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February

  • 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/.