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2013

  • 12/27/2013 4:25 PM

    Check out Doug Oberhelman's op-ed on Trade Promotion Authority in the McClatchy Tribune, here.

    To learn more about Trade Promotion Authority, please visit http://www.ustr.gov/trade-topics/trade-promotion-authority.

  • 12/20/2013 9:03 PM

    US-ColombiaJennifer Prescott, Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Environment and Natural Resources, Office of the United States Trade Representative, Dr. Kerri-Ann Jones, Assistant Secretary for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, U.S. Department of State, Pablo Vieira Samper, Vice Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development, Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development, Luis Felipe Quintero, Director of Trade Relations, Ministry of Trade, Industry and Tourism


    This week, Assistant United States Trade Representative for Environment and Natural Resources Jennifer Prescott co-chaired the inaugural meetings of the United States - Colombia Environmental Affairs Council (EAC) and Environmental Cooperation Commission (ECC). The Council and Commission meetings are an important way for the U.S. and Colombia to exchange information about respective efforts to continue to implement the Environment Chapter of the TPA. The United States - Colombia Environmental Affairs Council reviewed several areas of progress under the TPA's environment chapter, including actions taken by the United States and Colombia to increase levels of environmental protection, ensure effective enforcement of environmental laws, and provide opportunities for public participation in environmental governance and the trade policy-setting processes.  The Environmental Cooperation Commission (ECC) reviewed ongoing environmental cooperation activities and approved and signed the first U.S.-Colombia Environmental Cooperation Work Plan under the ECA, which provides a robust framework for advancing environmental cooperation in the coming years.

    The meetings focused on progress to implement the environmental provisions of the United States- Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement (TPA), and culminated with a public session in which stakeholders had an opportunity to participate in a discussion with government officials about implementation of the TPA Environment Chapter, existing environmental cooperation programs, and plans for further cooperation.

    For more information, please see the Joint Communique of the Environmental Affairs Council of the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement and Environmental Cooperation Commision of the U.S.-Colombia Environmental Cooperation Agreement.

  • 12/19/2013 4:19 PM

    Yesterday, hundreds of global stakeholders interested in the current transatlantic trade negotiations shared their input and received information from chief negotiators on the third negotiating round of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP). Stakeholder engagement events are an important opportunity for the U.S. Trade Representative and its trade negotiators to receive feedback on the ongoing talks, with the aim of ensuring the strongest possible outcomes for the T-TIP.

    The stakeholder presentations and briefing drew approximately 350 global stakeholders to discuss a variety of issues related to the transatlantic relationship. Negotiators met with and listened to over 50 presentations from representatives of a wide array of interests, including industry, small business, academia, labor unions, environmental groups, and consumer advocacy organizations. Stakeholders also had the opportunity to engage with T-TIP negotiators, ask questions, share viewpoints, and receive feedback directly from the U.S. and EU negotiating teams. The stakeholder event was the latest in a series of formal and informal consultations on T-TIP goals that U.S. T-TIP negotiators have conducted over the past year with Members of Congress, U.S. state government officials, and business, consumer, labor, environmental, and other stakeholders.

    Later in the afternoon, Chief U.S. negotiator Dan Mullaney and Chief EU Negotiator Ignacio Garcia-Bercero briefed stakeholders, took questions, and engaged in dialogue on various topics of interest. The negotiating teams welcomed the feedback received during the sessions and look forward to the opportunity to continue this dialogue in the future.

    The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) seeks to promote jobs and growth by adding to the 13 million American and EU jobs already supported by transatlantic trade and investment. The EU is our largest trading partner, with $2.7 billion worth of goods and services flowing between us each day. The T-TIP offers an opportunity for the U.S. to partner with the EU on an initiative that will build more jobs and spur economic growth, while maintaining the high standards for public health, public safety, and environmental and consumer protection that people on both sides of the Atlantic expect.

    For upcoming opportunities in the future, please send your information to IAPE@ustr.eop.gov.

    For a full list of organizations that participated in the stakeholder event, please click here.

     

     

  • 12/17/2013 6:49 PM

    “This new deal, and particularly the new trade facilitation agreement, will eliminate red tape and bureaucratic delay for goods shipped around the globe. Small businesses will be among the biggest winners, since they encounter the greatest difficulties in navigating the current system. By some estimates, the global economic value of the new WTO deal could be worth hundreds of billions of dollars.” – President Barack Obama

    On December 6th, the World Trade Organization marked the first successful conclusion of multilateral trade negotiations in its nearly two-decade history. The resulting Trade Facilitation Agreement will have great benefits to many different sectors, one important area being small business exports. As small businesses play an increasingly vital role in the U.S. and global economy, the Trade Facilitation Agreement will help make it easier for U.S. small businesses to navigate customs procedures and sell their exports to customers around the world.

    Under the new Trade Facilitation Agreement, small businesses will have new opportunities to benefit from international trade. The new agreement will provide increased transparency and access to customs documents, regulations and procedures, and will publicize other information required for small businesses to engage in trade. By providing this information in a comprehensive online publication, small business exporters will have a “how to” guide for trading with the WTO’s 160 member countries, right at their fingertips.

    Among the many new obligations that WTO Members will undertake to reform customs practices and increase efficiency of goods crossing borders, another benefit small businesses will receive is access to expedited shipping channels. This is particularly important to small businesses that are developing their logistics capacities. By providing access to shipping channels and express carriers, small businesses around the world will have better access to global supply chains and can export their goods in a more cost-efficient and timely manner. Also, the reduction of documentary requirements, processing of documents before goods arrive, use of electronic payments, and quick release of perishable goods are measures in the agreement which can further reduce costs for small business exporters.

    The success of small businesses plays an important role in the growth of the global economy. According to the World Bank and World Economic Reform, bringing countries even halfway to ‘best practices’ in trade facilitation would add 4.7% to world GDP, with much of the growth supported by small businesses. Expedited customs procedures and improving technological and shipping capabilities of small businesses, are key ways to “eliminate the red tape” and help small business engage in international trade and access its many job-creating benefits.

  • 12/09/2013 5:01 PM

    Check out the San Francisco Chronicle editorial on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, here.

    To learn more about the Trans-Pacific Partnership, please visit ustr.gov/tpp

  • 12/08/2013 12:41 PM

     The White House issued a statement from President Obama on Sunday, December 8, regarding the World Trade Organization Agreement. You can view the statement here.


    You can also view Ambassador Froman's statement following the 9th Ministerial Conference of the world trade organization
    here.

     

    FACT SHEET: Saving Money, Growing Trade, Raising Incomes Worldwide: The New WTO Trade Facilitiation Agreement 


    FACT SHEET: Promoting Food Security, Facilitating Competition, Enhancing Exports: New Multilateral Agriculture Provisions at the WTO


    FACT SHEET: Trade as a Tool to Alleviate Poverty: Multilateral Results on Development at the World Trade Organization

  • 12/07/2013 6:00 PM

    On December 7, the 9th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO) achieved its first fully multilateral agreement in its almost twenty year history, creating a new opportunity for economic prosperity for each of the 159 WTO members. The topics of the five-day ministerial conference included development of smaller countries, trade streamlining, and food security improvement, marking a new era for the WTO, the Doha Round, and international trade. Elected officials, Members of Congress, and private and public sector stakeholders have also expressed their support for this landmark achievement. Below is a sampling of what others are saying so far – check back for periodic updates.


    “This new deal, and particularly the new trade facilitation agreement, will eliminate red tape and bureaucratic delay for goods shipped around the globe. Small businesses will be among the biggest winners, since they encounter the greatest difficulties in navigating the current system. By some estimates, the global economic value of the new WTO deal could be worth hundreds of billions of dollars.”

    - President Barack Obama
    http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2013/12/08/statement-president-world-trade-organization-trade-agreement



    “The breakthrough agreement reached in Bali by the World Trade Organization (WTO) reaffirms the commitment of the international community to an open trade system which boosts global growth and jobs, and cuts poverty.”

    - Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF)
    http://www.imf.org/external/np/sec/pr/2013/pr13496.htm


    "The WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement is great news for the entire global trading community, and will help to restore the role of the WTO as a place to conclude trade deals whose benefits are spread broadly around the world. I applaud the work of United States Trade Representative Michael Froman and look forward to further achievements at the WTO, including expansion of the Information Technology Agreement."

    - Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.)
    http://www.finance.senate.gov/newsroom/chairman/release/?id=d3f8a0c3-7025-4af7-88b4-a7b430964c67 


    “The successful WTO negotiations in Bali mark an important first step towards reducing global trade barriers in the 21st century. American entrepreneurs and workers can compete with anyone on a level economic playing field. Expanding free and fair trade is a national imperative that will create job opportunities for our own people and help others around the world rely less on foreign assistance and benefit more from the free enterprise system.”

    - U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL)
    http://www.rubio.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/press-releases?ID=e598fdc8-bc4b-4eb5-a420-bbf5b2a7ec2a

    “Success in Bali gives the WTO a chance to consider its future course. One immediate priority will be to conclude negotiations to expand the product coverage of the Information Technology Agreement, which has delivered a cornucopia of technology products to the world. Extending free trade to the hundreds of new tech products invented since that agreement was reached in 1996 will multiply its benefits.”

     - U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas J. Donohue


    “ The WTO Bali package is an important achievement and its trade facilitation agreement will enhance the flow of U.S. goods and services and enable American companies to be more competitive in today’s global marketplace.”

    - Doug Oberhelman, Chairman and CEO of Caterpillar Inc., and Chair of Business Roundtable’s International Engagement Committee


    “Manufacturers are pleased to see the WTO conclude a strong and binding Trade Facilitation Agreement that will cut red tape at borders throughout the world and boost economic activity. Predictable, efficient and transparent customs procedures will help manufacturers in the United States more effectively and efficiently access the 95 percent of global customers that live outside our borders.”

    - National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) Vice President of International Economic Affairs Linda Dempsey
    http://www.nam.org/Communications/Articles/2013/12/WTO-Trade-Facilitation-Agreement-Will-Cut-Red-Tape-and-Boost-Economy.aspx

     

    “The merits of this agreement are manifold. It is the first multilateral trade agreement concluded since the founding of the World Trade Organization almost 20 years ago. It replaces the disappointments of the past decade with a constructive precedent for the WTO and its membership to build upon, going forward.”

    - President of the Emergency Committee for American Trade (ECAT) Calman J. Cohen

     

    “WTO members have delivered a dose of holiday cheer to a struggling global economy. We congratulate ministers on making the tough choices necessary to push this package of agreements past the finish line. They have demonstrated once again the critical importance of multilateral trade liberalization.”

    - USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson
    https://uscib.org/index.asp?documentID=4643


    "This break-through agreement among 159 nations is a giant step forward for businesses large and small in expediting the movement of goods globally and reducing unnecessary paperwork. While there remain areas where additional progress is necessary, the trade facilitation agreement provides a new base from which we can continue to elevate customs standards. This could further support the pending Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations."

    - UPS chairman and CEO Scott Davis
    http://pressroom.ups.com/Press+Releases/Current+Press+Releases/UPS+Applauds+Landmark+WTO+Trade+Facilitation+Agreement

  • 12/06/2013 6:06 PM

    The Council on Foreign Relations has published a new report on U.S. trade and investment policy. Some highlights from the report:

     

    EXPORTS SUPPORT BETTER, HIGHER-PAYING JOBS – AND THE AMERICAN PEOPLE KNOW IT

    • Obama Administration policies have focused on boosting exports and attracting investment, supporting more and better-paying jobs for Americans than non-export jobs – but continued success requires pursuing “more opportunities for the United States in global markets” and making sure to take “full economic advantage of those openings.”

    • The American people understand the benefits of trade. According to Gallup, 57 percent of Americans emphasize the economic potential of exports while only 35 percent emphasized threats from foreign imports. This is the highest level of support for trade in the twenty year history of the poll.

     

    THE KEY TO SUCCESS IS TO PURSUE NEW MARKET OPENING AGREEMENTS

    • U.S. exports are at record highs and that a larger share of U.S. GDP comes from international trade than it did twenty years ago – but future U.S. economic growth depends on the ability to capture a larger share of emerging markets that are creating a global middle class of consumers.

    • Because the United States is most competitive where trade barriers are highest, further trade liberalization is an important priority for the U.S. economy. “The policy challenge facing the U.S. government is to continue to address those areas of weakness so that greater economic benefits will flow from increasing U.S. integration into the global economy.”

    • TPP and TTIP “could deliver the biggest market opportunities in a generation” and that if they are ratified, it will increase the share of U.S. trade covered under FTAs from 39 to 64 percent.

     

    SERVICES, IN PARTICULAR, ARE A HUGE OPPORTUNITY

    • The large U.S. trade surplus in services due to our highly skilled workforce in tradable services like engineering, architectural design, financial consulting, or legal services. In particular, travel, financial services, and royalties and license fees for U.S. inventions play a key role in driving U.S. leadership in the services sector.

    • Only 5 percent of U.S. business services firms export, compared to 25 percent of manufacturers – meaning that there is a huge potential space for a job-creating expansion in services trade.

  • 12/06/2013 11:36 AM

    During the Ninth WTO Ministerial Conference in Bali, Ambassador Michael Punke joined trade ministers and ambassadors from the Friends of Fish group to mark their shared commitment to the elimination of harmful fisheries subsidies. The group’s twelve member countries, which include Argentina, Australia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Iceland, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Peru, the Philippines, and the United States, pledged to refrain from introducing new, or expanding existing, subsidies that contribute to overfishing or overcapacity. By putting an end to harmful fisheries subsidies, WTO Members can help ensure that fishermen maintain a sustainable supply of fish to provide consumers at home and abroad, and a critical means to support their families.

    AMP-FOFAmbassador Punke delivers a statement with Friends of Fish members

    During the joint statement, Ambassador Punke emphasized the United States' commitment to work with WTO members to discipline harmful fisheries subsidies that not only distort global markets and place additional stress on the many of the world's rapidly depleting fisheries resources, but also jeopardize our oceans for future generations. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), thirty percent of the world’s fish stocks are reported to be overfished, and in some cases at risk of collapse. Ambassador Punke also highlighted the ongoing Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations as an important opportunity for the United States and other ‘friends of fish’ to set an example on this important issue.

    The Doha Ministerial Conference first launched negotiations to improve disciplines on fisheries subsidies, and the Friends of Fish group was established to target and prohibit harmful subsidies that contribute to overfishing and overcapacity of fish environments. To learn more about Friends of Fish and WTO fisheries subsidies work, please click here. To read the full statement by Friends of Fish at the Ninth WTO Ministerial Conference, please click here.

  • 12/06/2013 10:53 AM

    Hanukkah, the eight-day Jewish holiday that celebrates the Maccabee re-dedication of the Holy Temple of Jerusalem, has come to a close. Last week, Ambassador Michael Froman represented President Obama in the annual lighting of the National Menorah on the Ellipse in Washington, DC. This White House event, traditionally held on the first day of Hanukkah, has been celebrated annually since 1979. Ambassador Froman was joined by members of the Jewish community, members of Congress, and various foreign dignitaries. Below are Ambassador Michael Froman’s remarks from the lighting of the National Menorah, as delivered.

    AMF-HanukkahAmbassador Michael Froman lights the National Menorah


    “It’s a pleasure and an honor to be here tonight to light the national menorah.

    “At Hanukah, we remember the story of a small and brave band of Maccabees, rising up to liberate their people, to rebuild their temple, to light the eternal flame.

    “The story of Hanukah is a timeless one. It’s a story of right over might, of people fighting for freedom, of the struggle that continues today as people strive to celebrate their faith.

    “It’s a story of miracles, the miracle of the oil that lasted eight days and the miracles we experience every day: the miracle of a baby’s smile, of a child’s discovery; the miracle of falling in love, of doing anything in your power for your family, of devoting yourself to the service of your community, your country.

    “Tomorrow night, Jews all over the world will light candles to celebrate the first night of Hanukah, the festival of lights. But here in the United States, this is a special year. For the first time in 100 years, the first day of Hanukah falls on Thanksgiving.

    “That gives us even more reasons to count our blessings, to remember the contributions of those who came before us and to make new memories tis holiday season.

    “On behalf of President Obama, the First Lady and all who serve in this Administration, best wishes to you and your family for a Happy Hanukah, a Happy Thanksgiving and a healthy and happy holiday season.”

  • 12/03/2013 6:52 PM

    This week, Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for South and Central Asia Mara Burr spoke at the Afghan American Chamber of Commerce, and moderated a panel entitled “Empowering Women to Promote Economic Growth and Stability.” The event marked the progress of the U.S.-Afghanistan Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA), signed in 2004 to improve the bilateral trade and investment relationship between the U.S. and Afghanistan.  A key goal of the TIFA is to promote economic opportunities for both Parties.  In 2011 the United States and Afghanistan agreed that promoting economic opportunities for women is a high priority for the TIFA Council and created a TIFA Working Group on women’s economic empowerment.  In June 2013, the United States and Afghanistan signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), reinforcing the joint efforts to enable the economic empowerment of Afghan women.

    DAUSTR BurrDeputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative Mara Burr speaks at the Afghan American Chamber of Commerce

    The objective of the MOU is to provide the U.S. and Afghan governments with a framework for cooperative work under the auspices of the TIFA Council and provide a platform for addressing barriers to women’s entrepreneurship while creating initiatives to help women start, run, and grow their own businesses. The MOU promotes the economic empowerment of women, and helps ensure that women are afforded economic and business opportunities comparable to their male counterparts.

    “A key aspect of development for Afghanistan is ensuring that it is taking advantage of all of its resources, both women and men, to contribute to its economic growth”  said Burr.  The focus of the panel discussion was how governments and the private sector can work together to identify and eliminate impediments to women entrepreneurs and women business owners.

    Under the  MOU, the U.S. and Afghanistan acknowledge the importance of promoting business opportunities for women as a means to improve their bilateral trade relationship, and strengthen the overall global economy. To learn more about the U.S.-Afghanistan Memorandum of Understanding, please click here.

  • 11/29/2013 1:00 AM

    In the Trans-Pacific Partnership the United States is working to do something new and important when it comes to medicines in the TPP region: striking the right balance to make life-saving medicine more widely available while creating incentives for the development of new treatments and cures. 

    USTR’s public engagement process – sharing information and integrating feedback into our negotiating positions –helps us in our efforts to pursue the strongest possible outcomes in the 12-country Trans-Pacific Partnership. This week we have another example of how our interactions with Congress and stakeholders has informed our thinking and helped us refine what we’re trying to do in the TPP. 

    In October of 2011, the United States publicly announced an initial proposal regarding intellectual property rights related to pharmaceuticals, particularly access to innovative and generic medicines in the Asia-Pacific region. We got a wide range of feedback on this proposal and other pharmaceutical IPR issues – from access to medicines (particularly in developing countries) to the array of options for the term of patent protection for research-intensive, leading-edge biologic medicines. 

    In response to that input, we began talking with our trading partners in recent months about a new set of ideas that would give more weight to concerns of developing countries. While intellectual property issues – particularly with regard to pharmaceuticals – are some of the toughest items to negotiate, we hope these ideas willlead us to a sound solution amenable to all partners in the TPP talks. During last week’s meetings in Salt Lake City, we listened to helpful, in-depth feedback from our TPP partners on these ideas. 

    Access to Medicines 

    The United States is a leading voice both for strong IPR protections and for access to medicines for the world’s poor, including in developing country TPP partners. We believe the best approach to pharmaceutical IPR issues in the TPP would be one that offers countries flexibility based on their individual circumstances. That’s why we’ve begun to work with TPP partners to gauge their interest in a “differential approach,” and to identify ways to tailor potential flexibilities based on countries’ existing laws and international obligations. 

    This flexible approach is based on precedent: Previous U.S. trade agreements covered by the May 10, 2007 bipartisan agreement. Under May 10, developing free trade agreement partners (like Peru) were offered greater flexibility relative to more developed trade agreement partners (like Korea). In TPP, we are seeking to pursue a similar idea, using previous agreements – like those with Peru, Australia, Chile, Korea, and Singapore – as benchmarks, but keeping an open mind as to how these standards can be tailored to reflect the situations of individual partners. 

    Biologic Medicines 

    One critical area of innovation that’s responsible for U.S. jobs and innovation is biologic medicines. These new drugs offer great potential for new treatments and cures that will benefit all of humankind and the United States is doing its part to ensure that the incentives will be there not just to increase the availability of existing drugs but to ensure that there is a strong pipeline of new medicines. 

    Biologic drugs need data protection because those drugs require enormous amounts of time and money to develop. Before entrepreneurs (in the United States and across the world) are willing to make the investment in new therapies, they want to know that they will have rights to their own research for a certain period of time in order to see a return on their investments. 

    In the TPP negotiations, opinions vary on the best term of patent protection for biologics. Standards also vary across the TPP region. Some TPP countries currently have no data protection for biologic drugs. Some have 5 years. Others have 8. Traditionally, the U.S. approach to trade negotiations has been to base proposals on existing U.S. law, where the current standard is 12 years. 

    Patent Opposition 

    Reflecting input from stakeholders, the U.S. now supports a more flexible approach under which partners could retain reasonable patent pre-grant opposition procedures. These procedures, available in some countries, allow third parties to formally object to a patent at the initial application phase. Based on stakeholder input and ongoing discussions with TPP countries, we believe that other elements in TPP will meet the larger goals of ensuring that patents are of high quality and provide appropriate incentives for innovation, while ensuring access to medicines. 

    What’s Next

    Informed by ongoing discussions with Congress and stakeholders from across the public and private sector, U.S. negotiators will work with counterparts from the other TPP countries to reach a 12-country agreement on how the final TPP should tailor pharmaceutical IPR protection to reflect the situations of individual countries and address the term of data protection for biologics.

  • 11/26/2013 9:00 PM

    Check out the US News and World Report article on the importance of reauthorizing Trade Promotion Authority, here.

     

    To learn more about Trade Promotion Authority, please click here: www.ustr.gov/trade-topics/trade-promotion-authority 

  • 11/26/2013 7:24 PM

    Thanksgiving

    “USTR is Thankful for…”

    This week, families around the United States are spending time with their loved ones to share the Thanksgiving holiday. Whether they’re enjoying traditional roast turkey and stuffing or innovative culinary creations, this time of year highlights the bounty of American agricultural products. From cranberries and potatoes to apples and pumpkins, American farmers export many of the traditional treats enjoyed on the tables of American families, and of families all over the world.

    President Obama’s ambitious trade agenda has encouraged a dramatic increase in U.S. exports to other countries to stimulate the economy and grow jobs for the middle class. His trade agenda protects and promotes the creation of thousands of jobs within the U.S. every year, and encourages the use of American-grown products around the world.  In the spirit of the Thanksgiving holiday, here’s a look at some of America’s most popular Thanksgiving foods that were exported to countries around the world in 2012:

    oliveoilTurkey:
    Turkey is the foundation of American Thanksgiving dinners. Interestingly enough, Americans are not alone in their love of a plump, juicy turkey. In 2012, the United States exported $586 million in turkeys, a 12% increase from 2011.

    Potatoes:
    American-grown potatoes, produced in areas like the plains of Iowa, are served in many delicious varieties: mashed, baked, scalloped, fried, au gratin, and even sweet potato pies. Whether you like your potato baked or in a casserole, you are not alone! The United States exported $235 million worth of potatoes in 2012.

    Cranberries:
    A Thanksgiving feast is not complete without a fresh serving of cranberry sauce. Cranberries are a multi-purpose food product with uses from juicing to baking.  The United States is the largest producer of cranberries in the world. The U.S. exported $21 million worth  of cranberries in 2012, an 11% increase from 2011.

    Beans:
    Americans love their beans, especially green beans and lima beans, and they are a staple on many families’ dinner tables. While casseroles are a popular vehicle for green beans in the United States, around the world, beans are popular in everything from curries to soups and even pastries.  In 2012, the U.S. exported $42 million worth of beans to families around the world.

    apple

    Apples: 
    There is nothing more American than apple pie, but apples are also used around the world in everything from salads to cider. Last year, the United States exported $1.1 billion worth of apples, showing an increase of 14% since 2011.

    Beer: 
    As families and friends celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday, meals are served, drinks enjoyed, and memories made. Football is also an important part of the American holiday tradition, and who doesn’t enjoy a cold beer while cheering on their favorite team?  Last year, the U.S. exported $448 million worth of beer, an increase of 21% from the previous year.

    Pumpkin: 
    A quintessential symbol of Autumn, pumpkins are an important part of the Thanksgiving meal, and lend themselves to delicious soups, salads, and pies. In 2012, the United States exported $21.7 million worth of pumpkin.

    cornCorn: 
    Corn is an important dish on the holiday table. Whether eaten as cornbread, or enjoyed in its purest form, corn on the cob, this American product is a vital part of Thanksgiving Day. In 2012, the U.S. exported $53.3 million worth of corn products, sharing the bounty of one of America’s most important crops.

    As evidenced by just these few products, trade enables the world to enjoy the bounty of products provided by American farmers and small businesses. It also is a vital way for many farmers, ranchers, and small businesses to support their families and communities. A cornucopia of fresh crops, stable jobs supported by exports, and a strong American middle class are a few of the many reasons USTR is thankful for international trade this Thanksgiving.

  • 11/22/2013 5:21 PM

    Check out the Trade Benefits America article on the top ten facts about Trade Promotion Authority, here.

     

    To learn more about Trade Promotion Authority, please click here: http://www.ustr.gov/trade-topics/trade-promotion-authority

  • 11/22/2013 5:05 PM

    This week, Deputy Assistant USTR for Small Business Christina Sevilla spoke at a workshop on the U.S.-Bahrain Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and small business.  Workshop participants included Minister of Commerce and Industry H.E. Dr. Hassan Bin Abdulla Fakhro, U.S. Ambassador Thomas Krajeski and staff from U.S. Embassy Manama and representatives from the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Bahrain Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Society. The FTA, which took effect in August 2006, strengthens political and economic relations with a key partner in the Middle East, with nearly two billion in two-way trade supporting jobs and economic growth on both sides. U.S. exports to Bahrain in 2012 totaled $1.2 billion, and imports were $701 million.  

    Bahrain-SMEDeputy Assistant USTR for Small Business Christina Sevilla (center) with (from l.to r.) Abdulrahim Fakhro from Bahrain Polytechnic, Dr. Lulwa Almutlaq, President of Golden Trust; Ambassador Dr. Dhafer Alumran from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and  Dr Abdulhasan Al-Dairi, Bahrain SME Society

    Sevilla shared best practices on U.S. assistance to small and medium businesses and examples of smaller countries adapting the U.S. model of Small Business Development Centers to meet local needs. She highlighted niche opportunities for SMEs cooperation, including in areas, such as jewelry and leather goods.  Sevilla also participated in a women's entrepreneurship mentoring event with local female businessowners and students at Bahrain Polytechnic University. 

    Helping more SMEs take advantage of the benefits of the FTA can support greater economic opportunity and inclusive growth in the region.  To learn more about the U.S.-Bahrain Free Trade Agreement, please click here.

  • 11/21/2013 7:56 PM

    Today, Ambassador Miriam Sapiro delivered keynote closing remarks at Caribbean-Central American Action’s (C-CAA) 37th Annual Conference on the Caribbean and Central America. In her remarks, the Ambassador highlighted several key U.S. trade and investment-related initiatives in the region and stressed the importance the Obama Administration places on strengthening economic ties within the Caribbean Basin. 

    She noted that, “identifying new ways to promote trade, to generate new investment, and to improve our joint competitiveness in order to accelerate economic growth, create more jobs, reduce unemployment is a high priority for all of us.”

    AMS_C-CAAAmbassador Sapiro gives keynote remarks at the 37th Annual Conference on the Caribbean and Central America

    As evidence of U.S. economic engagement in the region, Ambassador Sapiro pointed to two free trade agreements that the United States brought into force last year, with Colombia and with Panama. U.S. exports were up more than 19 percent to Colombia and more than 17 percent to Panama in the first year following the agreements’ entry into force. 

    Additionally, Ambassador Sapiro relayed the outcomes of last week’s inaugural meeting of the U.S.-Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Council on Trade and Investment, which was established under the U.S.-CARICOM Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA).  Areas for new U.S.-CARICOM collaboration include intellectual property protection, e-commerce infrastructure development, and regulatory and standards cooperation.

    C-CAA is a not-for-profit organization devoted to promoting private sector-based sustainable economic development in the Caribbean Basin and Central America. The theme of this year’s two-day conference is “Advancing a Shared Agenda.”  

  • 11/15/2013 6:00 PM

    As part of a comprehensive review of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) – the cornerstone of U.S.-Africa trade policy – Ambassador Froman requested that the U.S. International Trade Commission conduct several studies on the impact and effectiveness of the thirteen-year-old law.  Ambassador Froman originally announced this review process at the 2013 AGOA Forum in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in August 2013 in order to take an in depth look at what has worked for African exporters and U.S. businesses through AGOA – and what needs improvement.  Ambassador Froman requested the ITC studies as a next step in this process, and USTR is also conducting a series of brainstorming roundtables with a range of AGOA stakeholders.

    As part of its investigation, the ITC announced that a public hearing will be held on January 24th in order to hear the views of stakeholders on the future of AGOA.  In addition, the ITC will be accepting written comments through January 21st.  Anyone interested in the future of AGOA is encouraged to participate in this process.

    For additional details and to learn how to participate, visit the ITC’s website here to view the Federal Register Notice.

  • 11/15/2013 10:36 AM

    Five Things You Should Know About The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP)
    By Dan Mullaney, Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Europe and the Middle East

    T-TIPblogPresident Obama makes a statement on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, in June 2013

    This week, the second round of negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) is taking place in Brussels. Thanks to this agreement, Americans could find it a lot easier to sell goods and services to consumers in the European Union (EU).

    T-TIP will open doors for trade and investment across the Atlantic, from Wall Street to Main Street.  It offers an extraordinary opportunity for the United States to partner with the EU on an initiative that will build more jobs and spur economic growth, while at the same time maintaining high standards for health, safety, and environmental protection for people on both sides of the Atlantic. 

    Here are the Top 5 things you need to know about T-TIP:   

    1.  T-TIP will promote jobs and growth. The EU is already our largest trading partner, with $2.7 billion worth of goods and services trade flowing between us each day, and nearly $4 trillion invested in each other’s economies. Lowering barriers to trade isn’t just smart for business, it’s smart for everyone.  More than 13 million jobs in the United States and EU already depend on the U.S.-EU economic partnership, and T-TIP will result in more trade, more jobs, and more opportunities, including for small businesses across the country. 

    2.  T-TIP is not just another Free Trade Agreement.  It’s about strengthening the entire transatlantic relationship, a critical historic and strategic partnership.   By strengthening our economies together through T-TIP, the United States and the EU will be better able to address today’s most urgent global challenges.  

    3. T-TIP can set high standards and pioneer new rules for the global trading system.  The United States and EU have some of the most advanced regulatory systems in the world, and T-TIP will build on our shared commitment to strong regulations in the public interest.  T-TIP seeks to bridge divergences between our regulatory systems in ways that help us to work smarter while maintaining high levels of protection for consumers. 

    4.  We’re already working closely with the EU on many of these issues – and achieving results.  The United States and the EU have a long history of economic cooperation, since the EU’s beginnings as the Economic Coal and Steel Community in 1957.  We have come a long way, and have worked together effectively on a wide variety of challenges.  For example, we recently concluded an agreement that allows U.S. and EU organic food producers to sell their products more easily across the Atlantic.

    5.   The second round of T-TIP negotiations is taking place in Brussels this week.   We held the first round of T-TIP negotiations in July, and the second round is taking place in Brussels this week.  To learn more about the T-TIP second negotiating round, please visit the USTR T-TIP webpage, USTR twitter page, or visit the U.S. Mission to the EU T-TIP webpage

     

    For more information:

    Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, T-TIP Website 

    U.S. Mission to the EU, T-TIP website 

    U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman speaks to the German Marshall Fund, Sept 30, 2013

  • 11/13/2013 7:35 PM

    This week, Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Small Business Christina Sevilla addressed the Organization of American States Third Inter-American Dialogue of High Level Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise Authorities in Brasilia, Brazil.  She spoke on the benefits of U.S. trade agreements that open market opportunities in the Western Hemisphere for small business under the NAFTA with Canada and Mexico; CAFTA-DR with Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and the Dominican Republic; Free Trade Agreements with Chile, Colombia, Panama and Peru; trade preferences for the Caribbean countries; and new fora such as the U.S. –Brazil Agreement on Trade and Economic Cooperation (ATEC). 

    Sevilla-BrasiliaYvonne Gonzales from the State Department, Christina Sevilla from USTR, Vinicius Lages from Brazil’s SEBRAE, Carla Menendez McManus from the State Department, and Robert McKinley, from the University of Texas San Antonio SBDC gathered for the event.

    In particular, she welcomed the formal launch of the online platform linkage between U.S. Small Business Development Centers at SBDCglobal.com and Brazil’s Service for Micro and Small Enterprises (SEBRAE) Central de Oportunidades, which will connect SBDC and SEBRAE centers for professional trade training webinars and allow both sides to explore small business client matchmaking and partnerships.  Helping more small businesses take advantage of our trade relationship with Brazil, the United States’ 8th largest goods trading partner, is a key topic of ongoing discussion with Brazil under the U.S.-Brazil ATEC forum.  U.S. goods and private services trade with Brazil totaled an estimated $107 billion in 2012.  Exports totaled $68 billion; Imports totaled $39 billion.  The U.S. goods and services trade surplus with Brazil was $29 billion in 2012.

    More broadly, the Obama Administration’s Small Business Network of the Americas is connecting U.S. SBDCs with counterpart SME centers throughout the Hemisphere in order to expand trade, entrepreneurship development and job growth in the small business sector.

  • 11/12/2013 7:16 PM

    Today, Ambassador Froman hosted the 2013 Awards Ceremony for the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR). Held in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, the event recognizes outstanding performance among USTR staff, including individuals and teams, within six award categories. The annual Awards Ceremony allows the United States Trade Representative to recognize the tireless and significant contributions of its outstanding members and teams, continuing a tradition of excellence and progress in international trade.

    Awards Ceremony-Froman JarrettAmbassador Froman introduces Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the President of the United States, who delivered a keynote address before the ceremony

    The 2013 Team Award was presented to seven teams, including China Raw Materials, Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement (TPA), Guatemala Labor Settlement Case, KORUS, Panama Trade Promotion Agreement (TPA), Russia Accession to WTO, and Winder Green Building Project. These teams were recognized for their dedication and coordination in accomplishing their unique and vital missions’ goals.

    In recognition of those who exceed their job’s requirements for the benefit of a colleague or a mission, USTR introduced the Way to Go Award this year. 2013 recipients include Cecilia Klein from the World Trade Organization (WTO) and Multilateral Affairs Office, Sonia Franceski from the Office of Europe and the Middle East, Ed Brzytwa in the Office of Japan, Korea, and APEC Affairs, and Gwendolyn Diggs from the General Counsel, Monitoring and Enforcement Office.

    USTRawards2Ed Brzytwa, Director for APEC Affairs, accepts the ‘Way to Go’ Award from Arrow Augerot and Ambassador Froman

    The Special Honor Awards include the Distinguished Career Service Awards, Excellence in Service Awards, and Kelly Awards.

    The Distinguished Career Service Award, an honorary award granted by the U.S. Trade Representative to employees who retire and whose career reflects long and exceptional devotion to duty, was granted to David P. Shark, the Deputy Chief of Mission in Geneva, and Patrick D. Coleman, from the Office of African Affairs, for their significant contributions to USTR as experts in their fields.

    The Excellence in Service Award is granted to individuals who have made an extraordinary contribution in an administrative services and mission support position.  This includes individuals who have made an extraordinary contribution to a major project or taskforce that contributed to the efficiency of mission support. This year’s three recipients were Brian P. Cochran from the Facilities Office, Rhonda Davis from the Finance and Budget Office, and Lia Theodosiou-Pisanelli from the Office of Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

    USTRawards3Rhonda Lindsay from the Services and Investment Office accepts the Linda Enoch Award

    The Linda Enoch Award was named for an outstanding administrative support employee who served the USTR for several years, and recognizes the dedicated service of support staff who exemplify her professionalism, initiative, creativity, and respect from peers and superiors. Recipients included Shelia Givens from the Office of Congressional Affairs, Rhonda Lindsay from the Services and Investment Office, and Rosa M. Waddy for the Office of Japan, Korea and APEC Affairs.

    USTRawards4Bill Busis from the Office of Monitoring and Enforcement accepts the Kelly Award

    Lastly, Ambassador Froman presented the Kelly Award. Established in 1980, the Kelly Award recognizes USTR staff who embody the personal qualities of leadership, strength of character, compassion, and warmth of the award’s namesake, William B. Kelly. In addition, recipients must exhibit an exacting set of high qualities and characteristics, which include professional excellence, extraordinary and sustained contributions to USTR’s goals, leadership, initiative and creativity, and great respect from peers. The four recipients of this distinguished award are Michael L. Beeman from the Office of Japan, Korea and APEC Affairs, Bill Busis in the Office of Monitoring and Enforcement, Probir Mehta from the Office of Intellectual Property and Innovation, and Arun Venkataraman from the Office of Central and South Asian Affairs

  • 11/12/2013 3:55 PM

    Ashgabat, Turkmenistan – From November 11-14th, senior government officials from the United States, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan are meeting for the 8th United States-Central Asia Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) Council Meeting. This is the second consecutive year that the TIFA Council – the key vehicle for trade and investment discussions between the United States and the countries of the region – has met in Central Asia, demonstrating the commitment of all Parties to the goals of the TIFA.

    Mara- TIFA opening ceremonyDeputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative Mara Burr speaks at the opening ceremony of the U.S.-Central Asia TIFA Council Meeting

    Deputy Assistant United States Trade Representative for Central and South Asia Mara Burr will lead the U.S. delegation, which includes interagency representatives from the U.S. Trade Representative, the Department of State, Department of Commerce Commercial Law Development Program, the Department of Defense and the Defense Logistics Agency.  A U.S. business delegation organized by the U.S. – Turkmenistan Business Council will hold concurrent meetings on business opportunities in the region and will provide advice to the TIFA meetings on real time trade policy impediments to trade and investment.

    The U.S. – Central Asia Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) was signed in 2004 with the governments of Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, and provides a strategic framework and guiding principles for dialogue on trade and investment issues between the parties. Afghanistan is an observer to the agreement, allowing the parties to discuss how facilitating regional trade and export logistics can help spur economic development in Afghanistan, and provide trade and investment opportunities across the region. For more information on the U.S.-Central Asia Trade and Investment Framework Agreement, click here

  • 11/08/2013 6:36 PM

    Today, stakeholder witnesses spoke before the interagency Trade Policy Staff Committee (TPSC) in a hearing on China’s compliance with its World Trade Organization (WTO) commitments.   Their testimony contributes to the preparation of the annual China WTO Compliance report mandated by Congress through the U.S.-China Relations Act of 2000. During the hearing, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) and its interagency partners heard witnesses describe the progress and challenges that arise in China in priority areas such as market access restrictions, investment restrictions, intellectual property rights enforcement, export restraints and standards-setting, among other areas. 

    China hearingThe Trade Policy Staff Committee hears testimony on China's compliance with WTO commitments.

    Representatives from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, International Intellectual Property Alliance, United States Magnetic Materials Association, Information Technology Industry Council, and Telecommunications Industry Association provided their insights into China’s WTO compliance efforts.   The hearing was open to members of the public and media, and a list of public submissions assessing China’s compliance with WTO commitments may be found here. A full transcript of the hearing can be found on www.regulations.gov in fifteen (15) business days. 

  • 11/08/2013 5:02 PM

    This week Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Africa Florie Liser participated in a forum entitled “Doing Business in Africa” hosted by Greenberg Traurig and the Corporate Council on Africa. The forum gathered speakers from the World Bank, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), government agencies, and ambassadors to discuss the benefits of doing business in Africa. Assistant USTR Liser discussed the Obama Administration’s review of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) legislation in advance of its scheduled expiration in 2015, and highlighted the important role the U.S. government plays in fostering greater trade and economic cooperation between the U.S. and Africa.

    Florie@AfricaEventAssistant USTR for Africa Florie Liser speaks at an event entitled "Doing Business in Africa" hosted by Greenberg Traurig

    U.S. government agencies have ramped up their efforts to support increased U.S.-Africa trade and investment following President Obama's visit to Africa this past summer, where trade and investment were major themes in several meetings with the private sector in South Africa and Tanzania. During the trip, President Obama also announced his Trade Africa and Power Africa initiatives, as well as plans to host the first ever U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in 2014.

    In her remarks, Assistant USTR Liser discussed the questions the Administration is examining as part of the AGOA review process that Ambassador Froman announced at the 2013 AGOA Forum in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  AGOA provides duty-free access to the U.S. market for most products produced in Africa, and has supported a substantial number of jobs and economic opportunities in African countries, in a diverse range of value-added manufacturing sectors, including apparel, processed food products, and autos.  AUSTR Liser also cited trade and investment promotion activities and policies as key means to facilitate greater trade and economic engagement between the U.S and Africa. She discussed a variety of trade and investment policies that the U.S. government is pursuing in partnership with Africa including Trade and Investment Framework Agreements (TIFAs), Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs), and the Obama Administration’s “Trade Africa” and “Power Africa” Initiatives. To learn more about AGOA and U.S. trade and investment with Africa, please click here

  • 11/06/2013 5:26 PM

    This morning, Acting Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Wendy Cutler spoke at a Peterson Institute for International Economics conference entitled “Abenomics:  From Macroeconomic to Structural Reform – Japan’s progress and America’s interest.”  The conference gathered government officials, academics, and private sector representatives to discuss key changes in Japan’s economic policy, and Acting Deputy USTR Cutler highlighted how the Abenomics' trade agenda and Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) create synergies that advance economic growth.

    Wendy @ PIIEActing Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Wendy Cutler speaks on a panel at the Peterson Institute for International Economics (USTR Photo)

    Deputy Cutler noted Japan’s entry to the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations in July as a significant milestone that dramatically raised the economic importance of the agreement.  Japan, she said, has demonstrated impressive commitment to the negotiations and has been a close partner on a range of issues. The most challenging issues, Deputy Cutler said, have been in the parallel negotiations, involving motor vehicles and other non-tariff measures, and market access for industrial and agricultural goods.   Although Japan may have certain sensitivities with regard to market access, she said, all TPP countries will have to make difficult decisions in order to achieve an ambitious and comprehensive outcome.  While there are also challenges in the parallel negotiations, Deputy Cutler observed that there is tremendous synergy between what Japan is doing through Abenomics and what is being discussed in the parallel negotiations.  Commenting on the TPP negotiations more broadly, Deputy Cutler confirmed that negotiations are in the end game.  “While there are still tough issues to address, the toughest issues in trade negotiations are always left to the end,” she said.

    The TPP, which is the foundation of the Obama Administration’s economic policy in the Asia-Pacific Region, looks to bring together twelve advanced and emerging economies to create a free-trade zone encompassing a third of global trade and 40 percent of global GDP.  The TPP promotes regional integration by establishing a common set of trade and investment commitments, and also addresses 21st century issues like state-owned enterprises, intellectual property rights, regulatory convergence, and global supply chains.  To learn more about the TPP, click here.  

  • 11/06/2013 2:15 PM

    Yesterday, Ambassador Froman spoke on the importance of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) at the Munich Security Conference (MSC) in Washington, D.C. Attendees included high-ranking government officials, academics, and members of the National Security community with an interest in transatlantic cooperation.

    AMF at MSCAmbassador Froman delivers remarks at the Munich Security Conference (USTR photo)

    In his remarks, Ambassador Froman highlighted T-TIP’s potential to strengthen U.S.-EU bilateral trade and investment relations as well as raise standards in the global trading system.   A comprehensive agreement would expand economic and job growth by reducing tariffs on U.S. consumer and agricultural products, creating new openings for our service providers, and making U.S. and EU regulations and standards more compatible.  Ambassador Froman also stressed that to be successful, T-TIP must include rules, principles, and new modes of cooperation to address shared global trade challenges.

    For more information on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, click here.

  • 11/01/2013 12:13 PM
    Froman- SelectUSA

    Today, Ambassador Michael Froman spoke to attendees of the first annual SelectUSA Investment Summit Conference in Washington, D.C. about why investment in the United States is so important.  In his remarks, the Ambassador focused on how global companies benefit from U.S. free trade agreements and bilateral investment treaties. Participants included representatives from nearly 60 countries, economic development organizations from 47 states and two territories as well as 600 companies operating in 60 unique markets.

    Ambassador Froman also discussed progress the United States is making with ongoing trade initiatives, including the negotiations of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, and a new Trade Facilitation agreement at the World Trade Organization, and highlighted how these support President Obama’s ambitious economic agenda. 

    In 2012, Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) totaled $168 billion, with the United States receiving 12 percent of the global FDI flow, the world’s largest share.  Recognizing FDI’s critical role in the U.S. economy, President Obama established the SelectUSA initiative as a way to support job creation while stimulating economic growth and American competitiveness. Spearheaded by the Commerce Department, SelectUSA has evolved into a federal-level advocate for recruiting businesses to the United States.  The initiative has become an important tool for domestic and foreign businesses alike by providing expert advice and consolidating all information on federal resources and services in a single portal, www.SelectUSA.gov

  • 10/21/2013 1:22 PM

    In Geneva today, following the August 1 announcement by Ambassador Froman and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Michael Punke signed a two-year extension of an agreement with the European Union (EU) providing U.S. beef producers with significant access, at zero duty, to the EU market for high-quality beef produced from non-hormone-treated cattle. Lithuanian Ambassador Albinas Zananavičius and EU Ambassador Angelos Pangratis joined Ambassador Punke for the signing, which took place at the Lithuanian Mission in Geneva. Lithuania currently holds the Presidency of the EU Council.

    US-EU Beef MOUDeputy U.S. Trade Representative Michael Punke shakes hands with EU Ambassador Angelos Pangratis and Lithuanian Ambassador Albinas Zananavičius (center).

    As Ambassador Froman has said, this agreement is great news for American ranchers and meat processors, who will now be able to continue to ship substantial quantities of high-quality U.S. beef into a market worth millions of dollars to their bottom lines. This news marks a significant step in our ongoing efforts to increase American exports and promote economic growth.

    Under the extension, the EU will maintain until August 2, 2015, its duty-free tariff rate quota for high-quality beef, established pursuant to the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the United States of America and the European Commission Regarding the Importation of Beef from Animals not Treated with Certain Growth Promoting Hormones, at the Phase 2 quantity of 45,000 metric tons per year. U.S. high-quality beef shipments under the Phase 2 quota from August 2012 through July 2013 were an estimated $212 million, nearly quadruple the value of exports in the year before the MOU entered into force.

    The original MOU was signed in 2009 in connection with the United States’ long-running dispute with the European Union over its ban on beef from cattle treated with certain growth-promoting hormones.

  • 10/01/2013 9:56 AM
    Due to the lapse in funding, the USTR website will remain live, but without updates, for the duration of the government shutdown. For updates and information about available government services, please visit usa.gov.
  • 09/30/2013 6:05 PM

    Brussels, Belgium-- Ambassador Froman made his first trip to Europe today as U.S. Trade Representative, meeting with key European Union (EU) officials and giving a speech at the German Marshall Fund on the importance of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP). Ambassador Froman’s speech, delivered to an audience of academics, government officials, civil society and private sector representatives, and press, characterized T-TIP as a crucial opportunity to promote economic recovery and grow jobs on both sides of the Atlantic, as well as to set high standards and new rules for the global trading system. The speech focused on transparency, participation, and accountability in regulatory and standard-setting processes as significant contributors to achieving the goals of the T-TIP negotiations, and emphasized the economic benefits both sides will realize as a result of a successfully negotiated T-TIP agreement.

    AMF at German Marshall Fund on T-TIP Ambassador Froman speaks at the German Marshall Fund on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership

    During his day-long visit, Ambassador Froman also held meetings with EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht, European Commission Secretary General Catherine Day, European Commission Director General for Enterprise and Industry Daniel Calleja Crespo, Members of the European Parliament, and representatives of EU member states.

    To read Ambassador Froman’s remarks at the German Marshall Fund, please click here.

    For more information on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, please click here

  • 09/27/2013 3:05 PM

    Ambassador Islam Siddiqui, USTR’s Chief Agricultural Negotiator, traveled to Baltimore, MD this week to sign a new Equivalence Arrangement for trade in organic foods between the U.S. and Japan. The signing ceremony took place at the All Things Organic trade conference, which was co-hosted by the US Department of Agriculture.

    This Arrangement on organic foods between the U.S. and Japan on organics is an important part of the Obama Administration’s trade agenda designed to grow our economy, support job creation, and strengthen the middle class. The organics sector in the United States and Japan is valued at more than $36 billion combined, and rising every year.

    Siddiqui-New-Equivalence-SigningUSDA's Anne L. Alonzo, Japan's Director General of Food Safety and Consumer Affairs Hiroyuki Kobayashi, and USTR Chief Agricultural Negotiator Islam Siddiqui at the signing

    As of January 1, 2014, two of the largest organic producing partners in the world will recognize each other’s similar high quality standards and allow access to each other’s markets. The signing of this arrangement is especially exciting considering that in recent years as many as 96 percent of U.S. organic operations were planning to either maintain or increase employment in the United States.

    In the past, organic products traded in both countries had to obtain separate certifications to two standards, which meant a second set of fees, inspections and paperwork. This arrangement eliminates those significant barriers, especially benefiting small and medium sized organic producers.

    Over 100 attendees from the U.S. and Japan were on hand to witness the official ceremony exchanging formal letters between the two governments. Ambassador Siddiqui co-signed the Arrangement with Administrator Anne L. Alonzo, USDA Agricultural Marketing Service Administrator and Satoshi Kunii, Director General, Food Safety and Consumer Affairs Bureau, Japanese Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries.

    For more information on the Equivalence Arrangement, please click here and visit  http://www.ams.usda.gov/NOPTradeJapan.

  • 09/26/2013 5:57 PM

    Assistant US Trade Representative for the World Trade Organization (WTO) and Multilateral Affairs Mark Linscott spoke today to the Global Business Dialogue as part of a panel discussing the outlook for a WTO agreement in the upcoming 9th Ministerial Conference in Bali, Indonesia. The panel was titled “Bridge Building in Bali: Outlook for a WTO Agreement at the 9th Ministerial Conference.” In addition to Assistant USTR Linscott, the panel featured speakers from the European Union, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the Center for Global Development as well as a general discussion with the audience.

    Before detailing the specific issues facing negotiators at the Bali Conference, Assistant USTR Linscott gave a brief history of the WTO and how the progress of previous negotiations will shape the present. Since those initial WTO agreements, he noted, there have been no multilateral agreements adopted in a period of almost twenty years. Therefore, the Bali Conference is both crucially important to advance the WTO’s multilateral negotiations agenda, particularly in securing a new WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement. “Bali has a chance to be among the two or three or four most important ministerial conferences,” Mr. Linscott said.

    Much of the work of WTO Members for the previous 18 months has been focused on negotiating a smaller, “doable” package. The Bali package will include three important pieces: a trade facilitation agreement, and elements of agriculture and development issues.

    Assistant USTR Linscott also explained the negotiating process in Geneva in this end game and the role of Ambassador Michael Punke, Deputy USTR and Permanent Representative to the WTO. Despite the amount of work to be done, and the short available time, Mr. Linscott said that overall, the byword for the proposed Bali package is that it is “doable.”

    The 9th Ministerial Meeting of the WTO is scheduled for December 3-6, 2013, in Bali, Indonesia.

  • 09/23/2013 2:32 PM

    Washington, D.C. - The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) announced today that the filing deadline for public comments in the 2013 Special 301 Out-Of-Cycle Review of Notorious Markets will be extended until October 25, 2013.

    All other aspects of the process will be conducted as described in USTR's Federal Register notice published September 20, 2013, which is available at http://www.regulations.gov, docket number USTR-2013-0030.

    All written comments should be submitted electronically via http://www.regulations.gov, docket number USTR-2013-0030. Submissions should contain the term "2013 Out-of-Cycle Review of Notorious Markets" in the "Type comment & Upload file" field on http://www.regulations.gov.

  • 09/20/2013 3:11 PM

    A U.S. delegation, led by Vice President Joe Biden, traveled to Mexico City, Mexico this week for the first meeting of the U.S.-Mexico High Level Economic Dialogue (HLED). Ambassador Froman co-chaired the meeting along with Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs Jose Fernandez. Mexican Secretary of Finance Luis Videgaray, Secretary of Economy Ildefonso Guajardo, and Secretary of Foreign Relations Jose Antonio Meade led the Mexican delegation.

    In May 2013, President Obama and Mexican President Peña Nieto officially launched the High Level Economic Dialogue to “advance strategic economic and commercial priorities central to promoting mutual economic growth, job creation, and global competitiveness.” The HLED will develop and implement a strategic, bilateral workplan focused on three pillars: promoting competitiveness and connectivity; fostering economic growth, productivity and innovation; and partnering for regional and global leadership. In the near future, both the United States and Mexico will publish notices inviting public comments and suggestions regarding this workplan.

    The White House released more information on today’s meetings and the HLED, which can be found here.

    The United States and Mexico share one of the largest and most comprehensive trading relationships in the world. Since the United States, Mexico and Canada enacted the NAFTA 20 years ago, U.S. exports to Mexico have grown 419 percent, from $41.6 billion to $216 billion in 2012. Mexico is the United States’ second-largest export market and third-largest trading partner. For 22 states, Mexico is their first or second destination for exports. And, the United States is Mexico’s largest trading partner.

    While in Mexico City, Ambassador Froman also met with Secretary of Economy Ildefonso Guajardo to discuss next steps needed to successfully conclude Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations this year, as well as other key U.S.-Mexico bilateral issues.

  • 09/20/2013 10:59 AM

    During the President’s Export Council (PEC) meeting today, Ambassador Froman echoed President Obama’s focus on making trade a fundamental driver of America’s continuing economic recovery. Ambassador Froman joined private sector advisors, Members of Congress, and Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker at the White House for the meeting. The PEC is the principal national advisory committee on international trade and advises the President on government policies and programs that affect U.S. trade performance. It also promotes export expansion and provides a forum for resolving various trade-related problems in the business, industrial, agricultural, labor, and government sectors.

    Ambssador Froman also reiterated the President’s call for Trade Promotion Authority, as the U.S. Trade Representative advances the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), and other important trade agreements. He stated that initiatives to deepen trade partnerships between the U.S. and other major centers of economic activity, such as the TPP and TTIP, will be an essential pillar for future growth, jobs and economic stability. The TPP is the foundation of the Obama Administration’s economic policy in the Asia-Pacific region. Asia-Pacific markets are already key destinations for U.S. manufactured goods, agricultural products, and services suppliers, as well as a major source of global growth. TPP will level the playing field for U.S. workers and businesses and deepen trade and investment with this dynamic region by eliminating barriers, promoting transparent and consistent approaches to regulatory issues, supporting innovation, increasing the role of small and medium-sized businesses in trade, and dealing American firms and workers further into regional supply chains.

    Ambassador Froman noted that negotiators are working hard to aim to complete the negotiations this year, and he is preparing for TPP leaders to meet on the margins of the October 7-8 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders Meeting in Bali, Indonesia. That will be “an important milestone” in the process, and provide an opportunity for leaders of TPP countries to discuss what has been accomplished, what issues are remaining, and offer guidance to trade ministers and negotiators on how to address the outstanding issues. Ambassador Froman also noted the efforts USTR has been making to engage with the full range of U.S. stakeholders on these important negotiations, and committed to continuing those efforts as the TPP negotiations approach their conclusion.

    For more information on the Trans Pacific Partnership, please click here: www.ustr.gov/tpp

  • 09/12/2013 6:35 PM

    On September 7, Deputy Assistant USTR for Small Business Christina Sevilla spoke to private sector and community leaders at the Dallas-Fort Worth Asian American Citizens Council in Dallas, Texas, about the U.S. trade agenda in the Asia-Pacific region and export opportunities for minority-owned small businesses.   Nearly 200,000 U.S. small- and medium-sized enterprises alone exported $247 billion to the region in 2011 (latest data available), making up 97 percent of all U.S. exporters to the region and 32 percent of all U.S. goods exported there. Additionally, minority-owned firms are more likely to export compared to non-minority-owned firms of all sizes and are five times more likely to conduct business in a language other than English.  Foreign language capability, diaspora, and family ties are big advantages for Asian and minority-owned U.S. firms seeking to sell their products and services overseas.

    Dallas-Fort Worth Asian American Citizens Council

    Deputy Assistant United States Trade Representative Christina Sevilla with community leaders from the Dallas-Ft. Worth Asian American Citizens Council (photo credit: Jarvis Jacobs)

    Texas community and business leaders are taking advantage of diaspora ties to grow their businesses through international trade, which in turn supports jobs at home.  For example, the Philippine American Chamber of Commerce of Texas is organizing a trade mission of U.S. small and medium businesses to the Philippines in October 2014, with the participation of other local chambers around the country.  Leading the mission is Chamber President Ethel Mercado, President and CFO of Datalogix Texas Inc., a minority-owned small business provider of wireless engineering services that employs over 200 minority engineers in 20 states.  Texas is a top state trading partner of the Philippines, and Ms. Mercado believes that expanding her business through international trade has been a successful strategy for growth.

    In order to help more Texas and U.S. small firms become globally competitive, the Obama Administration is focused on opening markets for  U.S. companies and their workers throughout the Asia-Pacific region, which includes some of the fastest-growing economies in the world.  As a group, the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement partner countries - Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam - are the largest goods and services export market of the United States.  In pursuing the TPP, the United States is seeking to develop a comprehensive state-of-the art agreement that expands trade and investment with the region, boosts U.S. exports, and supports the creation and retention of high-paying, high-quality jobs in the United States.  The United States is also working through regional fora, such as Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), to enhance economic cooperation and ease the costs of doing business for U.S. exporters.

  • 09/06/2013 12:30 PM

    By Christina Sevilla, Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Small Business, Market Access, and Industrial Competitiveness

    This month, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), the U.S. Small Business Administration and the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) are teaming up to convene a nationwide series of roundtables to hear directly from small businesses around the country about specific concerns and trade barriers they face in exporting to the European Union (EU)as well as their suggestions for reducing these barriers and increasing cooperation with the EU to help small businesses benefit further from new trade and investment opportunities. This major outreach effort to small businesses will help inform a USITC study commissioned by USTR to identify trade barriers in the EU that may disproportionately impact small and medium firms, and help ensure that the United States takes into full account the priorities of small businesses in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) negotiations.

    The T-TIP, launched in July in Washington, D.C. by the United States and the EU, hold great potential to promote the global competitiveness of U.S. small and medium enterprises and boost their export sales to the EU. Small and medium companies in both the United States and the EU employ the majority of workers and are the primary engines of economic growth and job creation. Therefore, enhancing their participation in transatlantic trade is a key objective of the negotiations. Trade agreements can particularly help smaller firms by tackling tariff barriers, burdensome customs procedures, discriminatory or arbitrary standards, and lack of transparency relating to relevant regulations in foreign markets, which can be especially costly to small companies with fewer resources relative to large firms.

    The roundtables will be held in 20 cities nationwide between September 9 and September 27. Additionally, public hearings will be held in San Jose, California on September 26 and Washington, D.C. on October 8. Small business exporters can find out more on how to participate in a roundtable, the public hearings, or submit written comments at http://www.usitc.gov/332_541_Trade_Barriers.htm . The USITC study will be completed and made public in early 2014.

  • 09/05/2013 10:10 AM

    On Wednesday, Deputy United States Trade Representative Wendy Cutler led meetings with government officials from Uzbekistan. The 10-member Uzbekistan delegation was headed by the Minister of Foreign Economic Relations, Mr. Elyor Ganiev, and included government officials, CEOs, and directors of state-owned companies. The U.S. delegation included officials from USTR, the Departments of Commerce, Defense, Energy, Labor, State, and Treasury, as well as the U.S. Export-Import Bank, the U.S. Trade and Development Agency, and the Overseas Private Investment Cooperation.

    US-Uzbekistan bilateral meeting

    Both sides highlighted increased bilateral trade and Uzbekistan’s potential for attracting U.S. investment. Deputy USTR Cutler encouraged continued trade cooperation and highlighted the need to address concerns in areas such as currency conversion, labor, and intellectual property rights. Officials from Uzbekistan expressed their interest in following best practices and achieving consistency with provisions of the WTO agreements as Uzbekistan diversifies its economy and seeks new export markets. Other topics of discussion included: Uzbekistan’s next steps to advance its negotiations to join the World Trade Organization, border measures, regional trade issues, and the United States – Central Asia Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA).

     

  • 08/21/2013 11:48 AM

    In Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam, Ambassador Froman engaged today with a broad group of trade ministers, emphasizing the Obama Administration's commitment to deeper economic engagement with one of the world's most dynamic regions.

    Ambassador Froman met with the trade ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), a 10-country bloc of Asian countries - Brunei Darussalam, Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. Taken together, these 10 countries are the United States' fourth-largest export market.

    In the meeting with ASEAN Economic Ministers, the Ambassador discussed the range of issues of mutual interest to the U.S. and ASEAN, from expanding and streamlining trade and investment both in the region and with the United States, to working together at the World Trade Organization toward a multilateral trade facilitation agreement.

    Ambassador Froman also took the opportunity in Brunei today to meet with the economic ministers of the East Asia Summit, which included the ASEAN nations and also Australia, China, India, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, and Russia. Topics on tap for this group, which the United States joined in 2010, included issues such as improving connectivity across the region.

    Ambassador Froman had bilateral meetings with the ministers from the Philippines, New Zealand, India, China, Russia, and Burma to address U.S. bilateral priorities -- opening markets and promoting more job-supporting trade and investment -- as well as reviewing broader regional economic issues, work toward key outcomes for the World Trade Organization ministerial meeting in December, and tomorrow's gathering of Trans-Pacific Partnership ministers here in Bandar Seri Begawan.

    Ambassador Froman also met with business representatives from the U.S.-ASEAN Business Council to get their perspectives and to share information on regional trade and investment issues.

    Starting tomorrow, the TPP ministers will meet as the 19th round of TPP talks begins here, to review outstanding issues and chart a path toward the TPP Leaders' goal of concluding a high-standard, ambitious agreement this year. The United States views the TPP as an important component of a robust trade strategy designed to open markets for American exports, help American firms -- including small and medium-sized businesses -- participate in global supply chains, and support jobs at home.

  • 08/16/2013 11:40 AM

    Note: This is a cross post from the White House blog. To see the original post, please click here.

    This week in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, U.S. Trade Representative Mike Froman and senior members of the President’s economic team joined trade ministers, civil society, and business leaders from across sub-Saharan Africa to focus on “Sustainable Growth through Trade and Technology” at the African Growth and Opportunity Act Forum. The Forum also kicked off the process leading to AGOA’s renewal in 2015.

    As the President highlighted on his trip to Senegal, South Africa, and Tanzania this summer, Africa is experiencing historic growth. Six of the ten fastest growing economies in the world are in Africa. The continent has enormous economic potential, and it’s in our interest to help African countries expand trade and investment to fuel their development.

    AGOA has transformed the way the United States and Africa interact on trade and economic issues. Since 2001 – the first full year of AGOA trade -- U.S. total trade with sub-Saharan Africa has more than doubled, from $28.2 billion to $72.3 billion in 2012. AGOA enabled U.S. exports to the region to more than triple from $6.9 billion in 2001 to $22.6 billion in 2012. At the same time, AGOA imports (including GSP) to the United States have climbed to $34.9 billion in 2012, more than four times the amount in 2001. That increase in trade has created thousands of new jobs in Africa.

    By providing new market opportunities for African exports, especially for non-traditional and value-added products, AGOA has helped African firms become more competitive both in the United States and internationally. Many African businesses that had never previously considered the U.S. market are attending trade shows and getting orders - for Ugandan organic cotton T-shirts, Mauritian seafood, Ghanaian cocoa powder, Ethiopian shoes, and a whole range of products.

    AGOA has also been good for the United States. U.S. exports to sub-Saharan Africa have more than tripled as Africa’s growing middle class is increasingly able to buy high-quality products Made in America. African businesses have sought more U.S. inputs, expertise, and joint partnerships, and U.S. investment in Africa is creating good jobs and higher incomes for workers on both sides of the Atlantic.

    The challenge now is to expand AGOA’s impact even further. At this week’s Forum, our team focused on further expanding our economic engagement with Africa, paving the way for AGOA’s renewal in 2015, and building a stepladder that furthers Africa’s growth, development and global economic integration. This is the vision we and our partners share, and this week’s discussions at the AGOA Forum will help chart our way forward.

    President Obama delivered a video message to the Forum. Check it out below

  • 08/13/2013 10:27 AM

    Africa has experienced a significant change in growth in recent years and the potential for continued growth – particularly outside the oil and gas sector – is promising. Today, while in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for the final day of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Forum, United States Trade Representative Michael Froman got an up-close look at two rising sectors, with visits to dVentus Technologies and Aleta Land Coffee PLC.

    Froman at dVentus Technologies

    Ambassador Froman at dVentus Technologies, an Ethiopian-American renewable energy company in Addis Ababa.

    Michigan-based dVentus Technologies engineers renewable energy technologies in Ethiopia - including smart meters and wind turbines – that can help to realize President Obama’s Power Africa initiative to double electricity in sub-Saharan Africa by 2030. Ambassador Froman acknowledged CEO and President Daniel Gizaw’s efforts to create a business that effectively links U.S. and African technology and innovation as it helps to create a cleaner and more reliable electricity system.

    coffee on its way to export

    Ethiopian coffee on the way to market.

    Ambassador Froman also toured Aleta Land Coffee PLC, a coffee warehouse and plant where green coffee is processed for export. In Ethiopia, the "birthplace of coffee," Ambassador Froman affirmed the strong coffee trade between the United States and Ethiopia, which is helping to employ both Ethiopian farmers and American workers in the coffee industry. He was joined on his tour by Aleta Land Coffee owner Habtamu Silla, Starbucks Director of Global Coffee Arthur Karuletwa, and Ethiopia Commodity Exchange (ECX) CEO Anteneh Assefa. The United States supported the creation of the ECX in Addis Ababa to facilitate Ethiopian exports, and is now working on a “traceability” project that will allow Ethiopian coffee to be traced to where it’s grown, raising its value on the global market.

    Froman at Aleta Coffee

    Ambassador Froman learns about new technologies for coffee "traceability" at Aleta Land Coffee in Ethiopia.

    As home to some of the world’s fastest growing economies, continued high level U.S. engagement with Africa on trade and investment is critical to the prosperity of both American and African businesses and workers. On his final day in Ethiopia, Ambassador Froman met with a number of AGOA ministers to talk about various bilateral trade and investment issues, and with officials of the African Development Bank Group to discuss continued cooperation on issues and initiatives including Power Africa, Trade Africa, and AGOA.

    Africa is witnessing historic trends of increased growth, a rising middle class, and greater integration with the global economy. This year’s AGOA Forum provided a crucial opportunity for Ambassador Froman and the entire U.S. delegation to gather with partners from civil society, businesses - including new, women-owned businesses - and governments from across the African continent to discuss how to build on AGOA and strengthen U.S.-Africa economic engagement well into the future.

    For more information on AGOA and U.S.-Africa trade, visit USTR’s website here.

  • 08/12/2013 5:39 PM

    Shea butter, clothing, and countless other African products that make their way to U.S. store shelves. American ingenuity building bridges - literally - across the African continent, with skills training for workers to boot. These are success stories of America's trade and investment relationship with Africa, all highlighted at the AGOA Forum in Addis Ababa.

    After helping to open the 12th AGOA Forum and bringing a message from President Obama to the assembled government officials, private sector and civil society delegates today, Ambassador Froman formally launched a major review of AGOA, aimed at building on successes and addressing challenges with the U.S. preference program that allows substantially all goods from 39 African countries to enter the U.S. market duty-free.

    Ambassador Froman then saw the best of two-way trade between the U.S. and Africa, hearing from African exporters of flowers, beauty products, specialty clothing, jewelry, and home goods just how AGOA changes lives across the continent. He also highlighted for African officials U.S. companies like Acrow Bridge, a maker of prefabricated bridges that not only sells its products in Africa but also provides skills training for African workers building infrastructure.

    Froman with woman exporterAmbassador Froman and African officials hear from an African businesswoman about diverse export products including Shea butter and cassava flour.

    In meetings with Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, Ethiopian Trade Minister Kebede Chane, and ministers from many other AGOA countries, Ambassador Froman reiterated both President Obama's commitment to a seamless renewal of AGOA beyond 2015, and that the questions the United States will ask in its review of the program are aimed at increasing African countries' utilization and benefits from this cornerstone of our economic engagement. More updates from the discussion as the AGOA Forum continues tomorrow...

     Froman at Trade Exhibit

    Acrow Bridge Director of International Business Development Paul Sullivan, Ambassador Froman, Ethiopian Trade Minister Kebede Chane, and the President of the Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce Mulu Solomon Bezuneh.
  • 08/11/2013 3:36 PM

    U.S. trade with Africa has grown under the African Growth and Opportunity (AGOA) Act – but there is so much more we can do: that’s the message Ambassador Froman delivered today in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in conversations and events with partners from civil society, business, and governments from across the continent. 

    In Africa to lead a multi-agency U.S. delegation to the 12th African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Forum, Ambassador Froman began the day discussing ways to expand Africa’s role in the global economy and how to promote greater U.S. private-sector involvement here. He talked not only with African and American business powerhouses, but also with women participating in the AGOA Women Entrepreneurs Program (AWEP) and with members of African civil society who have ideas about how to grow business and build better lives in African communities. 

    Building on President Obama’s announcement in June of Trade Africa – which aims to increase Africa’s regional and global trade with the world, including with the United States under AGOA – Ambassador Froman met with ministers of the five-nation East African Community (EAC) and announced new negotiations toward an agreement to ease the flow of trade in the region, and also plans to expand an existing U.S.-EAC trade and investment partnership agreement to tackle red tape and barriers to agricultural trade. The United States will also expand an existing East Africa trade hub to support more investment and business in the region. Trade Africa’s initial focus is on doubling trade within the EAC and increasing EAC exports to the U.S. by 40 percent. 

    AGOA is the cornerstone of U.S. economic engagement with Africa. The program allows thousands of African products, especially processed, value-added goods from cocoa powder to clothes, to enter the United States duty-free. AGOA uses trade, not aid, to help some of the world’s poorest countries grow, and also provides an important, affordable source of inputs for made-in-America goods. President Obama has committed to working with Congress toward a seamless renewal of AGOA before it expires in 2015, and also to build on the program with new initiatives like Trade Africa and also Power Africa, which will help to light all of sub-Saharan Africa with electricity by 2030.

    High-level meetings at the AGOA Forum kick off officially tomorrow. Ambassador Froman and officials from many of the 39 AGOA-eligible economies will start the day with a look at the future of the initiative and how we’ll work towards its renewal. Stay tuned for the next update…

     Trade Africa panel Ethiopia

    Ambassador Froman discusses the Trade Africa initiative, which aims to increase Africa’s regional and global trade with the world.
  • 08/10/2013 12:28 AM

    Lima, Peru – This week, the United States and Peru co-hosted two one-day workshops entitled “Best Practices in the Standardization and Regulation Experiences in the United States and Peru,” in Lima and Arequipa on August 6 and 8, respectively. The workshops were designed to promote transparent, predictable, and effective regulatory practices that will encourage enhanced bilateral trade and investment between the two countries. . 

    As regulatory issues increasingly create hurdles for companies engaged in international trade, the workshops focused principally on two elements of Standardization and Regulation Experiences – participation in international standards development processes and involvement in the regulatory development system – and reviewed the practices of both countries. The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), and, Peru’s Ministry of Foreign Trade and Tourism organized the two one-day events with assistance from USAID, Peru’s National Institute for the Defense of Competition and the Protection of Intellectual Property (INDECOPI), and the Arequipa Chamber of Commerce, which hosted the Arequipa workshop.

    During the workshops, participants shared information on effective regulatory practices developed by international and regional organizations, including the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Andean Community (CAN), and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Participants in the workshops also reviewed case studies on textiles standards, regulatory impact assessments and stakeholder inputs, among others. Opportunities for future cooperation were also discussed, including planned engagements in Peru on metrology (August 29) and conformity assessment (September 9-10). Additionally, Peruvian trade and regulatory officials will conduct an orientation visit to Washington, D.C. in late September.

    Jennifer Stradtman from the USTR Office of WTO and Multilateral Affairs with Peruvian Vice Minister of Trade Carlos Posada

    The workshops featured strong participation from both U.S. and Peruvian government officials, as well as private sector stakeholders from both countries, reflecting the critical importance of public-private partnerships in effecting Best Practices in Standardization and Regulation. The U.S. government was represented by officials from USTR, as well as the Office of Management and Budget and the Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration and the Federal Trade Commission. 

    The Conference on Best Practices in the Standardization and Regulation Experiences in the United States and Peru is the first programming conducted for Peru as a part of the WTO Standards Alliance program, which USTR and USAID launched in November 2012 to help build capacity among developing countries to improve implementation of WTO Technical Barriers to Trade Agreement. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and USAID recently agreed to collaborate on a new, multi-year public-private partnership intended to assist developing countries in effectively implementing their commitments under the TBT Agreement. This leveling of the playing field will reduce the costs and bureaucratic obstacles associated with exporting and will make American products more competitive abroad.

  • 08/09/2013 10:42 AM

    The United States and Tunisia continue to make important progress on the small and medium enterprise (SME) initiative announced by USTR, USAID and the Government of Tunisia last May. The initiative is aimed at strengthening the SME sector and expanding trade opportunities under the U.S. –Tunisia Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA).

    In a milestone achievement, nearly 60 participants from the Tunisian government, academia, business, and the NGO community completed certification training in the U.S. Small Business Development Center (SBDC) model, through the program funded by USAID and implemented by the International Executive Service Corps and the University of Texas San Antonio Small Business Development Center. In the United States, SBDCs provide a wide range of business counseling services and trade training to SMEs at centers throughout the country. With a graduation ceremony marking the successful completion of training for its SME experts, Tunisia has now announced the launch of four pilot centers patterned on the SBDC model for 2014, including two government-supported Centres d’ Affaires (business centers) and two private university-NGO partnered centers. Next year, the Tunisian SBDCs will be linked via an online platform to U.S. SBDCs to create greater opportunities for trade among small businesses on both sides.

    Tunisia is the first country participating in the Administration’s Middle East and North Africa Trade and Investment Partnership (MENA TIP) to adapt the model to local needs and conditions, in order to promote development and inclusive growth in the SME sector. Strengthening economic growth and integration with the United States can help promote political and economic reforms in the region.

     

    U.S. and Tunisian participants celebrate at a graduation ceremony.

    U.S. Tunisia participants cut cake at SME graduation

    From left to right:

    Mme. Raoudha Ben Sabeur, President of Women Heads of Businesses (CNFCE), Mr. Ben Abid (Ministry of Industry),

    Mr. Cliff Parades (UTSA), Mr. Hichem Hlioui (ISLAIN/University), Mme. Haddar (Ministry of Commerce)

  • 08/07/2013 10:43 AM

    By James Hoagland, Office of Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement

    Ambassador Michael Froman met with members of the Trade Advisory Committee on Africa (TACA) to discuss the Administration’s trade and broader economic initiatives in the sub-Saharan African region. Members of the committee representing a wide range of business, law and development groups engaged in a broad and productive discussion with Ambassador Froman and  Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Africa  Florie Liser.

    The discussion focused on the Ambassador’s recent trip to South Africa and Tanzania, where President Obama announced a series of new initiatives in the region, including Trade Africa, Power Africa, and a landmark summit of African leaders to be held in the US next year. Trade Africa aims to double-intra regional trade among the members of the East African Community (EAC) and increase exports to the United States by 40%, and Power Africa has identified 20 priority projects around the continent to expand power infrastructure through a combination of public and private investment. During his meeting, Ambassador Froman received advice and counsel from TACA members on these new initiatives and how to best implement and promote them in Africa and the United States.

    Ambassador Froman also discussed the process to review the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) ahead of its renewal, which he plans to discuss at the upcoming AGOA Forum, to be held August 12-13 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The Ambassador spoke with the committee about the future of AGOA and how it might be extended and improved to continue the opening of Africa’s markets, increase African regional and global trade, and expand and diversify U.S.-Africa two-way trade and investment. In 2012, U.S. goods imports from sub-Saharan African under AGOA and the related GSP program totaled $34.9 billion, more than four times the amount in 2001.  Africa’s economic rise and engagement with global trading partners  are some of the elements to be examined as part of AGOA’s review and extension beyond 2015.

    The TACA is one of several committees which make up the Trade Advisory Committee System of the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR). TACA, originally established in 1995, is made up of members representing key sectors and groups with an interest in trade and development in sub-Saharan Africa. USTR's Office of Intergovernmental Affairs & Engagement (IAPE) manages advisory committees for USTR to ensure that trade policy and objectives reflect U.S. public and private sector interests. 


  • 07/31/2013 5:47 PM

    Good news this week for U.S. agricultural producers: the Obama Administration resolved three market access issues that had been blocking exports to two important markets for America’s farmers and ranchers – Japan and Australia.

    On Tuesday, the Government of Japan announced the resumption of purchases for U.S. Western White and Soft White wheat, following a suspension of imports with the April finding of an unauthorized variety of genetically engineered wheat in an Oregon field. Japan intends to purchase more than 178,000 metric tons of U.S. wheat, including 90,000 metric tons of Western wheat.

    Australia has approved new measures that allow U.S. exports of California table grapes into Western Australia.

    And Australia has also approved new measures that allow exports to that country of U.S. peaches and nectarines from California, Washington, Oregon and Idaho.

    The Office of the United States Trade Representative and the U.S. Department of Agriculture had been working to break down barriers to both markets for U.S. wheat and fruit. Under the rules-based global trading system, governments have a responsibility to find ways to facilitate trade of food and agricultural products, provided the products are safe for human consumption and the health of plants. These steps by the governments of Japan and Australia to remove restrictions on U.S. agricultural products were based on scientific decisions that these products can safely be traded – and now American farmers can look forward to more job-supporting exports.

  • 07/31/2013 1:22 PM
    Check out the Business Journal's story on Ambassador Froman's message to businesses on trade. 
  • 07/30/2013 4:41 PM

    Ambassador Michael Froman participated in an armchair discussion with U.S. Chamber of Commerce CEO Tom Donohue at the annual Next Steps for the American Trade Agenda conference, hosted by the Chamber. For a video of the discussion, please click here.

     

    AMF Donohue ChambeUSTR Michael Froman and Chamber of Commerce CEO Tom Donohue discuss the American Trade Agenda

     

    Ambassador Froman discussed the state of play on a range of U.S. trade interests, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, Trade Promotion Authority, bilateral ties with China, and the World Trade Organization. He also addressed challenges posed by localization barriers to trade, state-owned enterprises, and USTR resource constraints, and gave an overview of recent trips to Africa and the New Balance factory in Maine. Ambassador Froman specifically addressed how the U.S. trade agenda is helping to support jobs in America, grow the middle class, and strengthen the U.S. economy.

  • 07/30/2013 1:54 PM

    By Nadya Khapochkina

    Office of Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement 

    On Monday, Mara Burr, Deputy Assistant U. S. Trade Representative for South and Central Asian Affairs, spoke at a Peace Through Business conference in Dallas, Texas. The event, titled International Women’s Economic Summit, highlighted the necessity of empowering women to further the economic development of their countries.

    Burr explained the role of the Office of the U. S. Trade Representative (USTR) in developing, coordinating and implementing trade and investment policy of the United States, and its leadership in trade preference programs. She focused on the importance of empowering women and ensuring that they have access to relevant information, decision-makers and most crucially, the opportunities to chart their own path to success. She also discussed the United States-Afghanistan Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) and focused her remarks on the recently signed United States – Afghanistan Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Joint Efforts to Enable the Economic Empowerment of Women and Promote Women’s Entrepreneurship. This MOU demonstrates the joint commitment of the United States and Afghanistan to ensure strong interagency and inter-ministerial support and coordination of programs aimed at the economic empowerment of women in Afghanistan. In addition, both governments agree to provide women in Afghanistan access to information about laws, regulations, policies, and other official requirements for starting, running, and growing businesses, including information on international trade rules, requirements, and preference programs. At the annual TIFA Council meetings, the two governments will review progress made under the MOU and identify areas for more focused work.

    MaraBurrDallas

    Deputy Assistant USTR Mara Burr at Peace Through Business conference in Dallas, Texas

    Mara Burr elaborated further, saying that, “developing countries like Afghanistan must ensure that the entire population is contributing to its economic growth – not one-third or one-half of the population…Women are important drivers of both creativity and innovation – we have a natural talent to ‘think outside the box’. Creativity and innovation are critical drivers in any economy. So it is only common sense that countries should commit to promoting women and women entrepreneurs to ensure that their economies benefit from the best and brightest minds, the hardworking high achievers who can contribute to the development of their country.”

    The Peace Through Business program was created by nonprofit organization Institute for Economic Empowerment of Women (IEEW) in 2006. The purpose of this annual program is to provide women business owners intensive education and training in their fields over a span of two months. The program culminates in a trip to the United States to engage with American women mentors, finishing up with a summit, held in Dallas this year. Sixty women from Afghanistan and Rwanda participated this year, with the top twenty students attending the summit.

    Incorporating the gender dimension is a significant driver of developing effective trade policies, and awareness of economic issues faced by women from our trading partner nations increases the scope and relevance of trade negotiations and ensures more sustainable economic growth. The United States Trade Representative works to advance opportunities for women through several other initiatives as well. USTR was active in formulating the APEC San Francisco Declaration to further women’s economic participation, by expanding access to capital and markets, skills and capacity building, and inspiring leadership. Similar objectives have been proposed in the ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations, and discussed in many of our TIFAs with other developing countries. USTR also works closely with the U.S. Department of State on the African Women Entrepreneurs Program, through the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).

  • 07/17/2013 5:50 PM

    Ambassador Froman met with key EU officials this week to build on progress made during the inaugural round of negotiations for a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) agreement.

    On Tuesday, Ambassador Froman and European Commissioner for Internal Market and Services Michel Barnier discussed the potential for TTIP to promote jobs, economic growth, and international competitiveness in both economies, and focused in particular on issues related to financial services, intellectual property, and government procurement. Ambassador Froman also met on Tuesday with European Commissioner for Energy Günther Oettinger to talk about the important role energy and raw materials trade plays in the transatlantic economic relationship. Today, Ambassador Froman sat down with European Commission Directorate-General for Trade Jean-Luc Demarty to review the completed negotiating round and the interim steps both sides should take to set the stage for a successful second round this fall. The officials also discussed increased cooperation on a proposed Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) and various WTO topics, and noted that the U.S. and EU have shared interests in a “Bali package” for the WTO Ministerial Conference in Indonesia in early December. They agreed that WTO Members need to accelerate the pace of negotiations in order to achieve this. 

    The U.S. economic relationship with the EU is the largest and most complex in the world, generating goods and services trade flows of about $2.7 billion per day and supporting more than 13 million jobs.

  • 07/17/2013 2:02 PM

    By James Hoagland, Office of Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement

    Today U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman delivered the keynote speech at a luncheon hosted by the Transatlantic Policy Network (TPN). Ambassador Froman discussed the important role the transatlantic economic relationship plays in promoting jobs and growth worldwide, and outlined the potential benefits that would flow from a completed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). The TPN’s annual Transatlantic Week aims to foster dialogue between legislators, administrators, academics and business leaders from the United States and the EU on a wide range of issues.

    Ambassador Froman focused his remarks on the first round of TTIP negotiations that were recently held in Washington, D.C. He described how extensive efforts by government officials, stakeholders, and interested citizens over the past year and-a-half, on both sides of the Atlantic, had made the launch of TTIP negotiations possible.

    Ambassador Froman reminded the audience that tough issues will not be avoided in TTIP, and emphasized the importance of addressing differences in U.S. and EU regulatory and standards systems in particular. Ambassador Froman also encouraged stakeholders to remain engaged so as to ensure that multiple perspectives and a balance of views continue to inform U.S. negotiating positions.

    Today, trade between U.S. and the EU accounts for nearly 13 million jobs and supports nearly $3 billion in daily goods and services trade. Through TTIP, the Administration hopes to expand this robust relationship.

    To find out more about the proposed TTIP agreement, visit this page. If you’re interested in attending TTIP events in the future, visit our stakeholder page on our website here, or email us at IAPE@ustr.eop.gov.

  • 07/12/2013 11:21 AM

    By Ari Giovenco, Director of Congressional Affairs

    U.S. and European negotiators briefed Congressional staff from both the House and Senate regarding the status of the inaugural round of negotiations for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which began in Washington, D.C. this week.

    Chief U.S. Negotiator Dan Mullaney, along with his European Commission counterpart Ignacio Garcia-Bercero made brief remarks, and then fielded substantive questions and engaged in a lively conversation on topics such as regulatory barriers, agriculture, State-owned enterprises (SOEs), market access, and transparency.

    Froman and Garcia-Bercero Brief HillChief Negotiators Dan Mullaney (US) and Ignacio Garcia-Bercero (EU) brief congressional staff on the status of the inaugural round of TTIP negotiations

    Both negotiators highlighted the shared goals of creating jobs, promoting growth, and enhancing economic competitiveness on both sides of the Atlantic.

    A wide range of bipartisan Congressional staff was present at the briefing including staff from Members who represent constituents with diverse interests in agriculture, manufacturing, technology and services.

    The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) is committed to robust Congressional consultations and transparency in its trade negotiations and welcomes the views of all Members of Congress and their staffs.

  • 07/11/2013 2:47 PM

    By Clare Quinn, Office of Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement

    During this week’s first Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiating round, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) hosted a series of stakeholder engagement events to ensure that multiple perspectives and a balance of views inform U.S. negotiating positions. Approximately 350 global stakeholders gathered on Wednesday for a series of outreach events, including the direct stakeholder engagement event, stakeholder presentations, and a briefing by the Chief Negotiators from the United States and European Union. Negotiators took a break from their discussions to meet with and listen to presentations by approximately 50 stakeholders representing industry, small businesses, academia, labor unions, environmental groups, and consumer advocacy organizations. Stakeholders and negotiators traded insights and shared opinions in the open and productive forum. Stakeholders were also able to ask questions and share briefing materials with negotiators and other participants. Ambassador Froman stopped by the session to listen and share perspectives with stakeholders.  To view the schedule of presentations, please click here.

    Ambassador Froman greets stakeholders
    United States Trade Representative Michael Froman greets stakeholders at yesterday's events.

    Later that afternoon, Chief U.S. Negotiator Dan Mullaney and Chief EU Negotiator Ignacio Garcia-Bercero briefed the assembled stakeholders and took questions on the progress made during the first days of the negotiation. In his remarks, Mullaney emphasized the economic benefits of the agreement; in addition to promoting international competitiveness and growth, the TTIP is expected to add to the more than 13 million American and European Union jobs already supported by transatlantic trade and investment. For a full list of the organizations that participated in these events, please click here

    Over the last several months, U.S. trade negotiators have consulted closely with Members of Congress, cleared advisors, trade stakeholders, and members of the public about U.S. negotiating positions for the TTIP agreement, and USTR will continue to engage with and seek feedback from those constituencies throughout the negotiation. Discussing a broad set of views is critical to helping negotiators produce a comprehensive and ambitious agreement that benefits both parties, reflects our values, and leads to even more economic growth. 

    For further information on the TTIP negotiations, please visit www.ustr.gov/ttip.

  • 07/08/2013 5:21 PM

    By Zack Cronin, Office of Public and Media Affairs

    The first round of negotiations for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) began today with an opening plenary session, and will continue this week as numerous negotiating groups meet to discuss the range of issues that the United States and the EU intend to include in a comprehensive trade and investment agreement.

    Mullaney and Garcia-BerceroChief Negotiators Dan Mullaney and Ignacio Garcia-Bercero introduce their teams at today's opening plenary session.

    These negotiations provide an opportunity to build on one of the world’s greatest overall alliances and both increase the already strong trade and investment relationship and strengthen the multilateral, rules-based trading system. Today’s attendees included U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Miriam Sapiro, and Chief Negotiators Dan Mullaney (U.S.) and Ignacio Garcia-Bercero (EU), along with their negotiating teams.

    Ambassador Froman gave introductory remarks at the opening plenary, stating that he and Commissioner De Gucht intend to stay “very involved” in the negotiations, while still giving their respective teams “the space they need to move forward and find solutions.” Ambassador Froman closed his remarks by encouraging negotiators to “be creative, be flexible, and think outside of the box as necessary to make progress” and achieve an “outcome that meets the economic priorities of both the United States and the European Union.” The first round of TTIP negotiations will continue throughout the week.

  • 07/03/2013 9:47 AM
    This week, USTR’s Environment and Natural Resources office met with environmental organizations in Washington, DC to discuss progress on the negotiations of the environment chapter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP). USTR reported on progress made during the negotiating round in Lima, Peru in May. Participants, including Sierra Club, Environmental Investigation Agency, World Wildlife Fund, Oceana, World Society for the Protection of Animals, and Fauna and Flora International, shared views and expressed their desire for progress during the upcoming round of negotiations in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia later this month. This environment outreach meeting was part of USTR’s regular effort to meet with stakeholders, including civil society, NGOs, labor unions, businesses, academics and concerned citizens to solicit and share information about TPP. USTR hopes to make further progress towards achieving an ambitious outcome on environment during the upcoming round in Malaysia, and looks forward to continued engagement with stakeholders as the TPP negotiations continue. For more information, visit www.ustr.gov/tpp.
  • 07/01/2013 5:19 PM


    Check out the Washington Post story on Ambassador Froman and the Obama Administration’s new initiative called “Power Africa” to double the access to power in sub-Saharan Africa.

  • 06/28/2013 4:16 PM

    by Clare Quinn, Office of Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement

    This week, Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Miriam Sapiro traveled to Berlin, Germany, where she participated in a panel discussion at the John F. Kennedy Atlantic Forum, which marked the 50th anniversary of John Kennedy’s 1963 Berlin speech and highlighted entrepreneurship in the Transatlantic Community. Ambassador Sapiro spoke about how the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) agreement will help grow and support jobs on both sides of the Atlantic. She also addressed the themes of continued strength in U.S.-German relations, President Obama’s ambitious trade agenda, and the importance of German support for a successful TTIP. The Forum consisted of two panels: one in which the guests weighed in on the global challenges and dimensions of entrepreneurship, and another which focused on the effects, progress, and future of the transatlantic relationship. Participants included Senator for Economics, Technology, and Research Cornelia Yzer, President of UPS International James Barber, and President & CEO of GE Europe Ferdinando Beccalli-Falco.

    Ambassador Sapiro also discussed the foundation for a successful TTIP, as the first round of negotiations is scheduled to occur the week of July 8th in Washington, D.C. She commented that barriers to trade remain rooted in the ways our nations regulate their economies. Continued German leadership is crucial in order to achieve a successful agreement that benefits economies on both sides of the Atlantic. This agreement will further deepen the transatlantic relationship, spurring growth in the U.S. economy.

    Global trade has transformed the world we live in today, supporting economic growth and U.S. jobs. During her remarks, Ambassador Sapiro focused on how the strong U.S.-German alliance is crucial to the continuance of that economic growth. In 2012, every $1 billion in exported goods supported an estimated 5,400 U.S. jobs, while every $1 billion in exported services supported 4,000 jobs. With $75 billion in U.S. goods and services exports to Germany and $134 billion in goods and services imports, Germany is currently our 5th largest goods trading partner. The U.S. and EU’s transatlantic economic relationship accounts for 50% of global GDP and 30% of global trade. There are an estimated 13 million United States and European jobs supported by this trade and investment relationship. The U.S. and Germany have a clear common interest to find a level playing field in which our nations compete and win in the global economy. The importance of U.S. exports to our nation’s economy underlies President Obama’s ambitious trade and investment agenda.

  • 06/28/2013 11:16 AM

    Earlier this week, President Obama announced a series of actions that the United States will take to address climate change, including by demonstrating leadership on this issue internationally.  As part of the President’s action plan, USTR will work with our trading partners to launch negotiations at the World Trade Organization towards global free trade in environmental goods, including clean energy technologies such as solar, wind, hydro and geothermal.  Currently, tariffs on these technologies can be as high as 35%, adding to their cost of deployment.  We will build on the groundbreaking consensus USTR recently forged among the 21 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) economies, who pledged to liberalize trade in this important sector.  In 2011, under U.S. leadership, APEC economies agreed to reduce tariffs to 5 percent or less by 2015 on a negotiated list of 54 environmental goods. This was an important first step, and the APEC list of goods agreed to in 2012 can serve as a foundation for a global agreement in the WTO, with participating countries expanding the scope by adding products of interest. Over the next year, we will work with interested WTO members towards negotiating an agreement to eliminate tariffs on environmental goods.  Our goal will be to secure participation in this negotiation of countries that account for 90 percent of global trade in environmental goods, representing roughly $481 billion in annual environmental goods trade. We will also continue to work in the Trade in Services Agreement negotiations towards achieving free trade in environmental services, such as air pollution control services.  For more information on the President’s Climate Action Plan, please visit http://www.whitehouse.gov/share/climate-action-plan.

  • 06/28/2013 10:22 AM

    This week, President Obama and newly confirmed U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman are traveling in Sub-Saharan Africa. The visit is part of an Obama Administration directive to spur economic growth, trade, and investment in the region, adding to increased jobs and prosperity for both Africa and the United States.  The President launched the visit in Senegal on Wednesday, and Ambassador Froman will join him for stops in South Africa and Tanzania.  This is President Obama’s second official trip to Africa and Ambassador Froman’s first as the U.S. Trade Representative.

    The visit to Africa, home to six of the world’s ten fastest growing economies in the past decade, demonstrates the United States’ commitment to developing the region’s tremendous economic potential through trade and investment.  Ambassador Froman will meet the delegation in Johannesburg, South Africa, where he will join senior Administration officials in a high-level dialogue with African banking and finance leaders for a discussion on mobilizing capital and improving the bilateral investment climate across the continent.  Ambassador Froman will then travel with the President to Tanzania, where the President will outline the Administration’s comprehensive strategy to promote trade and investment between Africa and the United States, and launch a new initiative that will initially focus on the East African Community (EAC). 

    Among the policy tools in place to enhance U.S.-Africa two-way trade and investment are the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), Trade and Investment Framework Agreements (TIFAs) with key national and regional partners, bilateral investment treaties (BITs), support for U.S. and African businesses in identifying and seizing opportunities in Sub-Saharan Africa, including the Commerce Department’s Doing Business in Africa campaign.  The United States also provides trade capacity building assistance to the Africans to improve their trade competitiveness and grow intra-African and global trade, including exports to the United States under AGOA.  Of these initiatives, AGOA, which provides duty-free access to the U.S. market for the vast majority of products African countries produce, serves as the centerpiece, and during the visit, the Administration will reiterate a sustained commitment to working with Congress on the renewal of the policy beyond 2015.  Currently, the initiative provides thirty-nine Sub-Saharan countries with enhanced access to U.S. consumers, and its extension will offer increased certainty to U.S. and African investors seeking to do business on both continents. 

    With trade between Africa and the United States on the rise, it is clear that investing in economic development can open promising new markets for Made-in-America goods and services.  In 2012, total two-way trade between the United States and Sub-Saharan Africa was valued at $72.3 billion.  U.S. goods exports to Sub-Saharan Africa were up $1.5 billion, or 7.1 percent, from 2011, and up a notable 277 percent from 2002.  The top U.S. export categories in 2012 were: machinery ($4.4 billion), motor vehicles ($3.9 billion), aircraft ($2.1 billion), mineral fuel (oil) ($2.0 billion), and cereals (wheat and rice) ($1.4 billion).   African exports to the U.S. totaled $49.7 billion in 2012, and non-oil exports under AGOA have more than tripled since enactment of AGOA in 2001.

  • 06/28/2013 9:51 AM

    By James Hoagland, Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement

    This week, Chief Agricultural Negotiator Islam Siddiqui addressed the California Agricultural Trade Export Council via videoconference and updated its members on USTR’s ongoing negotiations around the world and how increasing exports support approximately 1 million jobs for farmers, ranchers, and agricultural exporters around the United States.

    Ambassador Siddiqui first addressed developments surrounding the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations. With respect to Japan’s upcoming entry into negotiations, the Ambassador emphasized Japan’s readiness to subject all products, including agricultural products, to tariff negotiations in the pursuit of a high-standard, comprehensive TPP agreement. He underscored the important market-opening implications of Japan’s participation in the TPP for American farmers and ranchers. Progress has also been made in the TPP negotiations to develop mechanisms to resolve specific issues surrounding sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures.

    Ambassador Siddiqui also spoke to members about the upcoming first round of negotiations of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), set to begin on the week of July 8th. He explained the immense advantages for American farmers in creating a comprehensive trade agreement with Europe, through eliminating tariffs, reducing and simplifying customs procedures and eliminating “behind-the-border” trade barriers. The Ambassador also discussed various new proposals in the World Trade Organization (WTO) regarding customs procedures and obstacles to trade, as well as efforts to bring more members into the WTO. Finally, the Ambassador touched on discussions aimed towards resolving disputes with Russia, China and Brazil over SPS measures, poultry exports and cotton subsidies respectively.

    The Ambassador’s remarks followed speeches from Karen Ross of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, Phil Carsting of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Kish Rajan of the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development. Today’s Forum reflected the USTR’s mission to enforce current agreements, negotiate new agreements and make sure American farmers and ranchers have a level playing field for their products. According to the USDA‘s Economic Research Service, 2012 was a record year for U.S. agricultural exports ($145 billion), and through the Obama Adminstration’s comprehensive trade agenda, we will continue to support further agricultural exports and American jobs.

  • 06/21/2013 10:35 AM

    Jakarta, Indonesia – This week, the United States and Indonesia co-hosted a workshop entitled “Good Regulatory Practice (GRP): Shared Experiences of the United States and Indonesia,” aimed at promoting transparent, predictable, and effective regulatory practices that will encourage enhanced trade and investment between the two countries.

    As regulatory issues increasingly create barriers for companies engaged in international trade, this workshop principally focused on two elements of Good Regulatory Practice – internal coordination and public consultation in the development of new regulations – and reviewed the practices in both countries. The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) and Indonesia’s National Standardization Agency (BSN) organized the two-day event with assistance from the Support for Economic Analysis Development in Indonesia (SEADI) project, a USAID program. During the discussions, participants shared information on effective regulatory practices developed by international and regional organizations, including the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Participants also discussed opportunities for future cooperation, which could include capacity building to improve interagency processes for notification, exploring the establishment of a single gazette or website for regulations, capacity building for e-rulemaking, and undertaking regulatory impact assessments.

    The workshop featured strong participation from both U.S. and Indonesian government officials, as well as private sector stakeholders from both countries, reflecting the critical importance of public-private partnerships in effecting Good Regulatory Practice. The U.S. government was represented by officials from USTR, as well as the Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration (ITA) and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

    The Conference on Good Regulatory Practices is the first programming conducted for Indonesia as a part of the WTO Standards Alliance program, which USTR and USAID launched in November 2012 to help build capacity among developing countries to improve implementation of the Technical Barriers to Trade Agreement (TBT). The American National Standards Institute and USAID recently agreed to collaborate on a new, multi-year public-private partnership intended to assist developing countries in effectively implementing their commitments under the TBT Agreement. This leveling of the playing field will reduce the costs and bureaucratic hurdles associated with exporting and will make American products more competitive abroad.

     

    Indonesia Workshop
    Officials from the U.S. and Indonesia at the “Good Regulatory Practices” workshop, aimed at promoting effective regulatory practices to encourage enhanced trade and investment between the two countries

  • 06/20/2013 10:02 AM

    By Leif Anderson, Office of Intellectual Property and Innovation

    Today, the U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator released the “2013 Joint Strategic Plan for Intellectual Property Enforcement” (2013 Joint Strategic Plan). The 2013 Joint Strategic Plan is the Administration’s second Joint Strategic Plan and will guide activities over the next three years. It also contains a report on the progress made since the Administration’s first Joint Strategic Plan in June 2010. The key role played by the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) is reflected in both the forward-looking aspects of the 2013 Plan and its overview of Administration accomplishments.

    The 2013 Joint Strategic Plan notes, for example, the release in May of this year of the annual “Special 301” report examining IPR protection and enforcement by U.S. trading partners. It highlights that in February 2011, USTR issued the first standalone Notorious Market List, which drew special attention to online and physical foreign markets that deal with infringing products. USTR has issued two more Notorious Markets reports since then, in December 2011 and December 2012. The 2013 Joint Strategic Plan observes that “[f]ollowing their inclusion on the Notorious Markets List, several markets have taken action to address the widespread availability of pirated or counterfeit goods,” citing, among other examples, the Chinese search engines Baidu and Sogou, and the online shopping platform Taobao.

    USTR has made significant progress since the 2010 Joint Strategic Plan on implementing its new trade agreements. U.S. trade agreements with strong IPR provisions are now in force with Korea, Colombia and Panama, and USTR is seeking strong, state-of-the-art IPR protection and enforcement provisions in the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement now under negotiation. USTR is also preparing to launch negotiations on a comprehensive Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership agreement with the European Union that will reflect the high IPR standards of both economies.

    Going forward, the 2013 Joint Strategic Plan states that “USTR, working with the Federal agencies, will continue to utilize the full range of trade policy tools” to promote strong intellectual property rights protection and enforcement.

    Related Links:

    Blog from U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator Victoria Espinel

    OMB Fact Sheet – Major Accomplishments since the 2010 Joint Strategic Plan

    2013 Joint Strategic Plan on Intellectual Property Enforcement

  • 06/18/2013 4:16 PM

    Every year since 1963, the President of the United States has issued a proclamation announcing National Small Business Week, recognizing the critical contributions of America’s entrepreneurs and small business owners. More than half of Americans either own or work for small businesses, which are responsible for two-thirds of all new jobs created in the United States each year. See President Obama’s message celebrating this year’s National Small Business Week here:

    Moreover, nearly 300,000 small businesses across all fifty states are finding customers abroad by exporting Made-in-America goods and services, expanding their revenues and supporting good jobs at home. Studies confirm that small businesses that export grow faster, add jobs faster, and pay higher wages than small companies in the same sector that serve purely domestic markets. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) is working to open foreign markets, reduce barriers to trade, and enforce trade agreements so that U.S. companies of all sizes can export to more customers around the world. USTR’s trade policy agenda can particularly help small businesses boost exports by tackling tariff barriers, easing customs procedures, strengthening intellectual property protections, and addressing services barriers that are especially difficult for smaller companies, such as requirements to staff a foreign office.

    This Friday, Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Small Business Christina Sevilla will speak on a panel entitled “Expanding Your Business through Exporting” at the U.S. Small Business Administration’s National Small Business Week 2013. Find out more about National Small Business Week events around the country at http://www.sba.gov/nsbw/nsbw.

  • 06/17/2013 4:36 PM

    Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for South and Central Asian Affairs Mara Burr represented the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) in Kabul, Afghanistan yesterday at the signing ceremony for the United States – Afghanistan Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Joint Efforts to Enable the Economic Empowerment of Women and to Promote Women’s Entrepreneurship. The two parties began discussions about the importance of women’s entrepreneurship during the bilateral Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) Council meeting in December 2011, and the decision to pursue this new MOU was finalized in February 2013. USTR and Afghanistan’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry will lead the implementation of the agreement on behalf of their respective governments.

    This Agreement creates a cooperative framework that represents a major step towards addressing trade and investment barriers for women entrepreneurs, and it will also support initiatives to help women grow successful businesses. Both parties will solicit input from individual entrepreneurs and women’s business associations to learn about specific problems they encounter. Some of the conferences that Burr attended during her visit focused on topics such as building public-private partnerships, entrepreneurial thinking amidst uncertainty, and establishing better laws. Further engagement will help policymakers formulate appropriate means to ensure equal business opportunities in both countries, regardless of gender. Moreover, both governments will work to increase access to information about laws, regulations, policies, international trade rules, and preference programs.

    DAUSTR Mara BurrUSTR's Mara Burr participates in events surrounding the signature of a new U.S.-Afghanistan Memorandum of Understanding on joint efforts to empower women

    According to the United Nations Development Program, 27.6 percent of seats in the Afghan Parliament are held by women; however, only 5.8 percent of women have received at least secondary education. Women comprise approximately 15.7 percent of the Afghan labor force, but that figure is only half of the31.3 percent when looking at South Asia as a whole. A bilateral effort to empower women economically is especially important amidst rising levels of violence and a conservative backlash from members of parliament. As Burr stated today at the signing ceremony, “Any improvement in these numbers means that Afghanistan as a nation is taking advantage of its resources and brainpower – male and female – to help improve its economy, society and standard of living. Creativity and innovation are critical drivers in any economy and so Afghanistan has a real opportunity at this stage in its development to commit to promoting women and women entrepreneurs to ensure its economy benefits from the best and brightest minds, hardworking high achievers who can contribute to the development of Afghanistan.”

    To view a copy of the U.S.- Afghanistan Memorandum of Understanding on joint efforts to empower women, click here.

  • 06/12/2013 9:35 PM

    By Megan Thompson, Office of Public and Media Affairs

    Earlier today, U.S. Ambassador to the World Trade Organization (WTO) and Deputy United States Trade Representative Michael Punke delivered remarks at the National Press Club at an event hosted by the Global Business Dialogue, Inc. and the Coalition of Services Industries (CSI) entitled TISA – The Services Frontier. Ambassador Punke’s remarks focused on the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA), a plurilateral agreement currently being negotiated in Geneva.

    The services industry is the world’s largest employer, and global services trade has nearly doubled during the last decade. Trade barriers, discrimination, and murky trade rules, however, have prevented services trade from reaching its full potential. The TISA aims to improve and expand worldwide services trade through negotiations among 48 of the 159 WTO Members currently participating, including all European Union member states. 

    Though WTO Members have a long history of negotiating plurilateral agreements, just a year ago the notion of having a plurilateral services discussion was condemned by some Members on the floor of the WTO. But “whatever we might think of plurilateral agreements, they are part of the terrain,” Ambassador Punke said, while pointing out that all nine candidates competing for the position of WTO Director General spoke positively of the TISA initiative. 

    After Ambassador Punke spoke, various panel members representing different sectors of the services trade industry shared their own thoughts on TISA. UPS representative Dontai Smalls was among these panel members; he noted that state-owned or state sponsored enterprises can create market distortions as a result of unevenly applied regulations or direct or implicit subsidies. “The government should ensure that there is a level playing field for companies,” Smalls said. 

    Verizon’s Jackie Ruff also noted some of the benefits a successful TISA could provide for the telecommunications industry. “Small and medium-sized enterprises can benefit more proportionally from being able to reach the potential of services,” Ruff said. “To help these and other service suppliers access global markets more easily we need to focus on restrictions that eviscerate the notion of a cloud of information.” 

    Yancy Molnar of ACE Insurance spoke about the need to address restrictions on data flows, which can adversely affect all service suppliers and limit consumer options, noting that “data is the oil of the 21st Century.” 

    The next round of TISA discussions will begin on June 24 in Geneva.

  • 06/11/2013 3:38 PM

    By Roya Stephens, Office of Public and Media Affairs

    This week, Acting United States Trade Representative Miriam Sapiro and Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Eurasia and the Middle East Mark Mowrey delivered remarks at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) Center for Transatlantic Relations (CTR). Ambassador Sapiro and Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative Mowrey were invited to speak at the launch of the SAIS CTR’s Mediterranean Basin Initiative, a forum created to boost economic cooperation, increase civil society and women's empowerment, and foster political and academic dialogue among the United States and the countries of Southeast Europe and North Africa.

    At the launch event, Ambassador Sapiro spoke about the democratic transitions underway in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), as well as the U.S. Trade Representative’s support and promotion of trade and investment in the region. She highlighted economic security as a key way to promote political and economic reforms and discussed the Administration’s Middle East and North Africa Trade and Investment Partnership (MENA TIP) and its efforts to facilitate economic development in nations transitioning to democracy. Sapiro also cited trade facilitation, investment, services, small and medium-sized businesses, and preference programs like the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) and qualifying industrial zones (QIZs) as priorities that have significant potential to build on progress in the region. The efforts of USTR and other counterparts will help construct trade patterns that fuel economic growth, inclusive development, and greater economic security for people across the region.

    Mowrey SAIS CTRDeputy Assistant USTR for Eurasia and the Middle East Mark Mowrey speaks on SAIS panel

    Deputy Assistant USTR Mowrey participated in SAIS CTR’s panel discussion entitled “Transatlantic Cooperation- Benefit for All.” Mowrey, along with private sector and government representatives, discussed how a transatlantic partnership supports the development of prosperous democratic societies across the Mediterranean. Mowrey focused on the emerging relationship with Turkey, and with the European Union (EU) under the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), as well as the challenges and triumphs of the relationship with the Middle East and North Africa. The United States currently has trade agreements with Bahrain, Israel, Jordan, Morocco, and Oman, in addition to trade and investment framework agreements (TIFAs) with eleven other MENA countries and bilateral investment treaties with several more. To learn more about U.S. trade with Europe and the Middle East, please visit the page here. To learn more about trade with the Middle East and North Africa, please visit the MENA page, here.

  • 06/10/2013 3:01 PM

    This week, officials from the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) will join a visiting delegation of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) economic ministers for ASEAN Road Show events in Los Angeles and Silicon Valley, California, as well as in Washington, D.C. U.S. government officials from USTR, the U.S. Departments of Commerce and State, and trade ministers from ASEAN member states (Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam) will meet with Members of Congress, local government officials and business leaders to discuss various trade issues. Acting Deputy Secretary of Commerce Patrick Gallagher will greet the Ministers and attend early meetings while Assistant USTR for Southeast Asia and the Pacific Barbara Weisel will lead USTR’s delegation to California. The officials will tour businesses in Los Angeles and Silicon Valley and address important topics such as expanding U.S.-ASEAN economic relations, and promoting job-creating trade opportunities for U.S. and ASEAN businesses and workers in the healthcare, manufacturing and standards, information, communications and technology, customs and freight processing, and creative media sectors. During the Washington, D.C. portion of the trip, U.S. and ASEAN officials will hold a Joint Council on Trade and Investment meeting to discuss the Expanded Economic Engagement (E3) initiative announced by President Obama and the 10 ASEAN Leaders last October, as well as other topics on the U.S. trade agenda. This meeting will be chaired by Acting U.S. Trade Representative Miriam Sapiro, and will include Acting Commerce Secretary Cam Kerry and other senior U.S. government officials

    The United States has a robust and fast-growing trade and investment relationship with ASEAN member states which represent a market with a combined GDP of more than $2.2 trillion and a population of 620 million people. Since 2006, the U.S. and ASEAN have worked together under the auspices of a Trade and Investment Framework Arrangement (TIFA) to further enhance trade and investment ties and promote regional economic and trade integration in the ASEAN area. In August 2012, former U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and ASEAN trade ministers agreed on an updated program of TIFA activities for 2013.


     

    Monday, June 10, at the ASEAN Economic Ministers Road Show

    The ASEAN Economic Ministers Road Show is underway in Los Angeles, CA, where U.S. government officials have joined a delegation of ASEAN economic ministers to discuss various trade issues. Monday’s activities began with a welcome breakfast, which was followed by a tour of Fox Studios and a Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) discussion on market access, intellectual property protection, and ways to promote U.S. and ASEAN creative industries. Afterward, the group toured Covidien Headquarters, an innovative medical devices manufacturer that is expanding its presence in Asia and has participated in ASEAN-related workshops. They then met with local officials at the Port of Los Angeles, a major hub for trade with Asia. The day concluded with a reception at the California Club with local business and government leaders.


     

    Tuesday, June 11, at the ASEAN Economic Ministers Road Show

    The second day of ASEAN Road Show events began with a visit to the Headquarters of Mattel, Inc. in El Segundo, CA, where talks focused on innovation and Mattel's global strategy, including in the ASEAN region. The delegation then departed southern California and traveled to Silicon Valley, where they toured the Computer History Museum and met with the Semiconductor Industry Association for a discussion of current policy priorities and opportunities to further build trade between the United States and ASEAN in this sector. Afterward, they participated in a roundtable with representatives from the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) industry to discuss best practices for the development of ICT industries, which was followed by a tour of Google. The day concluded with a reception at Silicon Valley Bank that focused on creating and maintaining open and stable investment climates.


     

    Wednesday, June 12, 2013 at the ASEAN Economic Ministers Road Show

    In the morning, members of the U.S.-ASEAN delegation met with San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed, concluding the California leg of the ASEAN Economic Ministers Road Show. They then departed for Washington, D.C., where events will begin on Thursday with a Joint Council meeting of Ministers under the U.S.-ASEAN Trade and Investment Framework Arrangement.


     

    Thursday, June 13, 2013 at the ASEAN Economic Ministers Road Show

    ASEAN Road Show events continued today in Washington D.C., where ASEAN economic ministers met with high-level U.S. government officials from USTR and the Departments of State and Commerce, including Acting U.S. Trade Representative Miriam Sapiro and Acting Secretary of Commerce Cam Kerry. Discussions at the meeting, held under the U.S.-ASEAN Trade and Investment Framework Arrangement, focused on concrete initiatives to deepen economic ties and create new opportunities that will benefit businesses and workers in all eleven countries. Following the meeting, the delegation attended a lunch with think tank and academic representatives, participated in a roundtable with private sector representatives and attended a meeting with Congressional staff on the Hill. The Road Show events concluded with a reception and gala dinner hosted by the U.S.-ASEAN Business Council, where Ambassador Sapiro gave remarks on the importance of expanding U.S. trade and investment ties with ASEAN. For more information, please see here.

    US ASEAN delegationAmbassador Sapiro with the U.S.-ASEAN Economic Ministers Delegation

     


    Acting U.S. Trade Representative Sapiro gives remarks at the ASEAN Economic Ministers Gala Dinner

  • 06/07/2013 9:07 PM

    On Thursday, Assistant United States Trade Representative for the Western Hemisphere John Melle co-chaired the third meeting of the Free Trade Commission, established under the United States-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement. The Peruvian delegation was led by Diego Urbina, Director for North America and Europe for the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Tourism (MINCETUR). The Free Trade Commission is responsible for overseeing implementation and operation of the U.S.-Peru trade agreement, and is the principal vehicle for addressing formally matters that arise under the bilateral agreement. 

    Officials from the United States and Peru discussed a variety of issues, including the work of environmental, intellectual property and other committees, pending implementation issues, and cooperation in other fora and negotiations, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The officials agreed to intensify work to ensure the effective implementation of and compliance with the trade in goods and services, labor, and environment obligations of the Agreement, and to ensure that the benefits of the Agreement are widely shared and accessible to both countries. 

    February 1, 2013 marked the four-year anniversary of the U.S.-Peru trade agreement. Last year, goods trade between the United States and Peru was $15.8 billion (two-way), and the outlook for growth is positive. In the past three years, U.S. exports to Peru have risen by 90 percent, bringing home benefits to U.S. workers, farmers and manufacturers. 

    The two parties issued a joint communiqué following their meeting, which can be found here.

  • 06/07/2013 2:07 PM

    By Nadya Khapochkina, Office of Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement 

    Yesterday, Acting U.S. Trade Representative Miriam Sapiro and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack met with the Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee (APAC) and the Agricultural Technical Advisory Committees (ATACs) to discuss the Administration’s ambitious trade agenda and the critically important role of U.S. agriculture within that agenda. In her remarks, Acting USTR Sapiro stressed the significant value of dialogue between members of the agricultural sector and the USTR’s office.

    During the discussion segment with members, Acting USTR Sapiro and Secretary Vilsack emphasized the importance of close cooperation between the two agencies, as well as the need for feedback from the agricultural community concerning trade negotiations. Recently implemented trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and Korea have all resulted in new and expanding export opportunities for U.S. agriculture. Looking forward, the successful conclusion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) will provide even more opportunities to expand exports. The pending Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations provide a further opportunity to eliminate tariffs and address non-tariff barriers facing U.S. agricultural exports. Earlier on the agenda, Ambassador Islam Siddiqui, Chief Agricultural Negotiator at USTR and Darci Vetter, Acting Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services at USDA , provided insight on a number of issues, including the state of agricultural negotiations at the World Trade Organization.

    U.S. agricultural exports reached record levels in 2012, and produced an agricultural trade surplus of $42.2 billion. Ensuring that our agricultural sector continues to effectively participate in foreign markets will support domestic jobs for America’s farmers, ranchers, and the businesses they support.

  • 06/06/2013 5:32 PM

    By Roya Stephens, Office of Public and Media Affairs

    Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Labor Lewis Karesh testified today before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee alongside colleagues from the Departments of State and Labor on labor rights and worker safety issues in Bangladesh. Karesh, along with Assistant Secretary of South and Central Asian Affairs of the State Department Robert Blake and Acting Associate Deputy Undersecretary for International Affairs of the Department of Labor Eric Biel, discussed labor rights and safety conditions in Bangladesh. Karesh provided background on an ongoing USTR-led review of worker rights in Bangladesh under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP). That review is considering whether Bangladesh meets the statutory worker rights criteria of the GSP program, which requires that beneficiary countries be taking steps to afford workers internationally recognized worker rights, including the right of association and the right to organize and bargain collectively. Karesh stated that the Administration will announce next steps in the review by the end of June and that among the options under consideration are possible withdrawal, suspension, or limitation of Bangladesh’s trade benefits under the GSP program.

    Karesh Testifies

    The Administration has been concerned about the worker rights situation in Bangladesh for some time, including issues related to worker safety, and has conveyed those concerns on numerous occasions to the highest levels of the Government of Bangladesh. On March 28, 2013, a hearing was held at USTR at which the Government of Bangladesh, the AFL-CIO, and other interested parties gave testimony on issues related to the worker rights situation in Bangladesh. USTR and other agencies are now examining all of the information and testimony received, including post-hearing submissions. The testimony and all other public submissions are available here.

    In 2012, the United States and Bangladesh had a total two-way goods trade of $5.4 billion, and the United States is currently the largest single-country market for Bangladesh’s chief export, apparel products. In 2012, U.S. imports from Bangladesh under GSP totaled $34.7 million, and among the leading GSP imports were tobacco products, sports equipment, china kitchenware, and plastic articles. To learn more about GSP Program, click here. To learn more about trade with Bangladesh, click here.

  • 06/06/2013 2:26 PM

    Peru EAC

    This week, Assistant United States Trade Representative for Environment and Natural Resources Jennifer Prescott co-chaired a public session of the United States-Peru Environmental Affairs Council (EAC) and Environmental Cooperation Commission (ECC). The meetings focused on progress to implement the environmental provisions of the United States-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement (TPA) and environmental cooperation activities under the United States-Peru Environmental Cooperation Agreement (ECA). For more information, please see the Joint Communiqué.

  • 06/05/2013 9:02 AM

    By Zachary Cronin, Office of Public and Media Affairs 

    McCoy WCS

    Assistant USTR for Intellectual Property and Innovation Stanford McCoy spoke this week at the 2013 World Creators Summit, giving a keynote address on the topic of intellectual property rights (IPR) and creative industries in a global environment to an audience of creative professionals, industry leaders, and policymakers at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center. Among other topics, McCoy discussed the prominent role of intellectual property in American jobs, competitiveness, and prosperity, and reiterated the commitment of the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) to protect job-supporting innovation and seek greater market access for IPR-intensive U.S. products in world markets.

    McCoy detailed the empowering nature of IPR for small business and individual creators, and reviewed developments in the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights, including the recent designation of Ukraine as a Priority Foreign Country under the Special 301 statute and recent successes in eliminating notorious markets.

    Closing his remarks, McCoy urged the audience to continue to provide feedback and input on trade initiatives, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

  • 06/04/2013 2:40 PM

    The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR)-chaired Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) Subcommittee of the Trade Policy Staff Committee held a public hearing today to gather testimony regarding the eligibility of the Union of Burma and the Lao People's Democratic Republic for GSP trade benefits. The GSP program is designed to promote economic growth in developing countries by providing duty-free entry for up to 5,000 products imported from beneficiary developing countries. To qualify for GSP benefits, a country must meet certain statutory eligibility criteria, which include, but are not limited to, protection of worker rights and intellectual property rights (IPR) and honoring arbitral awards.

    GSP hearingThe GSP Subcommittee of the Trade Policy Staff Committee gathers testimony today at USTR.

    A multitude of stakeholders, including representatives from the respective countries and other interested parties such as industry and advocacy groups, testified at today’s hearing and offered their opinion on whether or not Burma and Laos meet the GSP eligibility criteria. The hearing was open to members of the public and media, and represents another step in USTR’s efforts to promote transparency and engagement with trade stakeholders.

    The full program for the hearing may be found here. Public submissions related to these GSP country practice reviews are available at www.regulations.gov in docket #USTR-2013-0020 (Burma) and USTR-2013-0021 (Laos).

  • 05/30/2013 4:42 PM

    By Nadya Khapochkina, Office of Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement 

    On May 29th and 30th, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), in conjunction with the Interagency Trade Policy Staff Committee (TPSC), chaired a public hearing on U.S. negotiating objectives for the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) agreement. A comprehensive TTIP agreement would augment the United States’ already extensive trade relationship with the European Union (EU), and would build a stronger economic partnership that would benefit businesses of all sizes and increase employment opportunities and growth on both sides of the Atlantic. Over sixty interested witnesses testified at the TTIP hearing, representing a wide spectrum of stakeholders, including manufacturers, farm groups, service suppliers, labor unions, consumer groups, environmental organizations, and state governments.

    USTR and other agencies are engaged in a 90-day consultation process regarding the proposed TTIP agreement. USTR-led teams have held many meetings with Members of Congress, and USTR received more than 360 submissions on TTIP from a variety of stakeholders via an online Federal Register solicitation. This ongoing dialogue with Congress, the private sector, and the public has given USTR negotiators a valuable opportunity to hear from stakeholders before beginning the negotiations, and will ensure that the final TTIP agreement takes important public interests into account. And this will not be the final opportunity to provide views; USTR will welcome additional input throughout the negotiation process. 

    The United States and the EU account for nearly half of global GDP and thirty percent of global trade. Each day, goods and services worth nearly $3 billion are traded across the Atlantic, and the investment relationship between the United States and European Union reached nearly $4 trillion in 2011. Roughly 13 million jobs in the United States and the EU are supported by transatlantic trade and investment. 

    The United States and the EU will seek to negotiate an agreement that eliminates tariffs and reduces non-tariff barriers that increase the costs of transatlantic commerce. The two sides will also seek to address emerging challenges for global trade. A transcript of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership public hearing is available here

  • 05/25/2013 8:57 AM

    By Christina Sevilla, Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Small Business, Market Access and Industrial Competitiveness

    This week, the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) released a new report requested by the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) entitled “U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement: Effects on U.S. Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises.” Under the U.S.-Korea trade agreement, the U.S. and Korea established a Working Group on Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to explore and develop ways for small businesses to take greater advantage of the new economic opportunities created after full implementation of the agreement. To inform the Working Group’s efforts, USTR requested that the ITC examine the agreement’s effects on exports by U.S. small and medium-sized businesses, which account for a significant share of U.S. exporters both to Korea and in general. The ITC sought information from these businesses on the effects of the U.S.-Korea trade agreement on their production, distribution, and export strategies, the benefits of specific provisions of the agreement, as well as challenges those businesses may have faced in exporting to Korea.

    The report found that most small companies responding to the ITC’s request for information expressed the view that the agreement had already proven helpful, and would benefit their companies even more over time. Responses came from small firms in diverse sectors of the economy, including agriculture (wine, tree fruit, potatoes, hay), manufacturing (tool and die, aircraft parts), and services (media, software). Several businesses reported immediate sales increases and creation of new business relationships and improved intellectual property protections. Some raised concerns about remaining non-tariff measures, in particular sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) restrictions.

    In the agriculture sector, for example, the report found that under the agreement, Korea immediately eliminated its MFN duty of 24 percent ad valorem on eligible imports of U.S. cherries, and according to the three firms responding in this sector, the elimination has been the primary driver behind increased U.S. cherry exports to Korea. Oneonta Starr Ranch Growers, a Washington State-based grower, packer, and marketer of fruits, said that elimination of the duty on U.S. cherries has greatly reduced prices at the retail level, bringing new consumers to the market for cherries. Still, cherry exporters expressed concerns about a Korean fumigation requirement. The trade agreement established a Committee that provides the U.S with a forum to raise this and other sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) concerns with Korea.

    The report also found that small manufacturers who responded to the ITC expressed the view that the U.S.-Korea trading environment has improved since the agreement entered into force; those firms reported new business possibilities, a strengthening of existing relationships, and more regular sales patterns. Transpo Industries, a New York company that manufactures and supplies safety products and new technology materials for bridges, roadways, tunnels, railroads, airports, and ports reported easier movement of its product into the Korean market since the agreement entered into force, and the company advised ITC that it is “aggressively” pursuing additional trade opportunities afforded under the provisions of the agreement.

    Finally, in the area of services, the businesses surveyed reported substantial new opportunities in Korea, attributable at least in part to what they regard as the improved intellectual property environment. For example, CMJ Holdings Corp., a New York small business that connects music fans and music industry professionals with new music through interactive media, live events and print, credited the combination of strong intellectual property rights (IPR) protections and low prices for legal access to music for substantially reduced music piracy in Korea, creating additional value for U.S. artists’ work.

    The U.S.-Korea trade agreement entered into force on March 15, 2012, opening a trillion dollar Asian economy to U.S. exports of goods and services. Going forward, the USTR will continue to monitor the implementation of the agreement, and work closely with U.S. small and medium-sized businesses and American companies of all sizes to help them take advantage of the new opportunities the agreement provides.

  • 05/24/2013 1:43 PM

    The Obama Administration will continue to open new markets to promote increased agricultural trade around the globe, while at the same time supporting jobs here at home. That was the message that Ambassador Isi Siddiqui, the Office of the United States Trade Representative’s (USTR) Chief Agricultural Negotiator, brought to a seminar entitled “Writing the Rules for 21st Century Trade: New Solutions for Old Problems in the Trans-Pacific and Trans-Atlantic Negotiations,” hosted by the International Food and Agricultural Trade Policy Council and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce this week. Ambassador Siddiqui highlighted USTR’s continuing efforts to open new markets, touched on the ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations, and offered a preview of the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations.

    AIS Chamber of Commerce

    According to the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Economic Research Service, Ambassador Siddiqui said, 2012 was a record year for U.S. agricultural exports ($145 billion). Those exports support approximately 1 million jobs for farmers, ranchers, and agricultural exporters. In fact, said Ambassador Siddiqui, U.S. agricultural exports have grown by 44 percent overall since 2009, and USTR will continue its work to open markets to U.S. agricultural exports, including in the context of ongoing and upcoming trade agreement negotiations. 

    USTR’s Dan Mullaney also spoke to International Food and Agricultural Trade Policy Council seminar earlier in the day. Mullaney previewed the proposed TTIP agreement, and emphasized the importance of the U.S.-EU economic relationship. By focusing on a broad range of trade and investment issues, Mullaney said, the United States will continue to open new markets.

    On May 29th and May 30th, USTR will hold a public hearing on TTIP, please click here for further details.

  • 05/22/2013 9:22 AM

    Note: This is a cross post from the Feed the Future blog. To see the original post, please click here.

    Ambassador Isi Siddiqui is attending The Chicago Council’s Global Agricultural Development Initiative’s fourth annual Global Security Symposium today in Washington, D.C. The symposium is on “Capitalizing on the Power of Science, Trade, and Business to End Hunger and Poverty: A New Agenda for Food Security.” As chief agricultural negotiator in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, Ambassador Siddiqui is responsible for bilateral and multilateral negotiations and policy coordination regarding food and agricultural trade.

    We face dual challenges in food security: We need to get food to the people who need it today and grow more for the people who will need it tomorrow. Open, well-functioning markets can help. 

    Global markets are an essential element of food security. Open markets for agricultural commodities, agricultural inputs, and food products help to efficiently move these goods from those who develop and produce them to those who need them, benefitting both producers and consumers. 

    Markets that allow businesses and countries to share technologies help producers increase yields and output, reduce post-harvest losses, and adapt to climate change, while preserving the incentives for future innovation and transfer that are critically important to improving food security. 

    The U.S. Government’s global hunger and food security initiative, Feed the Future, is driving a new model for development that, among other activities, integrates trade. Trade policies that promote open markets enable job creation, and can sustain and accelerate economic growth around the world. 

    The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) lends our expertise and broader global work—increasing the transparency, predictability, and openness of agricultural trade through bilateral and multilateral exchanges—to the initiative’s goals of reducing global hunger, poverty, and undernutrition. 

    At the World Trade Organization (WTO), for example, we’ve put forth proposals in the area of trade facilitation that would go a long way toward removing barriers to agricultural trade by cutting and reducing border delays. Reducing delays for import clearances is particularly important for perishable food and agricultural products to help ensure that quality products reach consumers. 

    We’re also working closely with our partners at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) on the APEC action plan on food security to continue progress toward our shared goal of free and open trade by 2020. Trade agreements, such as the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR), and ongoing negotiations like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) are also important tools to facilitate trade, provide reliable market access, and establish dependable distribution systems and supply chains. 

    Recognizing that agricultural production needs to substantially increase to meet growing global demand for food, USTR promotes science-based, transparent, and predictable regulatory approaches that foster innovation, including in agricultural biotechnologies. These types of approaches contribute significantly to a safe and reliable global food supply as the world’s population grows, and they help producers adapt to climate change. 

    Through Trade and Investment Framework Agreements (TIFAs), we engage countries in discussions on trade and investment policy reform. We have TIFAs with Feed the Future focus countries like Ghana, Rwanda, Liberia, and key regional economic organizations like the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), to name just a few. 

    In East Africa in particular, there is great opportunity for spurring growth by ensuring Feed the Future and the U.S.-East African Community (EAC) Trade and Investment Partnership (TIP) synergies. The EAC and the United States have taken important steps to advance the TIP, which supports regional integration of the EAC and recognizes the importance that trade and investment play in economic and social development, including in agriculture. Through this partnership, we’re focusing on trade facilitation, a regional investment agreement, stronger private sector linkages, and capacity building. 

    USTR, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Department of State, and the U.S. Agency for International Development work collaboratively to help countries move from aid to trade. 

    Together, our efforts to create transparent, efficient global markets help advance global food security. 

    Follow USTR on Twitter @USTradeRep and read more on the USTR blog. Join USTR and other U.S. Government trade agencies on Twitter every Thursday this May for #TradeChat.

  • 05/21/2013 10:02 AM

    By Christina Sevilla, Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Small Business, Market Access and Industrial Competitiveness

    On Monday, Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Miriam Sapiro delivered remarks at the official launch of a U.S.-Tunisia Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) program at the Embassy of Tunisia in Washington, D.C., with the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Acting Assistant Administrator for the Middle East Alina Romanowski and Tunisian Ambassador to the United States Mokhtar Chaouachi.

    Funded and led by USAID, the SME program seeks to boost Tunisia’s regional trade with North and sub-Saharan Africa, and with partners like the United States. The initiative seeks to promote broad-based Tunisian growth by building the capacity of small business development centers (SBDCs) and providing technical assistance to small firms. Tunisia’s SME centers will connect via an online platform to SBDCs in the United States, with the goal of fostering more small business partnerships and trade opportunities between our countries.

    AMS TunisiaAmbassador Sapiro joins President & CEO of International Executive Service Corps Thomas Miller,
    Tunisian Ambassador to the U.S. Mokhtar Chaouachi, and Acting Assistant Administrator for USAID’s
    Middle East Bureau Alina Romanowski at the Tunisian Embassy.

     The new SME initiative is part of the United States’ renewed engagement with Tunisia under the U.S.-Tunisia Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA), which provides an ongoing platform to discuss a wide range of trade and investment issues, and the Obama Administration’s Middle East and North Africa Trade and Investment Partnership, which is aimed at enhancing our broader economic cooperation with Arab countries in transition. Last year, in TIFA discussions in Tunis and in regional Deauville Partnership discussions at the Dead Sea with Morocco, Egypt, Libya, and Jordan, governments identified support to small and medium businesses as key to furthering economic growth and jobs.

    Since the 2011 revolution, Tunisia has been working to usher in a new era of broad-based economic opportunity, and the United States is a key partner in helping Tunisia achieve its goals of greater prosperity and opportunity for its people. In 2012, bilateral trade in goods surpassed $1 billion, with U.S. exports to Tunisia totaling nearly $600 million, led by grains, fuel, vegetable oil, and machinery. U.S. imports from Tunisia nearly doubled over the course of the last two years, and currently stand at $700 million. To learn more about the Trade and Investment Framework with Tunisia, please click here.  For more information on the SME initiative, please see this fact sheet.

  • 05/17/2013 10:18 AM

    By Sanjana Dubey, Office of Public and Media Affairs

    This week, Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Miriam Sapiro spoke on the occasion of the one-year anniversary of the entry into force of the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement at a U.S. Chamber of Commerce event entitled “Growth, Jobs, and Opportunity for the United States and Colombia: The U.S.-Colombia Trade Agreement on its First Anniversary.” In the course of her remarks, Ambassador Sapiro addressed the new opportunities stemming from increased market access and the elimination of regulatory barriers under the Agreement.

    Ambassador Sapiro at U.S.-Colombia anniversary event

    Ambassador Sapiro highlights the development and opportunities of the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion
    Agreement on its one-year anniversary. 

    Ambassador Sapiro discussed the significant growth of U.S. exports to Colombia across many sectors in the past year. From May 2012 through March 2013, U.S. goods exports to Colombia totaled $15.9 billion, up 20 percent from exports during May 2011 through March 2012. The past year’s manufacturing exports to Colombia include increases of 46 percent in petroleum and coal products, 61 percent in transportation equipment, and 17 percent in computer and electronic products. U.S. Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SME) that export have benefited from the elimination and lowering of trade barriers like burdensome customs procedures, non-transparent regulatory regimes, and other barriers to market access.

    Prior to entry into force of the agreement, Ambassador Sapiro said, Colombia was already the second largest purchaser of U.S. agricultural products in South America, but the improved access afforded by the trade agreement has opened the market even further. From May 2012 through March 2013, U.S. exports of agricultural products to Colombia increased by 62 percent, with strong export growth in soybeans, wheat, grapes, pork, and dairy products. She explained that the Agreement provided a vehicle for both countries to engage on key outstanding issues related to the U.S.-Colombia agricultural trade relationship, and has helped resolve longstanding regulatory issues that had impeded greater bilateral trade.

    Ambassador Sapiro commended the Colombian Government for making strides in improving the observance of labor rights, protecting workers from violence, and prosecuting perpetrators of violence, but she noted that challenges remain. Sapiro told the audience that the U.S. Government will continue to engage with Colombia in support of the ongoing implementation of its Labor Action Plan commitments, and its labor-related obligations under the trade agreement.

    Since the agreement’s entry into force, the Colombian Government has been pursuing sound policies to promote market openness and competitiveness, and has been rewarded with expanded trade. The one-year anniversary of the U.S.-Colombia trade agreement, observed on May 15th, underscores the strengthening of the U.S.-Colombia relationship, and the enormous potential for trade growth between the two countries.

  • 05/16/2013 3:47 PM

    Good afternoon, 

    I am excited to celebrate World Trade Month with all of you.  ADMAll over the country, organizations are celebrating World Trade Month with informational and interactive events to educate the public on how trade grows the U.S. economy and supports high-quality jobs for American workers. 

    The Administration’s ambitious trade agenda for 2013 recognizes the important role of trade in our economy, and its contribution to President Obama’s National Export Initiative (NEI) goals. We have further intensified ongoing negotiations with Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) member countries with the aim of securing a high standard trade agreement to open markets for U.S. exports in the rapidly growing Asia-Pacific region. We are also in the midst of a consultation process in anticipation of launching negotiations with the European Union toward a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which would further strengthen the world’s largest trade and investment relationship. At the World Trade Organization (WTO), we continue our work to advance trade facilitation and expand the Information Technology Agreement. 

    Meanwhile, enforcement of our existing trade agreements remains, and will continue to be, a cornerstone of the Obama Administration’s trade policy. The Interagency Trade Enforcement Center (ITEC), an initiative announced during President Obama’s 2012 State of the Union Address, has increased trade enforcement efforts and leveraged existing resources more efficiently across the Administration. Further, the ITEC played a critical role in providing research and analysis to four important WTO cases, ensuring that our trading partners play by the rules. 

    A balanced and comprehensive approach to trade policy ensures that high-quality ‘Made in America’ products are sold to customers around the world, supporting millions of American jobs that are critical to workers, families, farmers, ranchers and businesses. As the Obama Administration continues to pursue initiatives that advance U.S. interests and reflect our values, we at USTR will continue to build on the achievements of the last four years – and look ahead to success in our newest pursuits. 

    We look forward to engaging with our global partners, with Congress, and with all of you to ensure that trade continues to move us forward to President Obama’s goal of an economy built to last with well-paying jobs for a growing middle class. 

    Thank you,

    Ambassador Demetrios Marantis

  • 05/16/2013 11:01 AM

    The U.S.-European Union (EU) economic relationship is already successful, Acting U.S. Trade Representative Marantis told a group hosted by the Washington International Trade Association (WITA) this week, and we are optimistic that the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) could provide an additional boost. Ambassador Marantis was on hand to talk about U.S.-EU economic growth as part of WITA’s ongoing TTIP-specific series of events. EU Ambassador to the United States João Vale de Almeida also participated in the panel discussion, which was moderated by former Congressman and German Marshall Fund Fellow Jim Kolbe.

    ADM wita pic

    Ambassador Marantis discusses the U.S.-EU economic relationship at the WITA roundtable.

    The United States and the EU account for nearly half of global GDP, and 30 percent of global trade. Each day, goods and services worth nearly $3 billion are traded across the Atlantic, and our investment relationship reached nearly $4 trillion in 2011. The U.S. Government estimates that some 13 million jobs in the United States and the EU are supported by transatlantic trade and investment. By both comprehensively addressing the remaining barriers to U.S.-EU trade and pioneering new disciplines on global trade issues of common concern, the TTIP promises to make the transatlantic relationship an even stronger driver of jobs and prosperity on both sides, Ambassador Marantis said.

    Ambassador Marantis also touched on the Office of the United States Trade Representative’s (USTR) intensive stakeholder outreach during the run-up to negotiations, which could be launched later this summer. USTR is consulting with Congress, trade stakeholders, and members of the public to shape its negotiating objectives for the proposed agreement, and has received several hundred written public comments via a Federal Register notice. A public hearing on the proposed agreement is scheduled for May 29th and May 30th.

    Ambassador Marantis closed his remarks at WITA by expressing optimism about the proposed negotiations, and reiterated USTR’s commitment to a groundbreaking agreement that delivers substantial benefits to workers, farmers, consumers, and businesses.

  • 05/15/2013 12:02 PM

    Speaking on a conference call with the members of the Intergovernmental Policy Advisory Committee (IGPAC) this week, Acting U.S. Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis highlighted the Administration’s ambitious trade agenda for 2013, and the continuing contributions of the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) to President Obama’s National Export Initiative (NEI) goal of supporting up to two million additional export-supported U.S. jobs by the end of 2014. Ambassador Marantis touched on several of USTR’s most important initiatives, including the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA), and he detailed the ways in which these proposed agreements would help support jobs in IGPAC members’ states.

    Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)

    USTR is in the midst of intensive stakeholder and Congressional consultations as it prepares to launch TTIP negotiations this summer. Ambassador Marantis noted USTR’s strong desire to stay in close contact with state and local officials throughout the TTIP negotiations.

    Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)

    Ambassador Marantis spoke with IGPAC members on the latest TPP developments, including the Administration’s April 24th notification to Congress of its intent to include Japan in the negotiations. USTR issued a Federal Register Notice seeking public comment on Japan’s participation in TPP; public comments must be submitted by June 9th. The Ambassador emphasized the significant economic benefits that the inclusion of Japan in the TPP will deliver to all of the participating countries.

    Trade in Services Agreement (TISA)

    The proposed TISA agreement would be a powerful new tool for promoting U.S. exports by removing barriers to the international supply of services, Ambassador Marantis told the participants on the call. Every $1 billion in U.S. services exports supports an estimated 4,000 U.S. jobs. While the United States is currently the world's largest services trader, we have yet to achieve our full export potential.

    IGPAC members are appointed by the U.S. Trade Representative and provide policy advice on issues involving trade, trade negotiations, and the operation of trade agreements in the framework of state-specific concerns. USTR engages with IGPAC regularly to solicit advice and feedback on U.S. trade policy and its effect on state issues. Closing the call, Ambassador Marantis reiterated USTR’s commitment to ongoing consultations with state and local officials throughout the country.

  • 05/13/2013 5:17 PM

    Today, Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Central and South Asia Mara Burr spoke at the Afghan Trusted Network Leadership Roundtable, which focused on positive developments in trade and investment between the United States and Afghanistan. The roundtable, entitled “Building Bridges with the Afghan People: Engagement for Prosperity in the New Afghanistan,” was held as part of the USAID Global Diaspora Forum.

    DAUSTR Burr Addresses Diaspora ForumDeputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative Mara Burr addresses Afghan Trusted Network Leadership
    Roundtable on U.S.-Afghanistan trade and investment.

    Burr spoke on trade and investment cooperation between the United States and Afghanistan, and on Afghanistan’s work to accede to the World Trade Organization (WTO) by the end of 2014. Membership in the WTO, a significant accomplishment, will bring Afghanistan into full participation in the multilateral trade system as a country that is committed to rules-based international trade. Accession to the WTO would signal to both foreign and domestic investors that Afghanistan has made significant improvements to its legal and regulatory system, and will strive to create a positive environment for trade and investment.

    Burr also touched on the progress that the two countries made at the last United States – Afghanistan Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) Council meeting held on February 27, 2013 in Washington, D.C. At that meeting, Afghanistan and the United States agreed to pursue a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Joint Efforts to Empower Women Entrepreneurs. Burr told the audience that the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) is hoping to complete that MOU by early June. The U.S.-Afghanistan TIFA was signed in 2004, and has helped to improve government to government and government to business discussions, and has served as an important mechanism for bilateral dialogue on trade and investment. In closing, Burr reiterated the long-term commitment of the United States to the people of Afghanistan to ensure that economic development in the country is sustainable.

  • 05/10/2013 9:35 AM

    Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic – Yesterday, officials from the United States, the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua held the Environmental Affairs Council (EAC) meeting under the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR). Representatives from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) and the State Department participated in this meeting on behalf of the United States.

    During the meeting, the CAFTA-DR Parties reaffirmed their strong commitment to work together to enhance the mutually supportive nature of trade and environmental protection through implementation of the CAFTA-DR Environment Chapter and the Environmental Cooperation Agreement. The Council Members reviewed progress on implementation of the Environment Chapter and shared important achievements, including those involving environmental cooperation and capacity building.

    The Council Members also had the opportunity to meet with numerous stakeholders and engage in a robust question and answer session. During the public session, the CAFTA-DR Secretariat for Environmental Matters described the environment submission process through which members of the public can allege that a party is failing to effectively enforce its environmental laws. 

    The Joint Communiqué can be found here

    Background 

    Since 2004, the United States has dedicated over $85 million to support environmental cooperation in the CAFTA-DR Region. Through this cooperation, the CAFTA-DR governments are working to strengthen implementation and enforcement of environmental laws, protect biodiversity, increase market-based conservation, and improve private sector environmental performance. Results of this work include: improving or adopting over 170 laws and regulations addressing issues like waste water, air pollution and solid waste, bringing more than 1.3 million hectares of land under improved natural resource management, and training over 56,000 people in enforcement and implementation of environmental laws, public participation, cleaner production, natural resource management, and biodiversity conservation.

  • 05/09/2013 4:26 PM

    By Roya Stephens, Office of Public and Media Affairs

    This Weekly Trade Spotlight highlights the exciting work of Colby Kirk and John Hancock, who interned at the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) last summer in the Textiles Office. Kirk and Hancock, who were recently profiled on the “Modern Fellows” blog, used the knowledge they gained at USTR to open “J&C Suiting,” which sells custom suits hand-tailored in Pakistan.

    When Georgetown Masters of Science in Foreign Service graduates Colby Kirk and John Hancock first started summer internships at USTR, they didn’t know that their experiences would lead them to start a business, but that’s exactly what they did. Utilizing lessons from their internship in textile quality, customs, trade preference programs, and international trade agreements, Kirk and Hancock launched their home-grown, hand-sewn business.

    J & C 1

    Colby Kirk and John Hancock return to USTR to discuss their new venture, J&C Suiting. 

    Kirk and Hancock came to USTR with no background or prior interest in textiles, but under the direction and mentorship of Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Textiles and Apparel Gail Strickler, the two threw themselves into the world of textiles, and quickly learned the importance of this industry to many developing countries. Their internship portfolio included identifying quality textiles, understanding trade preference programs, measuring customs duties, and researching the textile industry in countries of interest. Hancock previously lived and worked in Pakistan and was well-versed in the strong Pakistani hand-tailoring tradition, and often brought high-quality, low-cost tailored suits to his friends back in America. As they learned more about textiles trade, Kirk and Hancock began to see how they could use their growing knowledge of textiles to lay the foundation for a wider business endeavor that would support development in Pakistan and enable American customers to purchase low cost, high-quality bespoke suits.

    J & C 2

    Kirk and Hancock display the inside construction of one of their hand-tailored suit jackets from Pakistan. 

    The two young entrepreneurs put their plan into action immediately; after long days at USTR’s Office of Textiles and Apparel, they would work on their business plan, practice taking suit measurements, and begin sourcing tailors with the help of their Pakistani-based friend and business partner Abbas Tariq. While both Kirk and Hancock agree that their lack of a business background left them at a slight disadvantage, Kirk was thankful for his internship experience, saying “the technical knowledge of trade agreements, and also the knowledge of textiles in particular are key to what we do.” They believe that their experience working on textile and apparel issues in trade agreements like the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and preference programs like the African Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) provided them with vital information and guidance as they sought to develop their business.>

    It appears that the stitches for J&C Suiting are falling into place. The two recent graduates have been accepted to Georgetown’s entrepreneurial incubator program and are excited to expand their business. They are exploring ways to increase their client base while maintaining their personal interactions, and hope to move some of their production into Haiti, a country that also has a rich history in tailoring. Haiti benefits from the Haitian Hemispheric Opportunity through Partnership Encouragement Act (HOPE II), which provides preferential treatment for Haitian exports of apparel, textiles, and certain other goods.

    J & C 3

    The young entreprenuers show the distinctive J&C Suiting label of a completed product. 

    Kirk and Hancock have even begun to consult fledgling companies trying to establish businesses in developing countries. Hancock reflected on some of their initial business endeavors, saying “we know how to talk to the Pakistani customs agents when we’re importing Italian fabrics and we have an understanding of value added tax and what that means for a textile”. He admits that while they may not have the most efficient process, they know the right questions to ask and often share their lessons from USTR to help others understand textiles preference programs, value-added tax, apparel duty rates, fabric-sourcing, and customs and duties. The young entrepreneurs also encourage businesses to utilize government support, apply for grants provided by the World Bank and other development agencies to facilitate business in developing countries, and explore the USTR website to learn about countries with preference programs, duty rates, and other elements that are vital to trade with developing countries. To learn more about J&C Suiting, please visit their website here, and for more on USTR’s Office of Textiles and Apparel, click here.

  • 05/06/2013 6:15 PM

    May is World Trade Month, and the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), along with export, trade, and finance-related federal agencies will host a series of Twitter Q&A Sessions for U.S. companies. The Twitter chat series will provide U.S. companies with exporting solutions and resources to begin or expand exporting goods and services to overseas markets.

    Through the chats, businesses can ask questions and connect directly with U.S. government agencies that play a role in President Obama’s National Export Initiative (NEI),#TradeChat which seeks to grow and create jobs by increasing exports. USTR plays a key role in executing the NEI by opening markets and securing access for U.S. businesses around the world. In addition to USTR, the Department of State, the Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA), the International Trade Administration (ITA), the Small Business Administration (SBA), BusinessUSA, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), and the Export-Import Bank of the United States all play a role in supporting the NEI, and will participate in the chat.

    Businesses can participate in the event by tweeting their questions using the hashtag #TradeChat during the scheduled times listed below.

    Schedule and topics

    Thursday, May 9th at 2:00pm EDT: Export Opportunities

    Agencies will share information about export assistance, international business partnership programs, match-making, and market research. U.S. companies will also learn about the new BusinessUSA.gov website and how this one-stop resource can help businesses begin exporting or increase their exports.

    Thursday, May 16th at 2:00pm EDT: Financing

    Export financing is often a key factor in a successful sale. U.S. companies should be aware of the many financing options available from U.S. government agencies to assist them with the export and trade process. This Twitter chat will provide firms with more information about the available financing options, including buyer financing, insuring foreign receivables, and working capital loans and guarantees.

    Thursday, May 23rd at 2:00pm EDT: Training and Travel Opportunities 

    U.S. government agencies often host training, webinars, workshops, seminars, trade missions and trade fairs for U.S. companies interested in doing business overseas. This Twitter chat will provide firms with the knowledge they need to utilize these resources and events and connect directly with foreign buyers. 

    Joining the discussion

    To participate, sign into your Twitter account at the start time and submit a question on the topic using hashtag #TradeChat. Agencies will respond to as many Tweets and questions on the topic as possible. Questions can also be submitted in advance using the online form on http://www.ustda.gov/TradeChat

    For information on the Twitter chat series, visit http://www.ustda.gov/TradeChat. A live feed of the chats will be broadcast and archived on USTDA’s website for individuals who are not connected to Twitter. 

    Highlights from the Twitter chat series will also be available on Storify here.

  • 05/03/2013 5:05 PM

    By Eliza Levy, Office of Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement

    Japan’s entry into the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) could lead to significant growth of U.S. exports to the Asia-Pacific region, Acting U.S. Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis told conference participants at this week’s Global Business Dialogue “Eleven Plus One: Japan’s Bid to Join the Trans-Pacific Partnership” event. The conference examined Japan’s prospective participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations through the viewpoints of a series of speakers and panelists. Over 140 guests attended the conference event, including members of the business community, embassy officials, academics, U.S. government officials, and members of the press.

    During his remarks, Ambassador Marantis laid out the Administration’s robust trade agenda and specifically focused on the TPP and the significance of Japan’s participation in this important regional initiative. Although Japan’s inclusion in the negotiations brings promising opportunities, Ambassador Marantis said, there will be real challenges for the U.S. and other negotiating partners to surmount. He noted that the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) will continue to consult extensively with Congress and stakeholders as it ensures that Japan meets the high standards of the proposed agreement.

    ADM Global Business DialogueActing U.S. Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis speaks at an event hosted by the Global Business Dialogue.

    On April 24th, the Administration notified Congress of its intent to include Japan in the TPP negotiations. With Japan’s entry, TPP countries will account for nearly 40 percent of global GDP and about one-third of all world trade. Japan’s participation in the TPP will offer unprecedented opportunities to further open Japan’s market and establish a level playing field in Japan for U.S. goods, services, and investment, and will dramatically enhance the TPP’s overall economic potential to support additional U.S. trade and jobs.

    There were three panels; the first provided an overview of the TPP, the second examined issues for industry and agriculture, and the third assessed views from other TPP partners. During the first panel, “The Big Picture: An Overview of Japan’s Bid to Join the TPP,” Assistant U.S. Trade Representative Wendy Cutler outlined the details of the agreements with and actions by Japan that enabled the United States to conclude bilateral consultations with Japan on joining TPP negotiations. During the panel, Minister Takeo Mori of the Japanese Embassy provided Japan’s perspective on its upcoming participation in the TPP negotiations. In addition, the event included remarks from Distinguished Visiting Fellow of the Peterson Institute for International Economics and former United States Trade Representative Robert Zoellick.

  • 04/30/2013 5:20 PM

    By Sanjana Dubey, Office of Public and Media Affairs

    This afternoon, Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Miriam Sapiro addressed an audience of business leaders, Congressional and Obama Administration staff, and members of the diplomatic community at a luncheon sponsored by the Meridian International Center and several partners. At the event entitled “The U.S.-EU Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP): The Case for an Open Transatlantic Free Trade Area,” Ambassador Sapiro spoke on the significance of the proposed TTIP agreement. Her remarks followed keynote addresses from the Honorable José María Aznar, former President of Spain, and James W. Cicconi, Senior Executive Vice President for External and Legislative Affairs of AT&T Services, Inc.

    Ambassador Sapiro speaks on panelAmbassador Sapiro speaks at the event entitled “The U.S.-EU Transatlantic Trade and
    Investment Partnership (TTIP): The Case for an Open Transatlantic Free Trade Area.”

    Ambassador Sapiro emphasized the ambitious negotiating agenda of the proposed TTIP talks, which includes seeking full elimination of tariffs, substantial progress on reducing regulatory and other non-tariff barriers, and disciplines that address emerging challenges for global trade, such as state-owned enterprises and localization barriers. Ambassador Sapiro stated that the timing is ripe for this agreement and suggested that there is high political will for a successful negotiation on both sides of the Atlantic. She also mentioned last month’s formal notification by the Obama Administration to Congress of its intent to launch the TTIP negotiations and invited the audience to participate in the process through the Federal Register website, accessible here. Ambassador Sapiro concluded by recognizing the immensely successful economic relationship between the United States and the EU, and stated that the proposed Partnership can strengthen the contributions of trade and investment to job creation, growth, and competitiveness in both economies.

    To learn more about the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, click here.

  • 04/30/2013 2:07 PM

    By Laura Buffo, Office of Labor Affairs

    Representatives of the United States and Guatemala signed a robust enforcement plan last week to resolve concerns raised in a labor case brought by the United States under the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR). The two countries signed the agreement, announced on April 11, 2013, following a legal review of the text for accuracy, clarity, and consistency of translation. This is the first labor case that the United States has brought to dispute settlement under a trade agreement.

    The 18-point Enforcement Plan is the result of extensive engagement and resolve by both governments. It includes concrete actions with specific time frames that Guatemala will implement within six months to improve labor law enforcement. Under the Enforcement Plan, Guatemala has committed to strengthen labor inspections, expedite and streamline the process of sanctioning employers and ordering remediation of labor violations, increase labor law compliance by exporting companies, improve the monitoring and enforcement of labor court orders, publish labor law enforcement information, and establish mechanisms to ensure that workers are paid what they are owed when factories close.

    The labor case is suspended while the Enforcement Plan is being implemented.

    Read more on the full Enforcement Plan here, and visit this page for more information about U.S.-Guatemala trade relations.

  • 04/26/2013 4:34 PM

    By Sanjana Dubey, Office of Public and Media Affairs

    This week, Assistant U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) for World Trade Organization (WTO) and Multilateral Affairs Mark Linscott spoke at an American Bar Association (ABA) conference session concerning the impact of free trade negotiations on future WTO rounds, along with representatives from Brazil and Canada. At the event, sponsored by the International Trade Committee of the ABA, Assistant USTR Linscott discussed the current state of the WTO Doha negotiations and implications of important regional initiatives.

    During the panel discussion, Linscott provided a historical overview on multilateral trade negotiations in the WTO and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), noting that in the past, the system had proven flexible and dynamic in confronting challenges. He emphasized how critical it is for the WTO to deliver results at December’s Ministerial Conference in Bali, Indonesia, in order to regain confidence in the ability of the WTO negotiate agreements. Linscott also suggested that regional and plurilateral initiatives, such as the USTR-led negotiations on the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA), the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), should provide impetus to future WTO negotiations.

     To learn more about USTR’s involvement in the WTO, please visit the World Trade Organization (WTO) and Multilateral Affairs page, here.

  • 04/26/2013 2:22 PM
    Ambassador Marantis met in Rangoon today with the Chair and Secretary General of the National League of Democracy Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. He updated the Member of Parliament, renowned opposition leader and Nobel laureate on the possibilities of a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) between our countries and reinstatement of the country as a beneficiary of the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program. The purpose of the meeting was to seek Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's views on the economic reform process in her country so far, and on how increased trade might benefit the broadest number of people there. Together, they talked of ways that trade and investment can help to lay a foundation for a peaceful and prosperous future.
  • 04/25/2013 1:07 PM

    Ambassador Marantis traveled today to Naypyidaw, the capital of Burma, to talk with officials about ways to reestablish and build trade and investment between our two countries.

    In meetings with Minister of the President’s Office U Soe Thane and Minister of Commerce U Win Myint, Ambassador Marantis focused on the possibility of launching talks toward a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) between our two countries, as well as opportunities under the Expanded Economic Engagement (E3) Initiative when their government assumes leadership of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) for the year 2014.

    Ambassador Marantis also updated the officials on the recently initiated review of the country to determine eligibility for the United States’ Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) – a program through which many exported goods from developing countries are allowed into the United States duty-free in order to support economic growth and opportunities for people. In particular, he discussed with Deputy Minister of Labor U Myint Thein ongoing reforms as part of the path to GSP.

    Last November, President Obama became the first American President to visit this southeast Asian nation. In a speech at the University of Yangon, he applauded and encouraged reforms and promised the United States’ partnership in efforts for further growth and development.

    Tomorrow, Ambassador Marantis will meet with U.S. business leaders and speak at the American Center – to an audience of students and professors – about their country’s role in the history of trade, and what we can do together to advance bilateral, regional, and even global economic ties. Watch www.ustr.gov for the text of that speech.

  • 04/24/2013 5:44 PM

    By Roya Stephens, Office of Public and Media Affairs

    This week, Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Services and Investment Christine Bliss discussed the importance of investment to the American economy and jobs during a panel discussion on Capitol Hill entitled “Foreign Investment: Is it Good for America?” The event, sponsored by Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business, featured a panel of government, private sector, and union representatives, who discussed the benefits of and the need for international investment.

    AUSTR BlissAssistant U.S. Trade Representative Christine Bliss speaks at an event hosted by Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business.

    During the discussion, Assistant USTR Bliss detailed the benefits of inward and outward investment to the American economy, including the promotion of domestic supply chains, increased exports of American goods, increased capital investment, and greater support for U.S. research and development. She also noted the boost that international investment provides to American workers by creating jobs, raising wages and improving productivity. The United States has a longstanding policy of openness to foreign investment, reflected in its generally open investment regime, the 40 bilateral investment treaties (BIT) currently in force, and the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) investment chapters in force with 17 countries. USTR works hard to protect American investors and investments and ensures that they compete on a level playing field governed by the rule of law in foreign markets. Bliss also provided an overview of current investment negotiations, including the investment talks in the ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations, as well as ongoing Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) negotiations with China, India, and Mauritius.

    To learn more about America’s investment policy and bilateral investment treaties, please visit USTR’s Services and Investment page here.

  • 04/23/2013 12:00 PM

    Ambassador Marantis continued work on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in Hanoi today, meeting with Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang. With President Sang and in meetings with other key officials including Deputy Prime Minister Vu Van Ninh, Ambassador Marantis continued to discuss issues that are becoming more and more important to resolve as TPP moves closer to conclusion - specifically, access to Vietnam's services sector for competitive American companies, and overall market access for American businesses wishing to trade with Vietnam and support jobs at home. 

    With Vietnam's Minister of Environment and Natural Resources Nguyen Minh Quang, Ambassador Marantis discussed TPP's groundbreaking proposals to combat illegal trade in wildlife and illegal logging, as well as to address fisheries subsidies; he reiterated that the United States expects a final TPP agreement to have high-standard, fully enforceable commitments on the environment as well as on labor rights. For more on U.S. conservation proposals in TPP, see our green paper.

    Two-way trade between the United States and Vietnam has grown from $1 billion in 2001 to $26 billion last year. The TPP can boost that growing trade further, supporting more American jobs through exports to Vietnamese consumers and through greater availability of affordable products that can contribute to finished goods Made-in-America for domestic sale or export.

    For more on the TPP and its opportunities for U.S. businesses, workers, farmers, and ranchers, visit www.ustr.gov/tpp.

  • 04/22/2013 8:53 AM

    Ambassador Marantis arrived in Hanoi, Vietnam today to meet with officials there about the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The TPP negotiations - which are aimed at a high-standard, comprehensive agreement that will support American jobs by liberalizing trade among member Asia-Pacific nations - are at a very advanced stage, and minister-level officials for all the member countries committed this weekend to talk more with one another to make sure that key issues are resolved.

    As part of that effort, Ambassador Marantis today met with the head of the Vietnam General Confederation of Labor, Dang Ngoc Tung, to stress how important it is to the United States that the final TPP agreement include strong, enforceable labor provisions - including a responsibility to adopt and maintain the five core International Labor Organization standards on workers' rights, including the freedom to associate. 

    Separately, Ambassador Marantis also expressed to Vietnamese Vice Minister of Planning and Investment Dang Huy Dong the need for progress on investment issues that will improve access for U.S. investors - who support jobs back in the United States. Ambassador Marantis also discussed the importance of high ambition in the TPP, which will allow for greater flow of goods and services among TPP countries. 

    ADM in VietnamAmbassador Marantis meets with Vietnamese Minister of Planning and Investment Dang Huy Dong

    The 11-member TPP - which is set to expand to include Japan following the successful conclusion of the domestic processes of the current TPP members - includes countries at varying levels of development. While all TPP partners are expected to meet the agreement's standards, the United States has committed to work with Vietnam to provide technical advice and assistance and to consider other flexibilities that will help it meet the high standards of the TPP - which will increase the TPP's potential to support jobs and economic growth in every member country.

  • 04/18/2013 3:02 PM

    By Sanjana Dubey, Office of Public and Media Affairs

    The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative’s (USTR) Chief Agricultural Negotiator, Ambassador Isi Siddiqui, met with a delegation from the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) this afternoon to discuss agricultural trade issues. The NCBA delegation included approximately 25 members from across the United States who engaged with Ambassador Siddiqui in a dialogue about bilateral beef trade with China, Japan, and Russia, as well as updates on agricultural issues under the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.

    AIS NCBAAmbassador Siddiqui speaks with members of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association.

    During the discussion, Ambassador Siddiqui emphasized USTR’s progress towards increasing global market access for U.S. agricultural products, and its efforts to eliminate trade barriers inconsistent with scientific standards for American beef products. He also highlighted the growth of U.S. beef exports, and exciting prospects for more agricultural trade with new trading partners.

    The NCBA delegation was briefed on developments related to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations, including new potential opportunities in beef markets should Japan enter the negotiation. Ambassador Siddiqui also recommended that the members of the NCBA provide input on the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) agreement by commenting on USTR’s April 1 Federal Register notice.

    Ensuring global market access for U.S. beef products remains a high priority for USTR. U.S. beef exports totaled $5.5 billion in 2012, and the beef industry supports a significant number of American jobs. To learn more about beef and other agricultural exports, please click here.

  • 04/17/2013 2:24 PM

    Today, Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) Bill Jackson and Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for South and Central Asian Affairs Mara Burr participated in an interactive webcast presentation on trade opportunities for Pakistan under the U.S. GSP trade preference program. The event, hosted by the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., was webcast live to 11 sites in Pakistan, including Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi, Faisalabad, and Sialkot. Following an overview presentation by Deputy Assistant USTR Jackson, the panel, which included Jackson, Burr, and Pakistan Embassy Trade Minister Muhammad Agha, fielded questions from Pakistani participants about the GSP program and U.S.-Pakistan trade. Representatives from the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan, several Pakistani chambers of commerce, and Pakistani business associations were among the many participants in the live web event.

    The GSP program promotes economic development in the developing world by providing duty-free entry into the U.S. market for up to 5,000 products from 127 beneficiary countries, including Pakistan. Pakistan exported $195 million in products to the United States duty-free under GSP in 2012, including jewelry, plastic products, tools and cutlery, and some leather goods.

     

  • 04/17/2013 2:14 PM

    By Camille Sheehan, Office of Public and Media Affairs

    As part of its global initiative to address localization barriers to trade, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) is leading efforts to consider the impacts of local content requirements (LCRs) on regional integration and economic growth at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum’s Committee on Trade and Investment (CTI). The CTI, meeting last week in Surabaya, Indonesia, held an in-depth discussion on LCRs, which require businesses to produce a certain level of content (materials, parts, etc.) within the country where the end product will be sold. Last week’s CTI meeting marked the first time the economies of APEC collectively addressed LCRs to gain a better understanding of how they distort trade and investment flows and decrease the competitiveness of domestic industries.

    Gary Clyde Hufbauer with the Peterson Institute for International Economics, Kristin Paulson with General Electric’s Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Government Affairs and Policy group, and Wei Fang of Kitakyushu University in Japan made presentations to the members of the committee, many of which focused on new cases of LCR implementation around the world. The presentations detailed the negative effect of LCRs on commercial opportunities and competitiveness, and suggested alternative measures that economies could use in place of these onerous requirements. An APEC endorsement of alternative measures that facilitate trade and investment is particularly important in light of the estimate by the Peterson Institute that LCRs implemented since 2009 are estimated to have a total negative impact of $2.8 trillion on global trade (17 percent of total global trade) in 2010.

    USTR strives to eliminate LCRs and other non-tariff barriers in all of its negotiations and partnerships, because they limit GDP growth potential, increase costs to U.S.-based businesses, and impair international trade and investment. The next meeting of the CTI will be held in Medan, Indonesia, and will explore alternative measures to help APEC economies achieve their domestic economic objectives.

    Ambassador Demetrios Marantis will lead the U.S. delegation at the APEC Meeting of Ministers Responsible for Trade next week, where trade ministers from APEC countries will address LCRs and other related trade and investment topics.

  • 04/12/2013 6:15 PM

    By Sanjana Dubey, Office of Public and Media Affairs

    Many are heralding today’s Obama Administration endorsement of Japan’s participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations. This endorsement by the United States marks the successful completion of consultations between both nations concerning Japan’s readiness to meet the TPP’s high standards, and to address bilateral issues of concern. A final decision on Japan’s membership in the TPP will require a consensus by all 11 current TPP members. Ambassador Demetrios Marantis stated that Japan’s entry into this ambitious initiative will benefit the United States, Japan and the Asia-Pacific region, while supporting American jobs and upholding core U.S. values. Here’s a sampling of comments welcoming the news:

    “This is encouraging news. Japan’s participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership talks presents an extraordinary opportunity that could open up huge new markets to American goods and services. With Japan included, the TPP would account for nearly 40 percent of the global economy and provide a major shot in the arm to America’s manufacturing, business and agriculture industries. It will mean more jobs and faster growth in Montana and all across America.”

    - Sen. Max Baucus, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance

    “This is an important and welcome development. American goods and products have faced market access barriers to Japan for decades. Japan’s entry into the Trans-Pacific Partnership is an historic opportunity to open up one of the world’s largest export markets to the benefit of both of our countries. By supporting Japan’s entry into the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Administration must believe that Japan has the ability and political will to meet the high-standard, comprehensive commitments that have long defined U.S. trade agreements. I sincerely hope that is the case. I look forward to consulting closely with the Administration to ensure that our negotiations with Japan achieve real market access for American goods and services.”

    - Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Finance

    http://www.finance.senate.gov/newsroom/ranking/release/?id=331ce195-736d-4eee-b63c-b7ce6712f42b

    “I intend to continue my intensive consultations with the Administration on the TPP agreement. The bottom line is Japan must address its longstanding tariff and non-tariff barriers to U.S. exports – in particular on autos, insurance, and agriculture. I will not support Japan’s entry into TPP unless we obtain airtight assurances that Japan’s participation in the TPP negotiations will neither diminish the comprehensive and ambitious nature of these negotiations nor delay the goal of concluding the negotiations this year.”

    - Rep. Dave Camp, Chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means

    http://waysandmeans.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=328612

    “Japan’s participation in the TPP could greatly benefit U.S. companies, workers, farmers, and ranchers, but only if Japan meaningfully addresses its barriers to U.S. exports, particularly in the agriculture sector. I will work closely with USTR as this process continues. Japan must be prepared to meet TPP's highly ambitious and comprehensive obligations without slowing down the negotiations.”

    - Rep. Devin Nunes, Chairman of the Trade Subcommittee of the House Committee on Ways and Means

    http://waysandmeans.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=328612

    “I congratulate Japanese and American leaders for taking this important step in deepening our already strong trade and diplomatic relationships. I look forward to a comprehensive agreement that lowers tariffs and includes science-based standards for market access. Japan recently removed some barriers to U.S. beef – we should build on that progress with a strong agreement that benefits our economy, farmers, and workers, as well as our negotiating partners.”

    - Sen. Mike Johanns

    http://www.johanns.senate.gov/public/?p=PressReleases&ContentRecord_id=55222971-f06c-4128-aee4-ab212633fbd0

    “Today’s announcement marks a key development in the TPP negotiations. We are pleased that after months of bilateral discussions, Japan has expressed its readiness to put everything on the table and meet the high standards of a comprehensive TPP agreement. It is essential that the U.S. insist on that principle as a cornerstone for moving forward with TPP negotiations. The new framework includes real progress to open up Japan’s market for U.S. businesses, including in the automotive and insurance sectors and nontariff measures.”

    - Rep. Ron Kind and the Chairs of the New Democrat Coalition Trade Task Force

    http://meeks.house.gov/press-release/new-dems-encouraged-japan-entering-tpp-negotiations

    “Today’s announcement represents a positive development which could expand market access for Nebraska exporters in one of the world’s largest economies. While Japan has shown progress and signaled a willingness to recognize science-based food standards, more work is needed. It is imperative the Administration and Congress continue to seek assurances Japan wants a comprehensive agreement in line with the ambitious goals established in current TPP negotiations. We cannot undermine gains in market access by allowing non-tariff trade barriers to prevent Nebraska producers from exporting their quality products.”

    - Rep. Adrian Smith

    http://adriansmith.house.gov/press-release/smith-statement-japan-and-trans-pacific-partnership

    “The agreement that U.S. negotiators have reached with Japan on a robust package of actions to address longstanding trade barriers is a positive step forward. As a result, the Chamber welcomes Japan’s participation in the TPP negotiations pending agreement from remaining current TPP members."

    - Tom Donohue, President and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce

    http://www.uschamber.com/press/releases/2013/april/chamber-applauds-us-announcement-welcoming-japan-trans-pacific-partnership

    “As the world’s third largest economy and a vital economic and security partner of the United States, Japan’s participation in the TPP negotiations is a game changer that will enhance the agreement’s economic and strategic benefits for the United States and other participants while helping revitalize the Japanese economy. The combination of “Abenomics” and Japan’s entry into TPP presents a unique and historic opportunity to strengthen U.S.-Japan economic and strategic relations even more. We commend President Obama and Prime Minister Abe for taking this bold step.”

    - Charles Lake, Chairman of the U.S.-Japan Business Council

    “The U.S. wheat industry welcomes the announcement today by President Barack Obama that the United States will support Japan’s bid to become the 12th country to join Trans-Pacific Partnership trade negotiations. Japan imports more U.S. wheat on average than any other country and the boards of directors for U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) and the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) passed a resolution in November 2011 stating support for Japan to join TPP.”

    - U.S. Wheat Associates

    http://www.uswheat.org/newsEvents/newsRelease/doc/20A27001F433DB7F85257B4B00479A55?OpenDocument

    "Business Roundtable applauds the U.S. government for welcoming Japan's participation in the TPP negotiations, and commends Japan's agreement to meet the high standards of the TPP. Japan is the world's third largest economy and its inclusion in the TPP would help maximize the benefits of the agreement to U.S. economic growth, goods and services exports and job creation. Business Roundtable supports Japan joining the TPP and continues to urge negotiators to pursue an ambitious and expeditious conclusion to the TPP."

    - Doug Oberhelman, Chairman & CEO, Caterpillar Inc., and Chair of Business Roundtable’s International Engagement Committee

    http://businessroundtable.org/news-center/business-roundtable-statement-on-japan-and-the-trans-pacific-partnersh/

    “Japan greatly enhances the potential value of the TPP to U.S. dairy producers and processors. Japan is the third-largest economy in the world and already a major dairy importer. Reducing excessive tariffs and removing non-tariff barriers to trade will significantly increase U.S. dairy export opportunities, which helps drive overall U.S. dairy industry growth.”

    - Jaime Castaneda, senior vice president for strategic initiatives and trade policy, U.S. Dairy Export Council and National Milk Producers Federation

    http://www.dairyherd.com/dairy-news/latest/USDEC-NMPF-commend-decision-to-welcome-Japan-into-TPP-talks-202736431.html

    “The addition of Japan to the negotiations will exponentially increase the importance of the TPP to pork producers and to other sectors of the U.S. economy. Japan’s entry into the trade talkswill spur interest in the TPP among other countries in Asia and Latin America, and it will signal to other nations that efforts to negotiate more open and transparent trading arrangements will continue, even as multilateral efforts to do so are stymied.”

    - Randy Spronk, President of the National Pork Producers Council

    http://nationalhogfarmer.com/business/nppc-praises-acceptance-japan-tpp-talks

    “Cattlemen and women are encouraged by the Obama administration’s announcement to include Japan in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TTP) negotiations. Japan is an important ally to the United States and we hope this will strengthen the ties between our two nations. We urge the U.S. government and the government of Japan to continue working together to establish international trade standards based on sound science and market-driven principles. The TPP has the potential to be a new era in global trade where all TPP countries can compete for consumer demand without the hindrance of protectionism.”

    - Bob McCan, President of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association

    http://www.beefusa.org/newsreleases1.aspx?newsid=2885

    "We applaud Japan's inclusion in the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Japan plays a large role in global financial markets and their inclusion in TPP negotiations will provide a more comprehensive agreement that will address barriers in financial services. SIFMA believes that for a 21st century TPP agreement, it must include a robust financial services chapter. Free trade agreements and the market access they provide are vital for the continued success of the financial services industry, its customers, shareholders and employees in the United States. The industry also plays a key role in the U.S. economy and should remain an integral part of our current trade agenda."

    - Kenneth E. Bentsen, Jr., Acting President and CEO of the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association

    http://www.sifma.org/newsroom/2013/sifma-statement-on-japan-joining-the-trans-pacific-partnership/

    “Japan is one of the United States’ most important export markets for consumer goods. Their addition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations is a boon to our efforts to craft a next-generation regional trade agreement that will liberalize trade and investment to the mutual benefit of TPP member countries for years to come. Facilitating free and fair trade opportunities that strengthen and diversify our economy, create jobs and provide consumers with the greatest selection of products at affordable prices is one of GMA’s top priorities. Japan’s participation in the TPP aligns with these objectives by further opening Japanese markets to American-made food, beverage and consumer products. We welcome Japan to the TPP and look forward to growing our already strong trading relationship with them.”

    - Pamela G. Bailey, President and CEO of the Grocery Manufacturers Association President and CEO

  • 04/12/2013 5:03 PM

    Today, Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Miriam Sapiro co-chaired a meeting of senior U.S. and EU officials on the Transatlantic Economic Council (TEC). The participants reviewed progress since the last meeting of the TEC in November 2011 and discussed upcoming work. Ambassador Sapiro co-chaired the meeting with her European Commission counterpart, Jean-Luc Demarty, Director-General for Trade, and Acting Assistant Secretary of State, Kathleen Doherty. Representatives of the various agencies involved in the work of the TEC took part, including officials from the Departments of Commerce, State, Treasury, Energy, Homeland Security, and Health and Human Services, the Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Geological Survey, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Office of Management and Budget.

    Ambassador Sapiro, Assistant Secretary Doherty, and DG Demarty welcomed agency plans to accelerate ongoing cooperation, noting in particular the upcoming launch of e-vehicle interoperability labs in Chicago and in Italy, and e-Health Week in May 2013, where officials will discuss implementation of activities associated with a roadmap on interoperability of electronic patient records. They reviewed current exchanges and policy coordination in the area of raw materials. They called for new work in areas including but not limited to emerging innovative sectors, such as nanotechnology, cloud computing, and advanced chemical management, which have high potential to produce increased jobs and growth on both sides of the Atlantic.

    Ambassador Sapiro and her counterparts affirmed that the TEC is a valuable tool for increasing transatlantic economic integration that complements other bilateral initiatives, such as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, the High Level Regulatory Cooperation Forum, and the Energy Council.

    The Transatlantic Economic Council was created by a mandate from the 2007 U.S.-EU Summit, which laid the foundation for a growth-driven agenda foreseeing great dialogue and cooperation. The TEC is co-chaired by the White House Deputy National Special Advisor for International Economic Affairs, Michael Froman, and European Commissioner for Trade, Karel De Gucht.

    To learn more about the Transatlantic Economic Council, click here.

  • 04/11/2013 1:51 PM

    By Roya Stephens, Office of Public and Media Affairs 

    This week, Acting U.S. Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis spoke at the Capitol Hill launch of the Business Coalition for Transatlantic Trade (BCTT), a coalition of companies and multi-sector industry organizations created by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to build support for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).  Ambassador Marantis joined Members of Congress, Congressional committee staffers, members of the European Parliament, and business organizations at the event, and offered his outlook on the prospects of the planned agreement in his remarks.

    The proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership seeks to strengthen the U.S.-EU economic relationship, support new jobs, spur economic growth, and boost competitiveness on both sides of the Atlantic.   Ambassador Marantis discussed some of the shared U.S. and EU objectives for the proposed agreement, including elimination of tariffs, reduction of regulatory and non-tariff barriers, and provisions that address emerging challenges for global trade.   Ambassador Marantis closed by expressing his conviction that the U.S. and EU economic relationship could be an even more productive source of trade, jobs, and growth if the TTIP negotiations are successful.

    The U.S.-EU economic relationship accounts for one-third of total goods and services trade and nearly half of global economic output. A successfully negotiated TTIP would boost economic growth in the U.S. and the EU and add to the more than 13 million American and European jobs already supported by transatlantic trade and investment. The partnership would also further open markets to increase the $459 billion in U.S. goods and services exported to the EU, address non-tariff barriers that impede goods and services trade, and promote transparency and cooperation in regulations and standards. To learn more about the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, click here. To learn more about the Business Coalition of Transatlantic Trade, please visit its website here.

  • 04/10/2013 4:51 PM

    By Sanjana Dubey, Office of Public and Media Affairs 

    In today’s opening session of the two-day United States-European Union High-Level Regulatory Cooperation Forum (HLRCF), Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Miriam Sapiro addressed an audience of American and European government officials and stakeholders. The session focused on the concerns of stakeholders from a wide spectrum of sectors, including manufacturing, agriculture, pharmaceuticals, and services. Ambassador Sapiro characterized the discussion session as an excellent platform to assess how the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership may reduce costs associated with regulatory differences that impede trade. Over the duration of the two-day session, U.S. and EU representatives will address several topics selected by stakeholders, including medical devices, cosmetics, chemicals, and automobiles.

    AMS HLRFAmbassador Sapiro addresses the U.S.-EU High-Level Regulatory Cooperation Forum

    In addition to addressing U.S.-EU regulatory cooperation, Ambassador Sapiro also discussed the progress leading up to the formal negotiation of the TTIP, including President Obama’s State of the Union announcement, and USTR’s March 20th formal announcement to Congress of its intent to begin the required 90-day consultation period that precedes each trade negotiation. During this period, USTR will consult with Congress and solicit comments from interested stakeholders. Ambassador Sapiro emphasized that these discussions help to ensure that the Administration’s negotiating priorities and positions on the TTIP are fully informed, broadly supported, and representative of the national interest. A successfully concluded TTIP negotiation would represent one of the monumental trade negotiations in history, Ambassador Sapiro said, and would build on the already robust U.S.-EU trade relationship.

    USTR will host a public hearing on the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership agreement at the end of May. Members of the public can submit and review comments relating to this hearing here.

  • 04/10/2013 3:33 PM

    Director of Environment and Natural Resources Sarah Stewart travelled to Lima, Peru last week for the sixth meeting of the Sub-Committee on Forest Sector Governance. The Sub-Committee was established under the Forest Sector Annex of the U.S.-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement’s Environment Chapter. During the meeting, Sub-Committee members reviewed progress made to implement the Forest Sector Annex, including the development of a prototype for an information system that will track and verify the chain of custody for wood harvested in Peru´s forests; the adoption of laws and administrative procedures for management, supervision and issuance of permits for timber species exports covered by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES); and Peru’s efforts to develop regulations to implement its new Forestry and Wildlife Law (in relation to the actions outlined in the Forest Sector Annex).

    Stewart also participated in the third meeting of the Environmental Cooperation Commission (ECC), where members reviewed ongoing and future environmental cooperation activities that support implementation of the Forest Sector Annex. Members of the ECC also discussed activities to support the January 2013 Joint Action Plan agreed upon by both countries, which focuses on deepening ongoing cooperation with respect to the management of bigleaf mahogany and Spanish cedar.


    The meetings were chaired by (from left to right): Antonio González, Director of Cooperation and International Negotiations, Peruvian Ministry of Environment;
    Diego Urbina, Director for North America and Europe, Peruvian Ministry of Foreign Trade and Tourism (MINCETUR);
    Sarah Stewart, Director for Environment and Natural Resources, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative;
    Rob Wing, Chief for Environment and Trade, Office of Environmental Quality and Transboundary Issues,
    U.S. Department of State. Photo Courtesy of the Government of Peru

    Following the closed session meetings, Stewart participated in a public session with over twenty Peruvian stakeholders, ranging from non-governmental organizations to private sector representatives. Stewart acknowledged the significant progress Peru has made in its forestry reform efforts, and reiterated the commitment of the United States to working with Peru to address remaining challenges and realize further achievements. She highlighted the importance of public engagement in U.S. trade agreements, and welcomed a robust question and answer session.

    Public meeting
    Photo Courtesy of the Government of Peru

    Further details about the meetings can be found in the Joint Communiqué issued by both Governments.

    Background

    The Annex on Forest Sector Governance, part of the Environment Chapter of the U.S.-Peru trade agreement, reflects the commitment of both countries to take concrete actions to enhance forest sector governance, promote legal trade in timber products, combat trade associated with illegal logging and illegal trade in wildlife, and further sustainable management of forest resources.

  • 04/06/2013 4:41 PM

    By Camille Sheehan, Office of Public and Media Affairs

    Cambridge, MA - Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for African Affairs Florizelle Liser spoke on the U.S.-Africa trade relationship today at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government’s 2013 Black Policy Conference. Ms. Liser, whose office coordinates, develops, and implements U.S. trade policy for Africa, addressed the current trends and changing dynamics in U.S. trade and investment policy towards sub-Saharan Africa.

    In her remarks, Assistant USTR Liser mentioned that Africa is an increasingly important market for U.S. firms and small businesses. In fact, six of the ten fastest growing economies in the world are found in Africa. In 2012, U.S. and sub-Saharan African goods trade totaled $72 billion, and U.S. exports to the region were up almost seven percent from the year before. A recent McKinsey and Co. study found that African countries, compared to other developing nations, offer the highest rate of return on foreign direct investment. That high return on investment could account for the billions of dollars (currently almost $80 billion per year) in private investment flowing into the region in recent years.

    The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), Liser said, is implementing several trade and investment initiatives in Africa, including the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) as well as the Presidential Policy Directive (PPD) for sub-Saharan Africa. AGOA, which provides duty-free entry into the United States for almost all products of sub-Saharan African beneficiary countries, has served as the cornerstone of U.S. engagement with sub-Saharan Africa on trade and investment. The program has mutually benefitted all Parties by supporting economic growth in Africa, and by fostering an improved African business climate that is much more conducive for U.S. investments and exports.

    The PPD, President Obama’s strategy for sub-Saharan Africa, calls for an increased U.S. focus on expanding trade and investment in the region by (1) promoting an enabling environment for trade and investment; (2) improving economic governance; (3) promoting regional integration; (4) expanding African capacity to effectively access and benefit from global markets; and (5) encouraging U.S. companies to trade with and invest in Africa.

    In closing, Assistant USTR Liser encouraged students to work collaboratively with African businesses and governments to share knowledge, establish commercial opportunities, and exchange information. “Africa is a trade and investment destination that can no longer be ignored,” she said, “and I hope that you’ll help Africa to fulfill the promise of a new century as we continue to build shared prosperity on both sides of the Atlantic.”

  • 04/04/2013 1:30 PM

    By Roya Stephens, Office of Public and Media Affairs

    Washington, D.C. - Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Japan, Korea and Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Affairs Wendy Cutler visited the Woodrow Wilson International Center this week to speak at a panel discussion on U.S. economic cooperation with Korea and the broader Asia-Pacific region. At the event, entitled “South Korea and the U.S. Pivot to Asia,” Cutler gave an overview of the important role Korea plays in the United States’ engagement with the region.

    The already strong U.S.-Korea economic relationship has been bolstered by recent developments like the smooth implementation of the U.S.-Korea trade agreement, also known as KORUS, which entered into force just over a year ago. Cutler served as the Chief Negotiator for the agreement and called it a core pillar of U.S.-Korea economic relations that has spurred cooperation on other fronts. For instance, the two countries have cooperated closely in APEC and have also been working together increasingly to expand trade in services through the proposed Trade in Services Agreement (TISA), which includes a diverse group of twenty-one partners.

    Cutler speaks on Woodrow Wilson Center panelAssistant USTR Cutler speaks at the Woodrow Wilson Center.

    Before concluding, Assistant USTR Cutler addressed progress being made in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations, and noted the similarities between the high standard KORUS agreement and the TPP, as well as the benefits of TPP membership. She also discussed how USTR is looking forward to working with Korea’s new Park Geun-hye Administration to advance mutual economic priorities, including support for small and medium-sized businesses seeking to compete in the international market.

    Last year, the U.S. and Korea shared $101 billion in total two way goods trade. The top U.S. exports to Korea were machinery, aircraft, and optical and medical instruments, while top imports from Korea were cars, electrical machinery, and mineral fuel. To learn more about U.S. engagement with Korea and the Asia-Pacific region, please click here.

  • 04/02/2013 6:25 PM

    This morning, Ambassador Isi Siddiqui, the Chief Agricultural Negotiator at the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), delivered a presentation to a meeting of the California State Board of Food and Agriculture in Sacramento, CA. Approximately 75 attendees were on hand to hear Ambassador Siddiqui speak, including the 15-member board composed of agricultural association leaders, senior state governmental representatives, and individual growers and producers.

    Ambassador Siddiqui discussed key components of USTR’s 2013 trade agenda, and how they can impact California’s agriculture sector. He emphasized the critical overall role U.S. agriculture plays in boosting exports and supporting jobs here at home, and highlighted 2012’s record agricultural exports of $145 billion and agricultural trade surplus of $42 billion.

    Ambassador Siddiqui went on to discuss the continuing implementation of new U.S. trade agreements with Korea, Colombia and Panama, and their collective positive effect on California’s exports. He noted prominent California agricultural products such as wines, cherries, and almonds that will benefit as a result of the gains in market access contained in these new agreements, and detailed USTR’s ongoing efforts to create new market opportunities through the framework of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP). This comprehensive, high-standard agreement seeks to create significant new export opportunities for U.S. agricultural producers.

    Ambassador Siddiqui’s California itinerary also included a roundtable discussion in Sacramento with a diverse range of California-focused agricultural trade associations, boards, commissioners, and other agricultural stakeholders, which was co-hosted by the California Farm Bureau. In his discussions with stakeholders, Ambassador Siddiqui detailed U.S. efforts to reduce and eliminate barriers to agricultural trade and to level the playing field for American agricultural producers, and encouraged the participants to read USTR’s 2013 Report on Sanitary and Phytosanitary measures.

  • 04/02/2013 10:22 AM

    By Brakeyshia Samms, Office of Public and Media Affairs

    This past March was Women’s History Month. From career negotiators to those who advise the work of USTR, women work year round to advise, negotiate, and execute the President’s trade agenda. This weekly trade spotlight will recognize the contributions of female members on the Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations (ACTPN) and their commitment to representing U.S. commercial and economic interests in trade policy.

    Throughout its 50 years in existence, the men and women of the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) have played an important role in the creation and enforcement of U.S. trade policy. The Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations (ACTPN) was established by Congress under the Trade Act of 1974 to advise the President and USTR on matters of trade policy (and its intersection with commercial and economic interests). ACTPN’s members represent key sectors of the economy that are influenced by trade, including state and municipal governments, labor and agricultural groups, small businesses, retail and service industries, goods suppliers and consumers. The current ACTPN committee has four serving female members: Jill Appell, Bobbi Brown, Pamela G. Bailey, and Sandra Kennedy. Each of these women has experience, perspective, and expertise in their respective fields, which helps them to effectively advise President Obama and USTR on various trade issues.

    Jill Appell is the former President of the National Pork Producers Council, and held the same title for the Illinois Pork Producers Association. She also served as a member of the Illinois Governor's Task Force that helped to write the Livestock Management Facilities Act, which regulates livestock facilities in Illinois. She served as Illinois State Director for the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Development Office during the Clinton Administration, in addition to serving on task forces for the Illinois Farm Bureau. Ms. Appell is currently a member of the USDA Farm Service Agency, the Illinois State Technical Committee, as well as the USDA Agricultural Technical Advisory Committee for Trade of Animals and Animal Products.

    Bobbi Brown is the Founder and CCO of Bobbi Brown Cosmetics. Established in 1991 and acquired by Estée Lauder Companies in 1995, Bobbi Brown Cosmetics has evolved into a full range of color cosmetics, fragrance, skincare, tools and accessories with a global presence in 60 countries. A New York Times bestselling author, Brown has written seven beauty and lifestyle books, and is the beauty editor of NBC's Today Show and the Contributing Beauty & Lifestyle Editor of Health magazine.

    Pamela G. Bailey is the President and CEO of the Grocery Manufacturers Association. Bailey served in the White House Department of Health and Human Services from 1970 to 1999, and later became the President and CEO of the world’s largest industry group for the medical technology sector, the Advanced Medical Technology Association, from 1999 to 2005. She is currently a director of Greatbatch Technologies, Inc., which produces medical device components. She is also on the board of the Reagan-Udall Foundation, a 501(c)(3) created by Congress to advance the science and research mission of FDA and GS-1US, which administers the international system of supply chain standards in the US.

    Sandra Kennedy is the President of the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA). Under her leadership, RILA has grown from a niche trade association into the primary trade association for America’s largest and most innovative retail brands. RILA members account for more than $1.5 trillion in annual sales, millions of American jobs and more than 100,000 stores, manufacturing facilities and distribution centers domestically and abroad. Prior to joining RILA, Ms. Kennedy served as Director of the Leadership Dialogue Series for Accenture, a global management consulting and technology services firm. From 1993 to 2000, she was Senior Vice President of membership services for the National Retail Federation (NRF).

    USTR commends these women and their fellow ACTPN committee members for their dedication and service to trade. Their work on trade policy with the President and USTR helps to advance global trade, and benefits American consumers and producers.

    To learn more the Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations please click here.

  • 03/29/2013 12:57 PM

    By Sanjana Dubey, Office of Public and Media Affairs 

    Acting U.S. Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis met today with President Joyce Banda of the Republic of Malawi to discuss how both governments can stimulate two-way trade and investment, strengthen Malawi’s business and investment environment, and contribute to regional economic growth.

    ADM and President BandaAmbassador Marantis meets with President Joyce Banda of the Republic of Malawi.

    In 2012, total two-way U.S.-Malawi trade was valued at $129.9 million, which represented a 7 percent increase from the previous year. U.S. exports to Malawi mainly consisted of wheat, pharmaceutical products and machinery, while U.S. imports from Malawi consisted of tobacco, apparel, tea, macadamia nuts, and sugar.

    Last year, Malawi’s exports under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) were valued at $53.1 million, which represented 86 percent of the country’s total exports to the United States. Malawi has made significant progress in diversifying its AGOA exports, which previously were comprised of mostly in-quota tobacco and sugar, by focusing on developing its apparel sector. Ambassador Marantis congratulated the Malawian government for its recent economic reforms, and voiced U.S. support for continued efforts to improve Malawi’s trade and investment business environment.

  • 03/29/2013 12:39 PM

    By Brakeyshia Samms, Office of Public and Media Affairs

    Acting U.S. Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis led a roundtable discussion today on U.S.-sub-Saharan African trade and investment with President Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone, President Macky Sall of Senegal, President Joyce Banda of Malawi, and Prime Minister José Maria Pereira Neves of Cape Verde. The leaders were in Washington, D.C. to meet with President Obama and other Administration officials because of their extraordinary progress in establishing democratic institutions, and to discuss how they and other Africans can build on democratic progress to generate increased economic opportunities and expanded trade and investment.

    At the Economic Growth Roundtable, representatives from key U.S. agencies including the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), the Department of State, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), the Export-Import Bank, and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) and the African leaders discussed the benefits of deeper economic ties between their countries and the United States, enhancing two-way trade and investment, furthering regional economic integration within Africa, and strengthening the four countries’ business and investment environments, to produce broad-based economic growth. They discussed a number of U.S. initiatives aimed at enhancing our trade and investment relationships with the four countries, including the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), a trade preference program that allows eligible African countries to export the vast majority of goods they produce to the U.S. duty free. Sierra Leone, Senegal, Malawi, and Cape Verde are each eligible for AGOA benefits.

    ADM MCC roundtableAmbassador Marantis moderates a roundtable with African Heads of State
    at the Millennium Challenge Corporation.

    The U.S. and West African participants also agreed to pursue a new Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) between the U.S. and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in order to support West Africa’s regional integration and to strengthen U.S. trade and business ties with West African nations.

    In addition, the participants identified a number of other concrete actions for follow up that will, as envisioned by the President’s Strategy toward sub-Saharan Africa, spur economic growth, trade, and investment with these four sub-Saharan African partners.

  • 03/29/2013 9:36 AM

    By Sanjana Dubey, Office of Public and Media Affairs

    The interagency Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) Subcommittee of the Trade Policy Staff Committee (TPSC) held a public hearing at the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) this week to gather testimony regarding recent developments pertinent to several ongoing country practice reviews. The GSP program is designed to promote economic growth in developing countries by providing duty-free entry for up to 5,000 products imported from one of 127 beneficiary countries. To qualify for GSP benefits, a country must meet certain statutory eligibility criteria, which include, but are not limited to, protection of worker rights and intellectual property rights (IPR). The GSP Subcommittee evaluates beneficiary countries based on accepted petitions alleging shortcomings in a country’s adherence to the preference program’s eligibility criteria.

    GSP Hearing Witnesses, members of the public, and the media attend yesterday's GSP hearing at USTR.

    The purpose of this week’s hearing was to obtain information regarding recent developments pertinent to the ongoing country practice reviews for Bangladesh, Georgia, Niger, the Philippines, Uzbekistan, and Russia. Representatives from most of these governments and from “petitioner” organizations like the AFL-CIO, the International Labor Rights Forum, and the International Intellectual Property Alliance testified before the Subcommittee to make their arguments for or against continuing GSP status. The hearing was open to members of the public and media, and represents another step in USTR’s efforts to promote transparency and engagement with trade stakeholders.

    The full program for the hearing may be found here. Public submissions related to these GSP country practice review are available at www.regulations.gov in the country-specific dockets listed here.

  • 03/28/2013 5:44 PM

    "Twenty-first century issues" in the Trans-Pacific Partnership were the topic at a panel discussion hosted Thursday morning by the Washington International Trade Association (WITA).

    USTR negotiator Jonathan McHale spoke to U.S. efforts in e-commerce and telecommunications - speaking specifically to the U.S. objective of ensuring that everyone has a right under trade rules to move information across borders, and also that firms don't have to build servers in every country where they want to do business. "We don't want a balkanized international marketplace," said McHale, noting that today's digital economy has the capacity for - and trade rules should allow - for the free flow of information and digital commerce across borders. He spoke of the publicly available Information and Communication Technology trade principles negotiated by the U.S. and the EU, Japan, Taiwan, Jordan, and Mauritius as the basis for U.S. efforts to negotiate binding commitments in the TPP.

    Probir Mehta said that USTR is seeking high-standard intellectual property rights provisions in the TPP to encourage innovation and support U.S. jobs. He spoke of working to stop the growing trend of trade in cross-border pirated and counterfeit goods - many of which, from airbags to toothpaste, can endanger public health and safety - and the importance of open markets and a level playing field for American producers of products from software to cheese. He also discussed the importance of protecting the valuable trade secrets on which U.S. and other TPP countries rely. He also noted U.S. work to ensure a strong balance on copyright protection and enforcement as codified in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and stressed that the U.S. is pushing for binding commitments from TPP partners so that they also achieve a balance in their copyright systems in providing exceptions and limitations for scholarship, criticism, news reporting, research and other legitimate purposes --- as in the United States.

    Daniel Watson noted that state-owned enterprises are increasingly participating in international trade, thus the need for trade rules that ensure a level playing field for private firms and their workers to compete. "Governments should not favor the companies they own to the detriment of private competitors," said Watson. He cited direct support, preferential financing, and selective regulation or enforcement of laws for SOE's among the issues the United States is seeking to address.

    Mark Linscott discussed the TPP's aims on regulatory coherence. He said that while the TPP is not the first trade agreement to tackle regulatory issues, rather than addressing specific regulations the TPP aims to promote "the use of good practices in the design, review, and implementation of regulations and to promote regulatory cooperation." Linscott noted these aims could be achieved through various methods ranging anywhere from Mutual Recognition Agreements to increased dialogue and transparency regarding how regulations are being made in a particular country and what they do.

    WITA board member and moderator Dorothy Dwoskin asked the USTR negotiators if there was one myth they want to "knock down" about their respective areas of negotiation - and all were glad to respond.

    McHale noted that there's some lack of understanding that the e-commerce and telecom talks are meant to promote the development of global networks that support innovation, creativity, and the ability for all partners to trade and move information worldwide - clearly promoting U.S. interest, given the competitiveness of US firms in this space, but equally providing enormous opportunities for our trade partners, large and small.

    Linscott tackled the myth that regulatory coherence might somehow limit the ability of TPP partner countries to regulate in the public interest - noting that instead, the actual point of the regulatory coherence efforts are to provide tools to help countries regulate better and ENSURE more transparency.

    Mehta noted that there are numerous myths regarding intellectual property initiatives, but cited most prominently misconceptions that portray the desired outcomes on IP as much narrower and more restrictive than they really are. Mehta stressed again that in reality, the U.S. is looking for strong and balanced protections, with equal emphasis on both: strong, in that it will be consistent with American law, but reminded listeners that consistency with U.S. law means that the United States also wants to see reflected the wealth of exceptions and limitations that provide great benefits to American consumers, scholars, writers, artists, and others: "If the U.S. can strike that balance, we want our TPP partners to strike it as well," he said.

    Watson emphasized that TPP work on state-owned enterprises does not target any specific country, but is seeking to make disciplines relevant to the global trading system, and the need for a balance with regard to SOEs that compete in commercial markets not about requiring privatization of public services.

    Negotiators also took questions from the press and other attendees as part of the panel. One notable topic that came up during this portion of the event was the importance of public input for USTR negotiators, and Mehta in particular explained that input from generic drug makers, internet companies and content users has shaped new U.S. proposals on intellectual property from pharmaceuticals to copyright limitations and exceptions.

    The negotiators closed by discussing areas where there has been interesting progress on 21st century issues in the discussions-from partner countries understanding the vital importance of facilitating broadband internet access, greater cooperation among various domestic regulatory agencies in partner countries as they work to promote, the usefulness to businesses of the level of transparency of the U.S. regulatory system, broader understanding among negotiators of new digital content offerings thanks to stakeholder presentations on-site at talks, and the need for disciplines on state-owned enterprises as the potential for their participation in international trade continues to grow.

    More detailed information on the Trans-Pacific Partnership - including an outline of the chapters in the agreement and goals for each area - is online at www.ustr.gov/tpp.

    WITA is planning additional TPP-focused panels next month on market access issues, U.S. priorities and objectives, and TPP partners' perspectives on the talks.

  • 03/27/2013 2:56 PM

    By Brakeyshia Samms, Office of Public and Media Affairs

    Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Michael Punke spoke this week at a “Trade in Services Agreement (TISA)” workshop organized by the International Trade Committee of the European Parliament. An audience of 120 people including Commission officials, Parliament staffers, representatives of Member States and foreign missions in Brussels, and a variety of private sector and civil society representatives came to listen to Ambassador Punke and other panelists.

    Ambassador Punke touched on the crucial updates that are needed in the proposed TISA, and explained how the new agreement would enhance and supplement the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) that has governed services trade for the last 20 years. The new services agreement, Ambassador Punke said, would serve as a bridge from the GATS to the future of services trade.

    U.S. companies are global leaders in service industries like telecommunications, financial services, environmental services, retail, and express delivery; in fact, three out of four American jobs are already in the services sector, and every additional $1 billion in U.S. services exports supports another estimated 4,200 U.S. jobs. The proposed agreement will help the United States to tap into the full trade potential that the dynamic and innovative U.S. service sector can achieve.

    To learn more information about the TISA negotiations or any other services agreements, please visit this link.

  • 03/26/2013 9:51 AM

    By Sanjana Dubey, Office of Public and Media Affairs

    This Weekly Trade Spotlight addresses three important measures used by the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) to identify and eliminate barriers to trade in the global economy.

    Next week, USTR will issue the National Trade Estimate Report on Foreign Trade Barriers (NTE), the 2013 Report on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) and the 2013 Report on Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures. These reports are valuable tools in enforcing U.S. trade laws, but also help expand global trade to benefit U.S. producers and consumers here and abroad.

    The National Trade Estimate Report on Foreign Trade Barriers (NTE) surveys significant foreign barriers to U.S. exports. The report is a companion to the President’s Trade Policy Agenda and identifies the most important foreign barriers affecting U.S. exports of goods and services, foreign direct investment by U.S. entities, and the protection of intellectual property rights. Information is also included on actions being taken to address those barriers. The NTE categorizes nine broad types of trade barriers, including government laws, regulations, policies, or practices that either protect domestic products from foreign competition or artificially stimulate exports of particular domestic products. Examples of these trade barriers include: “buy national” government policies, tariffs and other import charges, import licensing, regulation of international data flows, barriers to the provision of services by foreign professionals and local content requirements. The NTE is compiled using information provided by USTR, the Departments of Commerce and Agriculture and other U.S. Government agencies, as well as comments and responses to a published Federal Register Notice from private sector trade advisory committees and American embassies. USTR submits this annual report to the President, the Senate Committee on Finance, and appropriate committees in the House of Representatives.

    The Report on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) was created to address countries’ use of certain standards, conformity assessment procedures, or technical regulations which create unnecessary obstacles to international trade. The World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade establishes rules and procedures governing the development, adoption, and application of voluntary product standards, mandatory technical regulations and conformity assessment procedures, such as testing and certification. The agreement helps to distinguish legitimate standards and technical regulations from discriminatory and protectionist measures, and USTR’s report describes the efforts of the United States on specific trade concerns in this area. As with the NTE Report, USTR compiles the TBT report using input from stakeholders, U.S. Embassies and other Federal government agencies, and from consultations with U.S. trading partners.

    The Report on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS) addresses the necessity of regulatory measures that ensure that food and beverages are safe for consumers and that protect animals and plants from pests and diseases. USTR’s report on SPS details discriminatory and protectionist trade measures disguised as SPS standards that may disadvantage U.S. exporters of agricultural goods. Certain SPS measures, that appear to be unscientific, burdensome, discriminatory, or otherwise unwarranted, pose a challenge to many small businesses which lack the resources to identify and address such measures.

    To see the reports next week, visit the USTR homepage at www.ustr.gov, and stay tuned to the USTR blog.

  • 03/19/2013 5:11 PM

    By Sanjana Dubey, Office of Public and Media Affairs

    Assistant U.S. Trade Representative (AUSTR) for Japan, Korea and Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Affairs Wendy Cutler traveled to New York City today to speak at a Korea Society event celebrating the first anniversary of the entry into force of the U.S.-Korea trade agreement. During the moderated discussion, Cutler gave a brief overview of the progress in the first year of the U.S.-Korea trade agreement, and discussed her outlook on its future.

    At the event, Cutler discussed the considerable benefits to U.S. exporters in the first year of the agreement. “Exports of U.S. autos are up by 48 percent, driven not only by the increased price competitiveness that came from cutting Korea’s auto tariff in half, but also because the reduction of non-tariff barriers made exporting vehicles from the United States a better business proposition,” she said. U.S. exports of fresh fruits and nuts, wine, and fruit juices have also enjoyed robust growth since the agreement entered into force, and services exports experienced a 9 percent increase over 2011 totals.

    She predicted both sides would see further gains from the agreement as additional provisions are implemented, as more small- and medium-sized businesses take advantage of the opportunities the agreement provides, and as more partnerships are formed between U.S. and Korean companies.

    Assistant USTR Cutler served as the Chief Negotiator for this agreement, and is responsible for developing and implementing U.S. trade policy towards Japan and Korea. The one-year anniversary of the U.S.-Korea trade agreement, observed on March 15, underscores the strengthening of the U.S.-Korea relationship and the significant new economic opportunities available to both countries.

  • 03/15/2013 3:22 PM

    By Roya Stephens, Office of Public and Media Affairs

    Earlier this week, the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Appellate Body began its two day public hearing in the feed-in tariff (FIT) dispute brought by the European Union (EU) and Japan against Canada’s domestic content requirements for solar and wind power. The hearing is the latest in a series of public WTO dispute settlement hearings at the WTO. Japan, Canada and the EU’s open session statements were broadcast to members of the public who registered to observe the hearing via closed circuit television in an adjoining room at the WTO. The public hearing is an affirmation of the U.S. drive to increase, and progress in increasing, transparency in WTO dispute settlement.

    For years, the United States has urged WTO Members to join its efforts to make dispute settlement hearings public. At the 50th anniversary of the General Agreement on Tariff and Trade (GATT) in 1997, President Clinton invited other parties to U.S. WTO disputes to agree to participate in open and public dispute hearings. The first instance of public observation of a dispute settlement proceeding was in September 2005, during the EC (European Communities) Hormones – Continued Suspension dispute involving the EU, Canada, and the United States. The panel and Appellate Body both agreed to hold their hearings in open sessions, and over 200 members of the public registered to attend.

    Since then, the number of open hearings has grown as well as the number of Members willing to make open session, or public, statements. To date, there have been at least 12 different panel proceedings, including the Canada FIT dispute and nine other Appellate Body proceedings, producing at least 20 different public hearings. At least 30 WTO Members have made, or have agreed to make, a statement in at least one open session dispute settlement hearing, and over 350 members of the public have registered to attend at least one WTO public hearing. Any member of the public can register with the WTO to view the hearings, and many travel to Geneva solely for this purpose, reflecting the benefit and public value for having these hearings open for public observation. This trend in WTO dispute settlement demonstrates the value of the efforts to improve the transparency of the WTO dispute settlement system, as well as many Members’ increased acceptance of the value of transparency.

  • 03/14/2013 11:22 AM

    By Sanjana Dubey, Office of Public and Media Affairs

    Washington, D.C. – Yesterday, Deputy Assistant United States Trade Representative (DAUSTR) for South and Central Asian Affairs Mara Burr and Director for Central Asia Laurie Curry participated in an Energy, Trade and Development Forum as part of the 2013 Turkic American Convention (TAC) at the J.W. Marriott Hotel.

    The Convention hosted seven Central Asian nations, including Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

    DAUSTR Mara Burr spoke during the Uzbekistan session of the Convention, which focused on U.S.-Uzbekistan relations, including the country’s energy resources and policies, trade activities, investment opportunities, development issues, Uzbekistan’s foreign policy vis-à-vis energy and trade.

    Burr @ panelDAUSTR Mara Burr spoke on the U.S.-Uzbekistan relationship as part of a
    distinguished panel at the Turkic American Convention.

    DAUSTR Burr emphasized trade linkages between Central Asia and South Asia, and addressed why the World Trade Organization is an attractive institution for Central Asian countries like Uzbekistan. She stated that “Uzbekistan historically has been a center of trade between Central and South Asia going back to the early days of the Silk Road, and this history demonstrates that Central Asia is a place where trade and investment under the right conditions can flourish.” The Counselor on Trade and Economic Affairs at the Embassy of Uzbekistan, Laziz Kudratov, and the Director of the Joint Contingency Acquisition Support Office at the Defense Logistics Agency, Rear Admiral Ron MacLaren also spoke at the session. Ambassador John Herbst, the Director for the Center of Complex Operations at the National Defense University, acted as moderator.

    At the session on Turkmenistan, Director Curry spoke on bilateral U.S-Turkmenistan economic relations, Turkmenistan’s efforts to integrate into the global economic community, and its emerging role in regional agreements such as the U.S.- Central Asia Trade and Investment Framework Agreement. She emphasized that “the United States and Turkmenistan have a strong and growing relationship, through which we hope to encourage more cooperation and coordination on trade and investment issues in Central Asia with Turkmenistan playing a leading role.” The Ambassador of Turkmenistan to the United States, H.E. Meret Orazov, and the Assistant U.S. Secretary of State to South and Central Asian Affairs, Robert Blake, also spoke at the session on Turkmenistan. Najiya Badykova, the President of Antares Strategy, acted as the moderator.

    The sessions of the TAC were held all day and demonstrated private sector and policy makers’ interest in trade, development and energy issues in the strategic region of Central Asia.

  • 03/13/2013 1:44 PM

    By Roya Stephens, Office of Public and Media Affairs

    USTR’s Work in Trade and Development Facilitates Economic Growth in the Developing World and Supports Jobs and Competitive Exports at Home

    On Tuesday, policy staff from the Office of the United States Trade Representative met with law students from John Marshall Law School to discuss the role of USTR in promoting trade with developing countries. Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) Bill Jackson, Senior Policy Advisor for Trade and Development and Women’s Issues Mary Ryckman, and World Trade Organization (WTO) and Multilateral Affairs Director for Trade Remedies Victor Mroczka participated in the dialogue. They spoke about the important role USTR plays in representing the United States at the WTO as well as in implementing preference programs and other activities to facilitate trade with developing countries. The benefits of USTR’s work in trade and development are two-fold. Not only do these programs promote sustainable industries and increased market opportunities that raise standards of living and boost growth in developing countries, but they also promote the import of goods and export of U.S. goods, both of which support American jobs and keep American businesses competitive.
    Trade and DevelopmentUSTR policy staff discuss the benefits of trade for developing countries.

    The panel discussed some of the challenges developing and least developed countries face as they seek to increase trade and investment. They also described some of the trade preference programs the U.S. Trade Representative administers to help developing countries make the most of international trade opportunities, including the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) and the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). These programs offer preferential duty-free treatment for thousands of products from over 100 designated countries and territories throughout the world.

    To learn more about the Generalized System of Preferences, WTO and Multilateral Affairs, and the role of USTR in Trade and Development, please click on the respective links.

  • 03/11/2013 4:45 PM

    By Camille Sheehan, Office of Public and Media Affairs

    Ambassadors Kirk and Sapiro met with Irish Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton today, to discuss President Obama’s State of the Union proposal for a new U.S.-EU trade agreement. The proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) will strengthen what is already the world’s largest economic relationship in terms of goods and services trade and global economic output.

    ARK and Minister Bruton
    Ambassador Kirk and Minister Bruton spoke at the Office of the United States Trade Representative in
    Washington D.C.

    Ireland holds the Presidency of the European Council through June 2013 and will play a key role in any U.S.-EU negotiations. With important dairy and beef industries, Ireland has already expressed strong support for the newly proposed trade agreement. During their meeting, Ambassador Kirk spoke with Minister Bruton about the proposed outcomes of the partnership, including the importance of fully liberalizing tariffs on agricultural products. While the United States and Ireland have historically had a strong economic partnership, both countries believe that the TTIP can provide a boost to economic growth and support jobs on both sides of the Atlantic.

    U.S. goods exports to Ireland totaled $7.4 billion in 2012, and Ireland was the 36th largest export market for U.S. goods last year. In 2011, U.S. private and commercial services exports to Ireland totaled $28.3 billion (latest data available), a 12.6 percent increase from 2010.

  • 03/07/2013 3:33 PM

    Ambassador Islam Siddiqui, the Chief Agricultural Negotiator at the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), traveled to Richmond, Virginia today to deliver remarks to the 2013 Virginia Governor’s Conference on Agricultural Trade. The Conference is jointly organized by the Virginia Department of Agriculture, the Farm Bureau, the Port Authority, and Virginia Tech University, and has become an anticipated event for farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural trade stakeholders.

    In his remarks to attendees, Ambassador Siddiqui spoke at length about the latest developments in agricultural trade, and detailed USTR’s efforts to help U.S. farmers and ranchers boost their exports. He described the important role of agricultural trade in supporting jobs and strengthening the economy in Virginia and across the United States. In fact, the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Economic Research Service estimates that in 2013, $142 billion in U.S. agricultural exports will support over a million jobs for farmers, ranchers, and exporters.

    Ambassador Siddiqui’s remarks underscored the excitement surrounding recent agricultural trade announcements. Farmers and ranchers stand to benefit from a new agreement between the U.S. and Japan which will pave the way for expanded exports of U.S. beef , the pending Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, and negotiations for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, which President Obama unveiled in his State of the Union address. Ambassador Siddiqui concluded by reiterating USTR’s commitments to our agricultural trade stakeholders to open markets, level the playing field, and ensure fair treatment from our trading partners under the rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

  • 02/27/2013 1:54 PM

    The United States has now completed the process to recognize Cachaça as a distinctive product of Brazil, as a result of a 2012 exchange of letters with Brazilian Minister of Development, Industry and Foreign Trade Fernando Pimentel. Cachaça, a distilled spirit made from fermented sugarcane, is the base ingredient of the Brazilian national cocktail, the caipirinha, and increasingly popular in the United States. It is also the third largest spirits category in the world and the American market for this product has quadrupled in the last five years. This week, the Department of Treasury’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau published a final rule making the “distinctive product” designation official. Under the 2012 understanding, Brazil now has 30 days to issue a similar regulation to recognize Tennessee Whiskey and Bourbon Whiskey as distinctive products of the United States.

    The agreement to recognize these distilled spirits as distinctive products of our respective countries is one of several agreements that were set in motion during Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s first official visit to the United States in 2012. The distilled spirits agreement is a positive development for both countries’ industries and reflects our Governments’ commitment to stronger bilateral trade ties.

  • 02/27/2013 12:35 PM

    This week President Obama joined cabinet officials, well-wishers, friends, and staffers from the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) at a farewell reception for departing United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk in the Indian Treaty Room of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. The President thanked Ambassador Kirk for his service and his friendship over the last four years, and commended him for his efforts on behalf of the Office of the United States Trade Representative. Ambassador Kirk came to USTR after serving two terms as the first African American mayor of Dallas as well as serving as Texas Secretary of State under Governor Ann Richards. Highlights of USTR’s accomplishments during Ambassador Kirk’s tenure are included below:

    2009 Trade Accomplishments

    2010 Trade Accomplishments

    2011 Trade Accomplishments

    2012 Trade Accomplishments

    ARK and POTUSPresident Obama reflects on Ambassdor Kirk's service as USTR


    ARK and USTR deputiesAmbassadors Kirk, Sapiro, Siddiqui and Marantis


    AG Holder, Valerie Jarrett, ARKAttorney General Eric Holder, White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett
    and Ambassador Kirk

  • 02/26/2013 11:36 AM

    Note: This is a cross post from the Department of Commerce's webpage. To see the original post, please click here.

    Contributed to record-setting $2.2 trillion year for U.S. exports

    Nationally, jobs supported by exports increased to 9.8 million in 2012

    U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank today announced new state export data that shows 29 states set new records for export sales in 2012. In total, 35 states achieved merchandise export growth in 2012, and 20 of those states experienced growth of at least five percent or more.

    Total merchandise exports from all 50 states helped contribute to the record-setting value of goods and services exports in 2012, which reached $2.2 trillion. Nationally, jobs supported by exports increased to 9.8 million in 2012, up 1.3 million since 2009. This puts us ahead of schedule to meet the President’s goal of adding two million export-supported jobs by the end of 2014.

    “The increase in state exports in 2012 demonstrates that U.S. businesses are carving out a new global market share for their innovative products and services, despite facing economic headwinds worldwide,” said Deputy Secretary Blank. “As President Obama emphasized in his recent State of the Union address, the Administration is committed to giving businesses all the tools they need to expand their exports—including negotiating new trade agreements—in order to support jobs across the United States. The 2012 state export data shows just how important our efforts to support U.S. exporters are to local economies.”

    Eleven states achieved double-digit export growth in 2012 as compared to 2011. Those states include: New Mexico (+42 percent); Arkansas (+36 percent); Nevada (+28 percent); North Dakota (+26 percent); West Virginia (+26 percent); Washington (+17 percent); Wyoming (+17 percent); Louisiana (+15 percent); Michigan (+12 percent); Colorado (+11 percent); and Kentucky (+10 percent.) These 11 states provided an extra boost to United States exports, with states such as New Mexico ramping up its export sales to its largest market, Israel, by 193 percent. Arkansas increased exports to its fourth leading market, France, by 117 percent. Colorado also boasted a 63 percent leap in exports to Brazil, as well as 20 percent growth in exports to Turkey. Exports from West Virginia to South Korea increased 61 percent.

    Nationwide, 2012 U.S. merchandise exports to countries with which the United States has a trade agreement outpaced other markets nearly two to one. This included exports to: Oman (+22 percent); Panama (+20 percent); Costa Rica (+19 percent); Chile (+18 percent); Jordan (+18 percent); Colombia (+14 percent); Australia (+13 percent); Peru (+12 percent) and Mexico (+9 percent).

    More information about individual state contributions to national exports is available through the International Trade Administration’s Office of Trade and Industry Information web page, www.trade.gov/mas/ian/statereports, which includes individual fact sheets for all 50 states.

    An interactive map with national and state merchandise trade data is available here: http://tse.export.gov/TSE/.

  • 02/21/2013 10:00 AM

    The Weekly Trade Spotlight for this week focuses on the Special 301 Report, which reflects the Administration’s resolve to effectively protect and enforce intellectual property rights (IPR) worldwide.

    The interagency Special 301 Subcommittee of the Trade Policy Staff Committee, which produces the annual Special 301 Report on intellectual property, held a public hearing yesterday to gather information from public, private, and non-profit sector stakeholders as it prepares the 2013 Special 301 Report. The Special 301 Subcommittee, which is chaired by the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) and includes representatives from the Departments of State, Commerce, Health and Human Services, and Agriculture, as well as the Patent and Trademark Office, Copyright Office, and Council of Economic Advisors, is tasked with reviewing the adequacy and effectiveness of U.S. trading partners’ protection and enforcement of IPR. The Special 301 Report highlights the United States’ concerns about the protection and enforcement of IPR around the globe – an issue that directly affects an estimated 27 million American jobs in intellectual property-intensive industries, according to a 2012 report by the Department of Commerce.

    Interagency Special 301 Committee
    Members of the interagency Special 301 Subcommittee listen to testimony from government
    representatives, stakeholder organizations, and private sector groups.

    Yesterday’s hearing, at which the subcommittee heard testimony from the Governments of the Czech Republic, Ukraine, Paraguay, Mexico and Italy, and from the International Intellectual Property Organization, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Global Intellectual Property Center, and from Health Global Access Project and Knowledge Ecology International among others, was part of an ongoing USTR effort to give interested persons an opportunity to inform the interagency Special 301 Subcommittee of issues relevant to the review. The witnesses’ testimony, which will help to inform and shape the Special 301 report, touched on a wide variety of IPR issues, including piracy over the Internet, IPR enforcement, and pharmaceuticals and biotechnology.

    The Special 301 review process involves consultations with interested parties and foreign governments on often complex IP issues, and information provided in the public hearing and through written public comments helps to facilitate sound, well-balanced assessments of developments in particular countries. Public submissions in the ongoing 2013 Special 301 review can be viewed online at www.regulations.gov, docket number USTR-2012-0022. A transcript of yesterday’s hearing will be posted on the USTR website when it is available.

    In addition to its release of the annual Special 301 Report at the end of April, USTR conducts year-round engagement to advance the goals of the Special 301 process. On Thursday, December 13, 2012, USTR released the Special 301 Out-of-Cycle Review of Notorious Markets. Previously included in the annual Special 301 Report, the Notorious Market List was released separately as part of USTR’s commitment to increase public awareness of Internet and physical markets that exemplify the challenge of combatting piracy and counterfeiting around the globe.

    Public submissions for the Notorious Markets list can be viewed online at www.regulations.gov, Docket number USTR-2012-0011.

  • 02/20/2013 8:04 PM

    Today, Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis was on hand as the White House launched its strategy to mitigate the theft of U.S. trade secrets and protect American businesses in the international marketplace. The Obama Administration is focused on protecting the innovation that drives the American economy and supports jobs in the United States. Ambassador Marantis, along with officials from the Departments of Justice, State, Commerce and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and private sector representatives, spoke about the importance of protecting trade secrets to preserving our nation’s economic and national security. He touched on tools the government can use to address trade secret theft, highlighting the effectiveness of trade negotiations and frameworks like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the U.S. and China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade, and the Special 301 Report.

    ADM trade secrets
    Ambassador Marantis speaks at the launch of the Administration’s Strategy to Mitigate
    the Theft of U.S. Trade Secrets

    The Obama Administration is focused on protecting the innovation that drives the American economy and supports jobs in the United States. To learn more about the strategy to mitigate the theft of U.S. trade secrets, please visit the White House link here.

  • 02/20/2013 4:00 PM

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

    By Victoria Espinel, U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator

    Today, I am pleased to announce the Administration’s Strategy on Mitigating the Theft of U.S. Trade Secrets. Trade secret theft can cripple a company’s competitive advantage in foreign markets, diminish export prospects around the globe, and put American jobs in jeopardy. The President is committed to preventing the theft of corporate trade secrets. As he clearly expressed in his State of the Union Speech, “we cannot look back years from now and wonder why we did nothing in the face of real threats to our security and our economy.”

    The Strategy that we are releasing today coordinates and improves U.S. Government efforts to protect the innovation that drives the American economy and supports jobs in the United States. As the Strategy lays out, we are taking a whole of government approach to stop the theft of trade secrets by foreign competitors or foreign governments by any means – cyber or otherwise.

    • First, we will increase our diplomatic engagement. Specifically, we will convey our concerns to countries where there are high incidents of trade secret theft with coordinated and sustained messages from the most senior levels of the Administration. We will build coalitions with countries that share our concerns to support our efforts. We will urge foreign law enforcement to do more. And we will use our trade policy tools to press other governments for better protection and enforcement.

    • Second, we will support industry-led efforts to develop best practices to protect trade secrets and encourage companies to share with each other best practices that can mitigate the risk of trade secret theft.

    • Third, DOJ will continue to make the investigation and prosecution of trade secret theft by foreign competitors and foreign governments a top priority. Additionally, the FBI and the intelligence community will provide warnings and threat assessments to the private sector on information and technology that are being targeted for theft by foreign competitors and foreign governments.

    • Fourth, President Obama recently signed two pieces of legislation that will improve enforcement against trade secret theft. But we need to continue to make sure our laws are as effective as possible. So, moving forward, we will conduct a review of our laws to determine if further changes are needed to enhance enforcement. If changes are necessary, we will work with Congress to make those changes lasting and comprehensive.

    • Lastly, we will increase public awareness of the threats and risks to the U.S. economy posed by trade secret theft.

    We know that trade secrets play a crucial role in America’s global competitiveness. As the Strategy makes clear, the Administration will continue to act vigorously to combat the theft of American trade secrets that could be used by foreign companies or foreign governments to gain an unfair commercial advantage over U.S. companies. In order to continue to lead, succeed, and prosper in the 21st Century global economy, we will use this Strategy to put in place an effective and coordinated approach to protect American trade secrets.

    You can watch live on WhiteHouse.gov/live beginning at 3:15pm today.

    Launch of the Administration’s Strategy to Mitigate the Theft of U.S. Trade Secrets

    Wednesday, February 20, 2013, 3:15 PM

    Speakers

    The Honorable Victoria A. Espinel, U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator

    The Honorable Eric H. Holder Jr., Attorney General of the United States

    The Honorable Rebecca Blank, Deputy Secretary of Commerce

    Discussion

    The Honorable Robert Hormats, Under Secretary of State

    The Honorable Demetrios J. Marantis, Deputy United States Trade Representative

    Frank Montoya, National Counterintelligence Executive, Office of the Director of National Intelligence

    Panel

    The Honorable Lanny Breuer, Assistant Attorney General – Moderator

    Ambassador Karan Bhatia, Vice President and Senior Counsel, Global Government Affairs and Policy, General Electric

    Dean Garfield, CEO, Information Technology Industry Council

    John Powell, General Counsel, American Superconductor

    Updated at 3:23 pm on Wednesday, February 20

  • 02/14/2013 5:01 PM

    Even more stakeholders have weighed in to voice their support for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership negotiations, which Ambassador Kirk described as beneficial for “jobs, economic growth and international competitiveness on both sides of the Atlantic.” Here’s what they’re saying:

    “I am pleased President Obama has made this commitment to launch negotiations to make the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership a reality. This agreement will support good-paying American jobs and will expand our trade and investment relations, strengthen our economy, and create new opportunities on both sides of the Atlantic. The United States and the E.U. represent the largest economic relationship in the world. Our joint gross domestic product accounts for 45 percent of global GDP, and includes more than 800 million consumers. A comprehensive trade agreement will be good for American businesses and American workers.”

    - Dr. Rebecca Blank, Deputy Secretary of Commerce

    Full Statement Here

    "Strengthening ties between the United States and the European Union through a transatlantic trade agreement makes good sense. That is why I support President Obama's proposal which he announced during his State of the Union Address last night. A comprehensive trade and investment partnership with the 27 nations that make up European Union will expand the export of U.S. goods and services abroad and create new jobs here at home. Bringing down existing trade barriers, particularly agricultural and chemical, will allow U.S. manufacturers to sell more of their products to the 500 million people who currently live in the European Union. And since the United States and the European Union already have the largest trade and economic relationship in the world, building on that longstanding partnership is wise. With Ireland currently holding the European Union Presidency, I am confident these negotiations will be successful."

    - Rep. Richard E. Neal, Senior Member of the House Committee on Ways and Means

    Full Statement Here

    “New Democrats applaud the Administration’s commitment to complete the Trans Pacific Partnership and begin work on a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the European Union. Our relationship with the EU already supports more than 7 million jobs and this agreement has the potential to add more than 13 million new American jobs. As strong advocates for a proactive trade agenda, we urge the Administration to act swiftly on these trade agreements across both the Pacific and Atlantic to bring more quality jobs to the workforce and maintain U.S. leadership in the global economy.”

    - Rep. Rick Larsen, Rep. Gregory Meeks, and Rep. Cedric Richmond, Leaders of the New Democrat Coalition

    Full Statement Here

    "We applaud this move, which has the potential to further expand and reinforce the world’s largest two-way commercial relationship, and solidify our historic strong ties with Europe. We urge negotiators to strive for a high-standards, 21st-century trade and investment agreement."

    - Peter M. Robinson, President of United States Council for International Business

    Full Statement Here

    “U.S. Trade Ambassador Ron Kirk and the other officials at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) have not only worked long and diligently to reach this point, but USTR also listened-to and accepted recommendations that agriculture and unwarranted non-tariff barriers, especially non-science based sanitary and phytosanitary provisions, be an important part of the negotiations and that any final trade agreement successfully address these issues.”

    - The National Chicken Council, National Turkey Federation, USA Poultry & Egg Export Council and U.S. Poultry & Egg Association

    Full Statement Here

    “FedEx strongly supports the U.S. – EU joint announcement to pursue a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. By widening the doors of free trade across the Atlantic Ocean, we can provide greater opportunities for economic growth and jobs here at home. It’s simple – when large and small U.S. companies, many of whom are our important customers, have greater access to markets, they gain critically important opportunities to sell their goods and services to a wider marketplace. Further, a trade deal with the EU would cut burdensome regulations and red tape that often slows and sometimes inhibits trade with this close ally. FedEx will continue to support a robust free trade agenda and we look forward to the completion of an ambitious and comprehensive trade agreement that will open up greater opportunities for trade and investment between the U.S. and the EU.”

    - Michael L. Ducker, Chief Operating Officer & President, International, FedEx Express

    Full Statement Here

    “President Obama’s call for concluding the Trans-Pacific Partnership and for launching negotiations on a new Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership are welcome steps for raising growth and creating jobs. Together they would cover more than 50 percent of world trade. [How the administration chooses to address issues like agricultural subsidies and regulatory standards in the new transatlantic agreement and labor protections and state-owned enterprises in the Trans-Pacific Partnership will be of the utmost importance.] These agreements will set the standard for global trade rules in the 21st century. If done right, they could bring vast benefits to the United States and the entire global economy. [These regional agreements represent an important step but one that should not come at the expense of efforts to negotiate a new multilateral trade agreement. Despite the increasing number of regional trade agreements, nearly 85 percent of world trade still occurs at tariff rates negotiated at the multilateral level. In an era of global value chains and closer integration, a new multilateral agreement under the auspices of the World Trade Organization is the best tool available to try to sustain a fair global playing field.]”

    - Sabina Dewan, Director of Globalization and International Employment, Center for American Progress

    Full Statement Here

    “NMPF believes that considerable potential exists for greater U.S. dairy exports to the EU, if the Transatlantic agreement effectively tackles not only market access issues but also the many nontariff barriers that have made it challenging for the United States to make more headway into the European dairy market.”

    - Jerry Kozak, President and CEO of National Milk Producers Federation

    Full Statement Here

    “The U.S. dairy industry is now a major exporter globally. Despite this fact and the large size of the European dairy market, U.S. dairy exports to the EU have lagged and totaled only $88 million last year. This is not because we can’t compete there, but because of the many tariff and regulatory hurdles facing our exporters seeking to enter the EU. The EU currently enjoys a dairy trade surplus with the United States of $1.2 billion. This is at a time when the United States is exporting $5.2 billion in dairy products around the world. We believe the Transatlantic agreement can do a lot to drive more reciprocal dairy trade between the United States and EU.”

    - Tom Suber, President of U.S. Dairy Export Council

    Full Statement Here

    “Greater harmonization of global regulations will boost American exports, bring life-saving products to the market more quickly and efficiently and drive economic growth on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. MITA applauds President Barack Obama for his leadership on an issue of utmost importance to the U.S. and E.U. economies as well as the millions of patients who will benefits from increased access to the most innovative advanced medical imaging technologies.”

    - Gail Rodriguez, Executive Director of Medical Imaging & Technology Alliance (MITA)

    Full Statement Here

    “Improving the global regulatory environment for manufacturers is essential to ensuring they remain at the forefront of technological innovation as they continue to develop more advanced, life-saving products that improve quality, safety and patient access while also promoting cost efficiency. COCIR is very pleased to see that the Obama administration has made this a top priority.”

    - Nicole Denjoy, Secretary General for European Coordination Committee of the Radiological, Electromedical and Healthcare IT Industry (COCIR)

    Full Statement Here

  • 02/13/2013 11:25 AM

    Today, President Obama, along with European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission President José Manuel Barroso, announced that the United States and the European Union (EU) will initiate the internal procedures to launch negotiations for a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. Ambassador Kirk welcomed President Obama’s decision to pursue the partnership with the EU, foreseeing economic benefits including new jobs, economic growth and international competitiveness on both sides of the Atlantic. Elected officials, Members of Congress, and private and public sector stakeholders have also expressed their support for the new negotiations. Below is a sampling of what others are saying so far – check back for periodic updates.

    “A comprehensive U.S.-EU FTA, negotiated and implemented with the highest standards, would have a multiplier effect and would be certain to generate much needed economic growth on both sides of the Atlantic. There is no doubt that a U.S.-EU FTA is an enticing opportunity. While there is much promise in the U.S.-European Union relationship, there are remaining barriers to free and fair trade that are long-standing and difficult to overcome.”

    - Sen. Max Baucus, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, and Sen. Orrin Hatch, Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Finance

    Full Statement Here

    “A strong, comprehensive trade and investment agreement with the EU has the potential to create significant good-paying jobs for American workers. Negotiations will not be easy, but they have enormous potential to open new opportunities for us to sell our goods and services in the EU. I welcome the President’s movement forward on this effort and look forward to consulting closely with the Administration.”

    - Rep. Dave Camp, Chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means

    Full Statement Here

    “I very much welcome the President’s intention to work on a transatlantic trade agreement with the European Union…These negotiations provide a rare opportunity to expand U.S. exports of goods and services by eliminating tariff and, especially, non-tariff barriers in Europe, our second largest export market after Canada.”

    - Rep. Sander Levin, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Ways and Means

    Full Statement Here

    “I applaud the President’s announcement of his intent to negotiate an ambitious transatlantic trade agreement with the European Union. Bonding Europe and the United States through a high-level trade agreement would help both economies and give rise to a dominant economic alliance that would strongly influence other nations toward free trade.”

    - Rep. Devin Nunes, Chairman of the Trade Subcommittee of the House Committee on Ways and Means

    Full Statement Here

    “The American people share many principles and values with the people of Europe. A transatlantic trade agreement can help bring us even closer together. Our ambitions should be high, particularly with respect to resolving regulatory differences. Too often in the past, EU and U.S. regulators have developed different regulations to achieve common objectives. Our negotiators should work to make those regulations more compatible, while still achieving the same high level of protections for our people.”

    - Rep. Charles Rangel, Ranking Member of the Trade Subcommittee of the House Committee on Ways and Means

    Full Statement Here

    “For the sake of jobs and growth, it’s time to forge a bold, new trade pact with Europe. The Chamber applauds the U.S. and European officials who worked tirelessly to clear a path forward for an ambitious and comprehensive agreement. The stars are finally aligned, and we urge the U.S. and EU governments to move forward swiftly to negotiate a high-standard agreement that will foster economic growth and job creation for all our citizens.”

    - Thomas J. Donohue, President and CEO U.S. Chamber of Commerce

    Full Statement Here

    “We applaud President Obama for supporting discussions between the United States and the European Union on a comprehensive transatlantic trade and investment partnership. We strongly support such a partnership, which we believe should include financial services. The US and EU financial markets are the most developed and intertwined in the world. A comprehensive trade and investment agreement presents a unique opportunity to enhance the efficiency of the transatlantic financial markets, facilitate trade, and deliver lower costs products to investors.”

    - Kenneth E. Bentsen, Jr., Executive Vice President for Public Policy and Advocacy, Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association

    Full Statement Here

    “Manufacturers welcomed the President’s remarks on immigration reform and STEM education, which show a true commitment to developing the skilled workforce desperately needed. It is encouraging to see a promise of infrastructure investment that will serve as a foundation of future manufacturing. The announcement of negotiations toward a free trade agreement with the European Union represents a significant step forward in leveling the playing field in foreign markets. However, equally important is creating an atmosphere where employers can hire workers and invest in their businesses.”

    - Jay Timmons, President and CEO of National Association of Manufacturers

    Full Statement Here

    “We commend the U.S. and EU leaders and the High Level Working Group for promoting much needed economic growth and job creation. Ambitious U.S.-EU negotiations will strengthen transatlantic economic relations and reinforce the open market and rules-based principles of the global trading system.”

    - Doug Oberhelman, Chairman & CEO, Caterpillar Inc., Chairman of Business Roundtable’s International Engagement Committee

    Full Statement Here

    “Trade agreements provide U.S. chemical manufacturers greater access to the world’s consumers and positively contribute to the growth of the U.S. economy. Such agreements support domestic manufacturing jobs by offering access for our competitive, innovative products.”

    - Lawrence D. Sloan, President and CEO, Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates (SOCMA)

    Full Statement Here

    “The Business Roundtable was an early advocate for U.S.-EU negotiations because we believe a reenergized transatlantic partnership will deliver real economic value. Negotiations should launch as soon as possible this year to eliminate trade and investment barriers and to build regulatory cooperation across the Atlantic.”

    - John Engler, President of the Business Roundtable

    Full Statement Here

    “UPS sees strengthening and deepening the U.S.-EU trade relationship as a cornerstone of our own success. A stronger partnership in trade between the U.S. and the EU will bring tremendous benefits for U.S. and European exporters alike. UPS is excited about the possibilities of what a U.S.-EU free trade agreement means to our customers and how it will improve the position of our economies.”

    - Scott Davis, Chairman and CEO, United Parcel Service (UPS)

    Full Statement Here

    “Growing U.S. exports is a guaranteed way to drive our economy back to sustained growth. That is why ACC strongly supports the President’s call for a comprehensive U.S.-EU free trade agreement, which could generate $2 billion in export growth in the chemical industry alone. We encourage Congress to grant the President Trade Promotion Authority so he can swiftly negotiate a new agreement with the EU and other pending agreements such as the Trans Pacific Partnership.”

    - Cal Dooley, President and CEO of the American Chemistry Council (ACC)

    Full Statement Here

    “The members of the TBC are very pleased that President Obama has recognized that the time is now to initiate comprehensive trade negotiations between the EU and the US leading to a transatlantic economic zone as barrier free as possible for the flow of all goods, services, and capital and enhanced by strong protections for intellectual property. We look forward to working closely with officials from both the EU and US to help them achieve these goals.”

    - Tim Bennett, Director-General of TransAtlantic Business Council

    Full Statement Here

    “It is with great satisfaction that I have taken note of President Obama's endorsement in his state-of-the-union address of strengthening economic relations across the Atlantic. The American and European business communities have over the last years stressed the importance not only for the economies of the US and the EU of a transatlantic trade and investment agreement. As EU leaders the week before rightly pointed out when also endorsing a start of negotiations in the near future, an ambitious and comprehensive deal between the two biggest trading partners in the world will also benefit the global economy.”

    - Hans Stråberg, European Co-Chair of the TransAtlantic Business Dialogue

    Full Statement Here

    “The negotiation of a wide-ranging trade agreement between the EU and the US will open the perspective of a further integration of the two economies with more exchanges and more job creation on both sides. It can also show how more trade can be promoted with other parts of the world in order to strengthen the multilateral trading system."

    - Hugo Paemen, European Co-chair of the TransAtlantic Business Council Board of Directors

    Full Statement Here

    “The world’s two largest trading partners are ready to launch negotiations for an unprecedented trade deal that will benefit us all. An EU-US agreement presents an unmatchable opportunity to boost competitiveness, jobs and growth that are needed in our economies. This report is a first big step by the EU and US authorities to bring our economies closer together and I would like to thank Karel De Gucht and Ron Kirk for the great work done so far. Now a new challenge is at hand and we are ready to assist our governments to get this deal done quickly.”

    - Jürgen R. Thumann, President of BUSINESSEUROPE

    Full Statement Here

  • 02/12/2013 10:28 AM

    Note: This is a cross post from the White House website. To see the original post, please click here.

    By Macon Phillips, White House Director of Digital Strategy

    With Tuesday's State of the Union address only 39 hours away (9:00 p.m. ET), we're putting the final touches on a week that's jam-packed with opportunities to respond to the speech, get answers to your questions and join an online video-chat with the President.

    In addition to some things that have been really popular for past "SOTU" Addresses, we've got some exciting new features to introduce. Here's the rundown:

    When the President addresses the nation, the White House will provide something you can't find anywhere else: an enhanced version of the speech that offers charts, facts and other info as the President speaks (check out last year's here). You can watch live on WhiteHouse.gov/SOTU, through the White House mobile apps for iPhone, Android and iPad, and also on the official White House presences on YouTube, Google+, Hulu, Facebook, and Ustream. And if you'd like, you can embed the stream on your own site.

    The President's speech is just the beginning; the White House is thrilled to introduce a new tool called Citizen Response that lets you highlight a passage from the State of the Union Address, tell the President how you're connected to that issue and then share that specific part with your friends.

    Citizen Response isn't the only thing that will launch when the President finishes speaking. As soon as the speech ends, we'll kick off a discussion about what President Obama said and answer your questions. More than 2,000 people from around the country applied for their chance to join this special #WHSocial in person, and 100 White House followers on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ representing more than 20 states and from as far as California and Texas have been invited to watch the speech live from the White House and participate in a panel discussion. The panel will be broadcast immediately after the speech on WhiteHouse.gov/SOTU, and you can ask your questions using #WHChat or posting to our Google+ page.

    There's a lot happening on Tuesday, but it's only the beginning.

    On Thursday, President Obama will join the latest in a series of "Fireside Hangouts" – a 21st century take on FDR’s famous radio addresses – to talk about his State of the Union Address. During a completely virtual conversation hosted by Google, the President will answer questions from Americans across the country about the issues and policies laid out in the speech. Anyone can submit a question for the President and vote on your favorites on the White House YouTube channel. Then, be sure to watch the hangout live on Thursday, February 14th at 4:30 p.m. ET on WhiteHouse.gov, the White House Google+ page, and YouTube.com/whitehouse.

    And throughout the week, Administration officials will take questions on key issue areas addressed in the President's speech during an "Open for Questions" marathon. Check out the full schedule:

    Tuesday, February 12th:

    • 9:00 p.m. ET: President Obama addresses the nation
    • 10:30 p.m. ET: "Open for Questions" panel

    Immediately following the President's speech, join us for a special “Open for Questions” panel with senior staff, live from the White House. If you have a question about the speech, ask it on Twitter with the hashtag #WHChat or on the White House facebook or Google+ pages.

    Wednesday, February 13th:

    • 2:30 p.m. ET: Jobs and the economy with Jason Furman, Deputy Director of the National Economic Council
    • 3:15 p.m. ET: Education with Arne Duncan, Secretary of Education
    • 4:00 p.m. ET: Energy and the environment with Heather Zichal, Deputy Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change

    Thursday, February 14th:

    • 4:30 p.m. ET: "Fireside Hangout" with President Obama

    Friday, February 15th:

    • 3:00 p.m. ET: Reducing gun violence with Bruce Reed, Chief of Staff to Vice President Biden
    • 4:00 p.m. ET: Immigration reform with Cecilia Munoz, Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council
  • 02/08/2013 5:43 PM

    Today, Ambassador Kirk met with 22 members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI) Fellowship program. Ambassador Kirk shared his perspective on the international trade agenda, and offered career development advice to the recent college graduates.

    ARK CHCI Fellows

    The Fellows asked Ambassador Kirk about his experience serving as the first African-American Mayor of Dallas (from 1995-2002), and about the lessons he learned early in his career while working for U.S. Senator Lloyd Bentsen. Ambassador Kirk encouraged the Fellows to consider a career in public service, and to stay globally engaged on whatever professional path they choose to pursue.

    The CHCI, founded in 1978 by Hispanic Members of Congress, is the only national Latino organization that offers a wide range of programs and activities to support the educational and professional aspirations of Hispanic youth from high school through graduate school and into their chosen careers. Today, there are more than 5,400 alumni across the country in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. CHCI Fellows work in congressional offices on Capitol Hill, corporate federal affairs offices, congressional committees and federal agencies, the White House, and national nonprofit advocacy organizations.

  • 02/05/2013 7:01 PM

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

    Yesterday, USTR’s Chief Agricultural Negotiator Islam Siddiqui delivered remarks to members of the Marketing and International Trade Committee during the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) winter policy conference in Reston, Virginia. Ambassador Siddiqui highlighted USTR efforts to open markets, level the playing field, and keep America competitive.

    Before an audience of nearly one hundred, including state directors and other agriculture professionals, Ambassador Siddiqui discussed the recent announcement that the United States and Japan have agreed on new terms and conditions which pave the way for expanded exports of U.S. beef to Japan. The new agreement entered into effect on February 1st. Additionally, he discussed the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the benefits for farmers and ranchers wishing to export to the Asia Pacific region. The upcoming 16th round of TPP negotiations will be held in Singapore on March 4 – 13.

    Ambassador Siddiqui also shared good news from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service (ERS) forecast, which estimates that 2013 agricultural exports are projected at a record $143.5 billion. He also highlighted the Obama Administration’s efforts to ensure further growth of U.S. agricultural exports, by making sure our trading partners are playing by the rules. The Interagency Trade Enforcement Center (ITEC) has meaningfully increased the Administration’s capacity to investigate and pursue potential trade enforcement cases.

    In addition, Ambassador Siddiqui commended the European Commission’s recent issuing of final regulations to allow imports of U.S. live swine, as well as imports of U.S. beef that have been washed with lactic acid, a pathogen reduction treatment. Effective February 25, these measures will significantly help increase exports of U.S. beef and live swine to European customers.

    “Our focus remains on enforcing existing trade agreements, negotiating new agreements, and leveling the playing field for our farmers, ranchers, and businesses, thus ensuring greater prosperity for agriculture and for the entire American economy,” stated Ambassador Siddiqui.

    To learn more about NASDA, visit its homepage at http://www.nasda.org/.

  • 01/31/2013 6:50 PM

    This week, Ambassador Demetrios Marantis and senior USTR officials are in Santiago, Chile, and Lima, Peru for meetings with senior government officials and U.S. private sector representatives in both countries to discuss ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations and other trade issues. This Weekly Trade Spotlight focuses on U.S. trade with Chile and Peru and the TPP.

    From auto manufacturers to services providers, U.S. businesses and workers benefit from our trade and investment relationships with South American partners Chile and Peru. The United States has comprehensive bilateral trade agreements with both countries, and along with the United States and eight other members, Chile and Peru are participating in negotiations toward the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a 21st century trade agreement that will increase trade among fast-growing economies throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

    The U.S.-Peru trade agreement facilitates two-way trade in goods and services, and provides a secure and predictable legal framework for investors as well as strong intellectual property protections in both countries. The U.S.-Peru trade agreement was also the first agreement to include historic commitments to protect labor rights and the environment. U.S. exports to Peru are up 35 percent since the agreement entered into force in 2009. In 2011, U.S. goods exports to Peru totaled $8.3 billion, which contributed to a U.S. goods trade surplus with Peru of $1.7 billion. Top U.S. export categories included: Machinery ($2.0 billion), Mineral Fuel (oil) ($1.6 billion), Electrical Machinery ($739 million), Plastic ($556 million), and Vehicles ($430 million).

    The U.S.-Chile trade agreement has dramatically expanded two-way trade between our countries; since it took effect on January 1, 2004, U.S. exports to Chile are up 489 percent. In addition to eliminating tariffs on goods and reducing barriers to trade in services, the agreement provides for more IP protection, regulatory transparency, and nondiscrimination in digital products trade. It also commits the United States and Chile to maintain laws that prohibit anticompetitive business conduct, and requires effective enforcement of labor and environmental provisions. In 2011, U.S. exports to Chile totaled $16 billion, which contributed to a $7 billion bilateral goods trade surplus for the United States. Top U.S. export categories included: Mineral Fuel (oil) ($5.0 billion), Machinery ($3.0 billion), Vehicles ($1.6 billion), Electrical Machinery ($1.1 billion).

    As countries that are participating in the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, Chile, Peru, and the United States all share the TPP vision to achieve a high-standard, 21st century regional trade agreement. Collectively, TPP countries would comprise the largest goods and services export market of the United States. And there is room to grow: the TPP is the most promising platform for constructing a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific, including countries across the Asia-Pacific region. U.S. goods exports to the Asia-Pacific region totaled $895 billion in 2011, representing 60 percent of total U.S. goods exports to the world. Our strong bilateral trade relationships with Peru and Chile and the conclusion of a next-generation TPP agreement will continue to support growing regional trade and additional jobs here at home.

  • 01/29/2013 3:27 PM

    By Roya Stephens, USTR Office of Public and Media Affairs

    Members of Congress and beef industry representatives are heralding a new agreement to expand access for U.S. beef and beef products in Japan. Under the new agreement, Japan will allow the import of American cattle less than 30 months of age, up from a previous 20 month limit, among other changes. The new agreement is estimated to result in hundreds of millions of dollars in additional U.S. beef exports to Japan in the coming years, and will boost the American agricultural industry. Ambassador Kirk described the agreement as a significant and historic step in expanding U.S. beef trade with Japan, and a way to grow American exports and jobs at home. Here’s a sampling of what others are saying so far:

    “This is a win for ranchers in Montana and across the country and will mean more exports and more jobs here in the U.S... Japan is a huge market for our beef exports, and I’m thrilled it’s finally taken a big step toward accepting sound science and welcoming more of our exports. The simple fact is American beef is among the safest in the world, and the next step is for Japan to drop age-based limits altogether.”

    - Sen. Max Baucus, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance

    Full Statement Here

    “I applaud the administration for working closely with our trade partners in Japan to address barriers on U.S. beef exports and pave the way for creating new agricultural jobs here at home… We produce the world’s safest and highest quality beef and countries like Japan represent significant export opportunities, bolstering the brand of American agriculture around the world. Today’s announcement represents a major and promising step forward.”

    - Sen. Debbie Stabenow, Chairwoman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry

    Full Statement Here

    “I am pleased our Kansas ranchers have additional access to this critical market. After two years of drought, this is certainly welcome news, especially in the long term, for U.S. beef producers. While this is a big step forward, I encourage Japan to reopen its markets to all U.S. beef products regardless of age or boneless status in order to be consistent with internationally recognized standards.”

    - Sen. Pat Roberts, Member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry

    Full Statement Here

    “This is great news for cattlemen and women and is a significant milestone in our trading relationship with Japan… Japan is a great market for U.S. beef and we look forward to continuing to meet Japanese consumer demands. This move is an important step forward in paving the way toward greater export opportunities to one of our largest export markets.”

    - J.D. Alexander, President of National Cattleman’s Beef Association

    Full Statement Here

    “This is an extremely positive development that successfully addresses one of the longest standing issues between our two governments... The U.S. beef industry – from farmers and ranchers to exporters – will benefit from increased exports to this premium market. At the same time, the trade and consumers in Japan will see a wider variety of beef products and improved availability of U.S. beef in the retail and food service channels.”

    - Philip Seng, President and CEO of U.S. Meat Export Federation

    Full Statement Here

    “Historically, Japan was the number 1 market for U.S. beef exports at approximately $1.4 billion… Ranchers across the country are relieved to see these restrictions finally lifted, so they can again begin providing Japanese consumers with more of the safe and wholesome beef they want.”

    - Joe Parker, Jr., President of Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association

    Full Statement Here

    “This announcement is well-deserved and long overdue…Accolades go to USDA and USTR for paving the way for expanded exports of U.S. beef and beef products to Japan after these many years.”

    - Barry Carpenter, CEO of the North American Meat Association

    Full Statement Here

  • 01/24/2013 5:14 PM

    Members of Congress and stakeholders are voicing their support for President Obama’s decision to enter negotiations for an international services trade agreement (ISA). In a letter to Congressional leaders last week, Ambassador Kirk described the Administration’s intent to enter negotiations aimed at promoting international trade in services and supporting increased U.S. service exports and jobs. Below is a sampling of what others are saying so far – check back for periodic updates.

    “The U.S. leads the world in exporting services – and to stay competitive, we need to keep it that way. As the global economy evolves, services exports like tourism and transportation must be an important part of our trade agenda to create jobs and strengthen our economy here at home.”

    - Sen. Max Baucus, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance

    Full Statement Here

    “American service companies are the most competitive in the world, and they face a range of barriers in foreign countries that must be addressed. I am encouraged that countries committed to services trade liberalization have come together to negotiate a new services agreement. I look forward to working with the Administration to ensure that this agreement ends critical services market access barriers so we can continue to expand opportunities for U.S. exports and, most importantly, create new, good-paying jobs here at home.”

    - Sen. Orrin Hatch, Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Finance

    Full Statement Here

    “The ISA is a critical trade priority for me because it holds great promise for job creation in all sectors of the U.S. economy, including manufacturing and agriculture, as well as services, and can help rebuild momentum for a global agenda of trade liberalization. I am impressed with the group of 21 WTO members thus far that plan to join the negotiations, representing dynamic developing and developed markets for U.S. exports. We must now get about the work of reducing the substantial barriers that U.S. services exporters face around the globe.”

    - Rep. Dave Camp, Chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means

    Full Statement Here

    “I am encouraged that the United States will be negotiating an International Services Agreement with other interested WTO Members,” said Ways and Means Ranking Member Sander Levin. “The U.S. services market is already one of the most open markets in the world, and our service suppliers are among the most competitive in the world. The purpose of the negotiation must be to make progress that eluded the Doha Round discussions in ensuring reciprocal market access abroad for U.S. service suppliers. It can help to establish new rules to address critical emerging issues, such as the trade-distorting actions of state-owned enterprises. This Administration has played a leadership role in steering the WTO away from a dead-end and the ISA is one example of that leadership.”

    - Rep. Sander Levin, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Ways and Means

    Full Statement Here

    “I strongly support an ambitious ISA. The ISA is an unparalleled opportunity to reduce global barriers to U.S. services exports, and I want to see strong commitments across the full spectrum of services. Around 80 percent of U.S. jobs are in our services sector, and these jobs pay well, so every time we increase the global market for this large sector’s exports, we create many new, well-paying U.S. jobs. In addition, an efficient global market for services is critical to allowing U.S. agricultural and manufacturing exporters to design, develop, market, finance, insure, transport, install, repair, and provide administrative and computing support for U.S. exports.”

    - Rep. Devin Nunes, Chairman of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade

    Full Statement Here

    “Services are vital to the future of the U.S. economy and prosperity of American workers. We are pleased that the United States is ready to fight for new trade rules to enable the services sector to achieve its potential as the engine of our economy.”

    - Peter Allgeier, Coalition of Service Industries President

    Full Statement Here

    “We applaud today’s announcement by USTR and support efforts to negotiate an ambitious agreement that opens up growing international markets for the range of services provided by U.S. companies. Given the importance of services to the U.S. economy as well as to U.S. manufacturing, the successful implementation of an International Services Agreement would help to maximize U.S. economic growth and job creation.”

    - Doug Oberhelman, Chairman & CEO, Caterpillar Inc., and Chair of the Business Roundtable’s International Engagement Committee

    Full Statement Here

    “The International Services Agreement will be an economic boost for the U.S. and the world economy. It will create new markets for U.S. exporters and generate a host of business and job opportunities from coast to coast. U.S. services companies have seen trade and regulatory barriers multiply in ways that could not be foreseen two decades ago when the General Agreement on Trade in Services was negotiated. This is a chance to tackle emerging trade barriers in areas such as the digital economy while strengthening the global rules-based trading system.”

    - Myron Brilliant, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Senior Vice President for International Affairs

    Full Statement Here

    “We welcome today’s announcement and applaud the Administration’s pursuit of an agreement that will help to maximize the competitiveness of U.S. services companies and support U.S. job creation. With the services sector accounting for four out of five American jobs and nearly 70 percent of U.S. GDP, expanding services trade through an ISA is central to U.S. economic growth. We commend the Administration for making this important agreement a priority early in the New Year.”

    - Bill Reinsch, President of the National Foreign Trade Council

    Full Statement Here

    "The American services sector generates more than 75 percent of national economic output and provides 80 percent of the jobs in the country, making it imperative that the U.S. government support commercially meaningful trade agreements that allow U.S. companies to compete on a level playing field in the world marketplace. At this critical point in the global economic recovery, it is essential that the U.S. continue to be a leader in trade negotiations."

    - Dan Brutto, UPS International President

    Full Statement Here

    “International services markets remain heavily restricted and U.S. service suppliers face a wide range of barriers to doing business in overseas markets. A new agreement to liberalize services trade would be a much-needed boost to our economic recovery, particularly at a time when growth opportunities are scarce."

    - Michael Ducker, Chief Operating Officer and President of FedEx Express International

    Full Statement Here

    "IBM enthusiastically welcomes the U.S. decision to join global services trade talks in Geneva. Global markets present tremendous growth opportunities for IBM, and services are the largest component of IBM’s business. The United States stands to gain significantly from a new trade agreement that eliminates services trade barriers around the world. IBM looks forward to working with Congress and the Administration on this opportunity to continue driving innovation and economic competitiveness."

    - Christopher Padilla, Vice President, Governmental Programs, IBM

    Full Statement Here

  • 01/16/2013 5:28 PM

    By Roya Stephens, Office of Public and Media Affairs

    New Negotiations in Geneva Seek to Boost Services Exports, Support Jobs Here at Home

    During the next 90 days, USTR will consult widely with Congress and stakeholders to gather input that will inform U.S. negotiating efforts with 20 trading partners in Geneva toward a new agreement on international trade in services. That was the news Ambassador Kirk shared in a letter to Congressional leaders yesterday. This decision by the President to enter negotiations is part of the Obama Administration’s ongoing effort to support more jobs here at home by expanding American trade around the world – and in the case of international services trade, this effort plays to a major U.S. strength.

    U.S. companies are already global leaders in industries such as telecommunications, financial services, environmental services, retail, and express delivery – and three out of four American jobs are already in the services sector. Expanding America’s services industry through trade is a smart effort, because every additional $1 billion in U.S. services exports supports an estimated 4,200 more U.S. jobs.

    We’ve got a great base to build from. The United States is a global leader in exporting high-quality services to markets around the world. In 2011, one third of all U.S. exports, or $606 billion, came from services trade, reflecting a 110 percent increase in service exports since 2000.

    So why do we need a new agreement?

    One reason is that the United States has yet to tap the full trade potential that the dynamic and innovative U.S. service sector can achieve. The United States increasingly relies on its trading relationships with both developed and developing countries to support its growing trade in services. The negotiation in Geneva will involve a diverse group of like-minded partners, from Costa Rica to Turkey, all interested in growing services trade with the United States and with each other. Further opening services trade with this group, and with others who may join, can support broader U.S. services exports and even more American jobs.

    You can find out more about the potential benefits of this new effort by reading Ambassador Kirk’s letter to Congress, and more about U.S. services trade in general here on ustr.gov.

  • 01/10/2013 5:46 PM

    By Rebecca Rosen, Acting Director for Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement

    Representatives from academia, labor unions, business, and public interest groups joined USTR’s Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Southeast Asia and the Pacific Barbara Weisel today for a briefing on the outcomes of the 15th round of Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations in Auckland, New Zealand.

    Weisel touched on a number of the negotiation’s developments, but she noted the special significance of the inclusion of Canada and Mexico in the TPP negotiations for the United States. Canada and Mexico represent the two largest export markets for U.S. products in the world, and incorporating these two countries into the TPP will enable U.S. businesses of all sizes to expand into their markets and support more jobs in the U.S.

    TPP Briefing Photo
    Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Southeast Asia and the Pacific Barbara Weisel
    briefs TPP stakeholders in Washington, D.C.

    In addition to the inclusion of Mexico and Canada, Weisel also discussed U.S. TPP negotiating priorities, including transparency, labor rights, and environmental protection. The United States looks to negotiate a comprehensive agreement that boosts trade, while at the same time maintaining our high standards in those issue areas, Weisel said.

    The 16th round of TPP negotiations will be held in Singapore, from March 4-13th. USTR briefings with stakeholders occur regularly, including at every negotiating round and at USTR’s offices in Washington, D.C. following each round. If you are interested in participating please contact IAPE@ustr.eop.gov.

  • 01/09/2013 3:22 PM

    Various news outlets have reported that Gougou.com, one of China's most notorious pirate search engine sites, has shut down. The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) recently listed Gougou.com in December’s Special 301 Out-of-Cycle Review of Notorious Markets, stating that Gougou.com “continues to actively provide users with deeplinks to infringing music files and torrent links from unauthorized sources.

    According to the report, Gougou.com and sites like it were selected for inclusion on the list “because their scale and popularity can cause economic harm to U.S. and other IPR rights holders.” The U.S. Government recently estimated that industries that depend on intellectual property rights (IPR) protection support as many as 40 million American jobs, and up to 60 percent of U.S. exports.

    As Ambassador Kirk noted when the report was first published, piracy and counterfeiting hurt the U.S. economy, harm our creative and innovative industries, and pose a threat to middle-class American jobs. As such, USTR hopes that the Notorious Markets Review will continue to yield the kind of concrete action from highlighted markets that led to the removal of several markets from the list in 2012.

    To read the full report, visit this link.

    For more information on intellectual property rights protection, or to report IPR infringement, visit http://www.stopfakes.gov.

  • 01/09/2013 11:57 AM

    Note: This is a cross post from the State Department website. For the original post, please go here.

    U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs Dr. Kerri-Ann Jones will lead the United States delegation and co-chair the sixth meeting of the U.S.-Chile Free Trade Agreement (FTA) Environmental Affairs Council and fourth meeting of the U.S.-Chile Environmental Cooperation Agreement Joint Commission for Environmental Cooperation in Santiago, Chile on January 9.  Assistant Trade Representative for Environment and Natural Resources Jennifer Prescott will co-lead the U.S. delegation at the Council meeting.

    Ana Novik, Director of Multilateral Economic Affairs in the Ministry of Foreign Relations’ Directorate for International Economic Relations will co-chair the Council for Chile.  The Commission will also be co-chaired by Ambassador José Luis Balmaceda, Director of Environment and Natural Resources in Chile’s Ministry of Foreign Relations.

    These meetings reaffirm the strong commitment of the United States and Chile to work together to preserve and protect the environment by implementing the FTA’s Environment Chapter and the U.S. Chile Environmental Cooperation Agreement.  As part of these meetings, Commission and Council members will also host a public session with representatives from civil society to discuss Environment Chapter obligations and the results of environmental cooperation activities in Chile.

    Since the United States and Chile signed the Environmental Cooperation Agreement in 2003, the United States has dedicated more than $4 million to support trade-related projects in Chile under this agreement.  Joint efforts have brought more than six million hectares of land under improved natural resource management; reached approximately 30,000 people though informational guides to promote public participation; and, trained over 300 officials in natural resource management, biodiversity conservation, and environmental enforcement.

    The success of this bilateral cooperation demonstrates how increased trade and stronger environmental protection can complement each other and how the two nations are leveling the playing field by helping ensure that businesses in Chile are playing by similar environmental rules as businesses in the United States.

    For more information, visit http://www.state.gov/e/oes/env/trade/chile/index.htm.