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  • 11/30/2012 7:30 PM

    By Tiffany Enoch

    This week Ambassador Kirk and U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack co-hosted the meeting of the Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee (APAC) and the Agricultural Technical Advisory Committees for Trade (ATAC).

    Kirk Vilsack
    U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack looks on as U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk addresses the Agricultural Trade Advisory Committees

    In his remarks to committee-members, Ambassador Kirk touched on many current agricultural trade issues, including the importance of making Russia a part of the rules-based trading system by granting permanent normal trade relations (PNTR). Ambassador Kirk discussed the implementation of our trade agreements with Colombia and Panama and the immediate benefits to the American agriculture community; specifically, Ambassador Kirk noted a five percent increase in the value of U.S. agricultural exports to Colombia in the first few months following entry into force of the U.S.-Colombia trade agreement. Ambassador Kirk also updated committee members on the work of the Interagency Trade Enforcement Center (ITEC), which has significantly increased U.S. capacity to investigate and pursue potential trade agreement enforcement cases by leveraging existing resources more efficiently across the government. He closed by briefing the committee on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations and on the progress of the U.S.-EU High Level Working Group (HLWG), which both have implications for agricultural trade.

    Secretary Vilsack addressed the challenges of rural America and noted the barriers for agriculture trade throughout the world. He called for Congressional leaders to help revitalize rural America.

    Ag Committees
    Ambassador Kirk and Secretary Vilsack co-chair the Agricultural Advisory Committees

    Agricultural exports are a very important component of the U.S. economy and our international trade. Since 1960, our agricultural exports have outpaced our imports, generating a surplus. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Economic Research Service (ERS), we are on track to export $143.5 billion in agricultural products in this year. These exports will support over 1 million jobs for farmers, ranchers and exporters in the U.S.

  • 11/30/2012 6:33 PM

    By Mawish Raza

    Although you may not always hear about them, agricultural exports are a very important component of the U.S. economy and our international trade. Since 1960, our agricultural exports have outpaced our imports, generating a surplus. In fact, we’re likely to export $143.5 billion in agricultural products in this year alone, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Economic Research Service (ERS). These exports will support over 1 million jobs for farmers, ranchers and exporters in the U.S.

    Congress recognized the importance of agricultural exports to the U.S. economy, and included a provision for private-sector agricultural advisory committees in the Trade Act of 1974. The Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee, or "APAC" focuses on the various policy issues affecting agricultural trade on both the U.S. and global level. The Agricultural Technical Advisory Committees, or "ATACs" provide advice on commodity-specific aspects of agricultural trade issues, and focus on areas like fruits and vegetables, or animals and animal products. You can find a complete list of the ATAC committees here.

    The APAC and ATAC committees are made up of farmers, ranchers and representatives from various food and agriculture organizations and businesses across the U.S. Each committee provides information on negotiating objectives and various technical issues throughout the process of the negotiation and implementation of trade agreements.

    Thanks to consultations with these committees, USTR and USDA receive critical advice from those on the front lines of the industry, ensuring that U.S.-grown agricultural exports continue to thrive.

  • 11/30/2012 5:24 PM

    Standards Alliance AnnouncementJulia Doherty of USTR and Virginia Brown of USAID at the announcement of the Standards Alliance, a new U.S. sponsored assistance facility.

    Geneva, Switzerland – This week, Virginia Brown, Director of USAID's Office of Trade and Regulatory Reform, announced a new U.S.-sponsored assistance facility called the “Standards Alliance” to help build capacity among developing countries to improve implementation of the Technical Barriers to Trade Agreement (TBT). Ms. Brown is in Geneva as part of the U.S. Delegation to the World Trade Organization (WTO) Committee on Technical Barriers to Trade, led by Senior Director for Technical Barriers to Trade Julia Doherty from the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR).

    Standards and technical regulations are critical to global trade, and play an essential role in the Obama Administration’s strategy to increase U.S. exports. U.S. companies benefit when the standards and regulations adopted by developing countries better align with global norms and practices, as this enables U.S. producers to make one product and export it to many countries.

    The new Standards Alliance will also help developing countries adopt globally recognized standards and norms for products, and will assist those countries in clarifying and streamlining their regulatory processes for products. This will reduce the costs and bureaucratic hurdles associated with exporting for U.S. producers, while enabling developing countries to improve the quality and safety of the products they export abroad.

  • 11/30/2012 4:19 PM

    Washington, D.C. - Today Ambassador Kirk met with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Konstyantyn Gryshchenko. Ambassador Kirk expressed strong U.S. concern about Ukraine’s request to alter tariff bindings on more than 350 products that it agreed to when it joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2008. This action is unprecedented and could undermine the multilateral trading system, which is why almost all of Ukraine’s significant trading partners—over a third of all WTO Members—have joined us in raising similar concerns. Ambassador Kirk and Foreign Minister Gryshchenko agreed to continue working to increase trade and investment between the U.S. and Ukraine, including in the bilateral Trade and Investment Council.

    Click here to view Ambassador Kirk’s November 8 letter to Ukrainian First Deputy Prime Minister Valeriy Khoroshkovskiy regarding Ukraine’s request to alter tariff bindings and here to view WTO Members’ November 26 joint statement on this matter.

  • 11/30/2012 3:07 PM

    Kirk ShuvalovAmbassador Kirk meets with First Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, Igor Shuvalov

    Washington, D.C. - United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk met today with the First Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, Igor Shuvalov. Ambassador Kirk reported on the advancement of legislation in the U.S. Congress to repeal Russia’s Jackson-Vanik status and allow the granting of Permanent Normal Trade Relations between our countries, and expressed hope that the United States and Russia would soon be able to apply the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement between them. Ambassador Kirk highlighted the importance of Russia abiding by all of its WTO obligations, including with regard to the possibility of unjustified, non-science based restrictions on imports of U.S. meat. They also discussed specific measures to enhance the bilateral economic relationship, such as the establishment of a regular trade policy dialogue, an IPR Action Plan, and a bilateral investment treaty.

  • 11/28/2012 2:45 PM

    Yesterday, Ambassadors Kirk and Sapiro met with Miami-Dade County Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz and Miami-Dade County officials at the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) in Washington, D.C.

    Ambassador Kirk welcomed the group and shared updates on the ongoing work at USTR, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Commissioner Diaz thanked Ambassador Kirk for his efforts to enact free trade agreements and spoke specifically of the recently implemented Colombia and Panama trade agreements.

    Eighty-six percent of U.S. exports of consumer and industrial goods to Panama became duty-free when the U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement was implemented last month, offering benefits for a range of U.S. products, including information technology equipment, agricultural and construction equipment, aircraft and pharmaceuticals. The agreement also provides U.S. companies greater access to Panama's $22 billion services market, by eliminating measures that prevented Panamanian firms from hiring U.S. professionals as well as market restrictions in cable television.

    In the five months following enactment of the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement earlier this year, U.S. goods exports to Colombia are up 20 percent over the same period last year. U.S. goods imports from Colombia for May to July 2012 were up 7 percent over the same period last year.

    The group also discussed the Miami Free Zone, Miami-Dade County’s Foreign Trade Zone, the expansion of the Panama Canal, and PortMiami’s infrastructure.

  • 11/20/2012 3:51 PM

    This week, families all across the United States will come together on Thanksgiving to spend time with their loved ones and eat a signature Thanksgiving dinner. Chances are most of their favorite Thanksgiving food staples will be grown and raised here in America. But did you know that people all over the world love American-grown Thanksgiving fare too?

    Here’s a sampling of traditional Thanksgiving foods exported from the United States to food-lovers throughout the world.


    Turkey is the centerpiece of Thanksgiving in America, the signature dish that brings everything together. Apparently, Americans aren’t the only ones who love a good turkey; the United States exported over $520 million in fresh, frozen, whole or cut turkey to the world in 2011.


    Potatoes any way, be it mashed, baked, au gratin, fried, or French fried, almost always make their way into our Thanksgiving meals. The United States exported $255 million of that super starch to the world in 2011.

    Fresh Cranberries:

    No Thanksgiving meal is complete without the requisite side dish of cranberry sauce. Fresh cranberries can also be added to a salad, or dessert and many people also enjoy drinking a glass of cranberry juice. In 2011, the U.S. exported $19 million worth of fresh cranberries to the world.


    The dessert table at Thanksgiving dinners wouldn’t be complete without the customary apple pie, a signature American dish. Last year, the United States exported $952 million worth of apples, which represented a 13% increase from the amount exported the year before.


    During the holiday season, many people like to relax and enjoy a glass of wine with friends and family. From Thanksgiving until New Year’s Day, people around the world will kick back with wine exported from the United States. In fact, our wine exports totaled almost $1.25 billion last year. This billion dollar industry is branching out worldwide, and supports jobs here at home.

    Pumpkin Seeds:

    Whether used in soup, salad or traditional pumpkin pie, pumpkins are another must-have at any Thanksgiving dinner. In 2011, the United States exported $2 million worth of pumpkin seeds.


    In addition to the traditional apple and pumpkin pies, many people around the country will enjoy a slice of warm pecan pie for dessert on Thanksgiving Day. In 2011, the United States exported $183 million of pecans.

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that every $1 billion of U.S. agricultural exports supports approximately 8,400 jobs on and off the farm. Those export-supported jobs enable farmers, ranchers, and workers to provide for their families and communities all across America. In 2011, the United States exported $137.4 billion worth of agricultural products to the rest of the world in support of more than one million U.S. jobs. That’s why here at USTR, we are thankful for international trade that enables U.S. exporters to ship billions of dollars worth of agricultural products grown and raised in America to customers around the world.

  • 11/15/2012 5:49 PM

    Today, Ambassador Kirk spoke at the U.S.-Panama Business Council’s Panama Week 2012 luncheon. His remarks focused on entry into force of the U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement and the Obama Administration’s comprehensive approach to trade throughout the Western Hemisphere.

    “Entry into force of the U.S.-Panama trade agreement is good news for businesses and workers in both Panama and the United States. By eliminating tariffs and other barriers to U.S. exports of goods and services, the agreement continues to build on a strong baseline of growing two-way trade and investment between our countries,” said Ambassador Kirk.

    Ambassador Kirk specifically thanked Panamanian Trade Minister Ricardo Quijano and Panamanian Ambassador to the United States Mario Jaramillo for their tireless efforts to bring the agreement to fruition. Ambassador Kirk also thanked members of the U.S.-Panama Business Council for their steadfast support and advocacy for the agreement. He encouraged private sector representatives to keep in touch with both the U.S. and Panamanian governments in the months ahead.

    The U.S.-Panama trade agreement marks a major milestone in the strong U.S.-Panama partnership and reflects the Obama Administration’s continuing focus on trade with Latin America. With the U.S.-Panama trade agreement entering into force, 12 out of the United States’ 20 free trade agreement partner countries are located in the Western Hemisphere.

  • 11/14/2012 1:46 PM

    On Tuesday, November 13th, Ambassador Kirk and Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis co-hosted a meeting of the Labor Advisory Committee (LAC) for Trade Negotiations and Trade Policy at the Department of Labor. They were joined by LAC chairman and International President of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM), Thomas Buffenbarger. Members in attendance included Clayola Brown, National President of the A. Philip Randolph Institute; Edwin Hill, President of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers; Gregory Junemann, President of the International Federation of Professional & Technical Engineers, and Lee Moak, President of the International Air Line Pilots Association.

    LAC Chairman Buffenbarger began the meeting by welcoming the committee members and outlining areas of interest. Secretary Solis followed and delivered remarks regarding the United States Department of Labor’s commitments to support the creation of good-paying jobs for American workers, enforce United States labor laws, and maintain an open dialogue with labor unions and the Office of the United States Trade Representative.

    Ambassador Kirk thanked the members for their service and congratulated Chairman Buffenbarger on being re-elected as LAC chair. Ambassador Kirk subsequently discussed the importance of having a balanced trade policy that helps American small businesses, farmers, and ranchers access new markets while maintaining core trade values. He went on to provide updates on the Obama Administration’s trade agenda, and touched on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations, the success of the Interagency Trade Enforcement Center (ITEC), the continuing effort to ensure Permanent Normalized Trade Relations (PNTR) with Russia, and the exploratory talks of a potential trade agreement with the European Union.

    Committee members noted the Obama Administration’s strong commitment to continue engagement with labor unions, and discussed the ongoing TPP negotiations, the enforcement of labor laws, and the possibility of adding labor unions to the industry trade advisory committees.

    The LAC is co-administered by the Office of the United States Trade Representative and the Department of Labor. The committee provides advice and recommendations on issues and general policy matters concerning labor and trade negotiations, including operation of trade agreements. This was the 7th meeting that Ambassador Kirk attended.

  • 11/14/2012 1:37 PM

    Note: This is a cross post from the Office of Management and Budget's website. To see the original post, please click here.

    November 13, 2012

    Executive Office of the President
    Office of Management and Budget

    H.R. 6156 – Russia and Moldova Jackson-Vanik Repeal Act of 2012
    (Rep. Camp, R-MI, and 14 cosponsors)

    The Administration strongly supports H.R. 6156, which would extend Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) treatment to the products of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Moldova.

    In order for American businesses, workers, farmers and ranchers to reap the same economic benefits in Russia's markets that other WTO members receive, the Congress must end the applicability of title IV of the Trade Act of 1974 to Russia and authorize the President to extend PNTR to Russia. H.R. 6156 is about providing opportunities for American businesses and workers and creating jobs here at home.

    The Administration seeks to promote the rule of law and respect for human rights around the world and intends to continue working with the Congress to support those seeking a free and democratic future for Russia. The Administration supports Moldova's ongoing reform efforts and its aspirations for further integration into European institutions.