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June

  • 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."

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

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

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

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

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

  • 06/25/2014 6:00 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.

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

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

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

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

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

  • 06/25/2014 9:00 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. 
  • 06/12/2014 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.

    EGA hearingAn 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.