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October

  • 10/26/2012 9:39 AM

    By Tiffany Enoch, Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement

    On Wednesday, October 24th, Ambassadors Kirk and Marantis hosted the biannual Trade Advisory Committee on Africa (TACA) meeting in Washington, D.C. Ambassador Kirk reflected on the work of the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) over the last year, touching on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), USTR’s completion of the trade agreements with Korea, Colombia, and Panama, and President Obama’s creation of the Interagency Trade Enforcement Center (ITEC).

    TACA Meeting Members of the Trade Advisory Committee on Africa (TACA) meet at USTR.

    Ambassador Kirk also focused on the maturing trade relationships between the U.S. and many African countries. He touched on the newly negotiated Trade Investment Framework Agreements (TIFAs) with Angola and South Africa, which led to significant improvements in U.S. relations with both of these countries. He also mentioned his 2011 trip to Zambia for the African Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) Forum, where he announced the African Competitiveness and Trade Expansion Initiative (ACTE) to build trade capacity in Africa. Ambassador Kirk described how the Obama Administration, alongside stakeholders, secured the renewal of AGOA’s Third Country Fabric Provision, which supports jobs in Africa and in the U.S. He lauded the President for launching a youth leadership initiative to help engage Africa’s future leaders, and for starting the African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program to help empower Africa’s women. Ambassador Kirk closed by discussing the President’s new “U.S. Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa,” which will serve as a blueprint for our strategic engagement with the region.

    TACA MeetingAmbassador Kirk briefs TACA members on trade developments in Africa.

    Following Ambassador Kirk remarks, Ambassador Marantis briefed TACA members on his recent visit to East Africa to advance the U.S. – East African Community (EAC) Trade and Investment Partnership. The EAC partnership seeks to enhance regional integration and trade relationships among the five EAC partner states (Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda). During his trip, Ambassador Marantis met with senior officials, visited exporters who benefitted from AGOA, and met with local members of the American Chamber of Commerce. In addition to reporting on his trip, Ambassador Marantis discussed the long-term future of AGOA.

  • 10/23/2012 11:57 AM

    By Melanie Wheeler, USTR Press Office 

    Yesterday, key government officials, trade stakeholders, and members of the press were on hand to witness U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and Panamanian Minister of Commerce and Industry Ricardo Quijano sign a letter exchange setting a date for the entry-into-force of the U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement (TPA). This letter-exchange and the pending entry-into-force represent a conclusion to a comprehensive negotiating process—negotiation of the Agreement was concluded in 2006, Panama’s government gave it its seal of approval in 2007, and President Obama signed the agreement into law on October 21, 2011. This is the third such agreement to enter-into-force under the Obama Administration within a year of its signing, following the Korean and Colombian agreements.

    Panama EIF Letter ExchangeAmbassador Kirk and Panamanian Minister of Commerce and Industry Ricardo Quijano
    exchanged letters in which they determined that the U.S.-Panama Trade
    Promotion Agreement will enter into force on October 31, 2012.

    Beginning October 31st, Panama will eliminate tariffs on more than 86 percent of U.S. industrial and consumer goods. Almost half of U.S. agricultural goods, which currently face average tariffs of 15 percent, will immediately become duty-free. All tariffs on industrial goods will be eliminated within 10 years, and most of the remaining tariffs on agricultural goods will be eliminated over the next 15 years. U.S. service providers will gain significantly greater access to Panama’s $22 billion services market, and will enjoy greater protections as they do so. As Ambassador Kirk reminded those in attendance, “Panama is one of the fastest growing economies in Latin America, expanding 10.6 percent in 2011, with forecasts of between five to eight percent annual growth through 2017. That adds up to support for more well-paying jobs across the United States.”

    Here’s what other stakeholders are saying about yesterday’s event:

    United States Department of Agriculture

    "The U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement (Panama TPA) enters into force next week, eliminating tariffs and other barriers to U.S. goods and services, promoting economic growth, and enhancing trade between the United States and Panama. Last year, President Obama insisted that we get this agreement with Panama right-alongside pacts with South Korea and Colombia-forging a better deal for America's workers and businesses that led to strong bipartisan support in both houses of Congress. Altogether, these agreements will bring an additional $2.2 billion in agricultural exports.”

    -Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack

    Link

    United States Department of Commerce

    “New U.S. trade agreements mean more export opportunities for American companies–and more American jobs. The U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement goes into effect next week, and will eliminate the majority of tariffs that U.S. exporters currently face. The agreement guarantees expanded access for U.S. manufactured and agricultural products, as well as to Panama’s $22 billion services market, including in priority areas such as telecommunications, computer, distribution, express delivery, energy, environmental, and professional services. The Commerce Department and the Obama administration stand ready to assist U.S. companies take full advantage of the new opportunities this trade agreement presents.”

    -Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank

    Link

    Senate Committee on Finance Chairman Max Baucus

    “’Free trade agreements like the Panama FTA will give the U.S. economy a much-needed boost and create new jobs for American workers here at home,’ Senator Baucus said. ‘Enhancing and expanding access to rapidly growing foreign markets like Panama is an opportunity for American workers, farmers, ranchers and businesses.’”

    Link

    House Committee on Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp

    “Today's announcement is welcome news for U.S. workers, farmers, ranchers and job-creators. Implementing the U.S.-Panama trade agreement will create new jobs and more paychecks here at home. I congratulate the teams in both countries for their diligent work. In these difficult economic times, we must take advantage of every opportunity to spur growth and create jobs here at home. We must build off this success and continue to promote a robust and ambitious trade and investment agenda that will increase American prosperity and allow us to lead again.”

    Link

    House Committee on Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee Chairman Kevin Brady

    “I welcome the announcement that the U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement will enter into force on October 31, 2012. We can now begin to regain the market share for U.S. goods and services lost in Panama during the years this agreement sat on the shelf. While I am pleased that entry into force will occur soon, finally implementing an agreement that was completed over five years ago is merely treading water. Much more work needs to be done, such as prompt completion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and exploration of new market access initiatives for U.S. goods and services abroad.”

    Link

    House Committee on Ways and Means Human Resources Subcommittee Chairman Erik Paulsen

    "Today’s announcement is welcome news for Minnesota workers, farmers, and employers. Our state’s job-creators export nearly $24 million worth of goods to Panama - $7 million of that right here in our own district. With this new agreement we create a level playing field for American businesses in Panama and help create new U.S. jobs and economic growth. But there is more to be done. It is vital that we continue to promote a robust and ambitious trade agenda by completing initiatives like the Trans-Pacific Partnership in order to promote more exports."

    Link

    U.S. Chamber of Commerce

    “’This critical agreement will ignite economic growth and job creation in the U.S. and Panama,” said U.S. Chamber Senior Vice President for International Affairs Myron Brilliant. “With this step, we can take the century-old U.S.-Panama alliance to the next level.’

    The agreement will level the playing field for U.S. workers, farmers, and companies by immediately eliminating Panamanian duties on more than 87% of U.S. exports. It will also open services markets and strengthen intellectual property rights.”

    Business Roundtable

    “’Implementation of the U.S.-Panama FTA is welcome news as we work to get our economy moving again,’ said Doug Oberhelman, Chairman & CEO of Caterpillar Inc., and Chair of BRT’s International Engagement Committee. ‘Panama is an important strategic and commercial partner for the United States, and this overdue free trade agreement will increase U.S. exports to the fast-growing region, supporting U.S. economic growth and American jobs in the process.’”

    Link

    Emergency Committee for American Trade

    “Calman Cohen, President of the Emergency Committee for American Trade (ECAT), issued the following statement today on the Administration’s announcement that the U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement would enter into force on October 31, 2012: ‘ECAT welcomes the long-sought implementation of the U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement (TPA). This high-standard trade and investment accord will provide new markets for American farmers, ranchers, manufacturers and service providers in Panama.’”

    Link

    Americas Society/Council of the Americas

    “Council of the Americas welcomes today’s announcement that the U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement will enter into force on October 31, 2012. The U.S. Congress voted to approve the agreement by a large bipartisan majority last October. Today, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and Panama’s Minister of Commerce and Industry Ricardo Quijano exchanged letters setting October 31 as the date for implementation.”

    Link

    National Cattlemen’s Beef Association

    “‘The cattle industry has been waiting on implementation of this agreement for a long time and we’re looking forward to increased trade opportunities with Panama,’ said Bob McCan, NCBA vice president and a Texas cattleman. ‘The U.S.-Panama Free Trade Agreement immediately eliminates the 30 percent tariff on prime and choice beef cuts and all other duties will be phased out over the next 15 years. This is a positive step forward for American cattlemen and women.’”

    Link

    American Soybean Association

    "The enactment of the free trade agreement with Panama at the end of the month is a big win for soybean farmers," said ASA President Steve Wellman, a soybean farmer from Syracuse, Neb. "Panama is one of the most rapidly-growing economies in Latin America, and represents a valuable market for American soy and the many products like poultry and pork for which soy is critical in the production process. We commend the American and Panamanian governments for their work on seeing this agreement to completion and we look forward to continuing a successful partnership with our friends in Panama."

    Link

     

  • 10/22/2012 5:32 PM

    Today, Deputy United States Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis concluded his visit to East Africa with a stop in Nairobi, Kenya. On Friday, Ambassador Marantis met with Kenyan Minister of Trade Moses Wetang’ula and discussed the growing U.S.-Kenya bilateral trade relationship, and the U.S.-East African Community (EAC) Trade and Investment Partnership. They also discussed the recent renewal of the African Growth and Opportunity Act's (AGOA) Third Country Fabric provision and its role in the employment of tens of thousands of Kenyan women.

    Following the meeting with Minister Wetang’ula on Friday, Ambassador Marantis participated in the U.S.-EAC trade ministerial meeting, in which the two sides made substantial progress on each component of the partnership, including the establishment of a Commercial Dialogue.

    Amb Marantis KenyaAmbassador Marantis meets with AGOA exporters at "COMPETE," the East and
    Central African Trade Hub

    Today, Ambassador Marantis opened the Third Annual African AmCham Summit, during which he highlighted the growing opportunities for U.S.-Africa trade and investment and the important role the American and African private sectors play. Ambassador Marantis also met with a number of AGOA exporters which have been supported by “COMPETE,” the East and Central African Trade Hub. COMPETE works to increase trade and investment between the United States and East Africa and reduce barriers to regional and international trade. Following his visit to the Trade Hub, Ambassador Marantis toured Butterfly Properties, a real estate construction and development company, to personally witness how U.S. exports to Africa can create jobs in the United States and support economic growth in Africa. Butterfly imports molds from Waffle-Crete International, a Kansas-based concrete firm, to introduce new U.S. building technology in Kenya. The technology is expected to revolutionize the building industry in Kenya by creating safer, greener, and stronger structures at a faster rate than traditional building.

    Amb Marantis KenyaAmbassador Marantis tours Butterfly Properties in Nairobi, Kenya

    Ambassador Marantis then met with Trademark East Africa, a multi-donor funded organization devoted to enhancing East African regional and international trade. Ambassador Marantis concluded his visit to East Africa by delivering remarks to U.S. and local business leaders at the African AmCham Summit reception. In his remarks, he underscored the strength of the U.S.-Africa economic relationship and the benefits of two-way trade and investment between Africa and the United States.

  • 10/18/2012 1:31 PM

    This week, as part of his visit to East Africa, Deputy United States Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis traveled to Tanzania for a series of meetings and site visits with government officials and local stakeholders.

    On Tuesday, Ambassador Marantis met with Tanzanian Vice President Mohammed Bilal to discuss the U.S.-East African Community (EAC) Trade and Investment Partnership and its mutual benefits for the two countries and the region. The meeting marked another important step to solidify the new partnership.  On the same day, Ambassador Marantis took part in a luncheon with the Tanzanian American Chamber of Commerce Board and the African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program (AWEP), where he sought views and suggestions from local Tanzanian business leaders on how to increase bilateral trade and investment. He concluded the day with a visit to Footloose Handicrafts, one of the biggest exporters of locally-made handicrafts to the United States under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). The company organizes small-scale craft producers into cooperatives and provides them with training, market information, and a variety of other services to improve the quality of their products.  After the visit, Ambassador Marantis spoke to the local press about the potential for greater U.S.-Tanzanian trade and investment, including opportunities in the apparel sector resulting from Congress’ recent extension of AGOA's Third Country Fabric Provision.

    ADM FootlooseAmbassador Marantis visits Footloose Handicrafts Limited, a company that exports
    Tanzanian Handicrafts to the United States

    The following day, Ambassador Marantis met senior members of the Tanzanian Government from a variety of ministries including the Ministry of East African Cooperation and the Ministry of Trade and discussed Tanzania's interest in taking advantage of AGOA and attracting U.S. Investment, and how the U.S.-EAC Trade and Investment Partnership will help accomplish and further these goals.  They also discussed the partnership’s potential to further EAC regional integration and economic growth, as well as strengthen economic ties between the United States and Tanzania.  After the meetings, Ambassador Marantis toured the Port of Dar es Salaam, which is the third largest port on the east coast of Africa and a strategic entry and exit point for major Eastern and Southern African transit corridors.  He praised the vast improvements at the port and underscored the importance of improving the Port’s infrastructure and performance.

    Ambassador Marantis closed out his visit to Tanzania when, in his capacity as a board member of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), he participated in a meeting with Tanzania-based U.S. companies and OPIC Chief of Staff John Morton.  The meeting focused on OPIC's growing investments in sub-Saharan Africa.

    Ambassador Marantis is in East Africa to advance the U.S.-East African Community (EAC) Trade and Investment Partnership, a model initiative to enhance regional integration among the five EAC partner states (Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda) and two-way trade and investment between the EAC partner states and the United States. While on his three country visit, Ambassador Marantis will conduct bilateral meetings with partner state senior officials, visit African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) exporters, meet with various private sector organizations—including a meeting of all U.S. American Chambers of Commerce in sub-Saharan Africa—and participate in a special EAC trade Ministerial meeting with key leaders from all five EAC partner states.

  • 10/17/2012 3:47 PM

    On Wednesday, October 17, 2012, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk delivered keynote remarks at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and National District Export Council’s workshop on “Defeating Foreign Trade Barriers.” Small and medium-size business owners and members of the National District Export Council were on hand for Ambassador Kirk’s remarks and for the subsequent workshop activities.

    In his remarks, Ambassador Kirk explained how the efforts of the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) to remove trade barriers can assist small businesses by eliminating tariffs, improving intellectual property rights protection, and easing customs administration to get products to market more quickly. He touched on the Small Business Network of the Americas (SBNA), a promising new small business initiative rolled out by the Obama Administration in April 2012. The SBNA will expand the pool of available resources for small business development, enhance access to business counseling services for entrepreneurs, and foster small business growth by providing a framework to connect businesses across the Western Hemisphere. USTR and our partner agencies will play an important role in this new initiative by connecting Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) in the United States with their counterparts in foreign countries, who have leads on export and business opportunities.

    ARK WorkshopAmbassador Kirk addresses participants at the "Defeating Foreign Trade Barriers" Workshop hosted by the 
    U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National District Export Council

    Ambassador Kirk pointed to the U.S.-EU Transatlantic Economic Council Small and Medium-Sized Enterprise (SME) Workshops as a developing forum for government engagement with small business stakeholders. USTR, the Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Department of Commerce (DOC), in coordination with our EU partners, launched the workshops in 2011 in an effort to identify trade barriers facing small businesses, share best practices, and increase U.S.-EU cooperation in small business trade promotion.

    The Interagency Trade Enforcement Center (ITEC), Ambassador Kirk said, is another key element of the Administration's focus on removing barriers to small business exports. The ITEC, created by executive order of President Obama, is charged with monitoring our trade partners to ensure that they abide by their obligations. Most small businesses don’t have the time or resources to fight unfair trade practices on their own, and the ITEC’s comprehensive, all-hands-on-deck approach will enhance the United States’ ability to investigate and pursue enforcement cases critical to the needs of U.S. workers and companies of all sizes.

    Ambassador Kirk wasn’t the only representative from USTR to participate in the workshop; USTR staff participated in panels and roundtables on non-tariff barriers, company success stories, intellectual property rights (IPR), trade facilitation and customs, government procurement, and standards and regulatory cooperation.

  • 10/15/2012 5:13 PM

    Today, Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis began his three country East Africa visit in Burundi where he met with senior government officials and members of the private sector. Ambassador Marantis met with Second Vice President Gervais Rufyikiri, Commerce Minister Victoire Ndikumana, and other officials who were participating in a conference focused on rooting out corruption in Burundi. The officials discussed the Burundian government’s reform agenda and its policies to increase economic growth and reduce poverty, particularly through increased trade and investment. Ambassador Marantis commended the Burundian Government on its efforts to reform the local business environment, which has significantly improved Burundi's ranking in the World Bank’s “Doing Business” report. He encouraged them to continue such reforms.

    Ambassador Marantis also pressed them to develop a national strategy to take advantage of the export opportunities provided by the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). In addition, he discussed how the new U.S.-East African Community (EAC) Trade and Investment Partnership can benefit Burundi, the EAC, and the United States by promoting investment and reducing bottlenecks to trade.

    Ambassador Marantis in AfricaPictured right to left: U.S. Charge d'Affairs Sam Watson;
    Ambassador Demetrios Marantis;
    Burundian Minister of Commerce, Industry, Post, and Tourism Victoire Ndikumana;
    Second Vice President of Burundi Gervais Rufyikiri
     

    Ambassador Marantis then visited the Kazoza I’kawa Coffee Washing Station, one of the many coffee processing facilities in the country that have benefited from U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) assistance. Ambassador Marantis and local coffee farmers discussed how the open U.S. market for African-produced products, like coffee - coupled with development assistance provided by the United States - can create opportunities to increase incomes and reduce poverty in Burundi.

    At his last stop of the day in Bujumbura, Ambassador Marantis met with local private-sector stakeholders. Participants at the meeting acknowledged the improved business climate in Burundi, but said that more could be done to help them take advantage of increased business opportunities in the region and with the United States.

    Ambassador Marantis is in East Africa to advance the U.S.-East African Community (EAC) Trade and Investment Partnership, a model initiative to enhance regional integration among the five EAC partner states (Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda) and two-way trade and investment between the EAC partner states and the United States. While on his three country visit, Ambassador Marantis will conduct bilateral meetings with partner state senior officials, visit African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) exporters, meet with various private sector organizations—including a meeting of all U.S. American Chambers of Commerce in sub-Saharan Africa—and participate in a special EAC trade Ministerial meeting with key leaders from all five EAC partner states.

  • 10/12/2012 3:47 PM

    By Tiffany Enoch, Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement

    On Wednesday, October 10th, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk hosted a conference call with members of the Intergovernmental Policy Advisory Committee (IGPAC). The IGPAC is comprised of representatives from state and local governments and organizations, who provide policy advice and recommendations to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR).

    Ambassador Kirk discussed a number of key trade issues on the call, including the critical role of the Interagency Trade Enforcement Center (ITEC). The ITEC, created by President Obama’s executive order earlier this year, draws on the expertise of many federal agencies to enforce trade agreements with our international trading partners. Ambassador Kirk spoke at length about ITEC’s enhanced enforcement efforts, and detailed some of the pending and completed enforcement cases before World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute panels.

    Ambassador Kirk also briefed the Committee on the admission of Mexico and Canada into the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the importance of securing permanent normal trading relations (PNTR) with Russia, the positive effects of trade agreements on jobs and growth, and the benefits of a potential comprehensive trade agreement between the United States and the European Union. IGPAC members engaged with Ambassador Kirk on these and other issues, and offered recommendations from their state and local perspectives.

  • 10/11/2012 4:43 PM

    By Isaac Faz, Acting Assistant USTR for Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement

    Today, Ambassador Kirk hosted the Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations (ACTPN) at its biannual meeting in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. Ambassador Kirk reviewed the work of the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) over the last year, and also touched on its continuing efforts to negotiate the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), expand trade opportunities in Africa, and enhance trade enforcement with the help of the newly formed Interagency Trade Enforcement Center (ITEC).

    ACTPN MeetingHarold "Terry" McGraw of McGraw-Hill Companies moderates Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations Conference

    Director of the National Economic Council Gene Sperling and Deputy National Security Advisor Michael Froman delivered trade-related updates to the Committee as well. Director Sperling spoke on the need to do everything we can to strengthen America’s economic recovery while maintaining long-term fiscal discipline, and to ensure that we invest in infrastructure, skills, and research and technology. Deputy National Security Advisor Froman addressed ongoing international trade initiatives, and reiterated the importance of granting permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) to Russia. Establishing PNTR with Russia will ensure that U.S. businesses, workers, and innovators can reap the full benefits of Russia’s membership in the World Trade Organization (WTO).

    ACTPN meetingAmbassador Kirk speaks at this year's second ACTPN meeting.

    Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis, Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Miriam Sapiro, USTR General Counsel Tim Reif, and Director of ITEC Brad Ward all provided additional input for the committee members. During the open discussion, members asked specific questions on a range of topics that included China, the TPP, a potential trade agreement with the European Union, and the recently implemented trade agreement with Colombia.

    In closing, Ambassador Kirk thanked the members for their service and noted that October 11, 2012, was the 50th Anniversary of USTR, which was established in 1962 by President John F. Kennedy.

  • 10/04/2012 4:23 PM

    By Kate Villarreal, Press Assistant 

    Yesterday, United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk kicked off this year’s Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) at a launch event attended by Executive Office of the President (EOP) employees in the South Court Auditorium of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. Ambassador Kirk is serving as the EOP Chair for the CFC, which, through the collective contributions of more than 120,000 civilian and military federal employees in the National Capital Area, is part of the largest workplace giving campaign in the world.

    ARK CFCAmbassador Kirk addresses EOP employees at the CFC kickoff event

    Ambassador Kirk spoke to attendees about the importance of giving, and he outlined a vision to increase participation across the spectrum of hardworking EOP staff. “The size of the gift doesn’t matter,” he said. “Give until it feels good.”

    He also talked about the power of the individual in bringing about change, pointing out that many charitable organizations were founded by strong and compassionate individuals who saw needs in their communities, and then took action to meet those needs.

    After the opening remarks, Kim Muñoz from the Quality of Life Foundation and Rebecca Milner of the International Medical Corps shared information about the work of their charitable organizations. The Quality of Life Foundation provides support for wounded veterans and their families. The International Medical Corps provides humanitarian assistance, medical care, and training to areas affected by disaster and conflict.

    For more information on the CFC and workplace giving, please see here.

  • 10/01/2012 6:42 PM

    Last Friday, United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk traveled to Miami to discuss how President Obama’s trade and economic agenda is supporting more jobs for people in Florida and across the country. In the morning, he participated in a White House Business Council meeting with local business leaders at Miami Dade College. The discussions focused on a variety of topics that impact businesses in Florida, including passage and entry into force of the new trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama, as well as the importance of infrastructure.

    Later in the morning, Ambassador Kirk spoke to and took questions from members of the Beacon Council – a Miami-based non-profit that helps to attract and keep businesses in the Miami area. The conversation focused on President Obama’s plan to grow American jobs and strengthen the middle class through increased exports of ‘Made in America’ products. Ambassador Kirk highlighted the key trade policy accomplishments of the Obama Administration, and the positive impact they’ve had on employment rates and growth of exports for the Miami region.

    “In terms of trade, we are opening up markets abroad so that leaders like you can expand your businesses internationally,” Ambassador Kirk said in his remarks. “Goods exports from the greater Miami region were up more than 20 percent last year to $43.1 billion overall. That total includes, for example, $10.2 billion worth of computers and electronic products, $5.8 billion worth of transportation equipment, and $3.8 billion worth of machinery,” he said.

    “More importantly, those dollar amounts support real paychecks for tens of thousands of Floridians working in export industries. And we are working to help you do even better,” said Ambassador Kirk.

    After his speech at the Beacon Council, Ambassador Kirk participated in a roundtable meeting with The Council of the Americas, where the group discussed enforcement issues, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and the addition of new TPP member countries Mexico and Canada. They also talked about the economic relationship between the U.S. and Brazil.

    Ambassador Kirk’s visit to Miami highlights the Obama Administration’s commitment to ensuring that ’Made in America’ remain the most powerful brand in the world, and that the United States remains the best place in the world to innovate, invest, build a business or get a job.