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.
AUSTR for Environment and Natural Resources Jennifer Prescott Participates in Inaugural Environment Meetings with Colombian Government12/20/2013 9:03 PM
Jennifer 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.
USTR Hosts Stakeholder Engagement Events for the Third Round of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) Negotiations12/19/2013 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
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.
12/07/2013 1:00 AM
On December 7, the 9th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO) achieved its first fully multilateral agreement in its almost twenty year history, creating a new opportunity for economic prosperity for each of the 159 WTO members. The topics of the five-day ministerial conference included development of smaller countries, trade streamlining, and food security improvement, marking a new era for the WTO, the Doha Round, and international trade. Elected officials, Members of Congress, and private and public sector stakeholders have also expressed their support for this landmark achievement. Below is a sampling of what others are saying so far – check back for periodic updates.
“This new deal, and particularly the new trade facilitation agreement, will eliminate red tape and bureaucratic delay for goods shipped around the globe. Small businesses will be among the biggest winners, since they encounter the greatest difficulties in navigating the current system. By some estimates, the global economic value of the new WTO deal could be worth hundreds of billions of dollars.”
- President Barack Obama
“The breakthrough agreement reached in Bali by the World Trade Organization (WTO) reaffirms the commitment of the international community to an open trade system which boosts global growth and jobs, and cuts poverty.”
- Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF)
"The WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement is great news for the entire global trading community, and will help to restore the role of the WTO as a place to conclude trade deals whose benefits are spread broadly around the world. I applaud the work of United States Trade Representative Michael Froman and look forward to further achievements at the WTO, including expansion of the Information Technology Agreement."
- Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.)
“The successful WTO negotiations in Bali mark an important first step towards reducing global trade barriers in the 21st century. American entrepreneurs and workers can compete with anyone on a level economic playing field. Expanding free and fair trade is a national imperative that will create job opportunities for our own people and help others around the world rely less on foreign assistance and benefit more from the free enterprise system.”
- U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL)
“Success in Bali gives the WTO a chance to consider its future course. One immediate priority will be to conclude negotiations to expand the product coverage of the Information Technology Agreement, which has delivered a cornucopia of technology products to the world. Extending free trade to the hundreds of new tech products invented since that agreement was reached in 1996 will multiply its benefits.”
- U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas J. Donohue
“ The WTO Bali package is an important achievement and its trade facilitation agreement will enhance the flow of U.S. goods and services and enable American companies to be more competitive in today’s global marketplace.”
- Doug Oberhelman, Chairman and CEO of Caterpillar Inc., and Chair of Business Roundtable’s International Engagement Committee
“Manufacturers are pleased to see the WTO conclude a strong and binding Trade Facilitation Agreement that will cut red tape at borders throughout the world and boost economic activity. Predictable, efficient and transparent customs procedures will help manufacturers in the United States more effectively and efficiently access the 95 percent of global customers that live outside our borders.”
- National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) Vice President of International Economic Affairs Linda Dempsey
“The merits of this agreement are manifold. It is the first multilateral trade agreement concluded since the founding of the World Trade Organization almost 20 years ago. It replaces the disappointments of the past decade with a constructive precedent for the WTO and its membership to build upon, going forward.”
- President of the Emergency Committee for American Trade (ECAT) Calman J. Cohen
“WTO members have delivered a dose of holiday cheer to a struggling global economy. We congratulate ministers on making the tough choices necessary to push this package of agreements past the finish line. They have demonstrated once again the critical importance of multilateral trade liberalization.”
- USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson
"This break-through agreement among 159 nations is a giant step forward for businesses large and small in expediting the movement of goods globally and reducing unnecessary paperwork. While there remain areas where additional progress is necessary, the trade facilitation agreement provides a new base from which we can continue to elevate customs standards. This could further support the pending Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations."
- UPS chairman and CEO Scott Davis
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.
Ambassador Punke delivers a statement with Friends of Fish members
During the joint statement, Ambassador Punke emphasized the United States' commitment to work with WTO members to discipline harmful fisheries subsidies that not only distort global markets and place additional stress on the many of the world's rapidly depleting fisheries resources, but also jeopardize our oceans for future generations. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), thirty percent of the world’s fish stocks are reported to be overfished, and in some cases at risk of collapse. Ambassador Punke also highlighted the ongoing Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations as an important opportunity for the United States and other ‘friends of fish’ to set an example on this important issue.
The Doha Ministerial Conference first launched negotiations to improve disciplines on fisheries subsidies, and the Friends of Fish group was established to target and prohibit harmful subsidies that contribute to overfishing and overcapacity of fish environments. To learn more about Friends of Fish and WTO fisheries subsidies work, please click here. To read the full statement by Friends of Fish at the Ninth WTO Ministerial Conference, please click here.
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.
Ambassador Michael Froman lights the National Menorah
“It’s a pleasure and an honor to be here tonight to light the national menorah.
“At Hanukah, we remember the story of a small and brave band of Maccabees, rising up to liberate their people, to rebuild their temple, to light the eternal flame.
“The story of Hanukah is a timeless one. It’s a story of right over might, of people fighting for freedom, of the struggle that continues today as people strive to celebrate their faith.
“It’s a story of miracles, the miracle of the oil that lasted eight days and the miracles we experience every day: the miracle of a baby’s smile, of a child’s discovery; the miracle of falling in love, of doing anything in your power for your family, of devoting yourself to the service of your community, your country.
“Tomorrow night, Jews all over the world will light candles to celebrate the first night of Hanukah, the festival of lights. But here in the United States, this is a special year. For the first time in 100 years, the first day of Hanukah falls on Thanksgiving.
“That gives us even more reasons to count our blessings, to remember the contributions of those who came before us and to make new memories tis holiday season.
“On behalf of President Obama, the First Lady and all who serve in this Administration, best wishes to you and your family for a Happy Hanukah, a Happy Thanksgiving and a healthy and happy holiday season.”
Deputy Assistant USTR Mara Burr talks Women Economic Empowerment at the Afghan American Chamber of Commerce12/03/2013 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.
Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative Mara Burr speaks at the Afghan American Chamber of Commerce
The objective of the MOU is to provide the U.S. and Afghan governments with a framework for cooperative work under the auspices of the TIFA Council and provide a platform for addressing barriers to women’s entrepreneurship while creating initiatives to help women start, run, and grow their own businesses. The MOU promotes the economic empowerment of women, and helps ensure that women are afforded economic and business opportunities comparable to their male counterparts.
“A key aspect of development for Afghanistan is ensuring that it is taking advantage of all of its resources, both women and men, to contribute to its economic growth” said Burr. The focus of the panel discussion was how governments and the private sector can work together to identify and eliminate impediments to women entrepreneurs and women business owners.
Under the MOU, the U.S. and Afghanistan acknowledge the importance of promoting business opportunities for women as a means to improve their bilateral trade relationship, and strengthen the overall global economy. To learn more about the U.S.-Afghanistan Memorandum of Understanding, please click here.