12/30/2014 3:00 PM
The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) has made great strides in advancing President Obama’s economic agenda of creating jobs, promoting growth, and strengthening America’s middle class. In 2013, Made-in-America exports supported an estimated 11.3 million well-paying U.S. jobs, and in 2014, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative built on record-breaking exports, engagement, and trade enforcement to achieve strong results for American workers, manufacturers, service providers, farmers, and ranchers.
This year, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman and the staff of USTR in support of President Obama’s economic agenda, worked to create economic opportunity for American workers, farmers, and businesses by eliminating barriers to U.S. exports, trade, and investment.
We forged ahead on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a state-of-the art trade agreement that will guarantee Americans access to the rapidly growing economies of the Asia Pacific and raise labor, environmental, and other vital standards across the region – leveling the playing field for American workers and firms.
The United States and the European Union also took a renewed approach to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, which will strengthen our economic relationship with Europe – growing a relationship that will boost economic growth and add to the more than 13 million American and EU jobs already supported by transatlantic trade and investment.
What’s more, this year, under President Obama’s leadership, the United States played a critical role in realizing the first-ever fully multilateral trade agreement in the history of the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA). This deal will substantially lower the costs of trading across borders, and is projected to grow global GDP by hundreds of billions of dollars – delivering for the American economy and for our trading partners.
In July, the U.S. and 13 other partners launched negotiations on the Environmental Goods Agreement (EGA) at the WTO – the primary trade component of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan – which will make essential progress toward our environmental protection and economic goals by eliminating barriers faced by American exporters of environmental goods.
In November, the United States and China announced a major breakthrough in negotiations to expand the scope of goods covered by the World Trade Organization (WTO) Information Technology Agreement (ITA), which provided the basis for the resumption of plurilateral negotiations in Geneva.
USTR also continued negotiations on the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA), a free-trade agreement focused on services to promote fair and open competition across a broad spectrum of
service sectors. There are currently nearly two dozen participants in the TiSA negotiations, representing roughly two-thirds of global trade in services market exceeding $30 trillion – or approximately half of the global economy.
Throughout the year, the Obama Administration has undertaken the most ambitious upgrade of trade enforcement in modern U.S. trade policy to level the playing field and bring the full benefit of the U.S. trade agenda to Americans. The year has seen victories in trade enforcement cases that have benefited a wide range of sectors, including U.S. auto workers, farmers, and producers of high-tech goods that utilize rare earth materials, and the Administration is pursuing dispute settlement through our free trade agreements to protect labor rights with our trading partners.
"2014 was a banner year for President Obama's trade agenda, an important part of his goal to create economic opportunity for the American people," said U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman. "Under President Obama's leadership, we made tremendous progress and are closer to realizing several historic trade agreements that will grow our economy, support well-paying jobs, and strengthen the American Middle Class. 2015 promises to be a big year in trade as well, as we work to complete major trade priorities that will deliver for America's workers, farmers, ranchers, and businesses."
The U.S. Trade Representative is committed to getting President Obama’s ambitious trade agenda right to benefit the American people. Our dedication to this mission can be seen in the following accomplishments made throughout the past year:
Supported More American Jobs through U.S. Exports
Significantly Advanced the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Negotiations. The United States worked with its TPP partners -- Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam -- throughout 2014, making significant progress toward agreement on access to each other's markets for goods, services and investment, and government procurement, as well as on ambitious trade and investment rules that will promote U.S. commercial and broader interests and values across the region. TPP Leaders met in November and reaffirmed their commitment to concluding a comprehensive, high-standard, and balanced agreement that supports job creation, spurs economic growth and prosperity, enhances their competitiveness, and promotes innovation and entrepreneurship. They also reaffirmed the importance of addressing emerging issues such as digital commerce and State-owned enterprises, and including binding commitments to strengthen protection of the environment and labor rights. Work to finalize the TPP will continue into 2015.
Advanced the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) Negotiations. U.S. and European Union (EU) negotiating teams conducted four T-TIP negotiating rounds in 2014, discussing ways to increase transatlantic trade and its contribution to growth, jobs, and competitiveness in a wide range of areas, including new market access for goods, services, and investment and steps to reduce the costs associated with unnecessary regulatory and other non-tariff barriers to trade. During the November G20 Summit meeting in Australia, President Obama and EU leaders reaffirmed their commitment to an ambitious, comprehensive, and high standard T-TIP agreement. In December, Ambassador Froman and new EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström discussed plans for a "fresh start" in the T-TIP negotiations, which the negotiating teams have started to implement. A comprehensive T-TIP agreement would strengthen an economic partnership that already supports $1 trillion in two-way trade annually, $4 trillion in investment, and 13 million jobs across the Atlantic.
Continued Engagement with Japan to Achieve High-Standard Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement. U.S. negotiators and ministers held numerous negotiating sessions with their Japanese counterparts throughout the year to address agricultural market access issues, as well as automotive issues, focusing on non-tariff measures. The two sides continue to make progress in closing gaps, with regard to agriculture, autos and other market access and rules issues, and are committed to work together towards the successful conclusion of a high-standard, comprehensive TPP agreement.
Secured the Historic Trade Facilitation Agreement at the WTO. In November, the United States with India and other WTO Members overcame an impasse in the Bali Package to allow the full implementation of a Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA). The TFA is the first multilateral trade agreement in the WTO’s 20 year history, and will reform global customs practices and substantially reduce the costs and time associated with goods crossing borders. The efficiencies generated by customs reforms in the TFA will significantly reduce the costs of trading for WTO Members, developed and developing countries alike, and some estimates suggest the global economic value of the new WTO deal could be worth $1 trillion.
Launched Negotiations on the WTO Environmental Goods Agreement (EGA). In July, the United States and 13 other WTO Members, representing 86 percent of global trade in environmental goods, officially launched negotiations on the Environmental Goods Agreement, which aims to eliminate tariffs on a range of environmental goods. Tariffs on these environmental goods, including wind turbines, solar water heaters, and catalytic converters are unnecessarily high and limit the technological advancement for green technologies. The EGA provides an important opportunity to protect the global environment while unlocking economic opportunity for American workers and businesses.
Advanced Negotiations to Expand the WTO Information Technology Agreement (ITA). In November, the United States and China announced a major breakthrough in negotiations to expand the scope of goods covered by the World Trade Organization (WTO) Information Technology Agreement (ITA). This bilateral breakthrough provided the basis for the resumption of plurilateral negotiations in Geneva. USTR will continue to work closely with all participants in the negotiation to bring about the successful conclusion an ITA expansion deal, which would be first major tariff-cutting deal at the WTO in 17 years, and would allow for an increase in Made-in-USA exports to growing markets. The ITA expansion is estimated to cover $1 trillion in trade, add $190 billion to the global economy and support tens of thousands of good-paying U.S. manufacturing and technology jobs.
Continued Progress in the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) Negotiations. The United States continued negotiations in the TiSA, a free-trade agreement focused exclusively on services. Presently, twenty-three economies are participating in the TiSA negotiations, representing roughly three-quarters of the world’s $30 trillion services market. With every $1 billion in services exports supporting an estimated 5,900 U.S. jobs, promoting the expansion of services trade globally will pay dividends for the United States.
Supported Made-in-America Farm and Agriculture Exports through the "Made In Rural America" Export and Investment Initiative. In February, President Obama directed his Administration to lead a new "Made in Rural America" export and investment initiative. Working through the White House Rural Council, the Initiative coordinates federal resources to help rural businesses and leaders take advantage of new investment opportunities and access new customers and markets abroad. Ambassador Froman and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative support the new initiative that will help businesses in rural America export more, particularly through our continued progress in the negotiation of plurilateral and bilateral trade agreements with our trading partners, and removing unwarranted non-tariff trade barriers to U.S. food and agricultural products.
Made Progress with China on Global Drug Supply Chain Integrity, Enhanced Market Access for Medical Devices and Innovative Pharmaceuticals: This year, USTR’s engagement with China has yielded significant progress on two key fronts in the biopharmaceutical sector. To promote access to safe and high-quality medicines, at the July U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue, China committed to develop and seriously consider amendments to its Drug Administration Law. These changes would address a significant gap in regulatory oversight of manufacturers of bulk chemicals, including "export only" producers and distributors. China also agreed to create a multi-ministerial work mechanism focused on developing a regulatory and enforcement framework for high-quality medicines. Secondly, to expedite the introduction of medical devices and innovative pharmaceuticals to China, at the December U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade, China agreed to take concrete steps to streamline its regulatory review and approval system for new pharmaceuticals and devices. Cutting red tape in China’s medical device approval process will benefit patients by allowing them to receive better treatment earlier, while allowing more exports to China, the industry’s largest growth market. In addition to these steps, the U.S. and China have agreed to hold high-level expert dialogues with relevant agencies in the coming year to advance regulation and market access in these sectors.
Contributed to the Successful Entry Into Force of the Revised WTO Agreement on Government Procurement. In April, the United States welcomed the entry into force of the WTO protocol amending the 1994 Government Procurement Agreement (GPA). The revised GPA expands business opportunities for American firms to supply goods and services to foreign governments, estimated to be worth between $80-100 billion annually. This adds to the $1 trillion already covered under the GPA, and establishes work programs that facilitate participation by small- and medium-sized businesses, while fostering best practices in sustainable procurement.
Engaged with Americans to Promote the Benefits of Trade
Unlocked economic opportunities for American businesses in Boston, Massachusetts. In an April trip to Massachusetts to highlight the state’s exports, Ambassador Froman joined Boston-based Atlas Devices in unveiling a factory expansion that will increase the company’s manufacturing capacity and support more jobs in Boston through continued success in exporting. Atlas Devices is a strong example of the effect exports can have on the success of American small businesses. Boston has longstanding ties to trade, and trade remains critical to the Boston and Massachusetts economies.
Highlighted Colorado’s Record-Breaking Exports. In June, Ambassador Froman visited Denver to highlight the positive trajectory of U.S. exports in Colorado, and across the country. In 2013, Colorado exported a record $8.5 billion in goods, supporting an estimated 43 thousand jobs. Ambassador Froman toured Denver’s Epic Brewing Company to spotlight the high-quality jobs supported by small business exporters in Colorado and spoke at the World Trade Center Denver to underline the success of Colorado exporters and how they will benefit from the President’s trade agenda.
Spotlighted Minnesota’s Growing Exports. In August, Ambassador Froman traveled to Minnesota to meet with small business owners to discuss how Made-in-America exports are fostering economic growth, supporting jobs, and unlocking opportunity across the state, and America. Ambassador Froman toured a Minnesota small business that is creating jobs by exporting using the web platform Etsy. According to reports, Etsy has 1 million artisans and craftspeople selling $1.3 billion of goods per year. The company began selling Made-in-America jewelry products on Etsy in 2011 and now boasts nearly 30 employees and annual sales of $2 million per year, one third of which are attributed to exports. During the trip, Ambassador Froman highlighted the benefits of President Obama’s trade agenda to Minnesotans, which exported $20.8 billion in goods in 2013, supporting 106 thousand jobs.
Promoted the Benefits of Made-in-America Agriculture Exports in Iowa. In August, Ambassador Froman travelled to Des Moines to meet with a diverse range of Iowans, including family farmers, business leaders, and elected officials who represent the many ways Made-in-America exports benefit the local economy. Iowa is the United States’ second largest exporter of agricultural goods, and Ambassador Froman toured the Iowa State Fair with Senator Chuck Grassley to sample the pork, corn, and other agricultural goods Iowa farmers raise and export to consumers around the world. Following the fair, Ambassador Froman held a roundtable with local farmers, ranchers, and state and local agriculture leaders to receive input on how America’s trade policy benefits the state’s agricultural community. He later joined Governor Terry Branstad and Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds at the Governor’s Charity Steer Show to highlight Iowa’s strong beef exports, a significant source of economic prosperity for the state.
Underlined Ohio’s Record-Breaking Exports. In October, Ambassador Froman traveled to Cleveland and Columbus to tout Ohio’s all-time-high exports and outline the ways President Obama’s trade agenda will help unlock economic opportunity for Ohioans. Throughout his trip, Ambassador Froman highlighted Cleveland and Columbus’s contribution to Ohio’s record-breaking $50.8 billion of Made-in-America goods exports, which supported an estimated 259,000 jobs in 2013. While in Cleveland, Ambassador Froman and U.S. Senator Brown toured Jet Incorporated, a small business creating jobs by designing, manufacturing, and exporting innovative wastewater treatment systems to 33 countries around the world. Ambassador Froman also participated in Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman’s MOMENTUM Small Business Conference & Expo, to stress the importance of Ohio’s over 16,000 exporting companies, nearly 90% of which are small and medium-sized businesses.
Touted Texas’ Made-in-America Exports. In October, Ambassador Froman travelled to the Lone Star state to highlight the ways the Obama Administration’s historic trade agenda unlocks economic opportunity for Texans. In 2013, Texas exported a record-breaking $279.5 billion Made-in-America goods to the world – supporting 1.1 million jobs and contributing to the nation’s all-time high of $2.3 trillion exports. In San Antonio, Ambassador Froman and Congressman Henry Cuellar (TX-28) met with local business leaders and entrepreneurs at the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce to discuss how trade helps their companies grow and support jobs in the community. The Ambassador toured Rackspace, a managed cloud computer company in Windcrest, Texas, supporting local jobs by exporting to over 200,000 customers in 120 countries. Rackspace is emblematic of the high-tech American companies that stand to gain from current trade negotiations between the U.S. and the Asia Pacific region in the TPP, which includes inaugural and groundbreaking provisions to address barriers affecting the digital economy. Ambassador Froman and Congressman Pete Gallego (TX-23) also toured Concord Supply Company, a San Antonio small business with roughly 90 percent of its sales to international markets. Through exports, the company has been able to expand and support more local jobs.
Promoted Strong American Manufacturing and Exports in Baltimore. To commemorate National Manufacturing Day and highlight the significant benefits manufacturing and Made-in-America exports deliver for Maryland’s economy, Ambassador Froman toured Zentech Manufacturing, a Baltimore small business and advanced manufacturer creating jobs in Maryland by assembling state-of-the-art circuit board technology, often used as inputs in American exports overseas. While at Zentech, Ambassador Froman met with local manufacturing workers and technical college students from Anne Arundel Community College to discuss the importance of advanced manufacturing to their everyday lives, their communities, and their families. In 2013, Maryland exported a record $11.8 billion in goods to the world. In the same year, Maryland exported $10.8 billion in manufactured goods, supporting an estimated 52,000 jobs.
Organized Small and Medium Sized Business Roundtables Across the United States to Participate in the Transatlantic Relationship. Pursuant to a request by USTR, the United States International Trade Commission (USITC) issued a report entitled "Trade Barriers That U.S. Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises Perceive as Affecting Exports to the European Union." USTR requested that USITC undertake this study as part of USTR’s effort to gather input from the public on the ongoing T-TIP negotiations. The U.S. Trade Representative, along with the US International Trade Commission (USITC), the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), and the U.S. Department of Commerce worked together to convene 28 small business roundtables in cities around the United States, to hear from small businesses around the country about concerns and barriers they face while exporting to European Union. The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) aims to help U.S. companies, farmers, and workers unlock opportunity by finding new European customers and boost job growth.
Enforced U.S. Trade Rights to Support American Jobs, Exports, and Innovation
Challenged India’s Requirements Affecting U.S. Solar Product Exports. In February, the United States requested WTO dispute settlement consultations with India concerning domestic content requirements in Phase II of India’s National Solar Mission ("NSM") and subsequently requested a WTO panel to examine India’s NSM measures. These domestic content requirements discriminate against U.S. solar cells and modules by requiring certain solar power developers participating in Phases I and II to use Indian-manufactured solar cells and modules instead of U.S. or other imported equipment. Moreover, India has now extended the domestic content requirements to more solar energy products than covered under Phase I of the NSM. In addition to the WTO consultations held on Phases I and II, the United States has engaged India on our concerns regarding the NSM over the last three years, including in bilateral fora such as the U.S.-India Trade Policy Forum and the U.S.-India Energy Dialogue, and at the WTO in various committees.
Challenged Indonesia’s Import Restrictions on Horticulture, Animals, and Animal Products. In May, the United States requested WTO dispute settlement consultations with Indonesia to address Indonesia’s import licensing restrictions on horticultural products, animals, and animal products. Following previous consultations on Indonesia’s trade restrictive measures, these additional consultations, requested jointly with New Zealand, are to address recent modifications to Indonesia’s import licensing restrictions.
Prevailed in China’s Challenge of U.S. Countervailing Duty Law. In March, a WTO panel found in favor of the United States and rejected China’s two challenges to U.S. Public Law 112-99, commonly referred to as the GPX legislation. In July, the WTO Appellate Body reversed certain interpretations by the panel but did not find that the GPX legislation inconsistent with WTO rules. The GPX legislation was enacted on March 13, 2012, to confirm the Department of Commerce’s ability to apply the U.S. countervailing duty (CVD) law on imports from non-market (NME) countries, including China. The failure of this challenge to our law is a significant victory for the United States. The WTO reports preserve the ability of the United States to remedy unfair subsidies and dumping by China, for the benefit of American businesses and workers.
Prevailed Against Chinese Duties on U.S. Exports of Automobiles. In May, the United States won a dispute at the World Trade Organization (WTO) on behalf of U.S. auto manufacturers and nearly 850,000 American automotive industry workers. The WTO dispute settlement panel agreed with the United States that China’s imposition of antidumping duties (ADs) and countervailing duties (CVDs) on American-made cars and sport-utility vehicles (SUVs) breached numerous international trade rules. The report, which was adopted by the WTO, marks the third recent WTO challenge that USTR has brought and won on China’s misuse of ADs and CVDs in a continuing effort to ensure American working families can seize all of the job-supporting opportunities available under U.S. trade agreements.
Prevailed on Numerous Indian Challenges to U.S. Countervailing Duties to Address India’s Unfair Steel Subsidies. In July, a WTO panel rejected numerous Indian challenges to key aspects of U.S. countervailing duty laws and regulations, and most of the hundreds of challenges brought by India against case-specific Department of Commerce determinations in a countervailing duty proceeding covering hot-rolled carbon steel flat products from India. In December, the WTO Appellate Body rejected the vast majority of India’s appeals seeking additional findings on U.S. regulations and determinations. This dispute is another example of the Administration’s commitment to fight for American workers and industry by taking strong trade remedy measures against unfair subsidies and defending those actions when challenged by our trading partners.
Secured a Victory in Challenge to China’s Rare Earth Export Restraints. In August, the United States won a major victory at the World Trade Organization (WTO), after challenging China’s export restraints on rare earths, tungsten, and molybdenum, which are used as key components in various U.S-made products for critical American manufacturing sectors, including hybrid car batteries, wind turbines, and energy-efficient lighting. The WTO Appellate Body, agreeing with an earlier panel report, found in favor of the United States’ challenge to Chinese export restraints that can skew the playing field against the United States and other countries in the production and export of manufactured products, while enabling China’s domestic downstream producers to produce lower-priced products from the raw materials and create significant advantages when competing against other markets. The reports, adopted by the WTO, send a clear signal to trading partners and display U.S. commitment to fighting on behalf of American businesses and workers.
Prevailed Against Argentina’s Import Licensing Restrictions. In August, the United States secured a victory at the World Trade Organization when a WTO panel found that Argentina’s restrictions on the importation of U.S. goods breach international trade rules. The Panel also found in breach restrictive trade-related requirements imposed by Argentina, including requiring U.S. companies exporting to Argentina to first agree to export Argentine goods, make investments in Argentina, lower prices of their products, or refrain from repatriating profits to the United States. The U.S. exports billions of dollars of goods to Argentina each year, including exports of computers, industrial and agricultural chemicals, agricultural and transportation equipment, machine tools, parts for oil field rigs, and refined fuel oil. The panel report is currently under appeal.
Prevailed Against Indian Ban on U.S. Agriculture Products to Protect U.S. Farmers. In October, the U.S. won a major victory at the World Trade Organization (WTO) on behalf of U.S. farmers, including the U.S. poultry industry when a dispute settlement panel found in our favor a claim challenging India’s ban on various U.S. agricultural products – such as poultry meat, eggs, and live pigs – allegedly to protect against avian influenza. The panel agreed with the United States that India’s ban breached numerous international trade rules, including because it was imposed without sufficient scientific evidence. The U.S. poultry industry, which directly employs over 350,000 workers and consists of nearly 50,000 family farms – had been particularly affected by India’s restrictions. The WTO has agreed the panel report will be adopted or appealed in January 2015.
Successfully resolved a Long-Standing Dispute with Brazil over Cotton. In October, the United States and Brazil reached an agreement to end the longstanding Cotton dispute in the WTO. Through this settlement, Brazil gave up its rights to countermeasures against U.S. trade or any further proceedings in this dispute. Brazil has also agreed not to bring new WTO actions against U.S. cotton support programs while the current U.S. Farm Bill is in force or against agricultural export credit guarantees under the GSM-102 program as long as the program is operated consistent with the agreed terms. This agreement completed discussions that began with a Framework Agreement signed in 2010.
Monitored Intellectual Property Protections and Obligations through the Special 301 Report. USTR released its annual "Special 301" Report on the adequacy and effectiveness of U.S. trading partners’ protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights. USTR maintained El Salvador’s status on the Special 301 list, noting significant and ongoing concerns with El Salvador’s protection and enforcement of intellectual property, including the treatment of geographical indications and pharmaceutical products. Israel, Italy and the Philippines were removed from the Special 301 Report Watch List, for their legislative and regulatory reforms in enhancing intellectual property rights enforcement. USTR announced that it would conduct an Out-of-Cycle Review of India, Kuwait, Paraguay and Spain. USTR also expressed growing concerns with respect to the environment for IPR protection and enforcement in India and other markets and serious, ongoing concerns about the protection and enforcement of trade secrets with respect to China.
Reinforced the United States’ Commitment to Fight Global Piracy and Counterfeit Goods with the Out-of-Cycle Review of Notorious Markets. The United States released the Special 301 Out-of-Cycle Review of Notorious Markets for 2013, which identifies global physical and online marketplaces that harm American businesses and workers through the infringement of intellectual property rights. The Notorious Markets report helps the US and foreign governments prioritize enforcement of the intellectual property rights that protect job-supporting innovation and creativity in the United States and around the world.
Concluded an Out-of-Cycle Review of India. In April’s 2014 Special 301 Report, USTR announced that the U.S. would initiate an Out-of-Cycle Review (OCR) of India to evaluate progress toward achieving meaningful, sustained and effective engagement on IP issues with India. Over subsequent months, there were multiple engagements with Government of India officials at the staff and senior levels on the broad range of issues of concern to the United States and to U.S. stakeholders. India made useful commitments, including to institutionalize high-level engagement on IP issues, to pursue a specific work program and to deepen cooperation and information exchange with the United States on IP-related issues under the U.S.-India Trade Policy Forum. The United States looks forward to the 2015 Special 301 Review process, which will provide the next formal opportunity for a thorough review of India’s environment for IP protection and enforcement, including progress made on recent IP-related commitments and on engagement through the agreed work plan.
Elevated Kuwait to Special 301 "Priority Watch List". In November, the U.S. announced the removal of Kuwait from the Special 301 Report Watch List to the Priority Watch List. The Special 301 Report identifies trading partners that do not adequately and effectively protect intellectual property rights. The United States is encouraged by Kuwait’s recent accessions to the Berne and Paris Conventions and recent progress on enforcement against copyright infringement. However, the U.S. remains concerned about the lack of sustained enforcement action against trademark infringement and the lack of progress in passage of updates to Kuwait’s copyright legislation, which hamper the overall market environment for intellectual property-intensive industries. The U.S. seeks to actively engage Kuwaiti authorities on these issues in the context of the long-standing cooperation between our countries.
Proceeded with an Historic Labor Enforcement Case against Guatemala Under the CAFTA-DR. The United States proceeded with a labor enforcement case against Guatemala under the Dominican Republic – Central America – United State Free Trade Agreement, to ensure Guatemala implements the labor protections to which its workers are entitled. The United States has engaged extensively with Guatemala, and even signed a groundbreaking Labor Enforcement Plan in an effort to improve the country’s labor law enforcement. The enforcement of strong labor protections in Guatemala would send a positive signal to the world and help attract investment, expand economic activity, and promote inclusive growth.
Strengthened Fundamental Labor Rights and Practices in Myanmar. In August, Ambassador Froman became the first U.S. Trade Representative to visit to Myanmar, where he convened representatives of the U.S. government, Myanmar and other international governments, the International Labor Organization, the World Bank, and the International Finance Corporation to build support for a joint U.S.-Myanmar Initiative to improve labor conditions in Myanmar. In November, the United States launched a joint "Initiative to Promote Fundamental Labor Rights and Practices in Myanmar" together with the Myanmar, the International Labour Organization, Japan, and Denmark. The is designed to improve Myanmar’s system of labor administration through a multi-year labor law reform and foster strong relations among businesses, workers, civil society organizations, and the Government of Myanmar through a stakeholder consultative mechanism. It also supports broader efforts to promote responsible trade and investment practices and sustainable economic development.
Advanced Worker Safety and Labor Rights in Bangladesh. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative led an interagency review of Bangladesh labor rights, and concluded that despite important progress, Bangladesh must do more to address the worker rights and safety issues that led President Obama to suspend the country’s Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) trade benefits in June 2013. The U.S. is seeking improvements to achieve the shared goal of protecting workers from workplace tragedies like the April 2013 Rana Plaza building collapse. The United States continues to work with Bangladesh to address outstanding concerns, including factory inspections, progress on labor law reforms, and reports of harassment of and violence against labor activists who are attempting to exercise their rights.
Promoted Labor Rights in Peru. The United States convened the Labor Affairs Council of the U.S.-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement (TPA) to review progress made under the Labor Chapter of the agreement. The U.S. and Peru discussed ongoing cooperation on labor matters such as those related to the prevention and abolition of child labor, combatting forced labor, and addressing concerns related to subcontracting, and discussed areas of future cooperation, such as capacity building for labor inspections.
Supported Workers’ Associational Rights in Swaziland. In June, the United States withdrew Swaziland’s benefits under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) due to concerns about implementation of eligibility criteria related to worker rights. The U.S. Government concluded that Swaziland had not demonstrated progress in the protection of internationally recognized worker rights, including the freedom of association and the right to organize. The United States continues to engage with the Kingdom of Swaziland to ensure worker and civil society groups can freely associate, and AGOA eligibility can be restored.
Promoted Labor Rights in Morocco. The United States worked closely with Morocco to enhance opportunities to improve labor standards, by promoting dialogue to better understand each other’s labor situation, cooperate on labor issues, and facilitate interaction with the public on labor matters. USTR is working with the U.S. Department of Labor to facilitate a technical assistance project to combat child labor, improve livelihoods and support safe youth employment and a project to empower women through increased recognition, promotion and enforcement of their labor rights.
Convened the Inaugural Meeting of the Labor Affairs Council under the U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement. In January, officials from the United States and Panama met to promote labor rights and to enhance technical cooperation on labor matters under the U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement. The two countries discussed cooperation on various issues to promote labor rights, including labor inspections and subcontracting arrangements.
Promoted Labor Rights in Jordan. Government officials from the United States and Jordan convened the Labor Subcommittee under the United States-Jordan free trade agreement. The Subcommittee works to promote labor rights and enhance technical cooperation on labor matters, such as respect for labor rights and improving working conditions for foreign workers in Jordan’s growing garment sector. A key objective of the meeting was to support and advance the Labor Implementation Plan the two governments signed in 2013 to address labor concerns in Jordan’s garment factories, including anti-union discrimination against foreign workers, conditions of their accommodations, and gender discrimination and harassment.
Improved Labor Rights in Colombia. In April, USTR and the U.S. Department of Labor released a new report on the Colombian Action Plan Related to Labor Rights, which the United States and Colombia announced in 2011 to address a number of serious labor concerns. President Obama insisted that the Colombian government address these concerns to support ratification of the United States-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement. The new report describes concrete steps Colombia has taken to improve labor protection, including new laws, regulations and resources to strengthen labor law enforcement and prosecute cases of violence against trade union leaders and activists. The report also describes areas where important work remains, such as the collection of fines for labor violations and addressing new forms of abusive contracting, as well as extensive resources the United States is providing to Colombia to support these efforts.
Promoted Ocean Sustainability Through our Trade Engagement. In June, President Obama announced an executive action to combat illegal fishing and support trade in legal, sustainable seafood, and on December 18 the Administration published a set of 15 recommendations designed to enhance the tools we have available to combat illegal fishing and seafood fraud. The recommendations include direction to USTR to use our existing and future trade agreements to combat illegal fishing and seafood fraud, including through enhanced cooperation with our trading partners and commitments to enforce environmental laws. Promoting strong, enforceable environmental provisions are central objectives in the United States’ ongoing trade negotiations with the European Union and the Asia Pacific. The TPP and T-TIP will cover a significant amount of the world’s seafood trade, and present an opportunity to advance ground-breaking oceans and marine conservation commitments, including sustainable fisheries management, combatting illegal fishing, prohibiting harmful fisheries subsidies; and promoting the long term conservation of sharks and other threatened marine species.
Combatted Illegal Wildlife Trafficking and Illegal Logging Through the Trade Agenda. The United States is committed to fighting illegal wildlife trafficking and illegal logging, including through implementation of FTAs with trading partners like Peru, negotiations of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, and development and implementation of a National Strategy to Combat Wildlife Trafficking. In June, as part of these efforts, Ambassador Michael Froman toured facilities in New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport that serve to keep trade safe and help combat illegal trafficking in wildlife, and in July we toured the National Eagle and Wildlife Product Repository in Colorado which holds the intercepted wildlife products.
Identified and Addressed Telecommunications Trade Barriers. In March, USTR released the annual Report of the 1377 Review, which outlined barriers faced by U.S. telecommunications service and equipment suppliers, and identified specific telecommunications-related issues on which USTR focused its monitoring and enforcement efforts throughout the year. The Report also highlights longstanding and emerging barriers to U.S. telecommunications services and equipment exports, which – when unimpeded – are a significant source of jobs here at home.
Engaged with Global Partners to Enhance Trade and Economic Growth
Made Progress with China on Key Trade Issues. In December, the United States joined China for the 25th Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade where they focused on key trade and investment issues. The U.S. and China made progress on important bilateral issues, including pharmaceuticals and medical devices regulatory reform, market access, intellectual property right protection and enforcement, innovation policies, and competition law enforcement, and continued to work towards building mutual trust and respect, promoting candid dialogue on bilateral issues and challenges, all designed to support jobs and exports in the U.S.
Strengthened Ties and Promoted Growth with the African Continent. In August, President Obama welcomed leaders from across the African continent for the inaugural U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit. The Summit marked the largest event any U.S. President has held with African heads of state and government, aimed at strengthening ties between the U.S. and one of the world’s most dynamic and fastest-growing regions. The Summit advanced the Administration’s focus on trade and investment in Africa, and during the Summit, Ambassador Froman convened the AGOA Forum with African trade ministers. AGOA is the cornerstone of U.S. trade policy with sub-Saharan Africa, and has contributed to the diversification and competiveness of sub-Saharan Africa’s economies, supported hundreds of thousands of jobs across the continent, increased global prosperity and market opportunities that accompany Africa’s rise.
Continued Bilateral Investment Treaty Negotiations with China. This year, negotiations toward a Bilateral Investment Treaty with China continued and intensified. The two sides made significant progress in the treaty text negotiations and agreed to initiate the critical "negative list" market access negotiations early in 2015. U.S. objectives include enhancing market access and protections for U.S. investors; encouraging the adoption of market-oriented policies that treat private investment in an open, transparent, and non-discriminatory way; and supporting the development of international law standards consistent with these objectives.
Strengthened relations with Nigeria. In March, USTR hosted the eighth meeting of the U.S.-Nigeria Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) Council to continue discussions on several shared objectives, including improving market access, utilization of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), protection of intellectual property rights, implementation of the new WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement, and improving the bilateral investment climate.
Marked Continued Gains in the U.S.-Republic of Korea Free Trade Agreement. In March, the United States and Korea marked the second anniversary of the KORUS agreement, noting strong results as the agreement continues to deliver new opportunities for American businesses and workers. For the first 10 months of 2014, U.S. goods exports to Korea are at record levels, totaling $37.2 billion, with October marking the thirteenth consecutive month of year-on-year increases. The Committees and Working Groups established under KORUS, including the Ministerial-level Joint Committee, succeeded in addressing a range of issues regarding the implementation of the agreement, including issues related to autos and financial services. USTR continues to work with its Korean counterparts to deliver the full benefits of KORUS, and to that end, both countries have agreed to continue to convene meetings in early 2015.
Streamlined Organic Trade with Korea. The United States and Korea announced new efforts to simplify organic trade and a shared commitment to ensure all traded organic processed products retain their organic integrity from farm to market. Organic processed products certified in the United States or Korea can now be labeled as organic in either country, which will allow American organic farmers, processors, and businesses greater access to Korea’s growing market for organic products. This deal serves as another foundation for future organic trade arrangements between the United States and other partners.
Strengthened Ties with the Philippines. In March, the U.S. and the Philippines agreed to a program of expanded engagement under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA). Following discussion on various bilateral, regional, and multilateral issues, USTR recognized the considerable efforts the Philippines has made to strengthen its intellectual property regime and overall framework for protecting worker rights.
Expanded Trade with Colombia. The United States and Colombia celebrated the second anniversary of the entry into force of the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement in May 2014. In 2013, U.S. goods exports to Colombia totaled $18.4 billion, up 28 percent in comparison to 2011, pre-FTA implementation. In the two years of the TPA, U.S. manufacturers have helped grow American jobs and substantially increased exports of transportation equipment, petroleum and coal products, processed food, and computer and electronic products, while farmers and ranchers have seen strong growth of agricultural exports, including in pork, beef, dairy products, soybeans, rice, grapes, and tree nuts.
Strengthened our Economic Relationship with Panama. In May, the United States and Panama held the first meeting of the U.S.-Panama Free Trade Commission, a forum to oversee the implementation of the U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement. The meeting underscored the importance of ensuring effective implementation of the Agreement, as well as the key role it plays in facilitating sustainable, broad-based economic growth and as an important catalyst in facilitating competiveness. The United States and Panama worked to ensure implementation of trade in goods and services, intellectual property rights, labor, and environment obligations to foster job creation and increase the economic prosperity for citizens in both countries.
Bolstered our Trade Partnership with Chile. In June, the United States and Chile held the ninth Free Trade Commission (FTC) Meeting in Santiago, Chile. The FTC reviewed implementation of the FTA and celebrated the 10th anniversary of the agreement. Since the FTA entered into force in 2004, two-way trade between the U.S. and Chile has more than quadrupled, growing by approximately 335%. This compares to 94% growth in total U.S. trade globally over the same time period.
Reinforced our Economic Relations with Peru. In June, the United States and Peru held the fourth meeting of the U.S.-Peru Free Trade Commission, and noted the fifth year of implementation of the U.S.-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement (PTPA). Since the PTPA went into effect in 2009, two-way trade between the U.S. and rose from $9.1 billion in 2009 to more than $18 billion in 2013.
Strengthened Trade and Investment Relations with Taiwan. U.S. and Taiwan trade authorities concluded the eighth Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) Council meeting under the auspices of the American Institute in Taiwan and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States. The U.S.-Taiwan TIFA serves as a key mechanism to make progress on the broad range of trade and investment issues important to the United States and Taiwan and strengthen robust commercial ties. At the 2014 TIFA, Taiwan took concrete steps to address trade concerns, including by lifting data center localization requirements, addressing technical barriers to trade, clarifying investment criteria, and made important commitment involving investment, agriculture, pharmaceuticals, and medical devices.
Supported Economic Security in Ukraine. USTR contributed to the Administration’s efforts to support the Ukrainian government's efforts to stabilize and expand its economy as well as protect it from unwarranted trade actions that hampered its exports. USTR officials visited Kyiv to collaborate with the Ukrainian government on steps to strengthen our bilateral trade and investment relationship.
Fostered Deeper Bilateral Trade and Investment Engagement with Moldova. In March, Ambassador Froman and Moldova’s Prime Minister, Iurie Leancă convened the United States-Moldova Joint Commercial Commission. During the meeting, Ambassador Froman pledged U.S. support for Moldova’s efforts to integrate with Europe, highlighting the potential for economic prosperity. USTR officials traveled to Chisinau to identify opportunities for further collaboration.
Continued Engagement with Tunisia. In June, the United States and Tunisia convened the bilateral Council on Trade and Investment to discuss potential commitments on a range of issues, including market access, services, investment, and intellectual property rights. The U.S. and Tunisian delegations discussed potential new initiatives that could increase trade and investment flows in the short- to medium-term, the importance of cooperation in protecting intellectual property rights, as well as possibilities for facilitating the participation of female entrepreneurs and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in U.S.-Tunisian trade.
Increased ties with Angola. In April, The United States hosted the second meeting of the U.S.-Angola Council on Trade and Investment (the "TIFA Council"), established pursuant to the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement between the Government of the United States and the Government of the Republic of Angola. Angola is one of the United States’ most important trading partners in sub-Saharan Africa. Angola’s great potential is recognized by the many international partners and investors who see Angola moving in the right direction. Angola is currently a leading beneficiary of preferential access to the U.S. market under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), exporting mainly energy-related products and some forest products.
Strengthened ties with Madagascar. In June, The United States reinstated benefits for Madagascar under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), following the formation of Madagascar’s first democratic government since a 2009 coup d’état. The decision recognized the country’s return to democratic rule, and AGOA’s potential to help Madagascar create employment, expand bilateral trade, and contribute to the economic well-being and security of its people.
Promoted Trade and Development in Myanmar. In June, the United States held the first-ever Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) meeting with Myanmar, addressing economic reform, implementation of Myanmar’s WTO commitments, and labor rights.
Strengthened Engagement with India through the U.S.-India Trade Policy Forum. In November, Ambassador Froman led a U.S. Delegation to the U.S.-India Trade Policy Forum (TPF) in Mumbai India. The Trade Policy Forum is the premier bilateral forum for discussion and resolution of U.S. and India trade and investment issues, and provides the venue for evaluating progress in the economic relationship at the Ministerial level.
Used Trade to Empower Women in Pakistan. In May, the United States and Pakistan signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Joint Efforts to Empower Women and to Promote Women’s Entrepreneurship, to provide a mechanism and platform to discuss how to ensure women participate fully in the economy and have access to economic, trade, and investment opportunities.
Promoted Trade, Investment, and Regional Cooperation in Pakistan. This year, the United States and Pakistan continued work under their Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) to chart a path forward on improving bilateral trade and investment flows over the next five years. Among the areas of cooperation in the Joint Action Plan include diversifying agricultural production, enhancing intellectual property protection, implementing the World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement, engaging on Pakistan’s accession to the WTO Government Procurement Agreement, increasing trade in services, outreach to U.S. State and Local Governments, promoting entrepreneurship, and increasing dialogue between our respective private sectors.
Strengthened Ties with Bangladesh. In April, representatives of the governments of the United States and Bangladesh held the inaugural meeting of the United States-Bangladesh Forum on Trade and Investment (Forum), established to identify and address obstacles to increasing bilateral trade and investment. The U.S. and Bangladesh reaffirmed their commitment to increase bilateral trade and investment and address worker rights and safety issues in Bangladesh. Through the Forum, the United States proposed the creation of a Labor Affairs Committee and a Committee on Women's Economic Empowerment.
Promoted Trade and Investment with Afghanistan. In January, U.S. and Afghan officials met in Afghanistan to continue progress under the U.S.-Afghanistan Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA). Signed in 2004, the TIFA has been the primary forum for bilateral trade and investment discussions between the two countries, and this year gave the United States an opportunity to support Afghanistan’s efforts to accede to the WTO through the signing of a bilateral market access agreement.
Promoted Trade and Investment to Foster Inclusive Economic Development in Sri Lanka. In October, the United States and Sri Lanka continued their trade dialogue to evaluate progress under the United States-Sri Lanka Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA). The officials discussed market access, labor, trade promotion efforts, the U.S. Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), intellectual property rights, agriculture, and sector-specific investment challenges. Progress on all of these trade and investment issues fosters economic growth, thus providing a strong foundation for inclusive economic development as Sri Lanka emerges from years of civil war. A U.S.-Sri Business Forum, held on the margins of the TIFA Council meeting, brought representatives of U.S. companies to Sri Lanka to explore additional investment opportunities and to expand our already healthy trade relationship.
Promoted Trade, Investment, and Regional Cooperation in Central Asia. In June, the United States convened the ninth council meeting of the U.S.-Central Asia Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA), along with Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Afghanistan. The Council is the key vehicle for trade and investment discussions between the United States and the countries of Central Asia, and focused on issues, including World Trade Organization (WTO) membership, customs, investment, standards and sanitary measures, and women’s economic empowerment.
Increased ties with Iraq. In March, senior representatives of the governments of the United States and Iraq held the inaugural meeting of the United States-Iraq Council on Trade and Investment (TIFA Council), which was established under the United States-Iraq Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA). The dialogue under the TIFA reaffirms both governments’ commitment to increase bilateral trade and investment.
12/04/2014 1:45 PM
This week President Obama advocated for his historic trade agenda which, as he made clear, is “critical to growing America’s economy and advancing American leadership.” This was amplified by multiple administration officials, who also promoted President Obama’s trade agenda. The groundbreaking trade agreements we’re negotiating with the Asia-Pacific region and the EU are critical to President Obama’s strategy for unlocking economic opportunity because they will increase Made-in-America exports, bolster American competitiveness in the global economy, support jobs and economic growth, and strengthen the American middle class.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA
President Barack Obama to the Business Roundtable: “Trade: In Asia, there is a great hunger for engagement with the United States of America, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership is moving forward….We are optimistic about being able to get a deal done and we are reinvigorating the negotiations with the Europeans on a transatlantic trade deal. If we can get that done, that's good for American businesses, it's good for American jobs, and it's actually good for labor and environmental interests around the world.”
President Barack Obama to the National Foreign Trade Council: “Today, more than ever, bolstering international trade is critical to growing America’s economy and advancing American leadership….That’s why we’re working so hard to negotiate and finalize new trade agreements that will link the United States more closely with countries across both the Pacific and the Atlantic and will deliver benefits for all our people.”
OBAMA ADMINISTRATION OFFICIALS
White House Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett to the National Foreign Trade Council: “The record over the last century is clear: trade has helped usher in a period of peace and prosperity that is, quite simply, unrivalled in human history. Expanding trade has created a bright future for billions around the world, including millions of Americans right here at home. Between 1991 and 2011, as developing countries doubled their share of global trade, nearly 1 billion men and women and children were lifted out of poverty. In the United States, international trade has added 10% to America’s GDP. And in today’s terms, that’s an extra $13,600 in each pocket of every American family. The benefits of trade have been especially clear during the recent years. Since 2009, trade has contributed one-third of our economic growth, and during the past five years, the increase in American exports has supported an additional 1.6 million jobs. That’s the message that we have to get out, strongly and clearly, across our country.”
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest at Daily Press Briefing: “We’re looking for the kind of an agreement that’s going to open up overseas markets for American goods and services. That’s going to expand economic growth here. It’s going to create jobs here. It’s going to expand economic opportunity for American businesses and for middle-class families.”
Council of Economic Advisers Chair Jason Furman on CNBC: “We’re doing well…but there’s no debate with you that we should be doing better – no debate at all. And the question is what can we do to do better? The President is going to come here today and he’s going to be talking to the business community about how we can work together to advance our economy. And he's going to talk about three things. He's going to be talking about what we can do to reform our tax system, exactly as you just said, bring our rates down, but also close some of the loopholes – we have to worry about both halves of that; what we can do to invest in infrastructure, and that's something we can do as part of that tax reform; and what we can do to expand global trade with our partners in the Pacific and with Europe. Those are three areas that we could really work together with the business community to help move our economy.”
Wall Street Journal: “Obama Says Trade, Tax Policy Are Areas of Potential Bipartisan Cooperation…Speaking to a gathering of top business leaders from the country’s largest corporations, President Barack Obama sketched out what he said are potential areas of bipartisan cooperation going into his final two years in office. Appearing at the quarterly meeting of the Business Roundtable, Mr. Obama identified tax policy, trade, infrastructure and immigration as potential areas for legislative progress with Republican lawmakers.”
- Wall Street Journal: “…here’s a rosier school of thought more broadly held by economists and corporate chiefs: One of the biggest potential upsides for the economy next year, both in the U.S. and abroad, could stem from political action. The benefits of action, in other words, outweigh the risks of inaction….President Barack Obama sounded a similar note in an address Wednesday to the Business Roundtable. ‘There remains enormous areas of potential bipartisan action,’ he said, pointing to tax policy, trade, infrastructure and immigration as areas for legislative progress with Republican lawmakers. Movement on any one of those would add another tailwind to the U.S. economy.”
New York Times: “On Wednesday, Mr. Obama lingered for nearly two hours with the chief executives of several of the largest American companies, rallying their support for an Asian trade deal and laying out his most detailed case yet for corporate tax reform.…Mr. Obama also stressed his determination to complete negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a 12-country trade agreement that is a centerpiece of the president’s strategic shift to Asia. Selling the pact at home, he said, will be just as important as negotiating it, and he was clearly seeking allies among the business executives.”
USA Today: “Obama pledges to work with majority Republicans…President Obama said Wednesday that while Republicans prepare to take control of the U.S. Senate, there are potential areas of bipartisan compromise that range from infrastructure to free trade….Obama acknowledged the new political circumstances — ‘the midterm elections did not turn out exactly as I hoped’ — but said he and his team will look for areas of agreement on the budget, trade, tax reform, and more money for road, bridge, and airport construction.”
Washington Post: “As he has before, Obama cited tax reform, trade and infrastructure as areas where he hopes to cut deals with Republicans, and he added that if progress is made in those areas, then perhaps the parties could revisit immigration reform legislation later next year.”
Associated Press: “Ahead of the Oval Office meeting, Obama outlined his most specific blueprint yet for striking compromises with Congress when the GOP takes full control of Capitol Hill next month. The president said there was ‘definitely a deal to be done’ on overhauling the nation's complicated tax code, but suggested it could take lawmakers more than six months to iron out the details of such an agreement. He said a deal on infrastructure spending could be included in a tax overhaul package and predicted progress on overseas trade agreements….McConnell, the Kentucky lawmaker who is soon to become Senate majority leader, has broadly agreed with Obama's calls for tax reform, improving the nation's infrastructure and inking free trade pacts.”
Reuters: “Obama sketches 2015 agenda of taxes, trade; meets McConnell…Obama told the Business Roundtable, a group of chief executives of top U.S. businesses, that he would like to pursue corporate tax reform, free-trade deals and reach agreement on an immigration overhaul to replace his controversial unilateral action last month that loosened immigration policies.”
CBS News: “Obama woos GOP on tax reform, immigration, free trade deals…On Wednesday, Mr. Obama also hailed fresh progress in negotiations over two new free trade agreements prized by Republicans. He cited a ‘great hunger’ among Asian nations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership and said that effort is ‘moving forward.’ He also said his administration, led by U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, is ‘reinvigorating negotiations’ with European countries on a Transatlantic trade deal….Republicans have sounded more bullish on the prospects for compromise on trade agreements than on some other issues. ‘At least on trade, I think there's a potential for agreement,’ McConnell said Tuesday.”
NBC News: “Obama identified tax reform, infrastructure and trade as top legislative priorities he will focus on with the GOP-controlled Congress he will inherit in his final two years as president. If progress is made on those issues, Congress may be able to turn its attention towards comprehensive immigration reform.”
11/21/2014 7:00 PM
The United States has a vibrant culture of innovation, and our country’s creative and entrepreneurial spirit helps support millions of American jobs, promote economic growth, and create goods and services enjoyed by consumers around the world. That is why the United States, alongside the European Union, Switzerland, and Mexico, sponsored the first-ever World Trade Organization (WTO) Innovation Fair, to provide a forum for innovators from the U.S. and around the globe to discuss the multilateral frameworks that support and encourage innovative growth.
Innovation plays an important role in not only global economic development, but also in technological advancement and social entrepreneurship, as evidenced by the array of products showcased by the inventors, start-ups, small businesses and other experts attending the Fair. Over 20 innovators gave presentations, shared their experiences from the innovation process, and discussed the importance and benefits of intellectual property protection to each of their successes.
The featured innovations ranged from medical devices that are adapted to the needs of local doctors and patients, to cutting-edge filtration systems that combat water-related diseases, from interactive hand-held devices for visually-impaired Internet users, to next generation clean tech super-conductors, each with new and unique benefits to their target markets. The Fair also provided an opportunity for innovators from around the globe -- start-up accelerators from Egypt, innovation incubators in Panama, inventors from the US, Japan and across Europe -- to share best practices and lay the foundation for potential future international innovation collaborations and partnerships.
The Fair took place alongside the WTO Council on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), which is responsible for administering the WTO TRIPS Agreement -- a multilateral agreement on intellectual property protection and enforcement. Intellectual property rights are especially important to inventors and creators to encourage their continued research and development, protect their hard work and investment, and promote technology diffusion.
The United States has a competitive advantage in innovation, and nearly 30 million Americans owe their jobs to intellectual property-intensive industries. Broad-based IP protection not only helps support our country’s strong entrepreneurial culture, but also ensures our innovative, Made-in-America products can be enjoyed by the more than 95% of global consumers outside of the U.S. Innovation, and the intellectual property rights that protect them, make key contributions to technological advancement and economic growth across the globe, and the United States looks forward to continuing and supporting the dialogue on these important topics at the WTO.
To learn more about the WTO Innovation Fair and participants, please click here.
11/14/2014 11:00 AM
“Last night, we reached a breakthrough in our ongoing efforts to expand the Information Technology Agreement. This is a WTO agreement that eliminates tariffs on high-tech products among 54 economies, including the U.S. and China… This is encouraging news not just for the U.S.-China trade relationship, it shows that the U.S. and China work together to both advance our bilateral economic agenda, but also to support the multilateral trading system.”
-U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman
Following the 2014 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ Meeting, President Obama and United States Trade Representative Michael Froman announced a major breakthrough in negotiations with China to expand the scope of goods covered by the World Trade Organization (WTO) Information Technology Agreement (ITA). The ITA will eliminate tariffs on information technology products, and the bilateral agreement between the U.S. and China will allow for the resumption and swift conclusion of negotiations for the first major tariff-cutting deal at the WTO in 17 years. A successful ITA expansion would allow for an increase in Made-in-USA exports to growing markets without the imposition of burdensome tariffs, and would support tens of thousands of good-paying U.S. manufacturing and technology jobs. To learn more about how the ITA will support economic growth at home and abroad, please click here.
Below are reactions to the announcement:
- Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), Senate Finance Committee Chairman: “The original Information Technology Agreement helped grow companies big and small in Oregon by eliminating overseas tariffs on high-tech products almost two decades ago,” Wyden said. "Today's news of an agreement with China will pave the way for a successful ITA expansion deal, which means more good-paying jobs by opening global markets to Oregon manufacturers and exporters of advanced semiconductors, high tech medical equipment and other products.” [11/11/2014]
- Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee: “After more than a year of stalled negotiations, the Administration’s progress with China to zero-out tariffs on information technology products, like medical devices, is welcome news. Expansion of the Information Technology Agreement would be a big win for American manufacturers, including many in my home state of Utah, who would then be able to increase their global footprint on cutting-edge technologies. Given the recent progress achieved on international trade policy at APEC, it is imperative the President now work with Congress in a bipartisan way to help pass Trade Promotion Authority. Renewal of this job-creating initiative will empower our nation to negotiate a high-quality Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement that will grow the economy, benefit the American people and achieve the goals of Congress.” [11/11/2014]
- Linda Dempsey, Vice President of International Economic Affairs, National Association of Manufacturers (NAM): “Expanding the agreement to include ‘new technologies is critical not just for manufacturers of this equipment but for all the manufacturers that consume these technologies to make them more productive and globally competitive. The NAM applauds the administration's leadership and persistence in moving these negotiations forward and looks forward to the conclusion and implementation of an expanded ITA as quickly as possible’.” [11/11/2014]
- Myron Brilliant, Executive Vice President and Head of International Affairs, U.S. Chamber of Commerce: “With economic growth disappointing in many countries, news of a breakthrough in the ITA negotiations is more than welcome. The ITA has been one of the most successful trade pacts in history, spurring growth and innovation across a host of cutting-edge industries. With so many new products created since the ITA was concluded two decades ago, expanding the agreement’s coverage is imperative. With trade in tech goods surpassing $4 trillion annually, the commercial significance of these negotiations is obvious. As stated in our goals coming into Beijing, a deal on the ITA is key to the success of China’s APEC year. We congratulate the U.S. and Chinese officials who have pushed these negotiations through a difficult stage and, hopefully, brought success within reach.” [11/10/2014]
- Gregory Gilligan, Chairman, American Chamber of Commerce in China: “This latest breakthrough – combined with the deal announced the previous day on extending the validity of visas for businesspeople, students and tourists – demonstrates how cooperation can create long-term benefits to the business interests of both countries.” [11/11/2014]
- John Frisbie: President, U.S.-China Business Council: “Making a positive breakthrough on the ITA this week sets the tone for more ambitious agreements that are in discussion.” [11/11/2014]
- Bruce Mehlman, Executive Director, Technology CEO Council (TCC): “This agreement represents a major breakthrough in global trade for the high tech sector. The information technology sector has changed dramatically in the 17 years since the ITA first went into effect. By updating the product scope and eliminating tariffs on more than 200 new products, a new and expanded ITA will support thousands of new manufacturing and technology jobs here in the U.S. and infuse billions of dollars in revenue to the global economy. We applaud the persistent efforts of President Obama and his Administration, including U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, as well as the Departments of Treasury and Commerce to move this agreement forward and keep ITA expansion as a top economic priority. We look forward to the swift completion of the final ITA agreement as soon as possible.” [11/11/2014]
- Gary Shapiro, President and CEO, Consumer Electronics Association (CEA): “It took hard work, and compromise on all sides, but today's breakthrough announcement from Beijing on the ITA marks a major path forward. President Obama, Ambassadors Froman and Punke, and their team at USTR have worked tirelessly over the past week to find a way forward. We commend them, Chinese hosts of APEC and leadership in Beijing for reaching a mutually acceptable path forward to continuing, and swiftly concluding, ITA discussions in Geneva. Today's breakthrough offers not only a strong deliverable for APEC leaders, but also a chance to advance the success of the World Trade Organization itself." [11/11/2014]
- Gregg Melinson, Senior Vice President for Corporate Affairs, Hewlett Packard (HP): "The Information Technology Agreement (ITA) is an extremely significant trade pact for the high-tech sector, and we applaud the announcement of a deal which will expand product coverage and eliminate burdensome tariffs. This move will support and grow jobs throughout our industry, and we applaud the USTR and President Obama for driving this important trade expansion in Beijing this week." [11/11/2014]
- Fred Humphries, Vice President of U.S. Government Affairs, Microsoft: “Microsoft welcomes the news from the APEC Leader’s meeting on the expansion of the Information Technology Agreement (ITA). This is a significant and important development for China and the United States. Microsoft will continue to work in support of ITA expansion as final negotiations are concluded in Geneva.” [11/11/2014]
- Brian Toohey, President and CEO, The Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA): "The ITA has played a central role in helping the U.S. semiconductor industry drive innovation, create jobs, lower consumer prices and connect communities throughout the world. Today's agreement between the U.S. and China to expand the ITA is a hard-fought victory for the U.S. semiconductor industry and a big win for the U.S. economy and consumers around the world. We look forward to all ITA countries finalizing a deal as soon as possible."[11/11/2014]
- Rich Templeton, Chairman, President, and CEO, Texas Instruments (TI): “Lowering barriers to trade advances innovation and growth for our companies but more importantly can expand the global economy. We see this as a true win-win for the participating countries and a needed boost for rules-based trade under the WTO. President Obama and Ambassador Froman deserve a great deal of credit for achieving this important breakthrough.” [11/11/2014]
- Jeff Campbell, CISCO: “The agreement between the United States and China to expand the scope of the Information Technology Agreement represents a major breakthrough in the global trade agenda. This agreement is expected to eliminate duties on over 200 information and communications technology (ICT) product categories, representing approximately $1 trillion in annual global ICT sales. Now that the U.S. and China have reached agreement, we hope negotiators will resume talks early next month at the World Trade Organization in Geneva to expand the bilateral agreement to include more nations. In doing so, this will help expand access to affordable technology, which will help improve standards of living and economic development around the world.” [11/11/2014]
- Senator Chris Dodd, Chairman and CEO, Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA): “MPAA commends the United States and China for reaching a crucial agreement on expanded product coverage in the negotiations to update the Information Technology Agreement (ITA). Once concluded, this agreement will encourage the growth of the U.S. and global motion picture industries by eliminating costly tariffs -- some as high as 30% -- on a wide range of digital and optical media and storage devices used in worldwide motion picture production, editing, distribution, and exhibition. MPAA is grateful for the hard work and leadership of President Obama, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman and the USTR team, who have worked tirelessly to narrow the differences with China to reach an understanding which will lead to a commercially significant agreement. MPAA also applauds China for contributing to the resumption of negotiations. We encourage all ITA participants to seize the momentum created by this agreement to resume and rapidly conclude the negotiations." [11/11/2014]
- Steve Mollenkopf, CEO, Qualcomm: “I am very pleased that dialogue between the United States and China has resulted in a breakthrough understanding that will give a much needed boost to negotiations to expand the product coverage of the WTO Information Technology Agreement. Modernizing the list of products that will receive duty-free treatment under an expanded ITA will generate significant benefits for the information technology industries and consumers globally. In particular, the inclusion in the ITA product landscape of MCO semiconductors will catalyze new innovations, investment, jobs, global trade flows and consumer choice. Qualcomm encourages all WTO members to build upon this momentum and conclude ITA expansion negotiations at the earliest opportunity this year. I applaud United States Trade Representative Michael Froman and Chinese Minister of Commerce Gao Hucheng, and their teams, for their hard work and leadership.” [11/11/2014]
- Intel: “We applaud the work that the United States Trade Representative (USTR) has done at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) to support America’s technology industry. The breakthrough bilateral agreement between the United States and China to expand product coverage of the Information Technology Agreement (ITA) enables the swift conclusion of a deal at the WTO that will cut tariffs on an estimated $1 trillion in annual global sales of information and communications technology (ICT) products. An expanded ITA will be a major win for the global information economy and ICT consumers around the world. Fair and open trade creates job growth, increases innovation and strengthens the global economy.” [11/11/2014]
- Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA): “The Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA), the leading association representing the manufacturers and suppliers of high-tech communications networks, today commended the White House and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative for their leadership in breaking the impasse to resume the negotiations to expand the World Trade Organization (WTO) Information Technology Agreement (ITA)… The breakthrough to resume the negotiations to expand the Information Technology Agreement would not have been possible without the tremendous amount of hard work by the White House and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative over the past year. It has been 17 years since the original ITA was concluded, and TIA is very pleased to see that the ITA expansion negotiations are back on track.” [11/11/2014]
- Advances Medical Technology Association (AdvaMed): "AdvaMed strongly supports expansion of the ITA and we are pleased to see the agreement reached by the leadership of China and the US. We hope that this will lead to continuation of a robust negotiation and swift passage of an expanded agreement. The ITA has the potential to reduce tariffs for several innovative medical technologies, benefitting manufacturers in the US, China and other countries. Even more importantly, the agreement will lower healthcare costs and increase patient access to life-saving and life-enhancing technologies." [11/11/2014]
- BSA / The Software Alliance: " ‘Updating the ITA to better account for these advances will remove tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of additional goods,’ BSA CEO Victoria Espinel said by email in response to a query.”
Reuters: U.S. tech, software industry cheers China IT trade deal progress [11/11/2014]
- Information Technology & Innovation Foundation: "Among the likely winners would be U.S. makers of semiconductors, medical products such as MRI and CT machines, and software and video game developers, said Stephen Ezell, senior analyst at the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation think tank. ‘It’s a win-win trade agreement that will benefit information and communications technology manufacturers and services firms across the Americas, Europe, and Asia, while also benefiting all consumers globally and raising global GDP by as much as $190 billion annually,’ he said by email.”
Reuters: U.S. tech, software industry cheers China IT trade deal progress [11/11/2014]
- Japan Electronics and Information Technology Industries Association: “The Japan Electronics and Information Technology Industries Association, an industry body whose 280 members include Sony Corp. , Panasonic Corp. , Sharp Corp. and Toshiba Corp. , welcomed the deal. “We were waiting for this since the discussion between China and the U.S. stopped last November,” the group said. ‘If the discussion reopens in Geneva and the tariff elimination is expanded, it would be positive for the JEITA and Japan’s IT and electronics industry.’”
Wall Street Journal: Global tech firms stand to gain from tariff drop [11/11/2014]
- Information Technology Industry Council (ITIC): “‘This is particularly important for economies without credit cards,’ said John Neuffer, senior vice president for global policy at the Information Technology Industry Council in Washington. ‘They can go to the local kiosk and buy cards’ that let them download software.”
Wall Street Journal: Global tech firms stand to gain from tariff drop [11/11/2014]
- Micron: “Mark Durcan, Micron’s chief executive, said the new agreement ‘will certainly benefit all of us who conduct business and manufacture on a global basis, and we commend all the parties involved in reaching this milestone.’”
Wall Street Journal: Global tech firms stand to gain from tariff drop [11/11/2014]
- U.S. Chamber of Commerce: “The Chamber has worked over the past two years to build support for an ambitious expansion of the ITA. We’ve traveled to Geneva repeatedly to meet with negotiators from dozens of countries, and we’ve raised it as an issue in missions to foreign capitals (especially Beijing, as Chinese officials had been reluctant to eliminate many tariffs). The Chamber was one of 82 top business groups from dozens of developed and developing countries that in September issued a statement calling for action…The Chamber has said repeatedly that a deal on the ITA is key to the success of China’s APEC year, and so it is. It’s also a big win for the U.S.-China relationship, with benefits for consumers and industries worldwide. We congratulate U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Michael Punke, as well as the Chinese officials who have pushed these negotiations through a difficult stage and, hopefully, brought success within reach.”
U.S. Chamber of Commerce: Trade Pact to Slash Taxes on $1 Trillion in Goods [11/11/2014]
- Information Technology Industry Council (ITI): “ITI applauds the sustained effort by President Obama and his team at USTR for their unrelenting efforts to achieve this deal and break the logjam…With this bilateral deal to expand product scope, a number of important goods will now be included in the final round of talks, such as next-generation semiconductors called MCOs, a range of medical equipment, a wide array of sophisticated measuring devices, and point-of-sale cards to download software and games. These additional product lines will add significant commercial value to the overall agreement.”
Information Technology Industry Council: Breakthrough Achieved on Information Technology Agreement: Next Stop, Geneva [11/11/2014]
10/15/2014 12:00 PM
“This is a major victory for American farmers. The WTO panel agreed with the U.S. case that India lacks any scientific basis to restrict U.S. agricultural products, including U.S. poultry products. Our farmers produce the finest – and safest – agricultural products in the world. This is the fourth major WTO victory the U.S. has announced this year as we continue to unlock economic opportunity for our workers, farmers, and businesses. This victory affirms the Administration’s commitment to ensuring WTO Members play by the rules, and that America’s farmers, workers and businesses get the fair shot they deserve to sell Made-in-America goods under WTO rules.”
- U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman
United States Trade Representative Michael Froman announced that the United States has won a major victory at the World Trade Organization (WTO) on behalf of U.S. farmers, including the U.S. poultry industry. The WTO dispute settlement panel has found in favor of the United States in a dispute challenging India’s ban on various U.S. agricultural products – such as poultry meat, eggs, and live pigs. This ruling is the latest of four significant actions taken by the Obama Administration to protect American farmers, and level the playing field for American workers.
Below are reactions to the announcement:
- USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack: “Our farmers and producers deserve a level playing field – and this dispute reflects that we will accept nothing less. I am pleased that the WTO Panel determined that India’s ban on poultry is inconsistent with its commitments under the WTO SPS Agreement. USDA will work in close partnership with USTR to ensure that U.S. poultry producers and processors have access to this important market.” [10/14/2014]
- Sen. John Isakson (R-GA): “This is a great victory for the United States and Georgia poultry, in particular. I have been working to open up India to U.S. poultry since this issue was brought to my attention. I thank USTR, USDA, my colleagues in Congress and U.S. poultry producers for working toward this important decision. I am pleased that the WTO panel affirmed that measures to ensure food safety must be based on science and not a desire to restrict market access. Georgia is the fourth largest poultry-producing region in the world, so this means a great deal to our state economy.” [10/14/2014]
- Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA 6th): “Today’s announcement sends a strong message that the United States will demand a level playing field for U.S. grown and made products in the international marketplace and that the WTO will not tolerate member countries imposing artificial trade barriers. American agriculture is dependent on access to global markets and a vibrant trade policy. This ruling opens the door for increased market access of U.S. livestock products, including poultry, which plays a key role in Virginia’s economy. I look forward to seeing the positive economic impact of this ruling.” [10/14/2014]
- Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR): “When countries put up baseless barriers to American agricultural products, we need to stand up for strong enforcement of the rules. Today’s decision is a well-deserved victory for hard-working American farmers across the country.” [ 10/14/2014]
- Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE): “Today’s ruling is a welcome sign that trade barriers erected by unscientific restrictions on American agricultural exports will not stand. There is still work to be done to open India’s enormous market to American farmers, but this decision has the potential to restore great economic opportunity for them and our country. Agriculture has always been a vital part of Delaware's economy and today about 70 percent of our state’s agricultural exports come from the poultry industry. In recent years we have been successful in addressing China and Mexico’s trade barriers that kept Delmarva poultry out of those important markets and my hope is we’re on our way to doing the same in India.” [10/14/2014]
- Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE): “Delaware has long been a global leader in the production of poultry products that adhere to the most rigorous and comprehensive of safety measures. India’s unsubstantiated claims about the risk of avian influenza in American poultry have prevented Delaware chicken-growers from exporting their high-quality products to an important and growing market. Exports play a critical role in the health of America’s poultry industry, making it important that the United States fight the unfair protectionist policies of some of the biggest markets in the world. While today’s WTO ruling doesn’t mean automatic access to the Indian market, it is an important step forward in that fight. Delaware's poultry community is one of the largest employers in the state, providing jobs for thousands of Delawareans and generating billions of dollars for our economy. My seat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee affords me a unique opportunity to fight for Delaware’s poultry growers abroad, and I am committed to using that opportunity to help open new markets and increase exports. I will work with the U.S. Trade Representative and my colleagues in the Senate to ensure that this ruling is fully implemented and that these barriers to fair trade are torn down.” [10/14/2014]
- Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD): “The best poultry in the world is raised right here in Maryland. Ensuring that our poultry producers have complete access to the global food market is incredibly important to sustaining this very important Delmarva industry. Thanks to the efforts of USTR, USDA, and Congress, the latest ruling from the WTO strikes down an unfounded ban on U.S. poultry—an important step in ensuring a level playing field for domestic agriculture.” [10/14/2014]
- Rep. John Carney (D-DE At Large): "This is good news for Delaware. The poultry industry is a critical piece of Delaware's economy, and open markets are key to our farmer's ability to grow their businesses. On behalf of Delaware farmers, I've pushed hard to stop India's unfair restrictions on poultry exports. I'm extremely pleased that a successful resolution has been reached. Delaware is well-positioned to take advantage of India's growing market." [10/14/2014]
- USA Poultry & Egg Council President James Sumner and National Chicken Council President Michael Brown: “India’s ban was thinly veiled protectionism. This ruling should send a signal to India and other countries that have placed similar bans on U.S. poultry that they are inconsistent with WTO rules and with guidelines established by the World Organization for Animal Health. Our industry believes that free and fair trade – particularly with food – should never be used as a political bargaining chip. Indian consumers deserve access to affordable and safe protein, which the U.S. has the ability to provide. We thank former USTR Ron Kirk for initiating the complaint against India, and (current) Ambassador Michael Froman for continuing to pursue the case for a favorable outcome.” [10/14/2014]
- Wall Street Journal: U.S. Scores Win in Poultry-Trade Case With India - The World Trade Organization sided with Washington in the 2012 case, brought after India banned U.S. agricultural products, including poultry, eggs and live pigs, in 2007, blaming the restrictions on concerns about the spread of avian influenza. The WTO panel struck down India’s rules in part because it said the bans “are not based on scientific principles and are maintained without sufficient scientific evidence.” Highly pathogenic strains of bird flu haven’t been detected in the U.S. since 2004, before the Indian ban, U.S. officials said. [10/14/2014]
- Reuters: U.S. chicken exports to India more likely after WTO ruling - India broke World Trade Organization rules by blocking imports of U.S. poultry and other farm products because of unsubstantiated bird flu fears, a WTO dispute panel ruled on Tuesday, potentially opening up an estimated $300 million a year export market for the United States. India had claimed its import restrictions, imposed in 2007, were justified by international rules on animal health, but the panel agreed with the United States and found that India's measures were not based on international standards and were discriminatory. [10/14/2014]
- Associated Press: WTO Sides With US Farmers in Dispute With India - United States Trade Representative Michael Froman said a WTO dispute settlement panel had ruled against Indian restrictions on U.S. imports of meat and eggs that were intended to prevent avian influenza from entering that country. The restrictions began in 2007. The United States argued in a 2012 challenge that there was no scientific basis for the restrictions and that they were inconsistent with international guidelines. There has not been an outbreak of high-pathogenic avian influenza in the United States since 2004, officials said. [10/14/2014]
- Politico: WTO hands U.S. victory on India poultry - The World Trade Organization on Tuesday ruled that India’s ban on poultry and other U.S. agricultural imports to protect against avian influenza violates global trade rules. The settlement panel’s ruling hands the United States its fourth significant WTO win this year. [10/14/2014]
- Dow Jones: US Scores Poultry-Trade Win in Poultry-Trade Case with India - The U.S. claimed a victory for its poultry producers Tuesday in a trade case involving India's restrictions on U.S. meat over bird-flu concerns. The World Trade Organization sided with Washington in the 2012 case, brought after India banned U.S. agricultural products, including poultry, eggs and live pigs, in 2007, blaming the restrictions on concerns about the spread of avian influenza. [10/14/2014]
- McClatchy: Game of chicken ends: WTO rules in favor of U.S. poultry - U.S. poultry producers on Tuesday hailed what they called a favorable ruling from the World Trade Organization that they hope will force India to open its large market to American exports. The announcement of the favorable WTO ruling came from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, which said a dispute-resolution panel determined that India unfairly blocked U.S. exports of chicken products, meat, eggs and live pigs. [10/14/2014]
09/25/2014 12:30 PM
By Christina Sevilla, Deputy Assistant USTR for Small Business
A key goal of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) is to identify new ways to help small businesses compete globally. We’re working to increase small business participation in transatlantic supply chains, and businesses across the U.S. and the EU are eager for the opportunities that T-TIP will deliver when complete. This week I travelled to Poland and met with several local companies doing business in and supporting jobs across the U.S., and who are interested in expanding trade through T-TIP.
During my visit, I toured the ROSA Lighting factory, a small Polish business that stands to benefit from T-TIP. ROSA manufactures custom outdoor street lamps with 250 workers, uses American-made diodes and other parts in their products, and exports to 50 countries in Europe and the Middle East. It’s a perfect example of how small businesses in communities around the world are tied to the global marketplace and supply chains to produce and sell their goods.
At the ROSA Lighting factory. From L to R: Stanislaw Rosa, CEO, ROSA Lighting; Christina Sevilla, USTR; Klaudia Czech, Commercial Director, ROSA; Lori Cooper, U.S. Department of Commerce; Artur Rosa Technical Director, ROSA; Angela Palazzolo, U.S. Embassy Warsaw
ROSA recently completed a project in San Diego, California and is interested in expanding relationships with American suppliers of electrical equipment, which will support more jobs in the U.S. CEO Stanislaw Rosa hopes that T-TIP will strengthen US-EU cooperation and unlock more opportunities by increasing interest in U.S. and Poland small business partnerships. These sentiments were echoed throughout the meeting of the Fourth European Congress of Small and Medium Enterprises, where I spoke with several European small businesses looking to expand their businesses through T-TIP.
At RYTM-L. From L to R: Christina Sevilla, USTR; Jerzy Wodecki, CEO, RYTM-L; Marcin Bujakowski, Logistics Manager, RYTM-L
Not too far from ROSA is RYTM-L, a manufacturer of flame retardants and other aerosols for the auto and construction industries with 50 workers. During my visit, CEO Jerzy Wodecki told me that he hopes T-TIP will make it easier for U.S. and EU businesses to comply with each other’s regulations for chemicals and to get their products approved and certified by each other’s governments, which is often a costly process for small businesses. Jerzy pointed out that his company uses chemical compounds and valves from U.S. suppliers as inputs into his company's finished products, which are then exported throughout the EU. It is a win-win-- the kind that we’re working toward throughout T-TIP.
The U.S. and Poland have a two-way trade relationship of $8.7 billion, supporting jobs at small and medium enterprises in Poland and across America through vital supply-chain relationships. Less red tape, decreased tariffs, increased efficiency, and strengthened small business cooperation are just a few of the ways T-TIP can help even more small businesses grow.
To learn more about how T-TIP will benefit your small business, please click here.
09/18/2014 6:45 PM
“As President Obama has made clear, our trade agreements must advance both our interests and our values, they must be monitored closely, and the obligations of our trading partners must be enforced. Central to that commitment are strong, enforceable labor standards. These standards level the playing field for American workers and help ensure that global competition is driven by entrepreneurship and innovation, not by exploitation or injustice....We remain hopeful that Guatemala can achieve a resolution that results in concrete improvements for workers on the ground and sends a positive signal to the world that would help attract investment, expand economic activity, and promote inclusive growth.”
-U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman
United States Trade Representative Michael Froman today announced that the United States is proceeding with a labor enforcement case against Guatemala under the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) – first-ever labor dispute under any free trade agreement. This is the latest in a series of significant actions taken by the Obama Administration to stand up for labor rights and level the playing field for American workers.
Below are reactions to today’s announcement:
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka: “We welcome today’s historic decision by the U.S. government to resume the arbitration process with Guatemala, to ensure that the government of Guatemala will live up to the commitments made under CAFTA to enforce workers’ basic rights and Guatemalan labor laws….We applaud the actions of our government today.” [AFL-CIO, 9/18/2014]
- AFL-CIO Trade & Globalization Policy Specialist Celeste Drake: “Today, for the first time ever, the U.S. government announced that it will begin the formal consultations that are used to resolve trade disputes in the area of labor rights enforcement….The AFL-CIO welcomes today’s announcement by the U.S. government to resume the arbitration process with Guatemala, to ensure that the government of Guatemala will live up to the very basic commitments it made to effectively enforce its own labor laws.” [AFL-CIO, 9/18/2014]
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR): “This moment is long in coming. Guatemala has failed to enforce its labor laws again and again, and its workers continue to suffer as a result. Our trading partners cannot turn a blind eye to their trade obligations, including those that are in place to protect workers…Labor rights are a pillar of our nation’s trade policy, which makes today’s action so important. Both USTR and the Department of Labor have put hundreds of hours into developing the facts of this case, and on top of that, put hundreds more into trying to resolve this matter with Guatemala. One thing is clear: to have a strong enforcement record, you cannot enforce some of the rules some of the time. All of the rules must be enforced all of the time. That includes labor and environmental commitments.” [Senate Finance Committee, 9/18/2014]
Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD): “International trade is good for America, but it must be based on international standards that protect workers, both at home and with our trading partners. I applaud the administration for holding Guatemala accountable to its current commitments under CAFTA. Guatemala’s workers are suffering because their country is not upholding its own laws. Trade must not reduce us all to the lowest common-denominator…” [Senate Finance Committee, 9/18/2014]
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH): “It’s critical that the U.S. holds Guatemala accountable on its trade commitments and this action is an important first step…For too long, Guatemala has failed to uphold and enforce its labor laws – endangering workers and misleading businesses and trade partners. I’m glad to see USTR restart litigation and look forward to a result that provides justice for Guatemalan workers and lives up to the agreements required by CAFTA.”[Senate Finance Committee, 9/18/2014]
House Committee on Ways & Means Ranking Member Rep. Sandy Levin (D-MI): “It is high time that Guatemala be held to the labor obligations to which it committed a decade ago…Guatemala’s failure to enforce its labor laws weakens its economy and damages the opportunity for its citizens to earn a decent livelihood at a time when large numbers of unaccompanied minors and others are fleeing to escape violence and poverty in their home countries. I appreciate the hard work that USTR, the Department of Labor, the AFL-CIO and others have devoted to this important cause.” [Office of U.S. Rep. Sander Levin, 9/18/2014]
Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY): “I applaud the efforts of the USTR and the Labor Department to hold Guatemala accountable for failing to carrying out its commitments under the Action Plan and for its failure to enforce labor laws that will protect its workers’ rights…We have an obligation to ensure that our trading partners are upholding the terms negotiated in our Trade Agreements. I am proud to join my colleagues and labor unions to send a strong message that the United States will not overlook any failures to maintain and enforce laws that meet international labor standards.” [Office of U.S. Rep. Sander Levin, 9/18/2014]
Rep. Xavier Becerra (C-DA): “Only meaningful improvements in economic and security conditions and strengthening institutions of democratic governance in Guatemala can provide a lasting and sustainable solution to its many challenges, and today's actions by USTR and the Department of Labor are an important step in the right direction…Trade should be about removing barriers, improving standards for working men and women, and lifting all boats so we can trade as partners and as equals.” [Office of U.S. Rep. Sander Levin, 9/18/2014]
New Democrat Coalition – Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI), Rep. Rick Larsen (D-WA), Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA), and Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY): “Today’s announcement by U.S. Trade Representative Froman and Labor Secretary Perez sends a clear, unequivocal message to our trading partners: we will not take enforcing our standards lightly…International competition should be a race for innovation advantage, not a race to the bottom on labor standards. We commend USTR and the Labor Department for continuing to stand by the rights of workers in Guatemala by initiating this action. Smart, vigorous enforcement, coupled with a robust system of international trade agreements aimed at selling our products around the globe can be a win-win for everybody, but only if our trading partners play by the rules.” [New Democrat Coalition, 9/18/2014]
Politico: “The United States said Thursday it is restarting trade litigation against Guatemala for failing to meet labor provisions of the U.S.-Central American Free Trade Agreement, potentially paving the way for fines or even trade sanctions to be imposed for the first time in a labor dispute….The USTR said in a fact sheet on its overall labor record that the United States is “negotiating the strongest labor protections in history” in both the proposed TPP and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the European Union. In addition to Guatemala, the Obama administration has used trade negotiations and preference programs to push for stronger worker protections in Colombia, Jordan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Swaziland, Haiti and Burma, USTR said.” [Politico Pro, 9/18/2014 (pay-walled)]
Reuters: “The United States ramped up pressure on Guatemala to better protect workers' rights on Thursday by restarting a trade case that could lead to hefty fines for the Central American nation. U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said the Obama administration would push ahead with legal action under a free trade agreement to make Guatemala meet international standards on labor rights and working conditions….Guatemala, whose economy is around the size of that of the U.S. state of Alaska, could face fines of up to $15 million a year or the suspension of trade benefits if an arbitration panel finds it has violated labor provisions in the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR).” [Reuters, 9/18/2014]
Huffington Post: “The United States accused Guatemala this week of failing to live up to the labor standards spelled out in the countries' trade agreement, pursuing a case that could lead to fines if Guatemala doesn't move to better protect its workers. U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said he was moving ahead with the case in hopes that Guatemala, a partner of the U.S. in the Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), would make ‘concrete improvements’ in enforcing labor laws already on its books.” [Huffington Post, 9/18/2014]
The Hill: “US ramps up pressure on Guatemala over labor rights…U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman announced Thursday that the United States will push ahead with a labor rights case against Guatemala. Froman said that while Guatemala has made progress on implementing a labor enforcement plan forged in April 2013, there is still more work to be done on workers' rights provisions required under the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement.” [The Hill, 9/18/2014]
New Reports Illustrate How Made-In-USA Exports Support Jobs, Grow the Economy, and Unlock Opportunity for Americans09/05/2014 5:00 PM
This week, Ambassador Michael Froman joined Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker to announce two unprecedented reports illustrating the millions of American jobs supported by Made-in-America goods exports. The Department of Commerce reports showed not only the number of jobs supported by goods exports from each of the 50 states, but also exports from the United States’ 387 Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs). The reports found that in 2013, overall goods and services exports supported over 11.3 million U.S. jobs, and that U.S. metropolitan areas exported more than $1.4 trillion in goods.
President Obama’s number one priority is expanding opportunity for all Americans, and trade has been a key tool in fueling U.S. economic growth, and strengthening the middle class.
U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman has been traveling to states across the U.S. to see that growth locally and talk with small businesses and their workers to learn how they share their Made-in-America goods with the world.
In Denver, Ambassador Froman toured the Epic Brewing Company which supports high-quality jobs in Colorado and Utah by exporting a variety of micro-brewed beer to countries across the world.
Throughout Iowa, Ambassador Froman met with farmers, families attending the state fair, business leaders, and elected officials who represent the many ways that selling Made-in-America exports benefit the local economy.
For example, in Maxwell, Iowa Ambassador Froman visited the Kimberley Family Farm which exports corn and soybeans to countries across Asia. He also met with Des Moines’ Kemin Industries, Inc., which manufactures and exports over 500 specialty ingredients for the food, feed, pharmaceutical and beauty industries.
In Minnesota, Ambassador Froman visited Minneapolis-based Jewelry by Johan, a small jewelry business that exports worldwide using the Etsy web platform. Since the company began selling goods online in 2011, the company has grown to 30 employees with annual sales of $2 million, one-third of which results from exports to nearly 30 countries.
In Washington, Ambassador Froman toured Seattle’s Cascade Designs, Inc. which helps support local jobs by exporting outdoor recreation goods like sleeping bags, snowshoes, and wheelchairs to over 40 countries around the globe.
These companies represent a few examples of the many ways trade and Made-in-USA exports support American jobs, grow the economy, and strengthen the American middle class.
The United States is currently negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) which will help connect U.S. goods and services exports with countries across the Asia-Pacific region and throughout Europe, helping to support additional jobs here at home.
USTR European Outreach Highlights T-TIP’s Opportunities for Small Business Trade, Investment, and U.S. Jobs08/06/2014 1:00 PM
By Christina Sevilla, Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Small Business
In the United States and in the European Union, small and medium businesses are the backbone of the economy and critical motors of growth and job creation. Small businesses that export grow faster, add jobs faster, and pay higher wages than small companies in the same sector that serve purely domestic markets. Helping more small and medium enterprises do business and find partners across the Atlantic, and unlocking opportunities for more jobs and growth on both sides, is a key objective of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP).
As President Obama has said, “the trade and investment partnership that we are pursuing between the European Union and the United States is a major opportunity to build on millions of jobs on both sides of the Atlantic already supported by U.S.-E.U. trade. Such an agreement would result in more trade, more jobs and more export opportunities, including for small businesses.” For U.S. small and medium companies, the EU represents a considerable market, with over 92,000 U.S. small businesses across the fifty states exporting there in 2012.
In July, following on the 6th round of T-TIP negotiations in Brussels, I met with small and medium companies in Germany, Austria and Luxembourg already doing business with the United States and expecting that the T-TIP will further reduce costly tariff and non-tariff barriers, creating new opportunities for growth. Based on expectations of increased customer sales, these European small and medium firms are opening plants and operations in Mississippi, Alabama, and Pennsylvania, creating high-wage jobs for U.S. workers in manufacturing, engineering, and sales.
L to R: Dept. of Commerce’s Lori Cooper, Feuer Powertrain CEO Bernd Gulden, USTR’s Christina Sevilla
With the assistance of the U.S. Consulate General in Leipzig, Germany, I visited the Feuer Powertrain company in Nordhausen, Germany, which manufactures engine components in five plants. Due to increasing North American demand and expected increases in sales with the T-TIP, Feuer’s CEO Bernd Gulden has made the company’s first foreign investment in Tunica, Mississippi, erecting a new plant, in which V8 engine motor parts will be manufactured. Forty employees from the Mississippi and Tennessee region will be hired this year, and in four to five years that number is expected to grow to 300. Feuer Powertrain finds that a skilled labor force and lower energy costs make the U.S. an attractive place to invest, and expects to train new workers and establish an apprenticeship program with local Mississippi technical colleges and high school graduates. Mr. Gulden said that retaining highly-skilled workers is important to the success of his company, and therefore he intends to set wages significantly higher than the prevailing wage in the Mississippi Delta region.
L to R: Fertinger CEO Veit Schmid-Schmidfelsen, USTR’s Christina Sevilla, and Fertinger manufacturing worker Katharina Scherlak
With the assistance of the U.S. Embassy in Vienna, I also visited Fertinger company, a small and medium business with 200 employees manufacturing air conditioning components. CEO Veit Schmid-Schmidfelsen expects the T-TIP will expand business with the United States and is opening a facility in Auburn, Alabama starting next year, beginning with 10 employees including workers and engineers. He also expects to collaborate with the local university to establish training and apprenticeship programs for workers.
L to R: USTR’s Christina Sevilla, U.S. Ambassador to Luxembourg Robert Mandell, and U.S. Embassy Luxembourg’s Heidi-Hakone Jovanovic at the Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce
In Luxembourg, U.S. Ambassador Robert Mandell and I met with small and medium businesses and industry associations at the Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce. Small Luxembourg companies such as Rotarex, a family-owned company manufacturing industrial valves and fittings, has a subsidiary in Mount Pleasant, Pennsylvania employing 30 workers.
T-TIP will reduce trade barriers which can be especially costly to smaller firms, and expand opportunities for U.S. –EU trade and investment in order to help sustain and grow high-wage jobs on both sides.
To learn more about the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, please visit www.ustr.gov/ttip.
For more information on the benefits of T-TIP on small- and medium-sized enterprises, please click here.
07/30/2014 4:00 PM
The Obama Administration is committed to creating jobs, strengthening domestic manufacturing, and promoting sustainable economic growth that benefits American families. That is why USTR is pursuing trade negotiations that contribute to those goals by unlocking new economic opportunities for American workers, businesses, farmers, and ranchers.
The United States is currently participating in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) negotiations with 11 growing Asia-Pacific countries. TPP is designed to help create opportunity for Americans by opening these markets to U.S. goods and services, setting high-standard trade rules, and addressing 21st century issues in the global economy.
There are a lot of myths suggesting that TPP would overturn or undermine our ability to buy American or even prevent states and local governments from implementing their own procurement processes. These assertions are incorrect.
There is nothing in TPP that will ban federal, state, or local governments from buying American. In fact, under TPP we are working to ensure that more countries around the world have the ability to buy American in order to help support jobs here at home. TPP will tear down barriers in other countries to create opportunities for our workers in fast-growing markets where governments are significant buyers of goods and services.
Here are some important facts you should know regarding TPP and government procurement:1. TPP will make NO CHANGES to our procurement laws on the federal, state, or local level or undermine existing requirements.
- TPP’s rules on non-discrimination in government procurement are not new – they reflect 35 years of laws passed by the U.S. Congress and already govern our relations with more than 50 countries.
- Since 1979, under U.S. leadership, the United States and nearly all other industrialized countries, including 8 of the 11 countries that will be TPP partners, have agreed to government procurement rules to ensure a level playing field – a level playing field that benefits the United States.
- TPP will do nothing to prevent tax dollars from being used on procurement projects at any level of government right here at home.
- Nothing in TPP will restrict the ability of governments to make purchases in accordance with their environmental policies.
- TPP will ensure that our small and minority business preference programs, as well as programs for distressed areas, transportation services, food assistance, and farm support are maintained.
- TPP will make no changes to existing restrictions, including those on Department of Defense procurement and federal assistance to state and local transportation projects.
- Nothing in TPP will in any way impact how state and local governments implement their own procurement policies. No state, local, county, or municipal government is covered by TPP.
- TPP will not restrict the ability of states to make purchases in accordance with their environmental policies.
- TPP will support American jobs and innovation by opening up new markets for American products in growing economies across the globe. TPP countries are fast-growing markets where governments are expanding their buying and building as they grow more prosperous.
- When TPP is enacted, eight of our TPP partners will already be party to government procurement agreements with the United States. TPP will open three additional markets to American products. TPP will also promote rule of law and good governance by promoting fair and transparent purchasing rules, like those we already have in the U.S.
- TPP will support U.S. exports in products that we specialize in and foreign governments need, like American-made machinery; and medical, infrastructure, transportation, and IT equipment, and U.S. services. These are exports that support family-wage middle class jobs across the U.S.
5. Of course the U.S. market is larger than those of other countries. We have the largest economy in the world.
- TPP’s market access opportunities for the United States go beyond government procurement. They cover virtually every good or service that the United States can export. Because the United States has the largest economy in the world, our market is, by definition, larger than anyone else’s market. But because we are already the most open economy in the world with the most competitive businesses and workers, we also stand to gain significantly from new opportunities.
06/25/2014 6:40 PM
Deputy Assistant USTR for Small Business Christina Sevilla convened Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Working Groups with Chile and Peru to discuss cooperation through the Obama Administration's Small Business Network of the Americas, which links U.S. Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) with counterpart centers in countries throughout the Hemisphere to expand trade opportunities, share best practices in SME development, and help more small businesses take advantage of U.S. trade agreements. As President Obama has stated, the United States is going to “focus more on small and medium-sized businesses, on women's businesses, making sure that the benefits of trade don't just go to the largest companies but also to the smaller entrepreneurs and business people."
From L to R: Peru’s Ministerial Office Cabinet Advisor Carmen Bedoya Eyzaguirre, Peru’s Vice Minister of SMEs and Industry Sandra Doig Diaz, USTR’s Christina Sevilla, Peru’s Vice-Ministerial Office Advisory Maggy Manrique Petrera, Director of Innovation Alejandro Bernaola Cabrera, and US Embassy in Lima Economic Officer Peter Lee
In Santiago, USTR welcomed the decision of the Bachelet Administration to establish 50 SBDCs based on the U.S. model throughout Chile, in order to promote inclusive growth and strengthen our respective countries ties in the SME sector. In June, a delegation from Chile will visit U.S. SBDCs at Howard University in Washington DC, George Mason University in Fairfax, VA and University of Texas at San Antonio, TX. The United States and Chile also discussed ways to promote trade by minority-owned small businesses and will develop an online webinar with the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce through the Administration's Look South initiative.
In Lima, Sevilla met with Vice Minister of SMEs Sandra Doig Diaz, and congratulated Peru on the recent completion of training in the U.S. SBDC model and the Ministry of Production's decision to establish pilot SBDCs in Peru in 2015. Peru intends to partner with U.S. SBDCs and their SME clients to expand opportunities under the trade agreement. The US and Peru also discussed efforts to empower women-owned businesses through the public-private partnerships under the Women's Entrepreneurship in the America's initiative.
The U.S. also discussed expanded regional opportunities for SMEs with Chile and Peru through the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement that is currently being negotiated. The United States, Chile and Peru are three of the 12 countries in the TPP.
To learn more about the Trans-Pacific Partnership, please visit http://www.ustr.gov/tpp.
06/25/2014 6:00 PM
This month, officials from the United States and Oman held bilateral environmental meetings in Muscat, Oman and convened an open session with members of the public on June 5 – World Environment Day – contributing to the global effort to encourage worldwide awareness and action for the environment. The meetings included a review of progress in implementing commitments under the Environment Chapter of the United States–Oman Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and the establishment of an updated work plan for environmental cooperation intended to assist Oman to implement its FTA commitments.
Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Environment and Natural Resources David Oliver, along with representatives from the Department of State, the Department of Justice, the Department of the Interior, and the U.S. Forest Service, met with Omani government officials to exchange information and review progress and developments relating to a range of issues under the Environment Chapter, including actions taken to increase levels of environmental protection, effectively enforce environmental laws, and provide opportunities for public participation in environmental governance and the trade policy-setting processes.
David Oliver, Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Environment and Natural Resources, and other members of the U.S. and Omani delegations discuss implementation of the U.S.-Oman FTA Environment Chapter and related environmental cooperation
Oliver also took part in a meeting of the United States–Oman Joint Forum on Environmental Cooperation, which oversees implementation of bilateral environmental cooperation activities that are intended to support Oman’s efforts to implement its commitments under the Environment Chapter. The Joint Forum on Environmental Cooperation reviewed ongoing environmental cooperation activities and approved and signed an updated Plan Of Action, which provides a robust framework for environmental cooperation activities for the period 2014-2017.
Together, these meetings are an important way for the United States and Oman to exchange information and review progress on respective efforts to implement the FTA Environment Chapter, identify challenges and priority areas for environmental cooperation, and develop plans to achieve further progress. The meetings culminated with a public session in which a range of stakeholders had an opportunity to engage in a discussion with government officials about implementation of the FTA Environment Chapter, existing environmental cooperation programs, and plans for further cooperation.
For more information, please see the Joint Communiqué of the United States-Oman Environmental Meetings.
The United States-Oman FTA entered into force in January 2009. The agreement promotes economic growth and trade, but also includes important provisions to advance the Parties’ mutual commitment to strengthen environmental protection. For more information on the United States-Oman FTA, please click here.
06/25/2014 9:00 AM
U.S. officials urged more than 30 governments to address the problem of global excess steel capacity at a key international meeting earlier this month. Government policies that create or maintain excess steelmaking capacity can hurt American steel producers and workers. The United States was joined by Canada and Mexico in calling attention to policies that distort trade, harm the environment, and threaten the most efficient steel producers in every market.
At the 76th meeting of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Steel Committee, USTR and Department of Commerce officials raised concerns about government interventions that unfairly distort the global marketplace for steel. These concerns were echoed by U.S. industry representatives. OECD Steel Committee Chairman, Risaburo Nezu, underscored the risks to industry if global steel capacity and production continue to outpace demand.
Through multilateral fora like the OECD Steel Committee, as well as through bilateral efforts, U.S. trade officials are advancing policies that level the playing field for American workers and firms, raise labor and environmental standards, and maintain the integrity of critical global markets. For more information on global steel production and policies, please visit the OECD website.
06/24/2014 6:45 PM
An unprecedented emphasis on leveling the playing field for American workers and businesses
U.S. Trade Representative, Ambassador Michael Froman is joined by Senator Debbie Stabenow and Congressman Sandy Levin last month to announce a key victory against unfair duties places on American-made cars by China
Tough monitoring and enforcement is required if trade agreements are to bring their full benefit to America’s businesses, families, farmers, and workers. That’s why the Obama administration has undertaken the most ambitious upgrade of trade enforcement in the history of modern U.S. trade policy, building a far more capable enforcement system. The result is a high volume of new disputes, and a strong record of success that is providing tangible results in our efforts to level the playing field for American workers and businesses.
In the last two months alone we have seen victories in two important trade enforcement cases that have benefited U.S. auto workers and U.S. producers of high-tech goods that utilize rare earth materials. In addition to enforcement in the WTO, the Administration is pursuing additional dispute settlement through our free trade agreements to protect labor rights and enhance environmental protections.
MORE RESOURCES: The Obama administration has made a concerted effort to enhance the capacity of the United States to enforce our trade agreements. The capstone on this effort is the 2012 creation of the Interagency Trade Enforcement Center (ITEC). ITEC is a USTR-led body with 22 trade analysts with expertise in a wide range of areas needed for successful enforcement. ITEC includes staff members with expertise in areas such as subsidies analysis, intellectual property, economics, agriculture, and animal health science, and with a variety of language skills including Chinese, Russian, Portuguese and Spanish. ITEC dramatically upgrades America’s ability to identify and address violations of trade agreements. It represents a historic commitment of personnel and budget to enforcement efforts, giving the United States greater capacity to find, prove, prosecute, and stop violations of trade agreements.
HIGH VOLUME OF DISPUTES: Under this Administration, USTR has filed 18 WTO complaints, more than any other WTO Member. Nine filings target measures adopted by China; three target Indian measures; other complaints addressed an array of major economies including Argentina, the European Union, Indonesia, and the Philippines. At the same time, through our Free Trade Agreements, USTR has broken new ground by launching a dispute settlement case involving labor rights and environmental rights and conservation.
A CONSISTENT RECORD OF SUCCESS: The Administration has an outstanding record of success. Of the 18 complaints filed since 2008, the U.S. prevailed in all 6 of the disputes that have resulted in WTO decisions. The U.S. has also settled 1 case on favorable grounds. (The remaining complaints are pending).
IMPACT ON AMERICAN WORKERS AND BUSINESSES: These stepped-up enforcement efforts cases are designed to benefit American workers and businesses by leveling the playing field and by setting long-term precedents that will support future American growth. For example:
- The U.S. case targeting the European Union’s Airbus subsidies carries with it billions of dollars in direct value for American aerospace workers and companies of all sizes and will set clear legal lines restricting new civil-aircraft subsidy programs.
- The U.S. case against Chinese limits on electronic payment services establishes key, market-opening precedents for services trade and the digital world.
- Through the case against Chinese export restraints on rare earths, the Administration is striving to provide major benefits to U.S. high-tech industries that make use of these important inputs, and to confirm important precedents ensuring access to essential minerals and intermediate goods.
- The case against India’s solar-energy local content rules is aimed at forced localization policies adopted by India and other major economies.
- The case filed against Guatemalan labor practices under the CAFTA-DR demonstrates the enforceability of labor provisions in free trade agreements and helps to ensure that our trading partners aren’t avoiding the enforcement of their labor law in the hopes of gaining trade or investment advantage.
- Several cases offer especially important economic impacts for small and medium-sized businesses. These include WTO filings against Chinese export requirements for auto parts manufacturers, Indian use of unscientific supposed health requirements to block poultry imports, and unfair import licensing rules in Argentina.
Eighty Years After the Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act: A legacy of creating jobs, promoting growth, and strengthening the middle class06/12/2014 9:50 AM
Today marks the 80th anniversary of the Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act (RTAA), a new approach to trade policy passed by the New Deal Congress and signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The RTAA was the first time Congress and a President worked together to enact trade negotiating authority to help pass new trade agreements that would increase exports and support new job creation. Through the RTAA, Congress set the framework for international trade negotiations and empowered the President to exert American leadership in the international trading system.
The Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act was signed into law on June 12, 1934 as part of the Roosevelt Administration’s efforts to pull America out of the Great Depression. The RTAA served as an integral step in America’s transition from economic crisis to global leadership. FDR believed that a complete and permanent recovery depended on strengthened international trade to increase domestic growth and demand. To secure our country’s space in the global economy, the American President and Congress needed to work together to negotiate trade agreements to cut tariffs on goods and increase U.S. exports. Increased international trade boosted the growth-promotion aspects of the New Deal’s domestic programs, and the successful enactment of the RTAA resulted in the conclusion of 19 new trade agreements between 1934 and 1939, strong growth in U.S. exports, and the recovery of the American economy.
Eighty years later, the tradition of the Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act continues in the form of modern Trade Promotion Authority (TPA). President Obama, like President Roosevelt, has made trade policy a central part of his economic strategy to create jobs, promote growth, and strengthen the middle class. In 2013, U.S. exports increased to a record high of $2.3 trillion, an increase that is responsible for a third of America’s total economic growth. Moreover, every additional $1 billion in exports supported roughly 5,600 U.S. jobs, which on average pay 13-18% more than non-export related jobs. Trade Promotion Authority is necessary for building on these gains and extending American economic leadership into the 21st Century.
Trade Promotion Authority is about unlocking opportunity for domestic workers, in the same way Roosevelt’s RTAA aided domestic job creation through trade in the New Deal programs. TPA is a vital part of trade negotiations because it allows Congress to set the terms of trade negotiations, congressional consultations during negotiations, and the legislative procedures for voting on agreements.
Though the world has changed dramatically since FDR enacted the Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act, the basic promise of trade remains the same. Done right, trade policy gives American workers the chance to compete on a level playing field, and under TPA, Congress and the Administration work together to guide trade with global partners by setting goals and standards that represent American interests and values.
06/05/2014 1:00 PM
The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) held a public hearing on World Environment Day, Thursday, June 5, to gather comments and input on U.S. negotiating objectives for the World Trade Organization (WTO) Environmental Goods Agreement (EGA). The United States, Australia, Canada, China, Costa Rica, the European Union, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, Switzerland, and Chinese Taipei are preparing to negotiate the agreement to eliminate tariffs on environmental goods such as solar water heaters, wind turbines, and catalytic converters. These countries together represent 86 percent of global trade in environmental goods. Increased trade in environmental goods is a key part of both the President’s Climate Action Plan and U.S. leadership in global trade and environmental policy. By eliminating tariffs on environmental goods, we can make them cheaper and more accessible for everyone, while leveling the playing field for U.S. exporters.
An interagency panels hears witness testimonies on the World Trade Organization Environmental Goods Agreement
During the hearing, a panel of government officials from the U.S. Trade Representative’s office, Environment Protection Agency , and the U.S. Departments of State, Commerce, and Homeland Security heard testimony from six witnesses on the potential environmental and economic impacts of liberalizing trade in environmental goods. The witnesses also recommended a wide range of products for inclusion in the EGA. The testimony and written submissions from interested stakeholders provide useful input on how the negotiations can advance U.S. environmental objectives and support economic growth, green jobs, and innovation. A full list of the witnesses can be seen here.
In 2013, the United States exported $106 billion of environmental goods. Global trade in environmental goods totals nearly a trillion dollars annually, but some countries apply tariffs as high as 35 percent, adding unnecessary costs to the environmental technologies needed to protect the environment.
For the text of the joint Environmental Goods Agreement announcement, please click here. Public submissions for the Environmental Goods Agreement can be viewed online atwww.regulations.gov , Docket number USTR-2014-0004.
To view a video of the hearing, please see visit the USTR Youtube page here.
05/22/2014 9:00 AM
More than 300 individuals participated in a public forum during the fifth round of Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) negotiations. The popular public forum has become a signature opportunity for organizations and the public to share input, receive information, and engage in conversation directly with U.S. and EU negotiators.
These conversations have steered our approach to the negotiations and we are grateful to everyone who took the time to present, ask questions, and participate. We have always felt that public input, like this, helps produce outcomes that reflect our values and unlock opportunity for American families.
Chief Negotiator Dan Mullaney and Ignacio Garcia-Becero spent most of the day listening to presentations ranging in topic from agriculture & food to environment & raw materials to regulatory issues. In many of the sessions, both negotiators took the opportunity to ask questions beyond the information provided in the presentations, underscoring the value these conversations offer.
A record number of stakeholder presenters took advantage of the opportunity to deliver presentations to U.S. and EU trade officials on the issues they cared about most. The presentations addressed a cross-section of issues including the benefits of harmonized regulations to the US and EU auto industry, the priorities of family farmers and ranchers, food safety standards, and the value of T-TIP to small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). The more than 70 presentations throughout the day provided valuable feedback to help the US and the EU negotiate a T-TIP agreement that reflects the interests and values of our constituents. The full presentation schedule and list of organizations that were represented can be found here.
Chief US and EU negotiators hear from more than 300 individuals representing business, labor, consumer, academic, and NGO interests during stakeholder presentations
The Obama Administration has made it a tradition to host public forums as part of the trade negotiation round that allow for open and candid dialogue between stakeholders, negotiators, and senior trade officials.
The days activities concluded with a full update provided by both lead negotiators about the progress being made in the negotiations, they then answered questions for more than hour on any subject that was on the minds of those in attendance. Every questioner received a thorough answer.
The United States and the European Union are the world’s two largest economies, and currently account for almost 50 percent of global GDP and 30 percent of global trade. When completed, T-TIP will promote jobs and growth across the Atlantic, and add to the 13 million American and EU jobs already supported by transatlantic trade and investment. This round’s host state of Virginia also stands to benefit from increased economic engagement between the United States and the EU. In 2013, Virginia exported $4.0 billion to the EU, with top export markets being the United Kingdom ($996 million) and Germany ($790 million).
To learn more about the objectives and benefits for the United States in T-TIP, please click here.
Deputy Assistant USTR Christina Sevilla Highlights the benefits of US-EU trade for Midwestern Small Businesses05/22/2014 8:30 AM
On the occasion of World Trade Month this May, Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Small Business Christina Sevilla spoke at the International Relations Council of Kansas City, Missouri on the topic of “The European Union and the United States: An Important Relationship for the Midwest.” The conference was organized in partnership with the Delegation of the European Union (EU) to the United States and attracted over 75 local business and civic leaders.
Photo l to r: Former U.S. Ambassador to Portugal Allan Katz; Christina Sevilla, USTR; Gino Serra, Honorary Vice Consul of Italy, Prof. Timothy Lynch, Univ. of Missouri Kansas City School of Law; Fred Baehner, Member of ITAC-3 Small and Minority Business
During the discussion, Ms. Sevilla met with state and local officials, including Chang Lu of the Kansas Department of Commerce and Jacques Lebrument of the Greater Kansas City World Trade Center, to discuss the ways the U.S. trade agenda unlocks opportunities for American small businesses and workers. Both Lu and Lebrument assist local small and medium-size businesses with export sales and identifying new markets and customers abroad, and were interested to learn about the new opportunities the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) will provide for local American firms in the EU market.
The United States currently has 28 million small and medium-sized enterprises, which have provided over half of all jobs and two-thirds of all new jobs in recent decades. The U.S.-EU trade and investment relationship is important to the American economy, and the Midwest in particular, as it supports thousands of local jobs in the region. Missouri exported $2.0 billion to the European Union last year, and in 2013, the top Missouri manufacturing goods exports to the 28 EU Member states included chemicals ($610 million), transportation equipment ($236 million), non-electrical machinery ($228 million), and computer and electronics ($106 million). Missouri’s top EU export destinations in 2013 were the United Kingdom ($323 million), Germany ($321 million), France ($196 million), Netherlands ($181 million), and Italy ($172 million). The UK and Germany are also top sources of foreign direct investment in Missouri and neighboring Kansas, employing American workers in high-wage jobs, such as the German company Siemens, which has offices in Kansas City.
One of the many Midwestern firms currently exporting to the European Union is Kansas City-based SCD Probiotics, a bioscience company that produces probiotics for applications in agriculture, livestock operations and aquaculture. The company’s exports consistently account for more than 70 percent of their sales, supporting jobs in Missouri and the greater Midwest. Exports have led to the company opening an office in Germany, through which German retail customers can place orders for the American goods. To learn more about the opportunities the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) will provide American small and medium-sized business, please click here.
To learn more about the benefits of trade to small businesses, please visit http://www.ustr.gov/trade-topics/small-business
04/30/2014 3:40 PM
By Ambassador Michael Froman
In our 2014 Special 301 report, published today, USTR listed India on the Priority Watch List, and, in addition, called for renewed and intensive engagement with the Government of India as elections conclude and new counterparts take office. In light of the election in India currently underway, we have decided to look to an Out-of-Cycle Review (OCR) focused on India this Fall to evaluate our ongoing engagement on issues of concern with respect to India’s environment for intellectual property (IP) protection and enforcement.
During our Special 301 review this year, industry and other stakeholders expressed a heightened level of concern about the deterioration in India’s environment for IP protection and enforcement. We share many of the same concerns. In determining how to proceed in this year’s report, we carefully considered the range of stakeholder views and how to most effectively make progress with respect to addressing these concerns. In announcing this year’s determination with respect to India, we are redoubling our efforts to seek constructive engagement that will both improve IP protection and enforcement in India and support India’s efforts to achieve a “decade of innovation” and advance its legitimate public policy goals, including access to affordable medicines.
Shared values form the bedrock of the U.S.-India relationship. We also face a number of shared challenges as we each take steps to advance legitimate domestic policy objectives. For example, our governments are each focused on attracting domestic and foreign investment; strengthening our domestic manufacturing base; improving infrastructure, both physical and digital; providing safe and reliable healthcare to all, including those most vulnerable; increasing the supply of energy and reducing our dependence on fossil fuels; and defending our countries against internal and external threats. And all of this work is ultimately designed to create jobs and improve the well-being of our populations.
Although at different levels of economic development, the United States and India can cooperate and draw upon the deep reservoirs of knowledge and skills in both countries to reinforce the efforts of both governments to respond to these shared challenges. That is exactly what we have been doing through the broad range of bilateral cooperation that helps us meet these challenges, including our dialogues on Education, Energy, Health, Science and Technology, and, of course, the Trade Policy Forum.
Today’s Special 301 Report highlights an opportunity for building on our bilateral relationship in the critical area of intellectual property. We believe that an environment conducive to the protection and enforcement of IP can be part of solving pressing domestic policy challenges. We consider this to be the case whether we are speaking of attracting investment, promoting manufacturing, promoting green technology, or providing high-quality and affordable healthcare.
The Special 301 Report identifies opportunities for improved engagement on issues related to IP and access to medicines. The United States recognizes the public health challenges that India faces, and looks forward to working with the Indian government to identify the range of ways in which these challenges can be addressed, including by adopting policies that support the innovation of life-saving medications and address obstacles its population faces in accessing quality health care.
We believe an enhanced discussion of a broad range of trade and innovation policies—as they relate to important domestic policy objectives—would be an ideal area for further bilateral collaboration.
The Special 301 Report also identifies other key opportunities for strengthened bilateral cooperation. For example, the United States and India are home to some of the world’s most vibrant creative industries—including in film, music and software—industries that face serious piracy challenges at home and abroad. Our industries have successfully collaborated in this area. Our governments may also be able to find ways to collaborate productively at the technical and senior official level. Challenges with respect to IPR enforcement have benefited from ongoing cooperation between IP authorities and judicial officers in both countries. This cooperation should be significantly enhanced.
The Out-of-Cycle Review echoes India’s emphasis on strong government-to-government and government-to-private sector engagement, as the most effective means for resolving concerns in this area. Through the Out-of-Cycle Review, we will seek to ensure that both governments achieve the meaningful, sustained, and effective engagement required to strengthen this critical bilateral economic relationship.The Special 301 Report allowed us to look back at India’s recent policies and highlight areas where more joint work would be in our mutual interest. Now is the time for us to look forward to making that happen. The election of a new government in India provides an ideal opportunity to turn areas of contention into areas of collaboration. The remarkable history of this bilateral relationship in just the last twenty years tells us that this is not only possible, but essential if the world’s two largest democracies are to demonstrate successfully the “defining partnership” that President Obama identified as a key feature of this century.
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.