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Trade Policy: A Foundation for Success



The trade agreements the United States currently has in place, both through the World Trade Organization and with individual countries, create the basis for profitable, positive trading relationships with nations around the world.  However, American workers and businesses receive those benefits only when their rights are enforced.

Since President Obama took office, USTR has worked to fulfill the promise of a new approach to trade by better enforcing our existing trade agreements - utilizing a full range of tools from negotiations to litigation.  On July 16, 2009, United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk announced new enforcement mechanisms to protect the rights of American workers, farmers, ranchers, producers, and manufacturers in the international trade system.  The new enforcement mechanisms announced today will enable USTR to build upon its record of enforcement actions and successes to date.  Those actions to date include:

USING THE WTO TO ELIMINATE UNFAIR EXPORT RESTRAINTS: On June 23, USTR filed a request at the World Trade Organization to initiate dispute settlement consultations with China regarding a number of Chinese export restraints on nine important raw materials.  These restrictions give Chinese producers a competitive advantage while increasing costs for American industry.  The case challenges China's imposition of export quotas and export duties as well as certain other restrictive practices.

IMPROVING ACCESS FOR AMERICAN BEEF PRODUCERS: In early May, USTR reached a breakthrough agreement with the European Commission, expanding access for American ranchers and beef producers after more than two decades of dispute.  The deal that USTR negotiators crafted will enable American beef exports to Europe to double over the next three years.

ADDRESSING VIOLATIONS OF THE SOFTWOOD LUMBER AGREEMENT: In April, USTR imposed a custom duty of ten percent of the value on lumber imports from four Canadian provinces.  The duty was imposed to correct for Canadian violations of the Softwood Lumber Agreement, and will remain in place until the United States has collected the full $54 million dollar cost of the breach or until Canada acts to correct the situation.

ENFORCING INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS: In this year's Special 301 Report, USTR identified specific intellectual property rights concerns around the globe, and is actively engaging with international leaders to address intellectual property rights deficiencies.  USTR is moving forward with Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) negotiations to raise the bar in the fight against global counterfeiting and piracy, and is addressing China-specific concerns through efforts under the Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT).