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May

  • 05/25/2012 2:09 PM

    As we continue to celebrate the accomplishments of American small businesses during National Small Business Week, the Obama Administration is working to develop ways of helping make these businesses even more competitive. Increasing access to high-growth foreign markets, addressing non-tariff barriers in these countries and making our regulatory regimes work together more seamlessly are among the best ways USTR can contribute to the Administration’s efforts to help our small businesses compete.

    To achieve this goal, we are focusing heavily on the Asia-Pacific region, which includes some of the fastest-growing economies in the world. USTR extensively consulted with small and medium-sized businesses to better understand the issues they face in trying to compete in the Asia Pacific and globally. We also drew ideas from the work done at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum on small and medium-sized businesses. These businesses told us that the key barriers that they faced were related to tariffs, different rules of origin in different agreements, complex customs procedures, regulatory and other non-tariff barriers, and the difficulty of accessing the laws, regulations, and other information about foreign markets. We have developed proposals to address each of these issues for the TPP negotiations.

    The TPP is an ambitious, 21st-century trade agreement, which currently includes Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. Through these proposals, we hope to help U.S. small businesses, a key source of job creation, integrate more fully and compete more effectively in the global economy.

    Radi Al-Rashed, a small-business owner in north Texas, voiced his support for the TPP, stating, “International Chem-Crete Corporation exports to some of these countries. The TPP agreement can create jobs, promote competitiveness and advance exports. It can also increase transparency.” Mr. Al-Rashed is the President and CEO of International Chem-Create Co, and is a member of the North Texas District Export Council.

  • 05/25/2012 11:30 AM

    National Small Business WeekThis week is National Small Business Week, celebrating the importance of small and medium-sized enterprises to the American economy.

    Buffalo Wire Works, located in downtown Buffalo, New York, manufactures and supplies wire cloth, plate, and screening media and accessories. It has 120 employees and is looking to expand to approximately 170 in the near future, continuing its investment in the Buffalo community. According to CEO Joe Abramo, “Buffalo Wire Works is booming in the inner city, and is willing to invest to support additional growth!” Buffalo Wire Works has a very strong presence in Latin America and Mr. Abramo notes that, “Who we sell to is so diverse because it is not just one industry. We sell to a variety of different industries and have a diverse customer base.”

    Farther south, Maximus Coffee Group, located in Houston, Texas is a local staple in the community—and not just because of its dependency on caffeine. Founded in 2006, Maximus Coffee Group is one-half of the de Aldecoa family business, the other half being Cadeco Industries. While Cadeco Industries processes over one million pounds of coffee each day, Maximus Coffee Group is an integrated roasting, decaffeination, soluble and packaging facility.

    Maximus Coffee Group and Cadeco Industries have been well positioned to lead the US in coffee production and maintain Houston’s role a coffee center. Part of its success is due to its roughly 375 employees, with additional external support roles filled by vendors and suppliers. When asked whether the passage and implementation of free trade agreements has allowed Maximus Coffee Group to expand, Executive Vice President Leo Vasquez responded that “The more global markets are opened on an even basis, the more jobs are created here in the United States.”

    Taking advantage of Houston’s port has been critical to the company’s success, allowing it to export and import millions of pounds of coffee worldwide each year. Maximus Coffee Group exports to Canada, Mexico, Indonesia, Eastern Europe, Spain, Malaysia, and Korea, allowing them to build a good working relationship with the Houston Port, as well as government officials supportive of the local and state business climate.

    Commenting on USTR’s recent successes, Mr. Vasquez said, “Even though we are considered a small to mid-size business, we’re playing in the global industry. Our plant in Houston is one of the largest and most diverse coffee plants in the world. We are directly affected by tariffs and taxes around the world. It is a big help to have USTR looking out for us. USTR’s efforts can directly benefit us, the U.S. entrepreneurial company, as well as the bigger corporate players.”

  • 05/25/2012 12:00 AM

    On the occasion of World Trade Week and National Small Business Week, Deputy Assistant USTR for Small Business and Market Access Christina Sevilla spoke to the International Trade Council of Greater Kansas City, Missouri about how the Obama Administration’s trade agenda benefits small businesses. Of the nearly 4,400 companies which export from Missouri, 85 percent are small and medium size firms that employ fewer than 500 employees. The recent entry-into force of trade agreements with Korea and Colombia gives American small business greater access to robust economies in Asia and Latin America, and presents new opportunities for Missouri companies.

    Bio-Microbics, a small business that manufactures water and wastewater treatment systems at two facilities in Shawnee, Kansas and Sunset Hills, Missouri, heavily relies on exports to drive business. Bio-Microbics President Robert Rebori remarked that "international sales are the reason we exist," with 80 percent of company revenue derived from exports, thus supporting well-paid jobs in Kansas and Missouri. Rebori stated that the company exports “Made in America” products to 60 countries around the world, including India, Russia, and China. Rebori finds that high tariffs are one of the key barriers that his small company faces, as they drive up costs and affect pricing vis-a-vis foreign competitors. Other trade agreements with partners like Peru and Chile have helped Bio-Microbics gain market access through tariff elimination. Now, with the recent addition of the Colombia trade agreement, which entered into force on May 15th, Rebori looks forward to competing for new customers in that market. Bio-Microbics has been recognized with the President's E Award for U.S. Exports, as well as the Kansas Exporter of the Year Award.

    Small Business Panel Meeting
    Small business panel with Dan Ward, Western Forms; Bob Rebori, Bio-Microbics;
    DAUSTR Christina Sevilla; ITAC 11 Small and Minority Business Advisor Fred Baehner

    Economic development officials in Missouri also see expanded opportunities with the recently implemented U.S. - Korea trade agreement. Krista Hinrichs, International Business Manager for the Pacific Rim at Missouri's Department of Economic Development, notes that "Missouri exports to Korea have increased nearly 150 percent in the first quarter of 2012 over the same quarter last year." Additionally, the state’s International Trade and Investment Office in Seoul has the state’s small businesses poised to take advantage of new opportunities made available by the trade agreement.

    Under the President’s National Export Initiative, USTR is working to continue opening markets in Asia, Latin America and around the world for the benefit of U.S. small businesses and companies of all sizes.

  • 05/24/2012 3:14 PM

    On Tuesday, May 22, 2012, a U.S. Government team held the second technical level review of 2012 called for under the Colombian Action Plan Related to Labor Rights. The U.S. team was led by Bennett Harman, Deputy Assistant USTR for Latin America, and Carol Pier, Acting Deputy Under Secretary for International Labor Affairs. They met with David Luna, Vice Minister of Labor; Andres Villamizar, General Director of the National Protection Unit; and Jorge Perdomo, Vice Prosecutor General. The purpose of the meetings was to continue cooperation and dialogue on implementation of the Labor Action Plan.

    USG GOC Meeting
    United States Government Team Meets with Colombian Vice Minister of Labor David Luna

  • 05/21/2012 9:41 AM

    Today marks the beginning of National Small Business Week, a time to reflect on the importance of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to the American economy. Recognizing the vital role of small businesses in the United States, the Obama Administration has taken steps to ensure that American small businesses will be able to grow and create jobs for hardworking Americans. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative is working to expand exports by U.S. small businesses and support American job creation and economic growth.

    One of the most ambitious steps the Administration has taken to help small businesses succeed in the 21st century global economy is the National Export Initiative. Under this initiative, USTR is working more closely than ever with our partner agencies to provide American companies of all sizes with the export opportunities and the resources they need to succeed in the global market place.

    Among the major achievements in opening global markets was the entry into force on March 15, 2012 of the historic United States-Korea Trade Agreement, giving American businesses, farmers, ranchers, and service providers unprecedented access to South Korea’s $1 trillion economy. The Agreement eliminates tariffs on 95 percent of industrial and consumer goods, making it substantially easier for small businesses to export their products to Korea and grow their companies. The Agreement also opens South Korea’s $580 billion services market, including areas where U.S. small businesses are particularly competitive, such as information and communications technology services. The Agreement also removes barriers especially difficult for small businesses, such as removing the requirement to establish an office in South Korea before conducting trade. To see testimonials from American small business on the benefits of the trade agreement, click here.

    On May 15, 2012, just two months after the United States- Korea Trade Agreement entered into force, the U.S.-Colombia Trade Agreement did the same. Colombia is the third largest economy in Latin America, and this the new Agreement will make it easier and less expensive for U.S. small businesses to start or expand their exports into this important Latin American market.

    Colombia is already a significant export market for U.S. small businesses. In 2010, almost 13,000 U.S. SMEs exported $4.0 billion in merchandise to Colombia, accounting for approximately one-third of U.S. merchandise exports to Colombia. Upon entry into force of this agreement, 80 percent of American consumer and industrial products will become duty-free. The elimination of tariffs will remove the tax on U.S. goods, which should increase demand for U.S. products and help increase export opportunities to Colombia.

    The Colombia Trade Agreement calls for a greater amount of transparency regarding foreign laws and regulations, important, because many times, small businesses lack the resources to successfully navigate the web of foreign laws and regulations. This Agreement creates a more transparent process and removes a significant barrier for small businesses trying to export their products to Colombia.

    The entry into force of United States-Korea and United States.-Colombia trade agreements are significant achievements in the Obama Administration’s effort to make American small businesses more competitive in the global economy, and create more quality jobs for Americans.

    Work to implement the U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement is also underway. Panama is one of the fastest growing economies in Latin America, expanding 10.6 percent in 2011, with annual growth forecast ranging between 5% and 8% through 2017. The U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement will support American jobs, expand markets, and enhance U.S. competitiveness by eliminating tariffs and other barriers to U.S. exports and expanding trade between our two countries – including trade by U.S. small businesses, who employ so many Americans and contribute so greatly to our economy today.

  • 05/17/2012 4:14 PM

    On Monday, May 14, Ambassador Kirk joined Secretary Hilda Solis at the Department of Labor for a meeting of the Labor Advisory Committee on Trade Negotiations and Trade Policy. Members in attendance included R. Thomas Buffenbarger, Chair of the Labor Advisory Committee and International President of Machinists; Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO; Clayola Brown, National President of the A. Philip Randolph Institute; Raymond Hair, President of the American Federation of Musicians; Gregory Junemann, International President of Professional and Technical Engineers; and Veda Shook, International President of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA.

    Ambassador Kirk engages members of the Labor Advisory Committee
    Ambassador Kirk engages members of the Labor Advisory Committee

    Secretary Solis began the meeting by commenting on the U.S. Department of Labor’s continued commitment to worker protection and enforcement of U.S. labor laws. Ambassador Kirk focused on three key topics during the discussion; updating the committee members on the 12th Round of Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, the trade agreement with Colombia, and the President’s National Export Initiative (NEI). Ambassador Kirk and Secretary Solis also noted the Obama Administration’s ongoing work with the government of Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos to address labor concerns in Colombia.

    Ambassador Kirk speaks with AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka
    Ambassador Kirk speaks with AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka

    Referring to the NEI, Ambassador Kirk emphasized the creation of 1.2 million jobs and the goal to level the playing field so that U.S. businesses can compete internationally. The Ambassador also updated the members on the recent Strategic and Economic Dialogue meetings in China.

    From Left to Right: Assistant USTR for Labor Lewis Karesh, Ambassador Kirk, and Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis
    From Left to Right: Assistant USTR for Labor Lewis Karesh, Ambassador Kirk, and Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis

    The Labor Advisory Committee is co-chaired by the U.S. Trade Representative and the Secretary of Labor. The committee advises and provides recommendations on issues and general policy matters concerning labor and trade negotiations, including operation of trade agreements.

  • 05/17/2012 3:24 PM

    This morning Ambassador Kirk hosted the Advisory Committee on Trade Policy and Negotiations (ACTPN) meeting at the White House. The Committee, chaired by Terry McGraw and vice chaired by John Surma, had a robust discussion on various topics including the entry into force of the Korea and Colombia trade agreements, the ongoing negotiations in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), repealing Jackson Vanik and moving toward permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) with Russia, and the National Export Initiative.

    ACPTN Members were able to ask questions and provide feedback during the meeting.
    ACPTN Members were able to ask questions and provide feedback during the meeting.

    Ambassador Kirk began the meeting by highlighting the Interagency Trade Enforcement Center (ITEC); which was created by executive order. The ITEC will provide additional resources for USTR and other agencies to ramp up enforcement efforts and ensure a level playing field for U.S. businesses at home and abroad. Additionally, he provided updates on the 12th round of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which officially concludes this week.

    Ambassador Kirk hosts the ACTPN meeting at the White House. From left to right, Council of Economic Advisors Alan Krueger, Vice-Chair and U.S. Steel CEO John Surma, Ambassador Kirk, Chair and McGraw-Hill Companies CEO Harold McGraw, White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew, Deputy Assistant to the President and National Security Advisor for International Affairs Michael Froman
    Ambassador Kirk hosts the ACTPN meeting at the White House. From left to right, Council of Economic Advisors Alan Krueger, Vice-Chair and U.S. Steel CEO John Surma, Ambassador Kirk, Chair and McGraw-Hill Companies CEO Harold McGraw, White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew, Deputy Assistant to the President and National Security Advisor for International Affairs Michael Froman

    The Ambassador was followed by remarks from the White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew, Deputy Assistant to the President and National Security Advisor for International Affairs Michael Froman, and chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors Alan Krueger. Mr. Lew thanked the ACTPN members for their leadership and stated the one of the members’ task is to focus on the economy of the future and the role of trade, which plays an integral part by discussing fair rules and market access. Mr. Lew also said that the “key is to have an environment where trade agreements are sustainable, as it is important to lay a foundation for trade policy.” With the G8 and G20 summits approaching, Mr. Froman emphasized that trade is always on the agenda and that it is “hard to overestimate the importance of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.” Mr. Krueger described the record level of exports, an increase in U.S. manufacturing jobs, and the opportunity to expand, especially with regards to improving international trade strategy.

    ACTPN Member and CEO of Grocery Manufacturers Association Pam Bailey ask a question.  United Steelworkers Leo Gerard sits to her right and Business Software Alliance CEO Robert Holleyman sits to her left.
    ACTPN Member and CEO of Grocery Manufacturers Association Pam Bailey ask a question. United Steelworkers Leo Gerard sits to her right and Business Software Alliance CEO Robert Holleyman sits to her left.

    Chair McGraw continued the discussion raising the need to find new ways for growth, through collaboration.  The meeting then changed to an open forum, where members voiced their concerns on a wide variety of issues and asked questions. The Ambassador and Chair McGraw concluded the meeting, thanking everyone for their time and substantive contributions to the discussion.

    ACTPN is a Presidential appointed and statutorily created Advisory Committee that provides advice tothe President and the Unites States Trade Representative. Today’s meeting included members that represent labor, agriculture, manufacturing, services, and non-governmental organizations.

  • 05/15/2012 5:09 PM

    Washington, D.C. – Elected officials, as well as business and industry leaders, are applauding the entry into force of the U.S-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement today – which means that 80 percent of American exports of industrial and manufactured products to Colombia are now duty-free. President Obama and Colombian President Santos announced that the agreement would enter into force today during the Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia on April 15.

    Since the agreement won Congressional approval last fall, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative has worked diligently with the Colombian government to bring it into force quickly and correctly. The agreement will boost America’s exports to Colombia and help to support well-paying jobs for American workers.

    Here’s what leaders are saying so far:

    • “This Agreement will provide American businesses, farmers, and ranchers with significantly improved access to the third largest economy in South America. It immediately eliminates or reduces tariffs on almost all U.S. industrial exports to Colombia, presenting new opportunities for U.S. exporters to enter or expand their presence in Colombia’s growing economy. In addition, it provides significant new access to Colombia’s $180 billion services market, supporting increased opportunities for U.S. service providers.” -- U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson

     

    • "For America's farmers, ranchers, and agricultural businesses, the timing could not be better. U.S. agriculture is currently experiencing one of its best periods in history thanks to the productivity and resourcefulness of American farmers and agribusinesses. Much of the record growth these past few years is related to President Obama's leadership on trade. Last year, the President insisted that we get this agreement with Colombia right—alongside pacts with South Korea and Panama—that led to strong bipartisan support in both houses of Congress. In 2010, the President committed to double U.S. exports in five years. Two years later, we are on pace to meet that goal.” -- U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack

     

    • “Exporting goods to South America just got easier for America’s small businesses. Today, the U.S. – Colombia Trade Agreement goes into effect, opening yet another fast-growing market to goods made in America. This exciting agreement marks a significant development in the Obama Administration’s efforts to expand access to American goods in emerging markets around the world.” – SBA Administrator Karen Mills

     

    • “Colombia is dropping tariffs on our manufactured and agricultural goods, and that means the door is opening for American workers and businesses to grow. This a major economic win that levels the playing field for American workers and businesses. Colombia’s economy is growing quickly, and it’s a lucrative market for the world-class products made here in the U.S. This trade deal is worth a billion dollars in new U.S. exports and thousands of new jobs at home, and that’s just the kind of boost our economy needs.” -- Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT)

     

    • “Today’s entry into force is cause for celebration. I appreciate and applaud the significant effort by the administrations of both Presidents Obama and Santos to ensure prompt implementation of the agreement after Congress approved it in October. Now we can begin reaping the substantial benefits that the Colombia trade agreement unlocks. The U.S. International Trade Commission has estimated that the agreement will increase U.S. exports by $1.1 billion and increase U.S. GDP by $2.5 billion. That means substantial U.S. job creation, which we so greatly need in this difficult economy.” -- Representative Dave Camp (R-MI), Ways and Means Chairman

     

    • “Entry into force of this agreement is very good news for U.S. workers, farmers, manufacturers, and service exporters. We can now begin to recapture export market share that we lost in Colombia during the years that the trade agreement was not in force. Now that we are ‘back on the field’ in Colombia and Korea, I look forward to rapid implementation of the Panama trade agreement, as well.” -- Representative Kevin Brady (R-TX), Trade Subcommittee Chairman

     

    • “Today’s announcement is great news for American workers, manufacturers, farmers, and service providers. As it stood, average Colombian tariffs on U.S. exports ranged from 7.4 to 14.6 percent. This agreement levels the playing field for American workers, increasing our market access so American companies can compete fairly and grow jobs here at home. With the potential to increase U.S. exports by $1.1 billion and increase U.S. GDP by $2.5 billion, this agreement shows the world we are serious about pursuing a robust trade agenda. I applaud the bipartisan work done to ensure the passage of this agreement, and look forward to the swift implementation of the Panama trade agreement as well.” -- Representative Erik Paulsen (MN-03), Ways and Means Committee Member

     

    • “Colombia has been the world’s greatest turnaround story of the past decade. Given the Colombian economy’s rapid growth, this landmark agreement will open the door to exciting new business opportunities and job creation in the U.S. and Colombia. Rather than rest on our laurels, we must continue to push forward with a bold job-creating trade agenda. The Chamber’s trade priorities include congressional approval of permanent normal trade relations with Russia, new trade agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership and proposed accords with the European Union and several other markets, as well as renewal of the president’s trade negotiating authority.” -- Thomas J. Donohue, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce

     

    • “This is a very good day for wheat farmers. The tariff situation has basically forced our largest customer, historically, in South America to buy more wheat from Canada and Argentina. Now our customers in Colombia will not have to pay the tariff and we can compete equally on the basis of quality, supply and service. Implementing this FTA is particularly important to U.S. wheat farmers, who rely on exports to market about half of their crops each year. In marketing year 2010/2011, Colombia imported from Gulf and Pacific Northwest tributaries about 800,000 metric tons of U.S. wheat from five of six classes.” -- Randy Suess, a wheat farmer from Colfax, WA, and chairman of U.S. Wheat Associates (USW)
  • 05/14/2012 9:52 AM

    Yesterday, lead negotiators from each of the nine Trans-Pacific Partnership countries sat down for a briefing and conversation with dozens of stakeholders interested in the progress, process, and substance of the 12th round of TPP talks happening outside Dallas, Texas this week. Some highlights:

    Barbara Weisel, Assistant USTR for Southeast Asia and the Pacific and the lead negotiator for the U.S. opened the briefing with an apology to all the moms working at the TPP round on Mother's Day... and then provided an overview of Saturday's stakeholder presentation event. Weisel noted that initial feedback indicates the new format provided the opportunity for more in-depth, substantive exchanges between stakeholders and negotiators, and that feedback from presenters at the event will be factored into stakeholder presentation planning for the next round of TPP talks. Those, she said, will occur the first week in July at a U.S. location to be finalized soon.

    Weisel said that good progress has been made thus far by a number of negotiating groups (see USTR's daily readouts at www.ustr.gov to see what negotiating groups are meeting on what days) and that one negotiating group, discussing small and medium-sized enterprises, has finished its talks and will not have to meet in upcoming rounds. She noted that the negotiators on every topic have tried to be as available as possible to stakeholders in crafting negotiating positions and that they will continue to seek to do so as they consider counterproposals and work to revised text. She also noted that the trade ministers of the TPP countries will meet in a few weeks in Kazan, Russia on the margins of the meeting of APEC ministers related to trade.

    The floor was opened for questions and a robust exchange followed lasting well past the hour originally allotted for the conversation, which featured questions from stakeholders at the table and in audience chairs including leaders from the AFL-CIO, Citizens Trade Campaign, Coalition for a Prosperous America, the Emergency Committee for American Trade, Friends of the Earth, Grocery Manufacturers Association, Maine Citizens Trade Policy Commission, Public Citizen, and the Sierra Club – among others.

    The first question, from Citizens Trade Campaign, was a request that text be made available to the public so that stakeholders could have more informed positions when speaking with negotiators. Weisel said that while the U.S. position is that constantly evolving TPP chapter texts cannot be released to the public, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative has been and remains committed to discussing in-depth with a wide range of stakeholders the formation of U.S. positions, the substance of negotiations as they take place, and how issues should be handled by negotiators as talks continue.

    Other topics for questions, which were answered variously by Weisel and chief negotiators from Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam, included the status of discussions as to whether Japan, Mexico and Canada will join the TPP talks - Weisel noted that chief negotiators are briefing each other in Texas this week on the status of bilateral consultations with those countries - and what type of consultations the governments do with their environmental ministers on the issue of investor-state dispute settlement provisions. The chief negotiators also answered several questions on domestic procurement provisions and the balance being sought on intellectual property rights and Internet freedom in the TPP's intellectual property chapter. Because of particular interest and concerns surrounding provisions on investor-state dispute settlement and state-owned-enterprises, Weisel said that there will be further stakeholder briefings on those issues - in addition to a broad U.S.-only stakeholder briefing session - when U.S. negotiators return to Washington, DC following this round of negotiations.

  • 05/12/2012 8:08 PM

    Dallas, TX – Today, stakeholders representing a range of interests and policy areas spoke directly with negotiators about the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP), currently in the twelfth round of negotiations at the Intercontinental Hotel. USTR organized a Direct Stakeholder Engagement Event on-site at the hotel where the TPP talks are underway, to provide a venue for non-governmental organizations, academia, business and industry groups to have substantive conversations with negotiators about their areas of concern.

    An NGO stakeholder (right) engages a TPP negotiator

    An NGO stakeholder (right) engages a TPP negotiator.

    Several dozen organizations participated in the direct engagement event, representing stakeholders in labor, the environment, intellectual property, consumers, textiles and apparel, agriculture and other policy areas.

    Among the participants were the AFL-CIO, American University Washington College of Law, the Business Software Alliance, the National Milk Producers Association, the National Oilseed Processors Association, Occupy Dallas, PhRMA, Public Citizen’s Global Access to Medicines, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The open format allowed negotiators representing the nine Trans-Pacific Partnership countries to discuss areas of concern directly with participants.

    One NGO representative said "This format was a big improvement and a useful way to proceed".

    Another said "We were glad that many negotiators in our issue area attended, as well as some chiefs (negotiators), and we hope that continues".

    Negotiators also responded favorably to the opportunity to sit down and dialogue with stakeholders.

    "The opportunity for negotiators to discuss issues one-on-one and in depth was extremely useful,” said USTR Chief Negotiator Barbara Weisel. “This direct engagement with stakeholders with different perspectives on the issues will result in a better agreement."

    Stakeholders and negotiators discuss issues of concern.

    Stakeholders and negotiators discuss issues of concern.

    Stakeholder Event Participants at TPP Round 12

    AdvaMed

    AFL-CIO, ITUC, MTUC

    Alphapharm Pty Limited

    American Automotive Policy Council

    American University

    American University Washington College of Law

    Association of American Publishers

    Biotechnology Industry Organization

    Business Software Alliance

    Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids

    Citizens Trade Campaign

    Coalition for a Prosperous America

    Coalition of Service Industries

    Computer & Communications Industry Association

    Copyright Alliance

    Electronic Frontier Foundation

    FedEx Express

    Footwear Distributors & Retailers of America

    Friends of the Earth

    Generic Pharmaceutical Association

    Global Intellectual Property Center

    Grocery Manufacturers Association

    Institute for Policy Innovation

    International Dairy Foods Association

    Internet New Zealand

    Knowledge Ecology International

    Maine Citizen Trade Policy Commission

    MFJ International, LLC

    Motion Picture Association of America

    Mylan

    National Council of Textile Organizations

    National Foreign Trade Council

    National Milk Producers/U.S. Dairy Export

    Council

    National Oilseed Processors Association

    Occupy Dallas

    Personal Care Products Council

    PhRMA

    Property Rights Alliance

    Public Citizen, Global Access to Medicines

    Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch

    Public Knowledge

    Rubber and Plastic Footwear Manufacturers Association

    Semiconductor Industry Association

    Sierra Club

    Software & Information Industry Association

    Third World Network

    TPP Apparel Coalition

    U.S. Business Coalition for the TPP

    U.S. Chamber of Commerce

    Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association

    (VITAS)

    Wal-Mart Stores,Inc

  • 05/12/2012 1:26 PM

    On Friday, Ambassador Kirk visited Brookhaven Community College in Farmers Branch, Texas to talk with students about keeping college affordable. More than 7.4 million students with federal student loans will see their interest rates double on July 1, unless Congress steps in to keep them low. For each year they are allowed to double, the average student with these loans will rack up an additional $1,000 in debt. Ambassador Kirk spoke about the need for Congressional action to prevent these interest rates from spiking. Following his remarks, he answered questions from students.

    Ambassador Kirk at Brookhaven College

    Ambassador Kirk at Brookhaven College

  • 05/12/2012 1:03 PM

    By Christine Turner, Assistant USTR for Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement

    Friday at the 12th round of Trans-Pacific Partnership talks outside Dallas, Probir Mehta, Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Intellectual Property and Innovation, and I had a great opportunity to hear from and speak with U.S. and international stakeholders at a lunch session hosted by Public Knowledge discussing copyright enforcement. Speakers included Rashmi Rangnath of Public Knowledge, Jonathan Band of Library Copyright Alliance, Susan Chalmers at Internet New Zealand, Gwen Hinze of Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Jodie Griffin of Public Knowledge. Each gave presentations on issues including fair use, first sale doctrine, proportional response to infringement and the interests of users.

    Panelists at the Copyright Enforcement session hosted by Public Knowledge

    Panelists at the Copyright Enforcement session hosted by Public Knowledge

    A key point the speakers highlighted was that enforcement mechanisms should be set up so as not to hamper due process or access to information. Many negotiators from various TPP countries were on hand to hear this message. The speakers also discussed the important challenges of balancing the interests of users of information with those of copyright holders -- especially given the dynamic and ever-changing nature of technology and how intellectual property is shared. The session highlighted the need for balanced legal systems to respect freedom of expression, creativity, AND innovation and provide remedies that properly protect intellectual property while also providing for access to information.

    Many of the groups represented at the Public Knowledge lunch will continue engaging with TPP intellectual property negotiators and other stakeholders at the Direct Stakeholder Engagement Event on Saturday, May 12.

    Rashmi Rangnath, Director of the Global Knowledge Iniatiative speaks with Christine Turner

    Rashmi Rangnath, Public Knowledge Director of the Global Knowledge Iniatiative and Assistant USTR Christine Turner

  • 05/11/2012 5:10 PM

    Yesterday, the Trade Advisory Committee on Africa (TACA) met with Ambassador Kirk to discuss trade policy and initiatives in Africa. This is the first TACA meeting of the year and was held in advance of the 2012 African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Forum hosted by the U.S. in mid-June.

    The Ambassador began the meeting by noting progress on the passing and implementation of the three free trade agreements (FTAs) with Korea, Colombia, and Panama. In addition, Ambassador Kirk highlighted the development of the President Obama’s new Presidential Policy Directive for Africa, which will allow for broader Africa engagement. He also pointed to the possibility of using Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs) to accelerate growth between the U.S. and African countries, one of which is being negotiated with Mauritius.

    As Ambassador Kirk also pointed out during the TACA meeting, renewing AGOA's Third Country Fabric Provision before its expiration on September 30, 2012 remains a top administration priority. TACA members also emphasized the importance of renewing the Third Country Fabrics provision, referencing its importance as a bipartisan issue that should not be allowed to lapse. Other members commented on the importance of issues such as agribusiness and infrastructure development as well.

    The discussion also focused on the President’s National Export Initiative, suggesting that increasing trade with Africa could help meet the President’s goals to double exports by the end of 2014. To promote growth in Africa, the advisors suggested including additional government agencies, the private sector, and building relationships with more government officials in Africa.

    Ambassador Kirk concluded the meeting with a positive outlook on Africa’s trade and growth potential: "Africa has enormous resources— and somewhere between petroleum and textiles is great opportunity to do much more."

    Ambassador Kirk Participates in TACA Meeting

    Ambassador Kirk Participates in TACA Meeting


    TACA provides the U.S. Trade Representative with policy advice on issues involving trade and development in sub-Saharan Africa. AGOA is the cornerstone of America’s trade and investment policy with sub-Saharan Africa. AGOA’s performance and effectiveness are closely tied to its Third-Country Fabric (TCF) provision, which is set to expire in September 2012. Swift passage of legislation extending AGOA’s TCF provision is necessary to ensure AGOA’s continued success – and the stability, development, and economic growth of sub-Saharan African countries. Congress has extended the TCF provision twice with bipartisan support.


  • 05/10/2012 3:39 PM
    TPP DallasU.S. trade negotiators and officials are busy welcoming to Texas many of the more than 300 stakeholders from non-governmental organizations, academia, business, and the public who have accepted the invitation to be on-site at the 12th Round of the Trans-Pacific Partnership talks. The following groups – as well as a number of members of the public who are here as concerned citizens – will be on hand here to engage directly with negotiators and help shape the substance of the talks. Many are choosing to participate in a special Saturday event to present directly to individual negotiators about their views on issues in TPP, and hear more about how the talks are going. More information about TPP, including a detailed summary of the outlines of the agreement announced by TPP Leaders last November, can be found at www.ustr.gov/tpp.


    Stakeholders Participating in 12th Round TPP Talks
  • 05/08/2012 4:56 PM

    Guthrie met on May 8 with Texas AFL-CIO President Becky Moeller, Texas AFL-CIO Communications Director Ed Sills, Texas AFL-CIO Secretary Treasurer John Patrick, Lone Star Sierra Club Chairman Hal Suter, Texas Apollo Alliance Coordinator David Cortez, and Texas Fair Trade Coalition Director Bob Cash, as well as Arthur Stamoulis from the Citizens Trade Campaign, accepting a petition the group had organized and hearing their views on transparency in the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations and on a wide range of substantive issues being discussed. More than 300 stakeholders from non-governmental organizations, academia, business, and the public have accepted the U.S. Trade Representative’s invitation to be on-site at the TPP talks, to engage directly with negotiators and help shape the substance of the talks. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative has been pleased to engage with organizations like the AFL-CIO and the Sierra Club to formulate approaches on key issues such as TPP’s labor provisions and ensuring that state-owned enterprises don’t unfairly disadvantage U.S. workers, and on groundbreaking conservation proposals, which can be found on the USTR website here.

    Assistant U.S. Trade Representative Guthrie Hears From TPP Stakeholders
    Assistant U.S. Trade Representative Guthrie Hears From TPP Stakeholders

  • 05/04/2012 5:56 PM

    Monday, May 7

    Ambassador Sapiro will participate on a panel at Transatlantic Week, organized by the Transatlantic Policy Network (TPN)

    Washington, D.C.

    Closed Press

     

    Tuesday, May 8

    Ambassador Kirk will participate in a panel entitled “Perspectives on Hemispheric Trade” at the 42nd Annual Conference on the Americas

    Washington, D.C.

    Open Press

     

    Ambassadors Kirk and Sapiro will meet with Chilean Foreign Affairs Minister Alfredo Moreno

    Washington, D.C.

    Closed Press

     

    Wednesday, May 9

    Ambassador Sapiro will deliver remarks on “Fighting Counterfeiting and Piracy: A Call for Dialogue” at an event at the French Embassy

    Washington, D.C.

    Closed Press

     

    Thursday, May 10

    Ambassador Kirk will meet with the Trade Advisory Committee on Africa (TACA)

    Washington, D.C.

    Closed Press

     

    Ambassador Sapiro will meet with former Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende

    Washington, D.C.

    Closed Press

     

    Ambassador Siddiqui will deliver remarks on the U.S.-EU Organic Equivalence Arrangement at a luncheon hosted by EU Ambassador to the U.S. Joao Vale de Almeida

    Washington, D.C.

    For more information, please contact Giulio Menato at the Delegation of the European Union to the U.S.

     

    Ambassador Marantis will attend the 2012 Global Commerce Leadership Circle Reception

    Washington, D.C.

    Closed Press

     

    Friday, May 11

    Ambassador Marantis will travel to Dallas for the 12th Round of Negotiations of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (May 11-13)

    Dallas, TX

    Open Press Events

    **Additional events may be announced throughout the week

  • 05/04/2012 4:25 PM

    United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk and Deputy United States Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis visited Beijing this week as part of a U.S. delegation to participate in the fourth round of the United States-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED). In Beijing, Ambassadors Kirk and Marantis joined S&ED co-chairs Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton – along with Commerce Secretary Bryson and other U.S. Government officials – for high-level discussions around several key issues related to the U.S.-China bilateral relationship.

    During the S&ED's Economic Track trade and investment discussions, in which USTR plays a leading role, the United States made progress on several priority issues, including stepped up IPR enforcement and increasing sales of legitimate products, prioritizing enforcement against trade secrets theft, giving IP non-discriminatory treatment wherever it is owned or developed, a new comprehensive offer by China in 2012 to join the WTO Government Procurement Agreement, opening new areas to foreign investment, and beginning intensive discussions with China to ensure that market access is, in fact, not tied to technology transfer.

    In addition, throughout the talks this week, Ambassadors Kirk and Marantis stressed that China is a critical and key trading partner for the United States. China's annual trade growth averaged 13.9 percent between 1979 and its accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001 – and since then that growth has accelerated to 21.6. As the world's fastest growing major economy, China offers huge opportunities for American businesses, workers, farmers, and ranchers. Therefore, the United States has a strong interest in China's continued economic growth.

    However, as Ambassador Kirk has noted, as China grows, it must afford opportunities to companies from all countries fairly, consistently, and in accordance with international trading rules. For the United States, ensuring a level playing field for American workers and businesses is critical to creating new opportunities from our bilateral trade and investment relationship with China.

    The U.S.-China relationship has deepened and matured over the last few years. And President Obama has been very clear that we need to work together to balance our trade relationship with China and advance mutually beneficial interests. Our shared goal and challenge is to address important systemic issues in order to minimize the obstacles facing American and Chinese companies and promote a more healthy trade and investment relationship.

    For more specifics on topics and issues discussed during the S&ED, see the U.S.-China Joint Fact Sheet and the U.S. Fact Sheet, which can be found at www.treasury.gov.