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September

  • 09/30/2013 6:05 PM

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

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

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

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

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

  • 09/27/2013 3:05 PM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • 09/26/2013 5:57 PM

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

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

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

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

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

  • 09/23/2013 2:32 PM

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

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

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

  • 09/20/2013 3:11 PM

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

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

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

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

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

  • 09/20/2013 10:59 AM

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

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

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

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

  • 09/12/2013 6:35 PM

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

    Dallas-Fort Worth Asian American Citizens Council

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

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

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

  • 09/06/2013 12:30 PM

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

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

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

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

  • 09/05/2013 10:10 AM

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

    US-Uzbekistan bilateral meeting

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