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09/25/2014 - 12:30pm

By Christina Sevilla, Deputy Assistant USTR for Small Business

A key goal of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) is to identify new ways to help small businesses compete globally. We’re working to increase small business participation in transatlantic supply chains, and businesses across the U.S. and the EU are eager for the opportunities that T-TIP will deliver when complete. This week I travelled to Poland and met with several local companies doing business in and supporting jobs across the U.S., and who are interested in expanding trade through T-TIP.

During my visit, I toured the ROSA Lighting factory, a small Polish business that stands to benefit from T-TIP. ROSA manufactures custom outdoor street lamps with 250 workers, uses American-made diodes and other parts in their products, and exports to 50 countries in Europe and the Middle East. It’s a perfect example of how small businesses in communities around the world are tied to the global marketplace and supply chains to produce and sell their goods.

ROSA-Poland
At the ROSA Lighting factory. From L to R: Stanislaw Rosa, CEO, ROSA Lighting; Christina Sevilla, USTR; Klaudia Czech, Commercial Director, ROSA; Lori Cooper, U.S. Department of Commerce; Artur Rosa Technical Director, ROSA; Angela Palazzolo, U.S. Embassy Warsaw

ROSA recently completed a project in San Diego, California and is interested in expanding relationships with American suppliers of electrical equipment, which will support more jobs in the U.S. CEO Stanislaw Rosa hopes that T-TIP will strengthen US-EU cooperation and unlock more opportunities by increasing interest in U.S. and Poland small business partnerships. These sentiments were echoed throughout the meeting of the Fourth European Congress of Small and Medium Enterprises, where I spoke with several European small businesses looking to expand their businesses through T-TIP.

RYTM-L
At RYTM-L. From L to R: Christina Sevilla, USTR; Jerzy Wodecki, CEO, RYTM-L; Marcin Bujakowski, Logistics Manager, RYTM-L

Not too far from ROSA is RYTM-L, a manufacturer of flame retardants and other aerosols for the auto and construction industries with 50 workers.  During my visit, CEO Jerzy Wodecki told me that he hopes T-TIP will make it easier for U.S. and EU businesses to comply with each other’s regulations for chemicals and to get their products approved and certified by each other’s governments, which is often a costly process for small businesses.  Jerzy pointed out that his company uses chemical compounds and valves from U.S. suppliers as inputs into his company's finished products, which are then exported throughout the EU. It is a win-win-- the kind that we’re working toward throughout T-TIP. 

The U.S. and Poland have a two-way trade relationship of $8.7 billion, supporting jobs at small and medium enterprises in Poland and across America through vital supply-chain relationships. Less red tape, decreased tariffs, increased efficiency, and strengthened small business cooperation are just a few of the ways T-TIP can help even more small businesses grow.

To learn more about how T-TIP will benefit your small business, please click here.

09/18/2014 - 6:45pm

gUATEMALA

“As President Obama has made clear, our trade agreements must advance both our interests and our values, they must be monitored closely, and the obligations of our trading partners must be enforced.  Central to that commitment are strong, enforceable labor standards. These standards level the playing field for American workers and help ensure that global competition is driven by entrepreneurship and innovation, not by exploitation or injustice....We remain hopeful that Guatemala can achieve a resolution that results in concrete improvements for workers on the ground and sends a positive signal to the world that would help attract investment, expand economic activity, and promote inclusive growth.”
-U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman

United States Trade Representative Michael Froman today announced that the United States is proceeding with a labor enforcement case against Guatemala under the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) – first-ever labor dispute under any free trade agreement. This is the latest in a series of significant actions taken by the Obama Administration to stand up for labor rights and level the playing field for American workers.

Below are reactions to today’s announcement:

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka: “We welcome today’s historic decision by the U.S. government to resume the arbitration process with Guatemala, to ensure that the government of Guatemala will live up to the commitments made under CAFTA to enforce workers’ basic rights and Guatemalan labor laws….We applaud the actions of our government today.” [AFL-CIO, 9/18/2014]

  • AFL-CIO Trade & Globalization Policy Specialist Celeste Drake: “Today, for the first time ever, the U.S. government announced that it will begin the formal consultations that are used to resolve trade disputes in the area of labor rights enforcement….The AFL-CIO welcomes today’s announcement by the U.S. government to resume the arbitration process with Guatemala, to ensure that the government of Guatemala will live up to the very basic commitments it made to effectively enforce its own labor laws.” [AFL-CIO, 9/18/2014]

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR): “This moment is long in coming. Guatemala has failed to enforce its labor laws again and again, and its workers continue to suffer as a result. Our trading partners cannot turn a blind eye to their trade obligations, including those that are in place to protect workers…Labor rights are a pillar of our nation’s trade policy, which makes today’s action so important. Both USTR and the Department of Labor have put hundreds of hours into developing the facts of this case, and on top of that, put hundreds more into trying to resolve this matter with Guatemala. One thing is clear: to have a strong enforcement record, you cannot enforce some of the rules some of the time. All of the rules must be enforced all of the time. That includes labor and environmental commitments.” [Senate Finance Committee, 9/18/2014]

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD): “International trade is good for America, but it must be based on international standards that protect workers, both at home and with our trading partners. I applaud the administration for holding Guatemala accountable to its current commitments under CAFTA. Guatemala’s workers are suffering because their country is not upholding its own laws. Trade must not reduce us all to the lowest common-denominator…” [Senate Finance Committee, 9/18/2014]

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH): “It’s critical that the U.S. holds Guatemala accountable on its trade commitments and this action is an important first step…For too long, Guatemala has failed to uphold and enforce its labor laws – endangering workers and misleading businesses and trade partners. I’m glad to see USTR restart litigation and look forward to a result that provides justice for Guatemalan workers and lives up to the agreements required by CAFTA.”[Senate Finance Committee, 9/18/2014]

House Committee on Ways & Means Ranking Member Rep. Sandy Levin (D-MI): “It is high time that Guatemala be held to the labor obligations to which it committed a decade ago…Guatemala’s failure to enforce its labor laws weakens its economy and damages the opportunity for its citizens to earn a decent livelihood at a time when large numbers of unaccompanied minors and others are fleeing to escape violence and poverty in their home countries. I appreciate the hard work that USTR, the Department of Labor, the AFL-CIO and others have devoted to this important cause.” [Office of U.S. Rep. Sander Levin, 9/18/2014]

Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY): “I applaud the efforts of the USTR and the Labor Department to hold Guatemala accountable for failing to carrying out its commitments under the Action Plan and for its failure to enforce labor laws that will protect its workers’ rights…We have an obligation to ensure that our trading partners are upholding the terms negotiated in our Trade Agreements. I am proud to join my colleagues and labor unions to send a strong message that the United States will not overlook any failures to maintain and enforce laws that meet international labor standards.” [Office of U.S. Rep. Sander Levin, 9/18/2014]

Rep. Xavier Becerra (C-DA): “Only meaningful improvements in economic and security conditions and strengthening institutions of democratic governance in Guatemala can provide a lasting and sustainable solution to its many challenges, and today's actions by USTR and the Department of Labor are an important step in the right direction…Trade should be about removing barriers, improving standards for working men and women, and lifting all boats so we can trade as partners and as equals.” [Office of U.S. Rep. Sander Levin, 9/18/2014]

New Democrat Coalition – Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI), Rep. Rick Larsen (D-WA), Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA), and Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY): “Today’s announcement by U.S. Trade Representative Froman and Labor Secretary Perez sends a clear, unequivocal message to our trading partners: we will not take enforcing our standards lightly…International competition should be a race for innovation advantage, not a race to the bottom on labor standards. We commend USTR and the Labor Department for continuing to stand by the rights of workers in Guatemala by initiating this action. Smart, vigorous enforcement, coupled with a robust system of international trade agreements aimed at selling our products around the globe can be a win-win for everybody, but only if our trading partners play by the rules.” [New Democrat Coalition, 9/18/2014]

Politico: “The United States said Thursday it is restarting trade litigation against Guatemala for failing to meet labor provisions of the U.S.-Central American Free Trade Agreement, potentially paving the way for fines or even trade sanctions to be imposed for the first time in a labor dispute….The USTR said in a fact sheet on its overall labor record that the United States is “negotiating the strongest labor protections in history” in both the proposed TPP and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the European Union. In addition to Guatemala, the Obama administration has used trade negotiations and preference programs to push for stronger worker protections in Colombia, Jordan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Swaziland, Haiti and Burma, USTR said.” [Politico Pro, 9/18/2014 (pay-walled)]

Reuters: “The United States ramped up pressure on Guatemala to better protect workers' rights on Thursday by restarting a trade case that could lead to hefty fines for the Central American nation. U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said the Obama administration would push ahead with legal action under a free trade agreement to make Guatemala meet international standards on labor rights and working conditions….Guatemala, whose economy is around the size of that of the U.S. state of Alaska, could face fines of up to $15 million a year or the suspension of trade benefits if an arbitration panel finds it has violated labor provisions in the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR).” [Reuters, 9/18/2014]

Huffington Post: “The United States accused Guatemala this week of failing to live up to the labor standards spelled out in the countries' trade agreement, pursuing a case that could lead to fines if Guatemala doesn't move to better protect its workers. U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said he was moving ahead with the case in hopes that Guatemala, a partner of the U.S. in the Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), would make ‘concrete improvements’ in enforcing labor laws already on its books.” [Huffington Post, 9/18/2014]

The Hill: “US ramps up pressure on Guatemala over labor rights…U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman announced Thursday that the United States will push ahead with a labor rights case against Guatemala. Froman said that while Guatemala has made progress on implementing a labor enforcement plan forged in April 2013, there is still more work to be done on workers' rights provisions required under the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement.” [The Hill, 9/18/2014]

09/05/2014 - 5:00pm

This week, Ambassador Michael Froman joined Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker to announce two unprecedented reports illustrating the millions of American jobs supported by Made-in-America goods exports. The Department of Commerce reports showed not only the number of jobs supported by goods exports from each of the 50 states, but also exports from the United States’ 387 Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs). The reports found that in 2013, overall goods and services exports supported over 11.3 million U.S. jobs, and that U.S. metropolitan areas exported more than $1.4 trillion in goods.

To view the complete Jobs Supported by Goods Exports from States 2013, please click here. To view the report on U.S. Metropolitan Area Exports 2013, please click here.

President Obama’s number one priority is expanding opportunity for all Americans, and trade has been a key tool in fueling U.S. economic growth, and strengthening the middle class.

U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman has been traveling to states across the U.S. to see that growth locally and talk with small businesses and their workers to learn how they share their Made-in-America goods with the world.

AMF-EPICIn Denver, Ambassador Froman toured the Epic Brewing Company which supports high-quality jobs in Colorado and Utah by exporting a variety of micro-brewed beer to countries across the world.

AMF-IOWAThroughout Iowa, Ambassador Froman met with farmers, families attending the state fair, business leaders, and elected officials who represent the many ways that selling Made-in-America exports benefit the local economy.

For example, in Maxwell, Iowa Ambassador Froman visited the Kimberley Family Farm which exports corn and soybeans to countries across Asia. He also met with Des Moines’ Kemin Industries, Inc., which manufactures and exports over 500 specialty ingredients for the food, feed, pharmaceutical and beauty industries.

AMF-MNIn Minnesota, Ambassador Froman visited Minneapolis-based Jewelry by Johan, a small jewelry business that exports worldwide using the Etsy web platform. Since the company began selling goods online in 2011, the company has grown to 30 employees with annual sales of $2 million, one-third of which results from exports to nearly 30 countries.

AMF-CascadeIn Washington, Ambassador Froman toured Seattle’s Cascade Designs, Inc. which helps support local jobs by exporting outdoor recreation goods like sleeping bags, snowshoes, and wheelchairs to over 40 countries around the globe.

These companies represent a few examples of the many ways trade and Made-in-USA exports support American jobs, grow the economy, and strengthen the American middle class.

The United States is currently negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) which will help connect U.S. goods and services exports with countries across the Asia-Pacific region and throughout Europe, helping to support additional jobs here at home.

08/06/2014 - 1:00pm

By Christina Sevilla, Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Small Business

In the United States and in the European Union, small and medium businesses are the backbone of the economy and critical motors of growth and job creation. 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. Helping more small and medium enterprises do business and find partners across the Atlantic, and unlocking opportunities for more jobs and growth on both sides, is a key objective of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP).

As President Obama has said, “the trade and investment partnership that we are pursuing between the European Union and the United States is a major opportunity to build on millions of jobs on both sides of the Atlantic already supported by U.S.-E.U. trade. Such an agreement would result in more trade, more jobs and more export opportunities, including for small businesses.”   For U.S. small and medium companies, the EU represents a considerable market, with over 92,000 U.S. small businesses across the fifty states exporting there in 2012.

In July, following on the 6th round of T-TIP negotiations in Brussels, I met with small and medium companies in Germany, Austria and Luxembourg already doing business with the United States and expecting that the T-TIP will further reduce costly tariff and non-tariff barriers, creating new opportunities for growth.  Based on expectations of increased customer sales, these European small and medium firms are opening plants and operations in Mississippi, Alabama, and Pennsylvania, creating high-wage jobs for U.S. workers in manufacturing, engineering, and sales.

Feuer L to R: Dept. of Commerce’s Lori Cooper, Feuer Powertrain CEO Bernd Gulden, USTR’s Christina Sevilla

With the assistance of the U.S. Consulate General in Leipzig, Germany, I visited the Feuer Powertrain company in Nordhausen, Germany, which manufactures engine components in five plants.  Due to increasing North American demand and expected increases in sales with the T-TIP, Feuer’s CEO Bernd Gulden has made the company’s first foreign investment in Tunica, Mississippi, erecting a new plant, in which V8 engine motor parts will be manufactured. Forty employees from the Mississippi and Tennessee region will be hired this year, and in four to five years that number is expected to grow to 300.  Feuer Powertrain finds that a skilled labor force and lower energy costs make the U.S. an attractive place to invest, and expects to train new workers and establish an apprenticeship program with local Mississippi technical colleges and high school graduates. Mr. Gulden said that retaining highly-skilled workers is important to the success of his company, and therefore he intends to set wages significantly higher than the prevailing wage in the Mississippi Delta region. 

FertingerL to R: Fertinger CEO Veit Schmid-Schmidfelsen, USTR’s Christina Sevilla, and Fertinger manufacturing worker Katharina Scherlak

With the assistance of the U.S. Embassy in Vienna, I also visited Fertinger company, a small and medium business with 200 employees manufacturing air conditioning components.   CEO Veit Schmid-Schmidfelsen expects the T-TIP will expand business with the United States and is opening a facility in Auburn, Alabama starting next year, beginning with 10 employees including workers and engineers.  He also expects to collaborate with the local university to establish training and apprenticeship programs for workers. 

LuxembourgL to R: USTR’s Christina Sevilla, U.S. Ambassador to Luxembourg Robert Mandell, and U.S. Embassy Luxembourg’s Heidi-Hakone Jovanovic at the Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce

In Luxembourg, U.S. Ambassador Robert Mandell and I met with small and medium businesses and industry associations at the Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce.   Small Luxembourg companies such as Rotarex, a family-owned company manufacturing industrial valves and fittings, has a subsidiary in Mount Pleasant, Pennsylvania employing 30 workers.

T-TIP will reduce trade barriers which can be especially costly to smaller firms, and expand opportunities for U.S. –EU trade and investment in order to help sustain and grow high-wage jobs on both sides.

To learn more about the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, please visit www.ustr.gov/ttip.

For more information on the benefits of T-TIP on small- and medium-sized enterprises, please click here.

07/30/2014 - 4:00pm

The Obama Administration is committed to creating jobs, strengthening domestic manufacturing, and promoting sustainable economic growth that benefits American families. That is why USTR is pursuing trade negotiations that contribute to those goals by unlocking new economic opportunities for American workers, businesses, farmers, and ranchers.

The United States is currently participating in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) negotiations with 11 growing Asia-Pacific countries. TPP is designed to help create opportunity for Americans by opening these markets to U.S. goods and services, setting high-standard trade rules, and addressing 21st century issues in the global economy. 

There are a lot of myths suggesting that TPP would overturn or undermine our ability to buy American or even prevent states and local governments from implementing their own procurement processes.  These assertions are incorrect.

There is nothing in TPP that will ban federal, state, or local governments from buying American.  In fact, under TPP we are working to ensure that more countries around the world have the ability to buy American in order to help support jobs here at home. TPP will tear down barriers in other countries to create opportunities for our workers in fast-growing markets where governments are significant buyers of goods and services. 

Here are some important facts you should know regarding TPP and government procurement:

 1. TPP will make NO CHANGES to our procurement laws on the federal, state, or local level or undermine existing requirements. 
  • TPP’s rules on non-discrimination in government procurement are not new – they reflect 35 years of laws passed by the U.S. Congress and already govern our relations with more than 50 countries. 
  • Since 1979, under U.S. leadership, the United States and nearly all other industrialized countries, including 8 of the 11 countries that will be TPP partners, have agreed to government procurement rules to ensure a level playing field – a level playing field that benefits the United States. 
  • TPP will do nothing to prevent tax dollars from being used on procurement projects at any level of government right here at home.
  • Nothing in TPP will restrict the ability of governments to make purchases in accordance with their environmental policies.

 

2. TPP will only cover a part of federal procurement and does not cover state or local procurement. 
  • TPP will ensure that our small and minority business preference programs, as well as programs for distressed areas, transportation services, food assistance, and farm support are maintained.
  • TPP will make no changes to existing restrictions, including those on Department of Defense procurement and federal assistance to state and local transportation projects. 

 

3. TPP will not cover state or local government procurement.
  • Nothing in TPP will in any way impact how state and local governments implement their own procurement policies.  No state, local, county, or municipal government is covered by TPP.
  • TPP will not restrict the ability of states to make purchases in accordance with their environmental policies.

 

4. TPP will support job creation not only by helping Americans buy American, but by unlocking new opportunities around the world to sell American.
  • TPP will support American jobs and innovation by opening up new markets for American products in growing economies across the globe.  TPP countries are fast-growing markets where governments are expanding their buying and building as they grow more prosperous. 
  • When TPP is enacted, eight of our TPP partners will already be party to government procurement agreements with the United States.  TPP will open three additional markets to American products.  TPP will also promote rule of law and good governance by promoting fair and transparent purchasing rules, like those we already have in the U.S. 
  • TPP will support U.S. exports in products that we specialize in and foreign governments need, like American-made machinery; and medical, infrastructure, transportation, and IT equipment, and U.S. services.  These are exports that support family-wage middle class jobs across the U.S.

 

5. Of course the U.S. market is larger than those of other countries.  We have the largest economy in the world. 

  • TPP’s market access opportunities for the United States go beyond government procurement.  They cover virtually every good or service that the United States can export.  Because the United States has the largest economy in the world, our market is, by definition, larger than anyone else’s market.  But because we are already the most open economy in the world with the most competitive businesses and workers, we also stand to gain significantly from new opportunities.
06/25/2014 - 6:40pm

Deputy Assistant USTR for Small Business Christina Sevilla convened Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Working Groups with Chile and Peru to discuss cooperation through the Obama Administration's Small Business Network of the Americas, which links U.S. Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) with counterpart centers in countries throughout the Hemisphere to expand trade opportunities, share best practices in SME development, and help more small businesses take advantage of U.S. trade agreements. As President Obama has stated, the United States is going to “focus more on small and medium-sized businesses, on women's businesses, making sure that the benefits of trade don't just go to the largest companies but also to the smaller entrepreneurs and business people."

chile-peru-smeFrom L to R: Peru’s Ministerial Office Cabinet Advisor Carmen Bedoya Eyzaguirre, Peru’s Vice Minister of SMEs and Industry Sandra Doig Diaz,  USTR’s Christina Sevilla, Peru’s Vice-Ministerial Office Advisory Maggy Manrique Petrera, Director of Innovation Alejandro Bernaola Cabrera, and US Embassy in Lima Economic Officer Peter Lee

In Santiago, USTR welcomed the decision of the Bachelet Administration to establish 50 SBDCs based on the U.S. model throughout Chile, in order to promote inclusive growth and strengthen our respective countries ties in the SME sector. In June, a delegation from Chile will visit U.S. SBDCs at Howard University in Washington DC, George Mason University in Fairfax, VA and University of Texas at San Antonio, TX. The United States and Chile also discussed ways to promote trade by minority-owned small businesses and will develop an online webinar with the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce through the Administration's Look South initiative.

In Lima, Sevilla met with Vice Minister of SMEs Sandra Doig Diaz, and congratulated Peru on the recent completion of training in the U.S. SBDC model and the Ministry of Production's decision to establish pilot SBDCs in Peru in 2015. Peru intends to partner with U.S. SBDCs and their SME clients to expand opportunities under the trade agreement. The US and Peru also discussed efforts to empower women-owned businesses through the public-private partnerships under the Women's Entrepreneurship in the America's initiative.

The U.S. also discussed expanded regional opportunities for SMEs with Chile and Peru through the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement that is currently being negotiated.  The United States, Chile and Peru are three of the 12 countries in the TPP.

To learn more about the Trans-Pacific Partnership, please visit http://www.ustr.gov/tpp.

06/25/2014 - 6:00pm

This month, officials from the United States and Oman held bilateral environmental meetings in Muscat, Oman and convened an open session with members of the public on June 5 – World Environment Day – contributing to the global effort to encourage worldwide awareness and action for the environment.  The meetings included a review of progress in implementing commitments under the Environment Chapter of the United States–Oman Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and the establishment of an updated work plan for environmental cooperation intended to assist Oman to implement its FTA commitments. 

Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Environment and Natural Resources David Oliver, along with representatives from the Department of State, the Department of Justice, the Department of the Interior, and the U.S. Forest Service, met with Omani government officials to exchange information and review progress and developments relating to a range of issues under the Environment Chapter, including actions taken to increase levels of environmental protection, effectively enforce environmental laws, and provide opportunities for public participation in environmental governance and the trade policy-setting processes.

US-Oman-EnviroDavid Oliver, Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Environment and Natural Resources, and other members of the U.S. and Omani delegations discuss implementation of the U.S.-Oman FTA Environment Chapter and related environmental cooperation

Oliver also took part in a meeting of the United States–Oman Joint Forum on Environmental Cooperation, which oversees implementation of bilateral environmental cooperation activities that are intended to support Oman’s efforts to implement its commitments under the Environment Chapter.  The Joint Forum on Environmental Cooperation reviewed ongoing environmental cooperation activities and approved and signed an updated Plan Of Action, which provides a robust framework for environmental cooperation activities for the period 2014-2017.

Together, these meetings are an important way for the United States and Oman to exchange information and review progress on respective efforts to implement the FTA Environment Chapter, identify challenges and priority areas for environmental cooperation, and develop plans to achieve further progress. The meetings culminated with a public session in which a range of stakeholders had an opportunity to engage in a discussion with government officials about implementation of the FTA Environment Chapter, existing environmental cooperation programs, and plans for further cooperation.

For more information, please see the Joint Communiqué of the United States-Oman Environmental Meetings.

The United States-Oman FTA entered into force in January 2009.  The agreement promotes economic growth and trade, but also includes important provisions to advance the Parties’ mutual commitment to strengthen environmental protection.  For more information on the United States-Oman FTA, please click here.

06/25/2014 - 9:00am

U.S. officials urged more than 30 governments to address the problem of global excess steel capacity at a key international meeting earlier this month.  Government policies that create or maintain excess steelmaking capacity can hurt American steel producers and workers.  The United States was joined by Canada and Mexico in calling attention to policies that distort trade, harm the environment, and threaten the most efficient steel producers in every market.

At the 76th meeting of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Steel Committee, USTR and Department of Commerce officials raised concerns about government interventions that unfairly distort the global marketplace for steel.  These concerns were echoed by U.S. industry representatives.  OECD Steel Committee Chairman, Risaburo Nezu, underscored the risks to industry if global steel capacity and production continue to outpace demand. 

Through multilateral fora like the OECD Steel Committee, as well as through bilateral efforts, U.S. trade officials are advancing policies that level the playing field for American workers and firms, raise labor and environmental standards, and maintain the integrity of critical global markets.  For more information on global steel production and policies, please visit the OECD website.

06/24/2014 - 6:45pm

An unprecedented emphasis on leveling the playing field for American workers and businesses

U.S. Trade Representative, Ambassador Michael Froman is joined by Senator Debbie Stabenow and Congressman Sandy Levin last month to announce a key victory against unfair duties places on American-made cars by China

Tough monitoring and enforcement is required if trade agreements are to bring their full benefit to America’s businesses, families, farmers, and workers.  That’s why the Obama administration has undertaken the most ambitious upgrade of trade enforcement in the history of modern U.S. trade policy, building a far more capable enforcement system.   The result is a high volume of new disputes, and a strong record of success that is providing tangible results in our efforts to level the playing field for American workers and businesses. 

In the last two months alone we have seen victories in two important trade enforcement cases that have benefited U.S. auto workers and U.S. producers of high-tech goods that utilize rare earth materials. In addition to enforcement in the WTO, the Administration is pursuing additional dispute settlement through our free trade agreements to protect labor rights and enhance environmental protections. 

MORE RESOURCES:  The Obama administration has made a concerted effort to enhance the capacity of the United States to enforce our trade agreements.  The capstone on this effort is the 2012 creation of the Interagency Trade Enforcement Center (ITEC).  ITEC is a USTR-led body with 22 trade analysts with expertise in a wide range of areas needed for successful enforcement.  ITEC includes staff members with expertise in areas such as subsidies analysis, intellectual property, economics, agriculture, and animal health science, and with a variety of language skills including Chinese, Russian, Portuguese and Spanish.  ITEC dramatically upgrades America’s ability to identify and address violations of trade agreements.  It represents a historic commitment of personnel and budget to enforcement efforts, giving the United States greater capacity to find, prove, prosecute, and stop violations of trade agreements.

HIGH VOLUME OF DISPUTES:  Under this Administration, USTR has filed 18 WTO complaints, more than any other WTO Member.  Nine filings target measures adopted by China; three target Indian measures; other complaints addressed an array of major economies including Argentina, the European Union, Indonesia, and the Philippines.  At the same time, through our Free Trade Agreements, USTR has broken new ground by launching a dispute settlement case involving labor rights and environmental rights and conservation. 

A CONSISTENT RECORD OF SUCCESS:  The Administration has an outstanding record of success.  Of the 18 complaints filed since 2008, the U.S. prevailed in all 6 of the disputes that have resulted in WTO decisions.  The U.S. has also settled 1 case on favorable grounds.  (The remaining complaints are pending).

IMPACT ON AMERICAN WORKERS AND BUSINESSES:  These stepped-up enforcement efforts cases are designed to benefit American workers and businesses by leveling the playing field and by setting long-term precedents that will support future American growth. For example:

  • The U.S. case targeting the European Union’s Airbus subsidies carries with it billions of dollars in direct value for American aerospace workers and companies of all sizes and will set clear legal lines restricting new civil-aircraft subsidy programs.
  • The U.S. case against Chinese limits on electronic payment services establishes key, market-opening precedents for services trade and the digital world.   
  • Through the case against Chinese export restraints on rare earths, the Administration is striving to provide major benefits to U.S. high-tech industries that make use of these important inputs, and to confirm important precedents ensuring access to essential minerals and intermediate goods.
  • The case against India’s solar-energy local content rules is aimed at forced localization policies adopted by India and other major economies.   
  • The case filed against Guatemalan labor practices under the CAFTA-DR demonstrates the enforceability of labor provisions in free trade agreements and helps to ensure that our trading partners aren’t avoiding the enforcement of their labor law in the hopes of gaining trade or investment advantage.
  • Several cases offer especially important economic impacts for small and medium-sized businesses.  These include WTO filings against Chinese export requirements for auto parts manufacturers, Indian use of unscientific supposed health requirements to block poultry imports, and unfair import licensing rules in Argentina. 
06/12/2014 - 9:50am

Today marks the 80th anniversary of the Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act (RTAA), a new approach to trade policy passed by the New Deal Congress and signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.  The RTAA was the first time Congress and a President worked together to enact trade negotiating authority to help pass new trade agreements that would increase exports and support new job creation.  Through the RTAA, Congress set the framework for international trade negotiations and empowered the President to exert American leadership in the international trading system.

The Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act was signed into law on June 12, 1934 as part of the Roosevelt Administration’s efforts to pull America out of the Great Depression.  The RTAA served as an integral step in America’s transition from economic crisis to global leadership.  FDR believed that a complete and permanent recovery depended on strengthened international trade to increase domestic growth and demand. To secure our country’s space in the global economy, the American President and Congress needed to work together to negotiate trade agreements to cut tariffs on goods and increase U.S. exports. Increased international trade boosted the growth-promotion aspects of the New Deal’s domestic programs, and the successful enactment of the RTAA resulted in the conclusion of 19 new trade agreements between 1934 and 1939, strong growth in U.S. exports, and the recovery of the American economy.

Eighty years later, the tradition of the Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act continues in the form of modern Trade Promotion Authority (TPA).  President Obama, like President Roosevelt, has made trade policy a central part of his economic strategy to create jobs, promote growth, and strengthen the middle class. In 2013, U.S. exports increased to a record high of $2.3 trillion, an increase that is responsible for a third of America’s total economic growth. Moreover, every additional $1 billion in exports supported roughly 5,600 U.S. jobs, which on average pay 13-18% more than non-export related jobs. Trade Promotion Authority is necessary for building on these gains and extending American economic leadership into the 21st Century.

Trade Promotion Authority is about unlocking opportunity for domestic workers, in the same way Roosevelt’s RTAA aided domestic job creation through trade in the New Deal programs. TPA is a vital part of trade negotiations because it allows Congress to set the terms of trade negotiations, congressional consultations during negotiations, and the legislative procedures for voting on agreements.

Though the world has changed dramatically since FDR enacted the Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act, the basic promise of trade remains the same. Done right, trade policy gives American workers the chance to compete on a level playing field, and under TPA, Congress and the Administration work together to guide trade with global partners by setting goals and standards that represent American interests and values.