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  • 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

  • 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

  • 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 in docket #USTR-2013-0020 (Burma) and USTR-2013-0021 (Laos).