. exported $53.3 million worth of corn products, sharing the bounty of one of America’s most important crops.
As evidenced by just these few products, trade enables the world to enjoy the bounty of products provided by American farmers and small businesses. It also is a vital way for many farmers, ranchers, and small businesses to support their families and communities. A cornucopia of fresh crops, stable jobs supported by exports, and a strong American middle class are a few of the many reasons USTR is thankful for international trade this Thanksgiving.