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  • 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.