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April

  • 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 HealthGilead SciencesBristol-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.
  • 04/04/2014 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

    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.  

    The Joint Communiqué can be found here, in both English and Spanish.

  • 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 includesfor the first time ever in a trade agreementa 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 womenincluding connecting them to global marketswill 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.govwww.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 comment@ustr.eop.gov.