WASHINGTON - The
Office of the United States Trade Representative today received reports from 31
trade advisory committees, comprising over 700 practitioners representing
diverse interests and views, regarding the recently completed free trade
agreements (FTAs) with Singapore and Chile. The Trade Act of 2002 requires these
committees to prepare reports on proposed trade agreements subject to Trade
Promotion Authority (TPA) for the Administration and the Congress. By an
overwhelming margin, the committees found that the agreements promote U.S.
economic interests and substantially achieve the negotiating objectives set out
by Congress in TPA legislation it enacted last year.
advisory committee reports on the Chile and Singapore FTAs demonstrate the broad
support for these excellent agreements that will open markets for Americans
farmers, workers, businesses and consumers," U.S. Trade Representative Robert B.
Zoellick said. "The reports recognize that these agreements will expand business
opportunities for our products and services in both countries, helping to spur
economic growth and create better jobs."
advisory committee system is a valuable part of our effort to consult with and
receive guidance from American trade stakeholders. It complements our close
consultations with Congress. We very much rely on our advisors, and draw on
their expertise and judgment in developing our negotiating positions," added
Support for the
agreements spanned virtually all of the groups, including the President's
Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations, which "fully endorsed"
both agreements: "We believe the agreement[s] strongly promote the economic
interests of the United States and substantially achieve the overall and
principal negotiating objectives set forth in the Trade Act of 2002."
The reports will
be transmitted to the President and the Congress today, and made public on the
USTR website shortly. Excerpts from the reports will also be made available on
the USTR website. The reports were prepared within the guidelines of
negotiation advisory committee system was established in the Trade Act of 1974.
The purpose of the advisory system is to ensure that the Administration receives
advice and assistance from a broad range of stakeholders in setting U.S. trade
policy and developing U.S. positions in trade negotiations. The advisory program
is run jointly by five federal agencies: USTR, the Department of Commerce, the
Department of Agriculture, the Department of Labor, and the Environmental
Protection Agency. USTR is the lead agency.
groups are made up of more than 700 cleared advisors from business, labor,
environmental groups, consumer groups, state governments, as well as academic
experts and retired U.S. government officials.
There are 31
chartered advisory committees, which meet with U.S. trade officials to provide
advice on proposed and on-going trade initiatives. In FY02, more than 125
advisory committee meetings were held.
In addition, USTR
and other agencies keep advisors informed by e-mail, the Internet, and fax of
important developments in trade negotiations. More than 150 such communications
were sent to advisors in FY02, an average of three per week.
More than 60
negotiating texts are currently available for advisor review in the reading
rooms at USTR and the Department of Commerce. The texts of the Chile and
Singapore FTAs were made available to advisors in early January via a new secure
section of the USTR website, in order to better facilitate access. This was one
of a number of improvements made to the trade advisory system in response to the
recommendations of a General Accounting Office (GAO) report commissioned by Sen.
Charles Grassley (R-IA), Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.