04/04/2014 7:12 PM
Note: This is a cross post from the White House blog. To see the original post, please click here.
By Ambassador Michael Froman, Caroline Atkinson
The Obama Administration is committed to increasing access to medicines and supporting innovation for the development of new and improved drugs for HIV/AIDS and other diseases. This week’s announcement of an agreement between ViiV Healthcare (a joint venture of GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, and Shionogi) and the Medicines Patent Poolmarks a significant step forward in ongoing efforts to achieve both access to medicines for developing countries and the promotion of innovation to develop more of these life-saving treatments.
This week’s important agreement will enable low-cost versions of a new antiretroviral drug for HIV/AIDS (dolutegravir or DTG) to be produced for use in countries with the highest HIV burdens, collectively home to 93 percent of adults and 99 percent of children living with HIV in the developing world. The Medicines Patent Pool and ViiV Healthcare brokered the agreement, which will help this promising drug to fight HIV/AIDS reach developing country patients at a record pace – just months after the Food and Drug Administration’s fast-track approval. Under this week’s agreement, ViiV has waived all royalty fees in sub-Saharan Africa, least-developed countries, and low-income countries.
The agreement also includes a commendable licensing term with important implications for access to medicines given that the majority of the world’s poor now live in middle-income countries. Specifically, the ViiV Healthcare deal segments the market in six large middle-income countries, granting generic companies a voluntary license to deliver low-cost DTG to public and nonprofit HIV programs that serve the poor even as ViiV Healthcare exercises its exclusive market rights in the private sector. This is a novel approach that both extends access to life-saving drugs within developing countries and supports the innovation that makes such breakthroughs possible.
The National Institutes of Health, Gilead Sciences, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Roche, and ViiV Healthcare have all made strong contributions to the success of the Medicines Patent Pool. As the Medicines Patent Pool continues to grow, adding industry partners and access to their life-saving medicines, we look forward to celebrating future voluntary arrangements, and the concrete steps we are taking together towards President Obama’s shared vision of an AIDS-free generation.Caroline Atkinson is the Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economics. Ambassador Michael Froman is United States Trade Representative.
Eighth Meeting of the Dominican Republic - Central America - United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) Environmental Affairs Council highlights progress and environmental results04/04/2014 3:02 PM
The United States hosted the eighth meeting of the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) Environmental Affairs Council (Council) on April 2, 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana. AUSTR for Environment and Natural Resources Jennifer Prescott co-chaired the meeting with Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs Judith Garber.
CAFTA-DR Environmental Affairs Council Members at the Public Session at the Port of New Orleans: L-R: Rosa Otero, representative from the Ministry of Environment (Dominican Republic); Minister José Antonio Galdames, Secretariat of Energy, Natural Resources, Environment and Mining, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (Honduras); Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Judith Garber, Bureau of Ocean and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, U.S. Department of State; Jennifer Prescott, Assistant United States Trade Representative for Environment and Natural Resources, Office of the United States Trade Representative; Vice Minister Ana Lorena Guevara, Ministry of Environment and Energy (Costa Rica); Jenifer Calderon, representative from the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (Guatemala).
Each Council Member presented on progress made in their country to implement core commitments of the CAFTA-DR Environment Chapter, including efforts to improve levels of environmental protection, strengthen environmental laws and environmental law enforcement, and promote public participation in environmental decision-making. The Council acknowledged the valuable contributions the Secretariat for Environmental Matters has made to public participation and outreach. Since 2007, the Secretariat has received 29 submissions from the public regarding effective enforcement of environmental laws that have fostered a constructive dialogue among stakeholders and the CAFTA-DR Parties and have led to a number of positive improvements in environmental enforcement.
The Council also discussed important achievements through environmental cooperation programs, including the provision of training for customs and border officials on wood identification to combat trade in illegally harvested timber, collaboration with hundreds of small and medium enterprises to help reduce their use of water, energy and raw materials, and support for the Central American Wildlife Enforcement Network (CAWEN) to enhance regional enforcement of wildlife trafficking laws.
The Council Members underscored that progress under the CAFTA-DR Environment Chapter and Environmental Cooperation Agreement is a success story, demonstrating that trade agreements can not only facilitate economic growth and opportunities, but can do so in a "race to the top" that advances environmental stewardship, encourages public-private partnerships, and promotes transparency and public participation.
The Council Members reaffirmed their strong commitment to continue to work together on a number of pressing environmental issues ranging from building additional capacity to conduct environmental impact assessments to engaging in a concerted effort to further broaden the scope of outreach to public stakeholders, including those in remote communities.
The Council also hosted a half-day public session at the Port of New Orleans to demonstrate the tangible intersection of trade and environment issues. The public session included three panels discussing a range of issues addressed during the Council meetings. Representatives from academia, the private sector and non-governmental organizations had the opportunity to engage in a robust question and answer session with all of the Council Members and panelists.
04/01/2014 2:09 PM
Note: This is a cross post from the White House Council on Women and Girls blog. To see the original post, please click here.
By U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman
It is important for women-owned businesses and firms to be able to export their products. Why? Studies have found that women-owned firms that export not only earn more, but also employ more people and are, on average, more productive than women-owned firms that do not. In addition, women-owned businesses that export their goods and services average $14.5 million in receipts, compared to just $117,036 for women-owned businesses that do not export. Clearly, exporting has very real advantages.
In celebration of Women’s History Month, I met with some women business owners to learn about their businesses, and encourage them to take advantage of the groundbreaking trade agreements being brokered by the Obama Administration by exporting their products and services abroad. I spoke with Erin Andrew, Director of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Women’s Business Ownership; Margot Dorfman, President of the U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce; Karen Bland, President of the Organization for Women in Trade; and Rachel Carson, President of Helicopter Tech Inc. We engaged in a candid conversation about the growing number of women-owned businesses in America, and how we can help them unlock the opportunities and benefits of exporting.
Under President Obama, U.S. exports have increased by nearly 50 percent and are growing nearly three times faster than the economy as a whole. Nearly 300,000 American companies export, 98 percent of which are small and medium size businesses, but exports from businesses owned by women are unfortunately under-represented. Approximately 30 percent of businesses are women-owned, but only 12 percent of businesses that export are owned by women. We must change that.
During our conversation, Karen Bland shared her five ‘know before you go’ tips for exporting, which included knowing your business, your market, your assets, your partners, and the rules. Rachel Carson shared her experience beginning to export her replacement aircraft parts, which she now exports to 23 countries around the world. In addition to raising her sales, Rachel noted that exporting allowed her to grow her staff and hire Americans in need of work to support her overseas activity. Hearing their stories and their triumphs reminded me why USTR and the Small Business Administration work so hard to help women-owned businesses engage in and benefit from trade.
In addition to partnering with SBA to encourage women-owned businesses to export, USTR has also utilized trade as a tool to promote women’s economic empowerment around the world. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) currently under negotiation with 12 countries in the Asia-Pacific includes—for the first time ever in a trade agreement—a development chapter that contains an article on women and economic growth. The article explicitly calls on the countries that are party to the agreement to consider undertaking cooperative activities aimed at enhancing the ability of women, including workers and business-owners, to fully access and benefit from the opportunities created by the TPP.
We know that most women-owned businesses are small and medium-sized (SMEs), which is why we are dedicated to reducing barriers that disproportionally impact SMEs. To inform our negotiations for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP), in order to obtain broad input from SMEs, the U.S. International Trade Commission, USTR, SBA, and the Department of Commerce worked together to convene 28 small business roundtables in cities around the United States. We also hosted a hearing in Washington, D.C., to gather input directly from small businesses about barriers to exporting to the European Union (EU).
Additionally, the United States and the EU have convened an ongoing series of Small and Medium Enterprise Workshops to engage small businesses on both sides of the Atlantic on ways to enhance their participation in transatlantic trade and strengthen U.S.-EU cooperation on issues of interest to SMEs. Through T-TIP we can help SMEs, farmers, and workers unlock opportunity by finding new European customers and export markets.
USTR also participates in the Administration’s efforts to improve the ability of women to participate in the global trading system through fora such as the African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Women in the Economy work in the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, and our numerous Trade and Investment Framework Agreements with developing countries.
The OECD reports that creating greater economic opportunities for women—including connecting them to global markets—will help increase labor productivity, and higher levels of female employment will widen the base of taxpayers and contributors to social protection systems, which are increasingly coming under pressure due to population ageing. At the end of the day, we all win when we expand women’s economic participation.
For our part, USTR, the Small Business Administration, and the Department of Commerce have a number of tools available to help business owners start and expand their businesses, and to sell their products and services abroad. These resources can be found at www.export.gov; www.businessusa.gov; andwww.sba.gov/content/explore-exporting.
We welcome your suggestions, and look forward to engaging with you to discuss our goal of building stronger export opportunities for women-owned firms and small businesses. Please email us at email@example.com.
03/28/2014 10:16 AM
“We will continue to defend American manufacturers and workers, especially when it comes to leveling the playing field and ensuring that American manufacturers can get the materials they need at a fair market price.”
– Ambassador Michael Froman
In standing up for American workers and businesses, the United States won a World Trade Organization case against China’s export restraints on rare earth products. These rare earths, which include tungsten, molybdenum, and 15 other minerals, are used in everyday products, including automobiles, cell phones, and even energy efficient light bulbs. China had established export quotas on these materials which unfairly hurt American manufacturers, since it artificially raised prices for the rest of the world but lowered prices for Chinese producers. The WTO panel found that export restrictions cannot be imposed to conserve natural resources if the domestic use of those same materials is not also restricted.
The U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) is committed to take action whenever necessary to protect the high-quality middle class American jobs supported by trade, and this WTO panel victory shows that a level playing field is required to participate in the global trading system. The full statement by U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman can be seen here, but this is what others are saying:
“This is excellent news for Ohio and American manufacturers. Manufacturing is the backbone of the American economy. But in order for our industry to compete, it needs a level playing field. That means holding countries like China accountable when they violate trade policy by hoarding rare earth and other materials. The World Trade Organization’s decision will help protect American businesses and the jobs they support.”
- Senator Sherrod Brown, (D-OH)
“Manufacturing is an important part of Ohio’s economy, and I’m pleased that the trade court has ruled against China’s blatantly discriminatory behavior that hurts Ohio workers. I will continue to strongly support efforts to ensure that Ohio workers are able to operate on a level playing field around the world.”
- Senator Rob Portman, (R-OH)
“The World Trade Organization’s decision sends a strong message to China that its mercantilist trade restrictions on rare earth elements have no place in the 21st Century. Today’s ruling is a clear win for the United States, for rules-based trade, and for American high-tech manufacturing jobs that depend on a stable supply of these products. I intend to ensure the United States continues to make enforcing global trade rules a clear priority.”
-Senator Ron Wyden, (D-OR)
“Through the aggressive efforts of the Obama Administration, the WTO has struck down China’s efforts to block our companies from having access to key inputs. Our high-tech industries, from smartphones to medical equipment to wind turbines, depend on access to these rare earths and other chemicals. Holding China accountable, and enforcing the rules of international trade are vital to U.S. businesses and workers and key to trade expansion efforts. China must get the message that our government, backed by our workers, won’t stop pressing until China abandons its penchant for promoting its domestic industries at the expense of those of its trading partners.”
- Representative Sander Levin (D-MI)
"Today's ruling is great news for American manufacturers and researchers building the next generation of advanced technologies. China clearly violated WTO rules, and I applaud the U.S. Trade Representative for taking this enforcement action against China's illegal export restrictions of these critically important raw materials. Today's victory is a reminder of how important trade enforcement is, and we need to continue cracking down on other countries' anti-competitive practices, like currency manipulation, to help American workers and businesses compete and win in the global economy."
- Senator Debbie Stabenow, (D-MI)
“The U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) has been aggressive and determined to confront China about its export limits on rare earth minerals and other materials. Those products are critical ingredients in a broad range of items across the manufacturing sector where worker’s jobs depend on fair trade practices and a steady market supply. China’s policies have had a direct impact on U.S. production and employment.”
- Leo W. Gerard, President, United Steelworkers
“This decisive ruling by the WTO confirms that China cannot impose export quotas, export taxes, and other restrictions on these raw materials. We urge China to promptly comply with the WTO’s decision and remove these trade-distortive export restrictions.”
- Alan H. Price, Partner and Chair of the International Trade Practice, Wiley Rein
"NEMA supports non-discriminatory national policies toward trade in raw materials and minerals, and we believe the WTO panel's decision is consistent with that principle. NEMA understands China's national interest in protection of its environment, but trade measures such as export quotas and export tariffs do not appear to be particularly suited to protecting the environment, while such measures do tend to support economic protectionism. We commend the efforts of the U. S. Trade Representative's Office, the Government of Japan, and the European Union in bringing this dispute to the WTO and successfully resolving it under the auspices of the WTO's dispute resolution process."
- Evan R. Gaddis, President and CEO, National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA)
“This WTO action is a step in the right direction, and we’re pleased USTR took the initiative in 2012 to launch a rare earth minerals case. China’s export restraints on rare earth minerals have contributed to the loss of American production and jobs, particularly in advanced technology products. These restrictions have also raised important national security concerns about a reliance on foreign suppliers for our military supply chain. These metals are used in crucial missile guidance systems and aircraft components, and it is troubling that we are almost entirely reliant on the Chinese government for access to them. The administration must aggressively enforce existing trade laws to ensure China complies with [the] ruling while we work to expand our domestic production and processing of rare earth materials.”
- Scott Paul, President, Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM)
“This decision illustrates that China cannot continue to manipulate the global trading system by promoting its own industry to the detriment of U.S. and other global manufacturers. These metals include critical raw materials for steelmaking, and the export restrictions clearly favor Chinese producers already dealing with a massive overcapacity in steelmaking. This is yet more proof that China deliberately evades its obligations as a WTO member. The Chinese government knew in 2001 when it joined the WTO that it could not impose export quotas on these elements, and it did so anyway. We are pleased to see the U.S. government working with our allies to address China’s unfair trade practices and hope that the vigorous enforcement of the global trade rules continues.”
- Thomas J. Gibson, President and CEO, American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI)
03/27/2014 9:30 AM
We view engagement with Congress, stakeholders, and the public to be a central component for ensuring that our trade policy is consistent with both our economic interests and our values. We have taken an approach of extensive consultation in developing U.S. proposals regarding investment in our negotiations. We continue to solicit feedback on this, and other issues, to ensure that the United States – and our trading partners – can regulate in the public interest while creating stable frameworks for protecting investments.
As both the largest single-country source of investment and the largest recipient of investment in the world, the United States has every reason to get investment agreements right.
Unfortunately, there is a large amount of misunderstanding in the public debate regarding ISDS, which we have addressed here. We believe an open and ongoing public debate will help assuage concerns and lead to a better policy.
As part of our ongoing consultations, the United States has published and sought public comment on our model investment agreement, which we use as a basis for our international investment agreement proposals. The U.S. model agreement has been developed, reviewed, and revised through years of extensive consultations with the Congress, stakeholders, and the public, and represents a balance among diverse policy interests.
This week, we were pleased to see the EU undertake a similar set of consultations.
The most recent review of the U.S. model investment agreement took place during 2009-2012. Follow the links below to see some of the elements from our public consultative process, which include:
- A Federal Register notice soliciting public views on the model agreement. Written comments were submitted by 36 individuals and organizations, including non-governmental organizations (NGOs), business groups, Members of Congress, individual companies, and private citizens.
- A public meeting at which interested parties were invited to present views on the model agreement. Presenters at this meeting included legislators, NGOs, business organizations, individual companies, and legal professionals.
- Recommendations from the State Department’s Advisory Committee on International Economic Policy (ACIEP), an Investment Subcommittee which was constituted for the purpose of providing input on the model U.S. investment agreement. The Subcommittee – comprised of representatives from academia, labor groups, environmental and public interest organizations, legal experts, and the business community – presented a report that contained both consensus recommendations and detailed summaries of divergent viewpoints on the major issues addressed in international investment agreements, including definitions of key terms, substantive standards and obligations, and the rules and procedures for investor-state dispute settlement.
- Extensive consultation on our negotiating objectives for T-TIP specifically, including with respect to investment. As we do for all trade agreements, including the TPP agreement, prior to launching T-TIP negotiations, USTR initiated a 90-day consultation period involving numerous opportunities for comment. As part of these consultations, USTR solicited public comment on T-TIP negotiating objectives generally, and specifically on “relevant investment issues that should be addressed in the negotiations.” Over 300 submissions were received in response to this notice, representing a broad range of stakeholder views.
- T-TIP consultations included a two-day hearing, during which members of the public were invited to express views on T-TIP policy issues and negotiating objectives. Over 60 organizations and individuals presented testimony at this hearing, including several who spoke directly to investment issues.
- Extensive public consultations conducted by the U.S.-EU High Level Working Group on Jobs and Growth (HLWG) were conducted in advance of launching the T-TIP negotiations. Dozens of submissions were received from members of the public in response to USTR’s request for comment during the HLWG process, including several that spoke directly to investment rules, and USTR negotiators discussed investment with stakeholders in dozens of meetings.
These issue-specific consultations on investment policy and T-TIP, respectively, have been supplemented by a formal advisory committee system established by Congress through which USTR receives stakeholder input on an ongoing basis on all aspects of U.S. trade policy and negotiations. Representing labor, environmental, business, and state and local government interests, these 28 committees of 700 private citizen advisors provide input and advice on the full range of trade policy issues, including in the T-TIP – a stakeholder advisory system that has no parallel in the world. The valuable input of this advisory system will be soon be supplemented by a new Public Interest Trade Advisory Committee (PITAC) that will provide a mechanism for regular input from experts on issues such as public health, development, and consumer safety. USTR is currently soliciting nominations for membership on the PITAC, as well as on our Industry Trade Advisory Committees, so that we can continue to receive stakeholder advice during negotiations.
The consultations the Administration has undertaken in the development of international investment policy and negotiating positions with respect to T-TIP, and the ongoing engagement through the formal advisory committee system, only account for a portion of the day-to-day engagement with stakeholders, legislators, and members of the public that USTR undertakes on a regular basis. For example, we have created forums around our negotiating rounds to provide stakeholders with an opportunity to provide input directly to negotiators from the United States and other countries.
In the coming months, we will continue to maintain the high level of inclusiveness and public engagement that have been a hallmark of U.S. trade negotiations. We recently released a detailed description and explanation of U.S. objectives in the T-TIP negotiations and we are currently soliciting additional public input to USTR on all aspects of our trade policy, including T-TIP.
In addition, USTR is announcing today that we will host a stakeholder engagement session in conjunction with the Fifth Round of T-TIP negotiations in Washington later this spring, during which members of the public will have an opportunity to make presentations to and engage directly with negotiators.
The Facts on Investor-State Dispute Settlement: Safeguarding the Public Interest and Protecting Investors03/27/2014 9:00 AM
As the Obama Administration promotes trade and investment agreements, we work closely with Congress, stakeholders, and the public to ensure that our trade agenda advances our economic interests and reflects our values. One of our core values is promoting the rule of law. In our agreements, we want to ensure that the United States and partner countries are able to regulate in the public interest as they see fit.
We also seek to ensure that Americans investing abroad are provided the same kinds of basic legal protections that we provide in the United States to both Americans and foreigners doing business within our borders. One element we use to achieve that goal is investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS). ISDS creates a fair and transparent process, grounded in established legal principles, for resolving individual investment disputes between investors and states.
There are a lot of myths out there suggesting that ISDS somehow limits our ability – or our partners’ ability – to regulate in the interest of financial stability, environmental protection, or public health. Some have even suggested that a company could sue a government just on the grounds that the company isn’t earning as much profit as it wants.
These assertions are false.
The United States promotes provisions in our trade agreements that protect our right to regulate in the public interest while promoting higher standards in many partner countries in areas ranging from labor and environment to transparency to anti-corruption.
Over the last 50 years, nearly 3,200 trade and investment agreements among 180 countries have included investment provisions, and the vast majority of these agreements have included some form of ISDS. The United States entered its first bilateral investment treaty (BIT) in 1982, and is party to 50 agreements currently in force with ISDS provisions. The United States has been a leader in developing carefully crafted ISDS provisions to protect the ability of governments to regulate, to discourage non-meritorious claims, and to ensure a high level of transparency.
Our approach to ISDS has helped establish higher global standards and strengthen arbitration procedures through clearer legal rules, enhanced safeguards, and transparency throughout the ISDS process. As a country that plays by the rules and respects the rule of law, the United States has never lost an ISDS case. In our current negotiations, we are working to expand upon this approach to ISDS, in ways spelled out in the Model BIT that the Obama Administration released in 2012 following an extensive period of public comment and consultation.
Here are eight facts you should know about ISDS provisions under U.S. trade agreements. These provisions are different – and stronger – than the provisions in many other investment agreements in which the United States is not a participant. It’s important to understand how U.S. agreements differ from other agreements that do not meet the same standards.
Provide basic legal protections for American companies abroad that are based on the same assurances the United States provides at home.
Investment protections are intended to prevent discrimination, repudiation of contracts, and expropriation of property without due process of law and appropriate compensation. These are the same kinds of protections that are included in U.S. law. But not all governments protect basic rights at the same level as the United States. Investment protections are intended to address that fact. Our agreements provide no new substantive rights for foreign investors. Rather, they provide protections for Americans abroad that are similar to the protections we already provide Americans and foreigners alike who do business in the United States.
- Protect the right of governments to regulate in the public interest.
The United States wouldn’t negotiate away its right to regulate in the best interest of its citizens, and we don’t ask other countries to do so either. Our investment rules preserve the right to regulate to protect public health and safety, the financial sector, the environment, and any other area where governments seek to regulate. U.S. trade agreements do not require countries to lower their levels of regulation. In fact, in our trade agreements, we require our partners to effectively enforce their environmental and labor laws and to take on new commitments to increase environmental and labor protections.
- Do not impinge on the ability of federal, state, and local governments to maintain (or adopt) any measure that they deem necessary.
Under our investment provisions, no government can be compelled to change its laws or regulations, even in cases where a private party has a legitimate claim that its basic rights are being violated and it is entitled to compensation.
- Do not expose state or local governments to new liabilities.
Under our Constitution and laws, investors frequently exercise their rights in U.S. courts. For example, in recent years, the U.S. government has defended hundreds of cases in U.S. courts under the Constitution’s “takings clause,” which requires compensation for expropriations. State and local governments have likewise defended many such claims. By contrast, the United States has only been sued 17 times under any U.S. investment agreement and has never once lost a case. In some instances, we have even received compensation for having had to defend against a case in the first place. In any disputes arising under our trade agreements, the federal government assumes the cost of defending the United States, even if they relate to state and local issues.
- Provide no legal basis to challenge laws just because they hurt a company’s profits.
Our investment rules do not in any way guarantee a firm’s rights to any profits or to its projected financial outcomes. Rather, they only provide basic rights – like non-discrimination and compensation in the event of an expropriation – that are already consistent with U.S. law. Our investment rules seek to promote standards of fairness, not protect profits.
- Include strong safeguards to deter frivolous challenges to legitimate public interest measures.
The United States has proposed additional safeguards that include stricter definitions than are in most investment agreements of what is required for successful claims, as well as mechanisms for expedited review and dismissal of frivolous claims, payment of attorneys’ fees, consolidation of duplicative cases, and transparency. These are some of the strongest safeguards in any of the nearly 3,200 investment agreements around the world.
- Ensure fair, unbiased, and transparent legal processes.
The United States is committed to ensuring the highest levels of transparency in all investor-state proceedings. Investment arbitration hearings under recent U.S. trade and investment agreements, as well as all key documents submitted to investor-state tribunals and tribunal decisions, are public. Recent U.S. trade and investment agreements also give NGOs and other non-parties to a dispute the ability to participate by filing amicus curiae or “friend of the court” submissions, similar to non-parties’ ability to make filings in U.S. courts.
- Ensure independent and impartial arbitration.
Investor-state arbitration is designed to provide a fair, neutral platform to resolve disputes. The arbitration rules applied by tribunals under our agreements require that each arbitrator be independent and impartial. These rules permit either party in a dispute to request the disqualification of an arbitrator and the appointment of a new arbitrator if necessary to ensure the independence and impartiality of all tribunal members.
The United States has been a leader in developing ISDS provisions that protect the ability of governments to regulate, discourage frivolous claims, and ensure a high level of transparency. Through extensive work with stakeholders, legislators, and the public we will continue to ensure that the United States remains at the forefront of innovative trade policy.
US and Peru continue engagement on Environmental Protection within the US-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement03/22/2014 10:45 AM
Last week, representatives from USTR traveled to Lima, Peru for bilateral meetings to further strengthen implementation of the Environment Chapter and Annex on Forest Sector Governance of the United States - Peru Trade Promotion Agreement (PTPA). USTR staff were joined by representatives from the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Forest Service, and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
Since entry-into-force of the PTPA in 2009, Peru has made substantial progress to improve environmental protection, particularly with respect to forest sector governance. The United States has worked closely to support Peru in those efforts through robust environmental cooperation programs. To maintain momentum and address remaining challenges, the United States and Peru regularly meet to advance progress on a range of environmental issues, particularly those related to the forestry and wildlife sector. The meetings included discussion of Peru's draft Forestry and Wildlife Regulation, finalization of documents necessary to set up an environment secretariat to receive submissions on environmental law enforcement from U.S. and Peruvian stakeholders, and coordination on environmental cooperation programs aimed at building capacity for environmental prosecutors to investigate and prosecute forestry and wildlife crimes, and to combat anti-corruption in the forestry sector.
As part of the U.S. commitment to transparency, the U.S. Delegation also hosted a roundtable discussion with a range of Peruvian stakeholders, including representatives of native communities, and members of civil society, academia, and industry.
These discussions provide invaluable input as to how the PTPA is working to benefit the environment, and where future efforts may be focused to address pressing environmental issues.
For more information about PTPA environmental issues and progress, please visit: http://www.ustr.gov/peru-tpa/environment.
03/17/2014 12:41 PM
Note: This is a cross post from the U.S. Mission to the European Union blog. To see the original post, please click here.
The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership – commonly known as T-TIP – is one of the major focuses of our work here at the U.S. Mission to the European Union. While the transatlantic relationship between the United States and the EU is certainly far broader, dealing with a very wide array of foreign policy, security, humanitarian, and economic issues of mutual interest around the globe, T-TIP is a fitting topic for the first entry for our new blog. We just completed the fourth round of negotiations last week, and it, along with the ongoing situation in Ukraine, consumed most of our attention. Not only did many colleagues from Washington come to town, but we also held events for a group of visiting economic journalists from EU member states with representatives of consumer groups, SMEs, and others.
Having worked on the negotiating teams for many free trade agreements in the past, I was impressed to see the expansion of possibilities for NGOs, consumer groups, and other members of civil society to interact with the negotiators themselves, not only between rounds, but also during them. This highlights, as U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman and EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht said last month, that both the U.S. and the EU agree “on the important role the public has in continuing to shape our negotiations’ objectives.” -James Wolfe, Spokesman at the U.S. Mission to the EU
For a brief readout of the fourth round, please read on:
For anyone who follows the transatlantic relationship, the buzzword last week was T-TIP. Scores of negotiators from the U.S. and EU were in town for the fourth round of talks on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, but they weren’t the only ones. Hundreds of our citizens – from environmental, consumer and other non-governmental organizations, from labor unions, companies and academia, the media and others – also converged on Brussels for a stakeholder event that was held Wednesday.
Everyone there got more than an earful. During a non-stop 3 ½-hour session that took place in four rooms, divided by theme, some ninety participants detailed their T-TIP views and expectations on a wide array of subjects.
Stakeholder events have become a staple of each T-TIP round, whether they’re held in Washington or Brussels. In the front rows – some in spaces with standing room only – this time around were the two chief negotiators, Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Europe and the Middle East Dan Mullaney and EU Chief Negotiator Ignacio Garcia Bercero, and/or members of their teams, asking the presenters direct questions.
Many of the speakers at Wednesday’s event – and at an EPC think tank panel the day before on how T-TIP could help small businesses benefit from global trade – echoed common themes. In particular, T-TIP should eliminate unnecessary and duplicative regulations while ensuring high, uniform standards, they said. The round ended on Friday with a press conference by the two chief negotiators.
More here on what the U.S. is looking for in the T-TIP + USTR Froman’s statement on the conclusion of the fourth round and a joint document on potential opportunities for small and medium-sized enterprises.
Joint US-EU Document Highlights Benefits of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises03/14/2014 2:49 PM
Today the United States and the European Union issued a joint document on potential opportunities for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises under a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) agreement. To view the report, please click here.
To learn more about T-TIP, visit http://www.ustr.gov/ttip .
03/14/2014 1:27 PMAt the close of the fourth round of Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) negotiations in Brussels, the United States and the European Union issued a joint report on potential opportunities for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises under a T-TIP agreement. To view the report, please click here.
T-TIP: A Detailed View of Negotiating Objectives and Benefits and a New Opportunity to Provide USTR with Feedback03/11/2014 10:37 AM
This week, U.S. and EU negotiators are in Brussels for a fourth round of Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) negotiations. An ambitious and comprehensive agreement will expand significantly U.S.-EU trade and investment ties, leading to increased economic growth and jobs in the United States.
Today, as part of our ongoing efforts to engage the public and solicit feedback on U.S. trade negotiations, USTR released a detailed subject-by-subject view of our T-TIP negotiating objectives. We encourage anyone who is interested to review our objectives and the other information provided and to provide feedback on the T-TIP negotiations (or on any other trade or investment initiative) to USTR by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We continue to believe that U.S. trade and investment policies are made stronger when they are shaped by the broadest possible input.To learn more about the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, please visit www.ustr.gov/ttip
New Sister Center Partnership under the Small Business Network of the Americas Will Foster Trade between Virginia Small Businesses and Mexico, TPP countries02/28/2014 11:43 AM
By Christina Sevilla, Deputy Assistant USTR for Small Business
Earlier this month, the U.S. Trade Representative, Department of State, and the Small Business Administration welcomed the signing of the first Sister Center Partnership between George Mason University (GMU) in Fairfax, Virginia and the Autonomous University of Nuevo León (UANL) in Monterrey, Mexico. The Partnership is part of the Obama Administration’s Small Business Network of the Americas (SBNA), which helps small businesses participate in international trade by linking U.S. small business development centers (SBDCs) with international counterparts via web-based platforms as well as direct contacts between centers and small business clients seeking foreign customers and partners. When U.S. small businesses begin to export, they often first look to neighboring countries, and this new initiative will help many Virginian small businesses find export opportunities in Mexico.
Seated(l to r): Anne Schiller, Vice President for Global Strategies and Professor of Anthropology at George Mason University ; Sergio Fernandez Delgadillo, Vice President for Sustainable Development, Autonomous University of Nuevo Leon . Standing (l to r): Roberta Jacobson, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs; Eduardo Medina Mora Icaza, Ambassador of Mexico to the United States.
The signing ceremony at the State Department was attended by several Northern Virginia small business exporters specializing in education, information technology, medical and forensic services, all of whom are clients of the Virginia Small Business Development Center at George Mason University. GMU’s new partnership with UANL, Mexico’s third largest public university and a major regional research institution, will help small businesses in both Virginia and Mexico identify important new trade and export opportunities.
Mexico is the United States’ third-largest trading partner and in 2013, U.S. goods exports to Mexico totaled a record $226.2 billion. In fact, in 2012, Virginia exported $1.1 billion in goods to Mexico, up 17% from 2011, which supported thousands of jobs in the state.
Mexico is also part of the Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations, which will be a high-standard 21st century agreement that will help even more Virginia small businesses engage in trade with Mexico. The TPP provides provisions such as customs and trade facilitation to speed the transfer of goods to markets, services liberalization in areas including IT, consulting, and environmental services, and e-commerce provisions to allow for the free flow of data across borders, all of which will enable U.S. small firms to reach more customers in Mexico and regional TPP partners, and experience the benefits of international trade.
02/25/2014 8:37 PM
Note: This is a cross post from the Small Business Administration blog. To see the original post, please click here.
Exporting is one of the most effective ways for small firms to expand their markets and grow their businesses.
In 2013, President Obama announced that the United States would begin negotiating a comprehensive Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) with the European Union.
Why T-TIP Would Benefit the Economy
United States and EU are each other's largest economic partners, with two-way merchandise trade of $650 billion and $3.8 trillion in foreign direct investment directly supporting more than 13 million jobs in both the United States and the EU. For small companies, the EU represents a considerable market, with over 94,000 U.S. small businesses exporting there in 2011. A successful T-TIP would slash red tape, cut costs, increase trade and investment and support new jobs on both sides of the Atlantic while upholding rules that protect people and the environment.
In order to best represent U.S. SMEs in the negotiations, SBA has actively engaged with the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) to expand export opportunities and enhance cooperation with the EU to help even more SMEs benefit from increased transatlantic trade and investment. The goal of the effort is to represent American SMEs by documenting trade barriers that disproportionally affect small business exporters and to advocate for small businesses doing business with the EU.
Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) and the U.S. economy FTAs are good for the economy. According to recent data from the International Trade Administration (ITA), trade agreements have greatly benefitted the U.S. economy:
- Exports to FTA partners are up 57% since 2009
- 46% of U.S. goods exports go to trade agreement partners
- The U.S. has a $15.2 billion trade surplus in non-oil products with FTA partners, nearly 70% higher than the 2009 value
- In 2013, 21 states had record-high exports to trade agreement countries
- Current and proposed agreements account for
a) Nearly 70% of U.S. goods exports
b) More than 60% of both global services trades and global good trades (including the U.S.), and
c) 65% of global GDP (including the U.S.)
T-TIP Current Status
T-TIP started in July 2013 and are set to continue throughout 2014. A fourth round of talks in Brussels will begin March 10. Given the relevant participation of SBA in the process leading up to the negotiations, the agency is sending a representative to this upcoming session.
For more information on the SBA and export assistance, visit www.sba.gov/oit
For more information on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP), visit www.ustr.gov/ttip
02/24/2014 5:11 PM
This trade spotlight features the Special 301 Report, which reflects the Administration’s resolve to encourage and maintain effective IPR protection and enforcement worldwide.
The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) held a public hearing on Monday, February 24, 2014, to gather information for the 2014 Special 301 Report. The Special 301 Report highlights the economic importance of intellectual property (IP) to the U.S. economy and details other countries’ IP protection and enforcement-related efforts. IP-intensive industries account for nearly 30 million U.S. jobs and drive growth in almost every sector of our economy. Today’s hearing was part of the ongoing USTR effort to give interested parties an opportunity to inform the interagency Special 301 Subcommittee of their IP concerns.
The Special 301 Report is normally released on or around April 30th. Last year’s report can be found here.
The Special 301 Interagency Panel hears testimony from industry and government representatives.
Special 301 decisions are made following extensive consultations with interested parties and foreign governments on often complex IP issues, and information provided in the public hearing and through written public comments help facilitate sound, well-balanced assessments of developments in particular countries. This year’s public submissions for the Special 301 review can be viewed online at www.regulations.gov, docket number USTR-2013-0040. A video and transcript of the hearing will be posted to USTR’s website within two weeks of the hearing date.
In addition to releasing the annual Special 301 Report, USTR conducts year-round engagement to advance the goals of the Special 301 process. On February 12, 2014, USTR released the results of the 2013 Special 301 Out-of-Cycle Review of Notorious Markets. In previous years, the Notorious Market List had been included in the annual Special 301 Report, but USTR now publishes the two reports separately in an effort to increase public awareness of Internet and physical markets that pose significant piracy and counterfeiting challenges.
02/19/2014 6:00 PM
The schedule for the Special 301 Review Public Hearing is available here. The hearing will take place on February 24, 2014, at the offices of the United States Trade Representative, 1724 F St N.W., Washington, D.C., starting promptly at 10:00 a.m. This event is open to the public.
The Special 301 Review Public Hearing is an information-gathering opportunity for the Special 301 Subcommittee. Witnesses will provide an oral testimony and be asked questions from the Subcommittee. Interested parties will also have until 5:00 p.m. on Friday, March 7, 2014, to provide additional comments. Post hearing comments must be submitted via www.regulations.dov, docket number USTR-2013-0040.
Transcripts of the hearing will be available approximately two weeks after the hearing and will be available at www.ustr.gov.
Ambassador Sapiro and Colombian Ambassador Villegas review progress in the US-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement02/13/2014 2:07 PM
The United States-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement (CTPA) entered into force on May 15, 2012. Yesterday, Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Sapiro and Colombia’s Ambassador to the United States, Luis Carlos Villegas, met in Washington to review progress on implementation of the CTPA, as well as to discuss progress on implementing the Colombian Action Plan Related to Labor Rights.
2011 to address concerns regarding labor rights in Colombia, including inadequate efforts to prosecute the perpetrators of violence against union members, and insufficient protection of workers’ rights in labor laws and enforcement. Since then, the Government of Colombia has passed a series of stronger labor laws, hired hundreds of new labor inspectors, police investigators and criminal prosecutors, and started enforcing new laws, including by assessing significant fines for labor violations. During the meeting, Ambassadors Sapiro and Villegas discussed ways to build on this progress and continue working closely together to implement the Action Plan and address remaining concerns. Areas where we are working with the Santos Administration to address remaining challenges include improving the system for collecting fines for labor violations, regulating all forms of contracting that undermine labor rights, hiring labor inspectors and increasing inspections in the Action Plan priority sectors, taking steps to reduce violence further against labor leaders and activists, and increasing criminal prosecution of those responsible for such violent acts.
Ambassadors Sapiro and Villegas also reaffirmed a common commitment to ensuring that both countries benefit from the opportunities that the CTPA offers, including with respect to industrial and agricultural products.
Colombia and the United States have a strong trade relationship that has only improved since the enactment of the CTPA. The United States is Colombia’s largest trading partner, while Colombia is the third largest market for U.S. exports in Latin America. In 2013, U.S. exports to Colombia totaled more than $18.6 billion, up from $14.3 billion in 2011, the last full year prior to entry into force of the Agreement.
For more information about the CTPA, please click here
02/08/2014 3:00 PM
As the Obama Administration negotiates new trade agreements, we work in close consultation with Members of Congress, advisors, stakeholders, and the public at large. Input from these groups is essential for informing and advising U.S. negotiators as they pursue agreements that will open markets and raise global standards on issues like labor rights and environmental protection. With input from stakeholders, U.S. negotiators are pursuing trade agreements with the goal of increasing U.S. exports and, in doing so, creating opportunities for new jobs and higher wages for American workers that support widely shared prosperity.
As part of that consultation process, USTR works with a series of advisory committees that were established by Congress to provide forums where stakeholders can provide their views. These include:
Tier I President’s Advisory Committee on Trade Policy Negotiations (ACTPN)
Tier II Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee (APAC)
Intergovernmental Policy Advisory Committee (IGPAC)
Labor Advisory Committee (LAC)
Trade Advisory Committee on Africa (TACA)
Trade and Environment Policy Advisory Committee (TEPAC)
Tier III Agricultural Technical Advisory Committees (ATACs)
Industry Trade Advisory Committees (ITACs)
Among the advisory committee members are industry representatives, labor unions, environmental groups, consumer groups, health groups, state and local government, and academia. These committees are provided and have an opportunity to comment on all draft U.S. proposals before they are shared with other countries. That information is provided equally to all members of the committees, industry and non-industry alike. All advisors have access to the same information.
Stakeholder engagement ensures that differing viewpoints are heard during trade negotiations. In addition to meetings of our advisory committees, we also encourage stakeholders, on and off these advisory panels, to provide input at any time and on any issue. No individual stakeholder has an assurance that their viewpoint will dominate others or prevail in the negotiations. But all stakeholders are heard as we seek to craft the strongest agreements. We do so with the overall interests of the U.S. economy and American workers across the board in mind. Ultimately, the judgment of whether the national interest is served is made by Congress, which votes on whether to implement any agreement we negotiate.
LABOR CONSULTATIONS AND IMPACT
We have recently been asked about what impact the labor community has had on trade policy. The labor community has had a demonstrable and significant impact on individual trade agreements and the evolution on American trade policy as a whole over the last two decades. The Obama Administration has included the leaders of four major labor unions on the Administration’s highest-level advisory committee, the President’s Advisory Committee on Trade Policy Negotiations:
- International Brotherhood of Teamsters
- United Auto Workers
- United Food and Commercial Workers
- United Steel Workers
The Labor Advisory Committee (LAC) includes the presidents of the following unions:
- American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (current and emeritus presidents)
- Airline Pilots Association
- American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada
- American Federation of Teachers
- American Federation of Television and Radio Artists
- Chicago Federation of Labor
- Farm Labor Organizing Committee
- International Air Line Pilots Associations
- International Association of Flight Attendants
- International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (Chair)
- International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers
- International Brotherhood of Teamsters
- International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers
- International Union of Electronic, Salaried, Machine, and Furniture Workers
- Service Employees International Union
- Transportation and Trades Department (AFL-CIO)
- Union Label & Service Trades Department (AFL-CIO)
- United Automobile, Aerospace & Agricultural Implement Workers of America
- United Farm Workers of America
- United Food and Commercial Workers
- United Mineworkers of America
- United Steelworkers
Engagement with the Labor Advisory Committee is not limited to regular meetings of union presidents. It also includes meetings with representatives for the Labor Advisory Committee members. Seven such meetings were held in 2013.
Additionally, the Labor Advisory Committee chair is included in monthly conference calls where USTR negotiators provide updates on the status of trade negotiations to the leadership of all our trade advisory committees.
We continually seek to broaden the membership of our advisory committees so that they best represent the broadest range of views and we accept new applications for membership on a regular basis.
Since the early 1990s, the labor community has advocated for enforceable labor and environmental obligations in our trade agreements subject to the same dispute settlement mechanisms as commercial obligations. Under the bipartisan “May 10 Agreement,” negotiated by Democratic members of the House of Representatives, American trade policy took an important step forward: requiring trade partners to strengthen labor rights and implement key environmental protections as part of U.S. trade agreements. Building on this important agreement, the Obama Administration has embraced the “May 10” approach and is insisting on enforceable labor and environmental protections in our ongoing negotiations, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP). We have made this bedrock principle clear, publicly and privately.
A world with TPP is a world in which labor standards are higher, environmental protections are stronger, and American workers compete on a more level playing field. A world without TPP is a world in which we do not make these advances.
The labor community has helped shape TPP provisions including freedom of association and collective bargaining, protections from forced and child labor, employment discrimination, and minimum wages. In addition to working with the labor community to shape labor-related provisions of TPP, the Obama Administration has held extensive discussions on all aspects of the agreement. For example, at the urging of stakeholders in the labor community and other sectors, USTR is leading the charge to address unfair competition from state-owned enterprises, to structure rules of origin to promote more manufacturing in the United States, and to influence policy on many other areas (e.g., customs, export licensing, government procurement, supply chains).
The labor community’s impact on trade is not limited to negotiations. On issues ranging from trade remedies to trade enforcement, labor voices have been heard.
Those voices will continue to be heard. In just the past few months Ambassador Froman has met individually or had telephone consultations with the heads of several major unions including:
- American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations
- International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers
- United Auto Workers
- United Food and Commercial Workers
- United Steelworkers
On December 16, Ambassador Froman and Secretary of Labor Perez convened the Labor Advisory Committee to which all members were invited. It was attended by the Director of the National Economic Council, Gene Sperling and the interagency trade team, as well as the heads of the following unions:
- International Airline Pilots Association
- International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers
- International Federal of Professional and Technical Engineers
- United Steelworkers
- United Food and Commercial Workers
Our stakeholders – private sector and non-private sector alike – play a valuable role in shaping U.S. trade policy. We will continue to work with them on an approach to trade that fosters economic growth, supports jobs here at home, and strengthens America’s middle class.
USTR Director for Environment and Natural Resources Sarah Stewart Participates in Inaugural Environment Meetings with the Government of Panama02/04/2014 5:57 PM
[Courtesy of the U.S. Department of State. From left to right:Norman Harris, General Coordinator for Implementation of the U.S. – Panama Trade Promotion Agreement, Panama Ministry of Commerce and Trade; Jonathan D. Farrar, U.S. Ambassador to Panama; Silvano Vergara Vasquez, Minister of Environment and General Administrator of Panama's National Environment Authority; Judith Garber, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, U.S. Department of State; Sarah Stewart, Director for Environment and Natural Resources, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative; David Diaz, Legal Counsel for Panama’s National Environment Authority. ]
The United States and Panama have a long history of economic cooperation that was cemented the United States-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement (TPA), which entered into force on October 31, 2012. The TPA promotes economic growth and trade, but also includes important provisions to advance the countries’ mutual commitment to strengthen environmental protection.
On January 29, Director for Environment and Natural Resources Sarah Stewart traveled to Panama to co-chair the inaugural meeting of the United States - Panama Environmental Affairs Council (EAC) and participate in the first session of the U.S. - Panama Environmental Cooperation Commission (ECC). The Council and Commission meetings are an important way for the U.S. and Panama to exchange information about respective efforts to continue to implement the Environment Chapter of the TPA, identify pressing challenges and priority areas for environmental cooperation, and formulate a plan to achieve further progress.
The Council reviewed several areas of progress under the TPA's Environment Chapter, including actions taken by the United States and Panama 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. The Council also set concrete next steps for establishing an independent secretariat to receive submissions from the public regarding concerns that one or both parties are not effectively enforcing their environmental laws.
The Environmental Cooperation Commission (ECC) reviewed ongoing environmental cooperation activities and approved and signed the first U.S.-Panama Environmental Cooperation Work Plan under the ECA, which provides a robust framework for advancing environmental cooperation in the coming years.
The meetings culminated with a public session in which over 30 stakeholders engaged in an active discussion with government officials about implementation of the TPA Environment Chapter, existing environmental cooperation programs, and plans for further cooperation.
For more information, please see the Joint Communique of the U.S.-Panama Environmental Affairs Council and Environmental Cooperation Commission.
01/27/2014 2:44 PM
In their Sunday, January 26 editorial entitled “A new path on trade deals,” the L.A. Times Editorial Board calls for an updated Trade Promotion Authority bill, which will “give Congress the chance to set prerequisites and goals for trade deals.” You can read more from their editorial on Trade Promotion Authority here.
To learn more about Trade Promotion Authority, please visit http://www.ustr.gov/trade-topics/trade-promotion-authority.
01/24/2014 4:49 PM
Note: This is a cross post from the White House blog. To see the original post, please click here.
Last June, President Obama unveiled his Climate Action Plan to combat climate change through domestic and international action. In his Georgetown speech announcing the plan, the President directed his Administration to “launch negotiations toward global free trade in environmental goods and services, including clean energy technology, to help more countries skip past the dirty phase of development and join a global low-carbon economy.” This week, the United States and like-minded trading partners took an important step in pushing forward this initiative, which will support green jobs here at home and level the playing field for our exporters abroad.
Today the United States announced plans for a new initiative with 13 other partner countries – find the list here – to eliminate tariffs on environmental goods in the World Trade Organization (WTO). The countries participating in today’s announcement account for 86 percent of global trade in environmental goods, such as such as solar water heaters, wind turbines, and catalytic converters.
Eliminating tariffs on renewable and clean energy technologies can make them cheaper and more accessible for everyone. Tariffs add unnecessary costs to the technologies needed to fight pollution and protect the environment, such as water filtration and renewable energy technologies. Total global trade in environmental goods totals nearly $955 billion annually, and some countries currently apply tariffs as high as 35 percent.
U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said, “Our announcement here today is just the beginning, and in the coming weeks and we will be consulting closely with our stakeholders, including our Congress, business and environmental communities, to ensure that such an agreement advances our environmental objectives and supports economic growth, green jobs and innovation.”
This WTO initiative will build on the initiative that started with the President’s leadership at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in Honolulu in 2011 and continued into 2012, when APEC leaders committed to cut tariffs on a list of 54 environmental goods to five percent or less by 2015. The negotiations will be open to any WTO member that shares a similar commitment to trade liberalization and environmental protection.
With today’s announcement, the U.S. demonstrates its ongoing leadership in addressing climate change and the importance of cooperation with other major emitting countries, including China, to confront these global challenges together in a way that protects the environment and promotes economic growth.
01/24/2014 3:00 PM
By Michael Froman, U.S. Trade Representative
Mayors have the best seat in the house when it comes to understanding how trade propels American communities and business. Whether you’re on Main Street in Portland or Peachtree Street in Atlanta; a family farm in South Dakota or a factory floor in South Carolina, trade touches your community in a positive way.
Earlier this week, I met with mayors from across the country who convened in the District of Columbia for their annual U.S. Conference of Mayors winter meeting. Among the organization’s many objectives is to promote effective economic policies in urban and suburban areas. Mayors are looking for opportunities to grow their local economies as many are still recovering from the worst recession since the great depression. The proven ability of trade to support jobs in American communities has the potential to help us succeed.
More and more these days, Americans overwhelmingly recognize that potential for themselves.
Americans know that creating new opportunities for business owners, farmers, factory workers, and high-tech entrepreneurs, means economic growth and job creation for the middle class in their backyards.
To that end, we are currently negotiating the most ambitious trade agenda in the history of the United States, anchored by two major trade agreements with Asia and Europe. The first is the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) that will grow the export of Made-in-America goods to eleven countries in the Asia-Pacific region, supporting jobs here at home while strengthening environmental protections and improving working conditions throughout the Pacific Rim. And the second is the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) that would decrease remaining barriers in an already robust relationship, streamlining regulations for U.S. workers and firms.
The collective economic potential of these partnerships is compelling. Combined with existing agreements, these partnerships would allow American businesses to sell more products to 1.5 billion consumers globally who represent two-thirds of the world’s GDP. The addition of T-TIP and TPP to our collection of free trade agreements means at least 28 states would have exceeded $10 billion in annual exports based on the most recent economic data.
That’s an economic boon that will be felt in cities, towns, and communities coast-to-coast. In 2012 alone, every billion dollars of exported goods supported more than 5,300 American jobs while the same amount in services exports supported nearly 4,000 jobs here at home. What’s more is these jobs pay well: on average, export-related jobs pay between 13 and 18 percent more than the U.S. average.
Our economic interests will be buoyed by trade agreements that reflect our values and commitments to both better labor practices and higher environmental standards. Other countries must improve their own standards in ways that also help American workers compete. That means manufacturers, entrepreneurs, and farmers will be on a level playing field and able to compete with their counterparts in Japan, Canada, Chile, or Singapore. Advancing these trade agreements means more exports that will support hundreds of thousands of additional jobs in American cities and throughout the countryside.
Already, American cities play a critical role in driving exports but the opportunity exists for U.S. exports to dramatically increase and carry municipal economies into a period of strong growth. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, exports from U.S. metropolitan areas make up 88 percent of the U.S. total merchandise exports. To leverage that contribution and bring home the benefits of these agreements, Congress will need to pass Trade Promotion Authority legislation in order to both define its own role in the negotiating process and set out steps for consideration of these agreements.
The mayors who I spoke with want Congress to prepare the way for these agreements so that their cities can seize the exceptional potential for export-supported growth.
Communities across the country are eager for their hometown entrepreneurs to have the chance to succeed and grow. They’re eager to again feel the wind at the back of the middle class. We need Congress to do its part to establish a process to pass new, higher-standard, job-supporting agreements. From our front-row seats, we want to see local economies thrive – fueled by exports and by the support of Congress to help us reach our full potential in the global marketplace.
01/20/2014 2:34 PM
By U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman
You and I have an opportunity on Monday to celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. through a day of service and volunteering. Regardless of where you live or the need in your community, some organization, a school, a child, a veteran, a senior citizen, or a family needs your help.
My family and I will spend part of our day with 350 other volunteers to support veterans and active members of the military at the Points of Light service project. The Points of Light Day of Service aims to help DC veterans and their families transition from military service to civilian life. We will work to assemble 1,000 care packages for wounded warriors, that will be sent to hospitals overseas where our U.S. service members are recovering. In addition, the service event will feature areas for volunteers to write letters to active military members, workshops for veterans to prepare for interviews and jobs, and activities for their children and families.
Fifty years ago, Dr. King illustrated his dream for America, which has since become a beacon to ensure the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are enjoyed by all. For all of you, it is my great hope that you will find a service project in your community and spend a few hours lending a hand.
To find a service opportunity near you, please visit: http://www.pointsoflight.org/volunteer/opportunities. You can also follow the #MLKDay2014 hashtag to receive updates on service projects around the country, and share your own service activities on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
01/15/2014 4:50 PM
The United States’ position on the environment in the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations is this: environmental stewardship is a core American value, and we will insist on a robust, fully enforceable environment chapter in the TPP or we will not come to agreement.
Our proposals in the TPP are centered around the enforcement of environmental laws, including those implementing multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) in TPP partner countries, and also around trailblazing, first-ever conservation proposals that will raise standards across the region. Furthermore, our proposals would enhance international cooperation and create new opportunities for public participation in environmental governance and enforcement.
We are glad to explain here how the United States is working to ensure that partners’ commitments under multilateral environmental agreements and other environmental laws and rules are enforced in the TPP.
The groundbreaking conservation and marine fisheries provisions proposed by the United States in the TPP talks – fully explained in our December 2011 “Green Paper” online – go beyond the multilateral agreements on fisheries management to which the United States and some of the other countries are already parties. We are proposing that the TPP include, for the first time in any trade or environment agreement, groundbreaking prohibitions on fish subsidies that set a new and higher baseline for fisheries protections.
Similarly, the broader U.S. proposals on conservation, also detailed in our Green Paper, would elevate other TPP countries’ commitments toward our own congressionally-set standards on issues such as the conservation of wildlife, forests, and protected areas.
Even as we push to raise the bar on environmental protections in new ways, we continue to insist that countries live up to commitments they’ve made in their own laws implementing their MEAs. These include but are not limited to the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES), the Montreal protocol which covers ozone-depleting substances, and the MARPOL agreement which governs marine pollution from ships. So the United States is standing firm on logging regulations, pollution control and other key issues where we’ve always led the way.
U.S. negotiators have made clear where we don’t agree with weaker TPP proposals on environmental provisions, and just how serious we are about making sure that the obligations in the environmental chapter are subject to the same enforcement processes as obligations elsewhere in the TPP, including recourse to trade sanctions.
It’s true that U.S. negotiators are fighting alone on some of these issues – but that’s exactly what they’re doing: pressing harder, not retreating.
In December the trade ministers of the 12 TPP countries met for three days to tackle tough issues together, including in the environment chapter. There, the United States reiterated our bedrock position on enforceability of the entire environment chapter, as well as our strong commitments to provisions such as those combating wildlife trafficking and illegal logging.
The entire TPP negotiation, including on the environmental chapter, is ongoing. We will continue to work with Congress and with our stakeholders in the environmental community, as we have from day one, for the strongest possible outcome. Together, we can continue to call on TPP partners to join us in achieving the high environmental standards being proposed and advocated by the United States.
01/14/2014 12:20 PM
By Christina Sevilla, Deputy Assistant USTR for Small Business
Internet-enabled trade has grown dramatically in recent years and is empowering millions of U.S. and foreign small businesses to sell their goods and services to customers around the world, 24 hours a day. Internet-enabled trade allows small businesses to have an online presence, while maintaining a physical local presence and contributing to the local economy and jobs in their communities. A recent series of studies of online marketplace data found that internet-enabled small businesses are more likely to export and reach more country markets than their offline counterparts. For example, one study found that almost all small businesses on online marketplaces such as eBay export and on average reach between 24 and 39 foreign markets. Small businesses can increase their export sales through their company web presence and multiple platforms.
Technology innovations are expanding the global customer base while reducing the costs of trade and reducing the importance of geographic distance in finding customers. The study notes that internet access increased 300% in all developing markets from 2004-2012, while online sales in all developing markets increased 800% over the same period. In 2013, the value of cross-border online trade was $114 billion across the U.S., United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, China and Brazil, with a combined 94 million online shoppers. This value is projected to increase to $307 billion in trade and 130 million online shoppers across these countries by 2018.
Trade policies that promote e-commerce and internet-enabled services, electronic payment methods and improved customs logistics can enable even more small businesses to grow and thrive globally online. This month, the U.S. and 159 other WTO members reached a historic trade facilitation agreement that increases predictability, simplicity and uniformity in customs procedures and includes key measures such as the online publication of steps to import, export, and transit goods, and use of electronic payments.
In negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP), the U.S. Trade Representative aims to promote U.S. competitiveness in the digital economy by ensuring that electronically-distributed products do not face government-sanctioned discrimination based on nationality or territory, committing to allow for the free flow of information to facilitate electronic commerce, and providing market access and national treatment commitments for cross-border services and Internet-enabled services, such as social networking services.
01/07/2014 11:45 AM
The Winder Building, home to the Washington D.C. headquarters of the U.S. Trade Representative, has a long history beyond being the birthplace and enforcement grounds of much of America’s trade policy. In addition to being Washington’s first ‘skyscraper’ when it opened for business in 1848, it was also the place where Judge Advocate General Joseph Holt coordinated the search for President Abraham Lincoln's assassins!
To learn more about the great history of USTR’s Winder Building, check out the U.S. General Services Administration’s overview of the Winder Building, here, as well as USTR’s historical overview, here.
01/03/2014 4:57 PM
The Obama Administration has an ambitious trade agenda for 2014 – and as we pursue it, we’re building on a growing record of strong results for American manufacturers, service providers, workers, farmers, and ranchers.
In 2013, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) made great strides in advancing President Obama’s economic agenda of creating jobs, promoting growth, and strengthening America’s middle class. Trade and investment have a critical role to play in promoting economic growth by opening markets throughout the world building ladders of opportunity and higher living standards for families, farmers, manufacturers, workers, and consumers.
This year the United States launched two groundbreaking trade negotiations, made substantial progress towards concluding a third, and secured the first major multilateral agreement in two decades. In April, the United States and nearly four dozen like-minded partners initiated work on a Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) that will promote fair and open competition across a broad spectrum of service sectors, and are working to eliminate tariff barriers on high-technology goods through an expansion of the Information Technology Agreement (ITA). In June, U.S. and European Union (EU) Leaders announced the launch of the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP), an effort to strengthen an economic partnership that already accounts for half of global output. In 2013, U.S. and Asia-Pacific negotiators held four more rounds of Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations, making substantial progress towards completing the landmark 12-country agreement. And in December, the United States played a leading role in securing a package of World Trade Organization (WTO) decisions to streamline global customs and other border procedures, promote food security, and use trade as a tool to alleviate poverty.
“Ninety-five percent of the world’s consumers and eighty percent of the world’s purchasing power are outside our borders. That’s why USTR is seizing on every opportunity to increase our exports, grow our economy, and support job creation aimed at strengthening the American middle class,” said Ambassador Froman. “We’re selling more Made in America products to the rest of the world than ever before. But, there is still more we can do to help support the additional job creation our economy needs by harnessing the power of exports.”
The President has laid out one of the most ambitious trade agendas in history, and USTR is committed to getting it right. This commitment is evidenced by the multitude of accomplishments USTR has secured during the last 12 months.
1. Supporting More American Jobs Through U.S. Exports
Increased U.S. exports continue to support the growth of good-paying jobs here at home. In coordination with Congress and agencies across the Administration, USTR actively pursued ambitious major initiatives and opportunities to streamline international trade and boost U.S. exports through dialogue and negotiations throughout 2013.
- Completed WTO Agreement and Other Actions at the 9th Ministerial Conference in Bali, Indonesia. The United States led WTO Members in completing a “Bali package” in December 2013. In doing so, the WTO concluded its first new multilateral trade agreement since the creation of the WTO in 1995. The Trade Facilitation Agreement will help to open new markets for U.S. exporters by reducing customs barriers they face worldwide; our small businesses will be among the biggest winners, since they encounter the greatest difficulties in navigating the current system. Importantly, the efficiencies generated by customs reforms associated with the Trade Facilitation Agreement will reduce significantly the costs of trading for all WTO Members, including developing countries. By some estimates, the global economic value of this new WTO deal could be worth nearly $1 trillion.
- Significantly Advanced the Trans-Pacific Partnership Negotiations. In 2013, the United States and 11 partners (Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam) substantially advanced the negotiation of a comprehensive, high-standard TPP agreement that will expand U.S. access to the markets of the dynamic Asia-Pacific region, and support economic growth and jobs in the United States. The large and growing markets of the Asia-Pacific already are key destinations for U.S. manufactured goods, agricultural products, and services suppliers, and the TPP will further deepen this trade and investment while addressing new and emerging 21st century issues of concern to U.S. stakeholders – including trade in a growing digital economy. TPP negotiators held four formal TPP negotiating rounds and numerous intersessional meetings this year, augmented by a Leaders meeting and four Ministerial Meetings. Work to finalize the TPP will continue into 2014.
- Created Greater Opportunities in TPP through Japan’s Participation. The potential economic and export opportunities of the TPP for the United States were significantly increased with Japan’s participation in the TPP negotiations beginning in July 2013, with the twelve TPP countries now representing nearly 40 percent of global GDP and a third of global trade. The United States was able to support Japan’s entry into the negotiations following the successful conclusion of bilateral consultations that resulted in a series of agreements with and actions by Japan. Among other steps, this included agreement on the terms for bilateral negotiations being conducted in parallel to the TPP negotiations to address issues related to automotive trade, insurance, and other non-tariff measures (NTMs).
- Launched Comprehensive Trade and Investment Negotiations with the European Union. On June 17, at the conclusion of the U.S.-EU Summit meeting in the United Kingdom, President Obama and EU leaders announced that the United States and the EU would launch negotiations on a comprehensive trade and investment agreement to strengthen a partnership that already supports $1 billion in two-way trade, $4 trillion in investment, and 13 million jobs – the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) agreement. This launch followed a 14-month intensive analysis of trade and investment options for the EU and the United States under the High Level Working Group for Jobs and Growth, which culminated in a February 13 report recommending a comprehensive negotiation. After completing the first three negotiating rounds in 2013, USTR plans to conduct five rounds in 2014. Though the U.S.-EU trade relationship is already the world’s largest, the T-TIP holds the potential to further increase economic growth on both sides of the Atlantic.
- Advanced Negotiations to Expand the Product Coverage of the ITA. In 2013, the United States led efforts in Geneva to advance negotiations to substantially expand the scope of products covered by the Information Technology Agreement. As a result of persistent and targeted outreach, the number of Members participating in the negotiations increased from 6 Members at the launch of negotiations in May 2012 to 28 Members by September 2013, representing a critical mass of global Information and Communication (ICT) trade (approximately 90 percent). USTR led the charge for a comprehensive expansion of product coverage, and built a coalition of WTO Members to support a suspension of the ITA negotiations in response to China’s efforts to significantly lower the ambition of the deal. The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation estimates that the liberalization of duties on additional technology products could increase direct U.S. exports by $2.8 billion, and increase annual global GDP by $190 billion.
- Launched the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA). A free-trade agreement focused exclusively on services, TiSA will encompass state-of-the-art trade rules aimed at promoting fair and open competition across a broad spectrum of service sectors. Presently there are nearly 4 dozen participants in the TiSA negotiations, representing almost two-thirds of world trade in services and a combined services market exceeding $30 trillion – or approximately half of the global economy. With every $1 billion in services exports supporting an estimated 4,000 U.S. jobs, promoting the expansion of services trade globally will pay dividends for the United States.
- Saw Key Export Increases Under the United States-Korea Free Trade Agreement. In 2013, twelve committees and working groups established under the agreement met to monitor the implementation of FTA commitments. Despite the weak Korean economy that depressed its overall imports of goods from the world, a number of U.S. products that won substantial market access improvements under the agreement posted solid export gains – including manufactured goods, aircraft, electrical equipment, pharmaceuticals, services, and numerous agricultural products from dairy to fruits.
- Expanded Trade with Colombia. The United States - Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement celebrated the first anniversary of its entry into force in May 2013. U.S. goods exports were up 28.6 percent for the first 10 months of 2013 as compared to the same period in 2011, i.e. pre-FTA. Transportation equipment exports increased substantially, along with exports of petroleum and coal products, processed foods, and electronics. USTR also continued its work with the U.S. Department of Labor and the Colombian government to oversee continuing advances in implementation of the Colombia Action Plan Related to Labor Rights.
- Strengthened our Economic Relationship with Panama. In November, Vice President Biden traveled to Panama to highlight, among other things, the U.S.-Panamanian economic relationship, including the first anniversary of the entry-into-force of the United States - Panama Trade Promotion Agreement on October 31, 2013. U.S. goods exports to Panama for the first year following the Agreement’s entry into force (November 2012-October 2013) were 14.6 percent higher than the same period in 2011-12.
- Making Progress with China on Key Trade Issues. USTR used the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade, the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue and other bilateral engagement to make meaningful progress on key trade and investment issues, though there is more work to do. This year, the United States secured China’s commitments to take significant steps on intellectual property and innovation, as China recognized the need to strengthen procedures and remedies against the misappropriation of trade secrets, to enforce requirements on state-owned enterprises to purchase legitimate software, and to take effective legislative and other measures to fight counterfeiting and piracy, particularly on the Internet. China also confirmed that it would provide patent protection for pharmaceutical inventions in line with international norms. In addition, China agreed to remove certain barriers associated with 4G telecommunications devices, Chinese government procurement of vehicles and testing and certification organizations, among other areas. China agreed to adopt the U.S. approach to national treatment in the ongoing U.S.-China bilateral investment treaty (BIT) negotiations, for the first time committing to cover market access issues and explicitly negotiate any exceptions in a BIT. Finally, China has committed to submit a significantly improved revised offer by the end of this year to join the WTO Government Procurement Agreement (GPA) and to submit an even more ambitious offer in 2014 that is, on the whole, commensurate with other GPA members.
Using every tool available, USTR vigorously enforced U.S. rights under our trade agreements, ensuring that more Americans realized the benefits promised by those pacts. The Administration’s robust enforcement efforts are securing a level playing field for American workers, farmers, ranchers, manufacturers, and service providers, increasing our export opportunities, and helping U.S. producers stay globally competitive in a variety of sectors and industries.
The President’s comprehensive trade enforcement strategy also promotes and protects innovation critical to U.S. exports and well-paying, 21st century jobs, and upholds key commitments to protect labor rights and the environment.
- Prevailed Against Chinese Duties on U.S. Exports of Chicken Broiler Products. In September 2013, the WTO adopted a panel report finding that the United States had demonstrated that China’s antidumping and countervailing duties on chicken broiler products breached WTO rules. This dispute is a critical win for our poultry industry as the WTO panel rejected China’s approach of refusing to use the companies’ own accounting books and records to establish costs, artificially inflating the dumping. This dispute is a clear example of USTR’s strategy to fight back against China’s misuse of its trade remedies laws and to seek to ensure that China does not unfairly block U.S. exports. China will now have a period of time to comply, expiring in July 2014.
- Challenged Indonesia’s Use of Import Licensing Restrictions. In August 2013, the United States and New Zealand each requested consultations with Indonesia concerning its non-automatic import licensing requirements and quotas that serve as serious impediments to trade in horticultural products, animals, and animal products. After the United States filed its original consultations request with Indonesia in January 2013, Indonesia revised its measures, but these changes did not remove the trade restrictions. Indonesia’s complex web of import licensing requirements, along with quotas, has the effect of unfairly restricting U.S. exports. Consultations were held in September 2013, and the United States, together with New Zealand, is actively considering next steps to ensure that U.S. exporters can compete without market access restrictions.
- Challenged India’s Discriminatory Local Content Requirements on Solar Cells and Modules. In February 2013, the United States requested WTO consultations with India concerning domestic content requirements in India’s national solar program. India’s program discriminates against U.S. solar equipment by requiring solar energy producers to use Indian-manufactured solar cells and modules and by offering subsidies to those developers for using domestic equipment instead of imports. These forced localization requirements of India’s national solar program restrict India’s market to U.S. imports. India has not removed and has even expanded local content requirements in its solar program, and the United States is actively considering next steps. Tackling these barriers is a top priority of the Obama Administration.
- Launched a Section 301 Investigation of Ukraine’s Intellectual Property Practices. In May 2013, the USTR initiated an investigation under section 301 of the 1974 Trade Act concerning specific acts, policies, and practices of the Government of Ukraine related to the protection of intellectual property rights. The three critical problems in Ukraine’s IPR regime that are the subject of the investigation are the Ukrainian government’s persistent use of pirated software, failure to combat piracy over the Internet, and non-transparent and unfair administration and operation of royalty collecting societies. In September 2013, USTR held a public hearing on the issues under investigation. The investigation is due to be concluded in February 2014.
- Monitored Chinese Actions on Duties on U.S. Steel Exports. In November 2012, the WTO adopted panel and Appellate Body reports vindicating U.S. claims that China failed to abide by its substantive and procedural obligations in imposing anti-dumping and countervailing duties on hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of grain-oriented electrical steel (GOES) made in Ohio and Pennsylvania. China announced that it had complied with the WTO recommendations in August 2013. The United States disagreed and is actively evaluating China’s measures and next steps to ensure that U.S. GOES exports regain their access to China’s large and growing market.
- Monitored Chinese Actions Affecting Electronic Payment Services (EPS). In August 2012, the WTO adopted a panel report finding that the United States had demonstrated that China’s restrictions on foreign suppliers of EPS for card-based transactions were inconsistent with commitments China made when it joined the WTO. China announced in July 2013 that it had complied with the WTO recommendations, but the United States disagreed. USTR considers that China continues to deny market access to foreign service providers, including the American EPS providers who are world leaders in this sector. The United States has raised its concerns at the WTO and is evaluating China’s actions and considering next steps to insist on the market access to which U.S. EPS suppliers are entitled.
- Exercised U.S. Trade Rights to Defend and Secure a Level Playing Field for American Aerospace Manufacturers. The United States continues to pursue compliance panel proceedings launched in April 2012 due to the EU’s failure to comply with the WTO’s 2011 findings that $18 billion in subsidies conferred on Airbus by the EU and member countries were WTO-inconsistent. The Administration is fighting to protect and promote the jobs of U.S. aerospace engineers and electricians and related suppliers and ensure that U.S. aircraft manufacturers can compete on a more level playing field. The United States participated in a meeting with the compliance panel this year, and a decision is expected in 2014. In a separate but related dispute, the European Union has initiated compliance panel proceedings, and USTR is vigorously defending U.S. interests. The United States remains prepared to engage in any meaningful efforts, through formal consultations and otherwise, that will lead to the goal of ending subsidized financing at the earliest possible date.
- Challenged Argentina’s Widespread Use of Import Restrictions. The United States continues to pursue WTO dispute settlement panel proceedings to examine Argentina’s import restrictions on all U.S. goods imported into Argentina. These measures include the broad use of non-transparent and discretionary import licensing requirements that have the effect of unfairly restricting U.S. exports. Argentina further disadvantages U.S. exports by requiring importers to agree to undertake burdensome trade balancing commitments, such as agreeing to export a certain value of Argentine goods, in exchange for authorization to import U.S. goods. In coordination with our co-complainants the European Union and Japan, the United States participated in two panel meetings this year, and a decision is expected in 2014.
- Challenged China’s Export Restraints on Rare Earth Elements, Tungsten, and Molybdenum. In 2013, the United States continued to pursue its WTO challenge to China’s unfair export restraints on rare earth elements, tungsten, and molybdenum, key inputs in many U.S. manufacturing sectors and American made products including hybrid car batteries, wind turbines, energy-efficient lighting, steel, advanced electronics, automobiles, petroleum, and chemicals. These restraints appear to be part of a troubling industrial policy aimed at providing substantial competitive advantage for Chinese manufacturers at the expense of foreign manufacturers. As a leading global producer of these materials, China’s export restraints provide unfair advantages to China’s downstream producers and create pressure on foreign producers to move their operations, jobs, and technologies to China. In coordination with our co-complainants the European Union and Japan, USTR participated in two panel meetings this year, and a decision is expected early in 2014.
- Challenged India’s Import Ban on Agricultural Products. In 2013, the United States continued to prosecute its WTO challenge to India’s prohibition on the importation of certain U.S. agricultural products, including poultry meat and chicken eggs. Although India’s measure purports to be concerned with preventing avian influenza, the measure does not have a scientific basis and is not in line with international standards. The United States has participated in two panel meetings this year, and a decision is expected in 2014.
- Developed and Enhanced the Interagency Trade Enforcement Center (ITEC). In February 2012, President Obama established the Interagency Trade Enforcement Center (ITEC) to take a “whole-of-government” approach to monitoring and enforcing Americans’ trade rights around the world. In 2013, ITEC provided research and analysis for new WTO dispute settlement consultation requests regarding Indonesia Import Restrictions and India Solar Local Content. ITEC also provided substantive support for a variety of ongoing WTO disputes such as China Autos and Auto Parts Export Bases and Argentina Import Restrictions, and WTO compliance matters such as China Raw Materials as well as developing issues for possible future dispute settlement action and enforcement-related negotiations.
- Integrated Russia into the Rules-Based System of the World Trade Organization (WTO). During Russia’s first year as a WTO Member, USTR worked to ensure that Russia implemented its WTO commitments so that American firms, exporters and workers can enjoy the full benefits of Russia’s WTO membership. In September, Russia became the 78th participant of the Information Technology Agreement Committee, ensuring significant market access for our information technology sector. In response to objections from the United States and other WTO Members, Russia amended its “recycling fee” to address discrimination with respect to imported vehicles. The Administration will continue to use the tools of the WTO to raise concerns about other Russian policies that appear to discriminate against U.S. exports of goods and services, in such areas as sanitary and phytosanitary measures, intellectual property rights, import licensing of products with cryptographic capabilities and trade remedies. Reflecting these efforts, USTR issued the first annual Russia WTO Enforcement and Implementation Reports.
- Leveraged Trade to Improve Worker Rights and Safety in Bangladesh. After extensive review of a petition filed by the AFL-CIO, USTR recommended that the President suspend Bangladesh’s eligibility for Generalized System of Preference (GSP) trade benefits due to that country’s inadequate provision of internationally recognized worker rights. USTR prepared an Action Plan for improving worker rights in Bangladesh and is working with the Bangladesh Government on its effective implementation, which would allow reinstatement of GSP benefits.
- Strengthened Labor Rights in Guatemala. The United States and Guatemala signed a robust enforcement plan in April 2013 to resolve concerns that were raised in the dispute settlement case brought by the United States against Guatemala under the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement. In the Enforcement Plan, Guatemala agreed to take significant actions to strengthen labor inspections, expedite and streamline the process of sanctioning employers and ordering remediation of labor violations, increase labor law compliance by exporting companies, improve the monitoring and enforcement of labor court orders, publish labor law enforcement information, and establish mechanisms to ensure that workers are paid what they are owed when factories close.
- Held Bahrain to its Labor Commitments. In May, the United States requested consultations with Bahrain under the United States – Bahrain Free Trade Agreement to discuss the apparent targeting of trade unionists and leaders for dismissal after a general strike in March 2011 and labor laws that do not provide adequate protection on these issues. Although the Bahraini government has taken important steps to address labor concerns following the unrest in 2011, problems remain and the trade agreement provides a mechanism for collaborative discussions. Consultations began in July, and USTR is working with Bahrain toward a positive resolution that includes steps to ensure workers can fully exercise their fundamental labor rights.
- Strengthened Labor Rights in Jordan. The United States worked closely with Jordan to conclude an Implementation Plan Related to Working and Living Conditions of Workers. The plan includes commitments by Jordan to increase access for unions in garment factories and improve standards and oversight of dormitories for foreign workers. Since the plan was issued in January, Jordan has published new standards for dormitories and the major garment industry associations signed a landmark collective bargaining agreement with Jordan’s garment union that addresses wages, benefits and representation issues for workers in the entire garment sector.
- Strengthened Labor Rights in Haiti. USTR obtained improved compliance by several Haitian companies with the labor-related requirements of the Haitian Hemispheric Opportunity through the Partnership Encouragement Act of 2008.
- Implemented Forest Sector Reforms under the Peru FTA. Following an extensive investigation the U.S. Government responded to a petition from an environmental group under the Forest Annex of the United States – Peru Trade Promotion Agreement, USTR led negotiations to conclude a five-point bilateral Action Plan with Peru in January 2013 to address key challenges identified in the investigation. The Action Plan sets forth a targeted set of actions for Peru to undertake, including implementing anti-corruption measures, improving systems to track and verify the chain of custody of timber exports, ensuring timely criminal and administrative proceedings for forestry-related crimes and infractions, and strengthening development of accurate annual operating plans for timber producers. The United States is supporting Peru’s actions to implement the Action Plan through a number of ongoing environmental cooperation projects as well as planned activities that will further enhance implementation, such as trainings for environmental prosecutors.
- Monitored and Implemented FTA Environment Chapters. USTR developed a whole of government plan for monitoring our trading partners’ implementation of their FTA environment chapter obligations. The plan entails fact gathering and evaluation of environmental issues in our FTA partner countries. The new monitoring plan will strengthen USTR’s ongoing efforts to ensure that our trading partners comply with FTA obligations.
- Extended Additional Market Access for U.S. Beef Exports to the EU. The United States agreed with the EU to revise the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the United States of America and the European Commission Regarding the Importation of Beef from Animals not Treated with Certain Growth Promoting Hormones to extend Phase 2 of the MOU for an additional two years. Under the extension, the EU will maintain until August 2, 2015, its duty-free tariff rate quota (TRQ) for high-quality beef, established pursuant to the MOU, at the Phase 2 quantity of 45,000 metric tons per year.
- Ensured Colombia’s Compliance with its Trade Obligations Involving Exports of U.S. Rice. USTR resolved an issue concerning the administration of the tariff-rate quota for U.S. rice pursuant to the Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement. This outcome addressed concerns of industry stakeholders in both countries. For the period January-October 2013, U.S. rice exports to Colombia topped $48 million, compared to $7.3 million for the same period in 2012.
- Led Interagency Annual Review to Monitor Progress on the AGOA Eligibility Criteria. USTR reviewed whether 46 sub-Saharan African countries are making continual progress toward establishing market-based economies, elimination of barriers to U.S. trade and investment, protection of intellectual property, efforts to combat corruption, policies to reduce poverty, and protection of human rights and worker rights.
- Saw Settlement of Investment Dispute Awards with Argentina. In March 2012, Argentina’s eligibility for trade benefits under the Generalized System of Preferences was suspended due to its failure to pay outstanding arbitral awards to two U.S. companies on claims dating from 2001. Argentina’s suspension from GSP was a critical factor that led to the Argentine government’s settlement of the two awards in October 2013.
- Initiated Arbitration Proceedings on Canadian Softwood Lumber Dispute. The United States and Canada jointly initiated arbitration under the 2006 Softwood Lumber Agreement (SLA) to resolve a disagreement over the implementation of a prior SLA arbitration award. In particular, the issue submitted to arbitration is whether Canada must continue to apply export duties to certain softwood lumber during the two‑year SLA extension period (October 13, 2013 to October 12, 2015).
- Reversal of Ecuador’s Registration Fee Increase. Obtained a decision by the Ecuadorian government to reverse the imposition of prohibitive fees for the registration of plant varieties, an important issue for U.S. breeders of roses in particular.
- Resisted Efforts of Ukraine to Rewrite its WTO Tariff Obligations. The United States organized and led a coalition of more than 130 Members against Ukraine's highly problematic Article XXVIII request to raise its tariffs above its WTO bindings. As a result of these efforts and the pressure brought to bear by such a large number of WTO Members, Ukraine has not followed through with its request and has not taken further steps to increase its tariffs.
- Identified and Reduced Unnecessary Technical Barriers to Trade. The United States actively engaged in multilateral, regional and bilateral forums to reduce and prevent unnecessary technical barriers to U.S. trade. To advance our rights under the WTO TBT Agreement, the U.S. monitors and engages with industry on the proposed regulations of U.S. trading partners. Further, the United States works actively to strengthen implementation of the substantive and transparency obligations of the WTO TBT. Over the past year, USTR has successfully resolved issues related to Mexican certification of sewer pipes, pushed for delays in implementation of overly burdensome Indian regulations on ICT, and contributed to the adoption of good regulatory practices in China on medical devices.
- Removed Telecom, Information and E-Commerce Barriers. Completed comprehensive annual Section 1377 review of telecom barriers and pursued the removal of major barriers. USTR efforts included significant engagement with Pakistan to overturn collusive behavior among operators in its market for the termination of international voice calls and pressing China in numerous areas, including foreign investment restrictions, mobile resale services, satellite services, and multiple telecommunications equipment issues. USTR also opposed the adoption of local content requirements in Brazil, India, and Indonesia.
- Monitored Intellectual Property Protections and Obligations through the Special 301 Report. USTR placed Barbados, Bulgaria, and Trinidad & Tobago on the Special 301 Watch List. USTR also improved the status of Canada and Israel by moving those countries from the Special 301 Priority Watch List to the Watch List, and removed Brunei Darussalam from the Watch List completely, based on improved protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights. USTR designated Ukraine as a Priority Foreign Country (PFC), the first PFC designation in seven years. Initiated Section 301 investigation of Ukraine, and held a public hearing in September.
USTR’s active engagement with international trading partners yielded significant and timely results for American farmers, ranchers, businesses, workers, and consumers. Through dialogue and negotiation, USTR worked with partners to address concerns, reduce trade barriers, and foster mutual economic growth through trade.
- Strengthened our Economic Relationship with Mexico. In May 2013, President Obama and Mexican President Peña Nieto established the High Level Economic Dialogue (HLED). The HLED, which is led at the cabinet level, is a flexible platform intended to advance strategic economic and commercial priorities central to promoting mutual economic growth, job creation, and global competitiveness. In September 2013, Ambassador Froman joined Vice President Biden at the first meeting of the HLED. The United States and Mexico developed an initial work plan laying out potential areas for cooperation under three broad pillars: Promoting Competitiveness and Connectivity; Fostering Economic Growth, Productivity, Entrepreneurship, and Innovation; and Partnering for Regional and Global Leadership.
- Boosted U.S. Agricultural Exports to Mexico. Mexico is our third largest market for U.S. agricultural products. In 2013, the United States worked with Mexico to remove its barriers to exports of U.S. beef products. In addition, the United States continues to monitor Mexico’s use of sanitary and phytosanitary measures to ensure that they are science-based and are not unwarranted.
- Boosted Bilateral Trade with Brazil in Distilled Spirits. Pursuant to a 2012 exchange of letters between USTR and its counterpart ministry in Brazil, the Department of Treasury’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau published a final rule in February 2013 recognizing “Cachaça” as a distinctive product of Brazil. Consequently, in March 2013, Brazil recognized “Tennessee Whiskey” and “Bourbon” as distinctive products of the United States. This positive development is expected to yield significantly increased bilateral trade in distilled spirits.
- Increased Opportunities for Exports of U.S. Beef and Animals to the EU. Engaged with European Commission to advance the adoption and implementation of new EU regulations allowing the use of lactic acid as a pathogen reduction treatment on beef. The approval of lactic acid enables more U.S. beef processors to export beef to Europe. Also engaged with EU and Member State officials to establish requirements for live swine shipments from the United States. Since the EU’s new import requirements entered into force in February 2013, shipments of live breeding swine have increased 210 percent.
- Worked Bilaterally to Strengthen Intellectual Property Protections in Asia. USTR engaged closely with Thailand and the Philippines as they took steps to bolster IP protection. Thailand established a dedicated IPR enforcement center, and the Philippines enacted long-awaited amendments to its Intellectual Property Code, including strong enforcement provisions, and significant actions to address piracy over the Internet. USTR also coordinated with Taiwan on its strengthening of its Trade Secret Act. The new act included increased deterrent penalties and enhanced penalties to deter cross-border theft of trade secrets.
- Enhanced Supply Chain Performance and Facilitate Trade in the Asia-Pacific Region. The United States worked closely with the APEC partner economies to reach agreement on a plan to provide targeted and focused capacity-building to member economies to support achievement of APEC’s goal of a 10 percent improvement in supply chain performance in the region by 2015. This included establishing and securing the first donations to the APEC Trade and Investment Liberalization Sub-Fund on Supply Chain Connectivity, which will finance cutting-edge technical assistance to make it easier, cheaper, and faster to do business in the Asia-Pacific region.
- Advanced APEC’s Ground-Breaking Work on Environmental Goods and Services. APEC economies, spurred on by the United States, advanced their commitment to reduce tariffs on environmental goods to 5 percent or less by developing a capacity-building plan to assist economies with the technical details involved in implementation. They also established a public-private forum to tackle non-tariff barriers in this sector.
- Addressed Trade Distorting Local Content Requirements. The United States spearheaded work in APEC to draw attention to the negative impact of localization barriers to trade and shape a set of APEC Best Practices to Create Jobs and Increase Competitiveness, a trade and investment friendly model that economies can use to pursue their domestic economic objectives without resorting to local content requirements.
- Expanded Economic Engagement with Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). USTR advanced several initiatives with the fast-growing ASEAN countries, which collectively are the fourth largest U.S. trading partner. In April, the U.S. hosted the ASEAN Economic Ministers Road Show to the United States to promote potential trade and investment opportunities between the U.S. and ASEAN countries. Ministers also held several meetings under the ASEAN-United States Trade and Investment Framework Agreement to discuss work under the Enhanced Economic Engagement (E3) initiative. This included discussions in the areas of investment, information and communications technology, trade facilitation, the development of a code of conduct for small and medium sized enterprises, and the expansion of cooperative work on standards development and practices.
- Substantially Increased Market Access for U.S. Beef into Japan. The United States and Japan agreed in January on new terms and conditions for import of beef from cattle less than 30 months of age, compared to the previous limit of 20 months. From January to October of 2013, U.S. beef exports to Japan increased $300 million or 33 percent over the same period in 2012.
- Negotiated an Organic Equivalence Arrangement with the Government of Japan. This new Arrangement ensures that organic products certified in Japan or in the United States may be sold as organic in either country. The U.S organic sector is valued at more than $30 billion. This partnership between two significant organic markets will streamline U.S. farmers and processors access to the growing Japanese organic market, benefiting the thriving organic industry and supporting jobs and businesses.
- Re-opened Indonesia’s Market to U.S. Beef. Following the finding of a Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) case in California in April 2012, Indonesia banned the importation of U.S. meat and bone meal (MBM), bone-in beef, offals, and gelatin. Indonesia removed the ban on June 25, 2013, following the World Organization for Animal Health recognition of the United States as a negligible BSE risk country. This action reopened Indonesia’s market. In 2011, U.S. exports of beef and beef products to Indonesia reached $28.4 million, and exports of MBM and animal feeds containing MBM totaled $223 million, the largest U.S. market for MBM, accounting for 40 percent of all shipments.
- Removed Restrictive Regulations and Import Duties on Exports of U.S. Soybeans to Indonesia. In September 2013, Indonesia eliminated import quotas, pre-shipment inspection, local soybean purchase requirements, and government-mandated sales at set prices for soybeans, which had been adopted earlier in the year. The Indonesian Government also temporarily removed the five percent import duty on soybeans. Soybeans are the top U.S. agricultural export to Indonesia, totaling just under $1 billion in annual exports.
- Renewed and Expanded Indonesia’s Recognition of U.S. Horticulture. In January 2013, Indonesia renewed its recognition of the U.S. food safety for fresh foods of plant origin for two years. The recognition also extended the list of covered horticulture products from 32 to 100. This recognition also ensured the U.S. and other foreign exporters could continue to enter through the port of Jakarta, which is used for shipments of more than 90 percent of U.S. horticultural exports to Indonesia, valued at over $110 million annually.
- Reduced Costs and Delays for U.S. Exports of Toys to Indonesia. In November 2013, Indonesia delayed full implementation of a new toy regulation and adopted a two-year transition period during which it would accept testing from labs accredited under International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation. The change will enhance the competitiveness of the U.S. toy industry as it will now not have to undergo in-country, duplicative testing.
- Eliminated Discriminatory Barriers to U.S. Exports and Investments in India. Working with other government agencies to emphasize the possibility of achieving legitimate security objectives without disrupting imports, USTR successfully urged the government of India to remove certain discriminatory domestic purchase mandates in its Preferential Market Access policy.
- Signed the United States-Bangladesh Trade and Investment Cooperation Forum Agreement. On November 25, 2013, the United States and the People’s Republic of Bangladesh signed the Trade and Investment Cooperation Forum Agreement (TICFA) after several years of negotiation. The TICFA will provide a forum for discussions on a wide range of trade and investment issues, including how to improve worker rights and worker safety issues.
- Concluded Trade and Investment Framework Agreements with Burma and Libya. The United States signed TIFAs with Burma and Libya in May and December 2013, respectively. The TIFAs create forums to encourage both countries to adopt rules-based market reforms and further integrate into the global economy, creating a platform for ongoing dialogue and cooperation on trade and investment issues between our governments.
- Promoted Trade, Investment, and Regional Cooperation in Central Asia. 2013 saw the acceleration of work under USTR’s innovative plurilateral Trade and Investment Framework Agreement with the five countries comprising Central Asia. With the aim of promoting greater regional Central Asia regional cooperation, the 2013 TIFA meeting in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan made progress in reducing customs delays and other burdensome border measures across the region. The group also enhanced its cooperation with Afghanistan, which has TIFA Observer status.
- Used Trade to Empower Women in Central Asia. Recognizing that trade and the financial independence it fosters can be a powerful instrument for empowering women and raising their status within traditional societies, USTR forged a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Afghanistan that sets out how we will work together to encourage greater involvement of women in trade and investment. MOUs on women’s empowerment with other regional trading partners are being considered, and women’s issues are an agenda item in all of our TIFA meetings throughout the South and Central Asia region.
- Implemented the Middle East/North Africa Trade and Investment Partnership (MENA TIP). USTR took concrete steps to increase regional trade and investment integration across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Following success with Morocco in reaching agreements on trade facilitation, foreign investment principles, and information and communication technology services trade principles, USTR reached consensus with Jordan on the two sets of principles and is working to complete a trade facilitation agreement with Jordan and make progress on all three initiatives with Egypt, Tunisia, and Algeria. The U.S. Trade Representative in March advanced the twin goals of increasing Egypt-Israel trade by modifying the Qualifying Industrial Zones in Egypt to make all production facilities, present and future, located in these zones potentially eligible, in cooperation with Israeli firms, to export goods to the United States on a duty free basis.
- Launched a United States - Tunisia Small Business Initiative under the MENA TIP. USTR and USAID launched a U.S.-Tunisia Small and Medium Enterprise program to provide training in the U.S. Small Business Development Center model and technical assistance to firms, with the goal of fostering more small business partnerships and trade opportunities between the two countries. The exchange of best practices to support small business is part of MENA TIP, which aims to enhance our broader economic cooperation with Arab countries in transition.
- Brought Into Force the United States - Israel Telecommunications Mutual Recognition Agreement. In November, USTR brought into force the Mutual Recognition Agreement between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the State of Israel for Conformity Assessment of Telecommunications Equipment.
- Pursued Enhanced Trade and Investment Relations with Turkey. In May, President Obama and Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan announced the formation of a bilateral High Level Committee, associated with the existing cabinet-level Framework for Strategic Economic and Commercial Cooperation that the two countries have pursued since 2010. The High Level Committee, co-chaired by USTR and the Turkish Ministry of Economy, has as its ultimate objective the development of new ways to deepen U.S.-Turkey economic relations and liberalize bilateral trade. The Committee held its first meeting in September.
- Strengthened Economic Ties with Iraq. USTR continued to foster rapidly growing trade and investment with Iraq via meetings under the Trade and Finance Sub-Group of the Joint Coordinating Committee. 2013 saw the entry into force of the U.S.-Iraq Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA), and preparations are well advanced for the inaugural TIFA meeting and associated “Iraq Business Week” commercial and private sector events in early 2014.
- Led U.S. Government Efforts to Develop and Implement Obama Administration’s Trade Africa Initiative. Played a key role in developing the Trade Africa Initiative prior to the President’s rollout in Tanzania in July 2013. Subsequent to the President’s announcement, established a Trade Policy Subcommittee on Trade Africa.
- Advanced Negotiations with the East African Community (EAC) on the U.S.-EAC Trade and Investment Partnership (TIP). USTR secured agreement to negotiate a Trade Facilitation Agreement and establish a parallel track on SPS and TBT; explore negotiation of an investment treaty; work with the Department of Commerce on the U.S.-EAC Commercial Dialogue; and with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) on the transformation of the East Africa Trade Hub into a Trade and Investment Center, and the new U.S. Government partnership with Trade Mark East Africa to improve intra-EAC trade and cross border movements.
- Launched Negotiation of a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement with the Economic Community of West African States. In March 2013, on the margins of a visit by three West African Leaders to the United States, USTR announced that it would begin negotiating a TIFA with ECOWAS.
- Advanced Environmental Objectives in Supporting Global Trade. USTR participated in negotiations to conclude a legally binding United Nations agreement on mercury use and trade, the first multilateral environmental agreement that the United States has ratified in decades. The agency also led U.S. Government participation in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum (APEC) Experts Group on Illegal Logging, and convened the first-ever public-private sector dialogue to discuss challenges, activities, and new technologies in the forestry sector, with participation from a broad range of business and civil society representatives; USTR also continued to advance efforts to enhance transparency and discipline harmful fisheries subsidies and to combat illegal fishing and associated trade through efforts in APEC, TPP negotiations, and in several regional fisheries management organizations; USTR also contributed to the development of a national strategy to stem illegal trade in wildlife and wildlife products pursuant to the July 1, 2013 Presidential Executive Order on “Combating Wildlife Trafficking”; and launched a work program on electronics stewardship in APEC to increase understanding of the environmental, economic, and social impacts of trade in used electronics and to promote safe handling of used electronics.
- Supported WTO Accessions for Prospective New Member Nations. With strong support from the United States, Yemen became the WTO’s 160th Member in December. Important progress was also made on the accessions of Kazakhstan, Afghanistan and Bosnia during the course of 2013, with prospects that they may be in a position to complete their accession negotiations and become WTO Members in 2014.
- Advanced WTO Accession Negotiations in Services. USTR completed a bilateral services accession agreement with Bosnia, which included the reduction of impediments to energy service and express delivery services. USTR also began final consolidation of the services negotiations of Kazakhstan, in close cooperation with the EU.
- Furthered Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) Negotiations and Exploratory Discussions. Initiated exploratory discussions with Cambodia, Gabon, and Kuwait, and significantly advanced exploratory discussions with the five Partner States of the East African Community. In addition, USTR secured political-level commitment from India to resume formal BIT negotiations, notwithstanding that country’s ongoing BIT review. USTR also held two rounds of BIT negotiations with China, and secured, as a U.S. – China Strategic and Economic Dialogue outcome, agreement that China will apply the U.S. approach to national treatment for the first time.
- Launched the Standards Alliance Initiative. In November 2012, USTR and USAID launched the “Standards Alliance” to provide expert advice and technical assistance to developing countries seeking to strengthen their implementation of the Technical Barriers to Trade Agreement. The program shifted into high gear in 2013, with new programs starting up in Peru, Colombia and in Southern Africa and additional programs being negotiated.
- Negotiated the Protocol to the Agreement on Requirements for Wine Labelling with the World Wine Trade Group. The Protocol will facilitate trade in wine by creating more uniform labelling requirements concerning information on alcohol tolerance, vintage, variety, and wine regions that are consistent with U.S. efforts to promote international regulatory cooperation.
USTR’s extensive outreach to diverse stakeholders informed and improved many job-supporting trade initiatives this year. Creative new approaches enhanced USTR’s public engagement and helped to address important issues appropriately with both trading partners and concerned citizens.
- Organized Dozens of Stakeholder Events and Calls on Major USTR Initiatives. USTR hosted a series of stakeholder engagement events to ensure that multiple perspectives and a balance of views informed the U.S. negotiating positions during T-TIP rounds and TPP talks. Approximately 350 global stakeholders gathered for a series of events and briefings by U.S. and EU Chief Negotiators. USTR hosted high level briefing calls featuring the USTR and Deputy USTRs for a broad cross-section of stakeholders to provide updates on TPP negotiating rounds; over 150 stakeholders joined the calls. In addition, USTR hosted several high-level roundtables in Washington with NGO’s to discuss topics ranging from agriculture, to the environment, to trade and development.
- Increased Direct Outreach to State Governments. USTR strengthened relationships with Governors from across the country, deepening engagement on the benefits of trade to state economies. USTR held monthly calls with our state points of contact in every state along with the Chairs of the 29 Congressionally-mandated advisory committees.
- Held More than 1,100 Meetings and Briefings with Congress on Key USTR Initiatives. Ambassador Froman and USTR staff held more than 1,100 briefings with Members of Congress and their staffs on the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations in 2013, ensuring that the people’s representatives in Congress were kept abreast of the content and progress of the talks and had ample opportunity to shape ongoing U.S. negotiating efforts.
- Created an Inclusive and Rounded Group of Trade Advisory Experts. Fostered a robust and balanced advisory committee system by appointing more than 50 new advisors to the Trade and Environment Policy Advisory Committee (TEPAC), Trade Advisory Committee on Africa, and Industry Trade Advisory Committees. USTR met on more than 50 occasions with members of the TEPAC and other environmental stakeholders to brief them and obtain their input on a range of trade and environmental matters, including with respect to the TPP and T-TIP negotiations, FTA implementation, APEC and WTO initiatives, and relevant UN processes.
- Completed the TPP Interim Environmental Review. USTR conducted and released for public comment an interim environmental review of the proposed TPP agreement, which identifies and evaluates potential environmental impacts resulting from the agreement. The environmental review makes a substantial contribution to the TPP negotiating process and to Congressional and public understanding of the TPP’s potential environmental impacts.
- Promoted Environmental Benefits through Trade Agreements. USTR published a fact sheet outlining the progress that has been made in Peru’s forestry sector pursuant to the PTPA and associated Annex on Forest Sector Governance, key developments, and priority areas for USTR engagement in the coming year. USTR ensured that all FTA Environmental Affairs Council meetings included sessions open to the public, and used these opportunities to discuss issues and concerns, as well as to convey the benefits of these agreements.
- Launched a Comprehensive Review of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). Prepared for discussions with Congress and range of U.S.-Africa trade and investment stakeholders regarding AGOA’s renewal post-2015. USTR senior officials worked with stakeholders including the Corporate Council on Africa, Brookings Institution, Foreign Service Institute, U.S.-West African Chamber of Commerce, School of Advanced and International Studies, Africa-America Institute, and Constituency for Africa.
- Assessed the Impact of United States - Korea Free Trade Agreement Free Trade Agreement on Small Business. USTR commissioned the first-ever U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) report to examine the KORUS agreement’s effects on exports by U.S. small and medium-sized businesses, which account for a significant share of U.S. exporters both to Korea and in general. The report found that most small companies responding expressed the view that the agreement had already proven helpful, and would benefit their companies even more over time.
- Organized Small and Medium Sized Business Roundtables Around the United States. USTR, the Small Business Administration and the ITC teamed up to convene a nationwide series of 20 SME roundtables, to hear directly from small businesses around the country about specific concerns and trade barriers they face in exporting to the EU and how those might be addressed through the T-TIP agreement.
Together with Congress, partner agencies, and a wide range of stakeholders, in 2013 USTR developed and deployed U.S. trade policy to support additional exports and jobs for American businesses, workers, and families.
Trade policy, negotiated and enforced vigorously to reflect both our interests and our values, gives our workers, farmers and ranchers; our manufacturers and service providers; our innovators, creators, investors and businesses of all sizes the best chance to compete around the world.