You are here
OVERVIEW OF THE FUNCTIONAL RESPONSIBILITIES OF OUR OFFICES
USTR's Office of Administration is responsible for all of the administrative and management services for the proper functioning of the Agency. This includes finance, budget and travel, human resources, facilities management, security (personal protection, physical, and information), continuity of operations, emergency preparedness, information technology and communications systems, and general administrative services. All USTR employees, in both Washington, DC and overseas locations, are directly served by the professionals of this Office. USTR employees in Geneva, Beijing, and Brussels receive much of their day-to-day support on-site from their host U.S. embassy/mission.
The Africa office develops and coordinates U.S.-sub-Saharan African trade and investment policy. The office supports and enhances U.S.-sub-Saharan Africa trade and investment by negotiating, concluding, and effectively implementing a range of trade agreements (including the African Growth and Opportunity Act - AGOA), treaties or initiatives that further the Administration's economic and development policies in sub-Saharan Africa. It is tasked with expanding U.S.-Africa two-way trade and investment, opening African markets for U.S. goods, services and investment, reducing foreign barriers to trade and investment, and promoting regional integration. The office consults and communicates with Congress and other stakeholders on Africa trade policy initiatives to ensure outcomes that are consistent with the U.S. trade policy agenda and international obligations.
Agricultural Affairs has overall responsibility for negotiations and policy coordination regarding agriculture. Staff works with the Chief Agriculture Negotiator and other USTR officials as appropriate. Specific responsibilities include Free Trade Agreements and Doha negotiations on agriculture, operation of the WTO Committees on Agriculture and on Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Measures, agricultural regulatory issues (e.g., biotechnology, cloning, BSE, nanotechnology, other bilateral SPS issues, and customs issues affecting agriculture), monitoring and enforcement of existing WTO and FTA commitments for agriculture (including SPS issues), and WTO accession negotiations on agriculture market access, domestic supports and export competition, and SPS matters. The office monitors U.S. implementation of Farm Bill programs to ensure consistency with international obligations in WTO and also is responsible for policy coordination of U.S. activities in agriculture committees of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.
The Office of Central and South Asian Affairs oversees development and implementation of U.S. trade policy and negotiation strategies for South Asia (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka). Recently, the Central Asian states (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan), were added to the office in order to more effectively achieve the U.S. goal of further integrating them with the economies of South Asia. The office also oversees U.S. trade policy for Iraq.
Responsibilities include managing the U.S.-India Trade Policy Forum (TPF) Cabinet-level bilateral trade dialogue, including coordinating the TPF's Five Focus groups (Agriculture, Intellectual Property Rights, Investment, Services, Tariff and Non-Tariff Barriers) and the Private Sector Advisory Group (PSAG). Other areas of emphasis include leading the Trade and Investment Council Meetings under the U.S. Trade and Investment Framework Agreements (TIFAs) with Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and the Central Asian states, and overseeing discussions on pending or potential TIFAs with Bangladesh, Iraq, Maldives, and Nepal.
The Office of China Affairs is responsible for managing USTR's formulation and implementation of U.S. trade policy for China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macao and Mongolia, with the goal of increasing access for U.S. products and services in these markets and ensuring that WTO and other commitments are enforced.
The Office of Congressional Affairs manages relations with Congress for the U.S. Trade Representative. The Office of Congressional Affairs acts as a point of contact for staff and members of Congress to ensure that our trade policy is responsive to their needs and interests.
The Office of Economic Affairs is the economic consulting function for the United States Trade Representative (USTR) and his/her principals. This function includes statistical and economic analytical materials, critical review of outside materials, and economic analytical support for trade policy development. The office supports trade negotiating and related activities with economic statistical and analytical inputs; assesses economic benefits to trade partners as well as to the United States to support U.S. negotiating objectives; contributes to USTR's recurring Congressional and other reports; and assists USTR offices in formulating investigation requests to the International Trade Commission.
The Office of Environment and Natural Resources (ENR) has broad responsibilities to leverage trade negotiations and relationships to pursue environmental achievements. In recent years, ENR has pursued this mission across a variety of multilateral, regional and bilateral initiatives, including the WTO, APEC, free trade agreements (FTAs), trade and investment framework agreements (TIFAs) and commodity trade agreements. ENR also works with other USTR offices to develop and implement policies associated with foreign environmental measures that impact U.S. trade interests and represents USTR and trade interests in negotiations on multilateral environmental agreements. ENR follows developments in the Congress related to environmental legislation that may result in trade implications. Recently ENR has undertaken wide-ranging coordinating responsibilities within USTR for climate change matters, domestic and international. Additionally, ENR is responsible for conducting environmental reviews of multilateral and FTA negotiations and an annual report on trade barriers to greenhouse gas intensity-reduction technologies. ENR is responsible for negotiating environment chapters in all FTAs. These chapters include obligations on effective enforcement of laws, non-derogation of environmental protections in encouraging increased trade or investment, domestic procedural protections, and promotion of public participation in environmental matters.
The office coordinates USTR's policy towards and manages bilateral trade relations with the European Union (and its Member States), Russia and its neighbors, and the Middle East (including the northern tier of Africa). Prominent current responsibilities include: managing US-EU trade relations to promote shared interests while addressing chronic and emerging EU barriers to U.S. exports; developing stronger trade relations in the Middle East to advance broader U.S. strategic and commercial policy objectives in the region, including through implementation of free trade agreements (e.g., Morocco, Bahrain, Israel, and Oman); and working with Russia and surrounding states to resolve trade irritants and foster a commercial policy grounded in the rule of law. The office coordinates extensively with USTR offices responsible for agriculture, intellectual property rights, multilateral affairs, and trade agreement enforcement.
USTR/Geneva is charged with representing the United States in the WTO. Key responsibilities include representing the United States in: (1) WTO negotiations, including the ongoing Doha Round of trade negotiations; (2) the various WTO committees and other bodies charged with managing and monitoring the implementation of WTO agreements; (3) the WTO's dispute settlement system, including meetings of the Dispute Settlement Body and hearings before dispute settlement panels and the Appellate Body; and (4) negotiations on the accession of new members to the WTO. USTR/Geneva also works with the U.S. Mission to the UN and Other International Organization in Geneva to address trade issues that come up in other international organizations headquartered in Geneva, including UNCTAD, WIPO and the WHO. USTR/Geneva works very closely with WAMA, the General Counsel’s Office and other units of USTR in carrying out these responsibilities.
By executive order, the President created the Interagency Trade Enforcement Center (ITEC) in February 2012 to monitor and enforce U.S. trade rights using a “whole-of-government” approach. ITEC uses expertise from across the federal government to enhance the United States’ ability to enforce U.S. trade rights obtained through negotiation of various international trade agreements. ITEC is composed of experienced trade litigators, language-proficient researchers, subject matter experts, and economic analysts. By enhancing U.S. trade enforcement capabilities, ITEC seeks to address foreign trade practices and remove barriers that limit American exports and economic recovery.
The Office of Intellectual Property and Innovation (IPN) uses a wide range of bilateral and multilateral trade tools to promote strong intellectual property laws and effective enforcement worldwide, reflecting the importance of intellectual property and innovation to the future growth of the U.S. economy. The IPN team deals with sensitive policy issues that arise at the intersection of international IP and public health policy, as well as challenges related to IP and new technologies (e.g., internet, standards). New international IP policy challenges are emerging in such areas as food security and energy technologies.
Key areas of work include the negotiation, implementation, and monitoring of intellectual property provisions of trade agreements; bilateral and regional engagement through such vehicles as the annual "Special 301" review and numerous IP dialogues with trading partners; and multilateral engagement on IP issues through the WTO, the World Health Organization, and other organizations. In addition, the IPN team implements trade policy in support of U.S. innovations, including those in the pharmaceutical and medical technology industries. The IPN team works closely with other agencies, drawing upon their expertise and also providing interagency trade policy leadership.
The Office of Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement (IAPE) administers the statutory private sector advisory committee system created by Congress, and provides outreach to, and facilitates dialogue and consultations with, the business and agricultural communities, state and local governments, labor, environment, think tanks, NGOs and other domestic groups on trade policy issues. IGPE is focused on improving the public's understanding of U.S. trade policies, initiatives and goals through continuous engagement with American businesses and consumers. IAPE also provides assistance to USTR functional and regional offices to build support for trade policy priorities.
The Office of Japan, Korea, and APEC Affairs develops, negotiates, and implements trade and investment policy related to Japan, Korea and the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum (APEC).
The Office of Labor focuses on development and oversight of U.S. trade policy related to labor, particularly the adoption and enforcement of fundamental labor rights such as freedom of association; recognition of the right to collective bargaining; the elimination of all forms of forced or compulsory labor; the abolition of child labor; the elimination of discrimination with respect to employment and occupation; and acceptable conditions of work with respect to minimum wages, hours of work, and occupational safety and health.
The Labor office negotiates and implements labor provisions of bilateral, regional, and multilateral trade agreements. The office evaluates adherence to worker rights provisions of trade preference programs (GSP, ATPDEA, AGOA, and CBI). The office leads the effort to develop positions and build international consensus on trade and labor issues in regional and multilateral fora, including the International Labor Organization (ILO), World Trade Organization (WTO), Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Inter-American Council of Ministers of Labor, and Summit of the Americas. The office works interagency in developing capacity building initiatives to support labor law compliance by trading partners.
MAIC is responsible for the development of policy relating to tariff and non-tariff barriers affecting industrial goods, including negotiation, implementation, monitoring and enforcement of bilateral, regional, plurilateral and multilateral trade agreements. Each of these goals relates to improving U.S. competitiveness, and the office both monitors the effect of trade policies in achieving this goal and works to integrate domestic initiatives into trade policy initiatives.
The office is heavily engaged in outreach and consultation, including Congressional briefings, chairing interagency trade policy committees on tariff and non-tariff issues, and advising and outreach to private sector advisors and state and local government officials through the Interagency Trade Advisory Committees (ITACs), Intergovernmental Policy Advisory Committee (IGPAC), and other fora.
The U.S. Trade Representative has primary responsibility, with the advice of the interagency trade policy organization, for developing and coordinating the implementation of trade policy. Under the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, Congress established an interagency trade policy mechanism to assist with the implementation of these responsibilities. The mechanism has three tiers: the National Economic Council located in the White House, the Trade Policy Review
The Office of Public & Media Affairs is responsible for keeping the nation and the nation's businesses informed of all policies, decisions, actions, negotiations and other activities of USTR through the press and information media. The Office administers a system whereby incoming calls and written requests from the public, the business sector, the news media (both national and international) and the Congress are handled properly and timely, and information is furnished or briefing(s) arranged. The Office provides leadership and consultation to other USTR offices in initiating and maintaining direct contacts with the media and specialized publics concerning USTR's programs and activities. Other responsibilities include preparation of special reports and analyses for the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), and coordination of speeches and preparation of testimony for the USTR, Deputies and senior staff to use when appearing before committees of the Congress.
The Office of Services and Investment (SI) is responsible for the development and implementation of US services trade and investment policy, including the negotiation, monitoring and enforcement of bilateral, regional and multilateral agreements; briefing relevant Congressional committees; chairing interagency trade policy committees; engaging with private sector advisors directly and through the Industry Trade Advisory Committees (ITACs); and outreach to state and local government officials.
SI covers all service sectors, focusing in particular on key infrastructure sectors such as financial, telecommunications, computer, energy, environmental, express delivery, and distribution services. SI also has a key role in developing and implementing US trade policy relating to E-commerce.
International investment in goods and services, both inflow and outflow, is a key driver of U.S. economic growth paying large dividends for our economy and for our workers. SI also plays an important role in considering potential national security implications of foreign investment as an active member of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), through case reviews and work on implementation of CFIUS reform legislation and revised regulations.
The Southeast Asia and Pacific office seeks to enhance trade and investment relations bilaterally with the ten countries in Southeast Asia as well as Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands. The office works to advance our relations regionally, including through initiatives aimed at regional economic integration, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, and our Trade and Investment Framework Agreement with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The office also works with the Southeast Asian countries, Australia and New Zealand to coordinate efforts on APEC and the WTO Doha negotiations.
USTR's Office of the Western Hemisphere is responsible for developing, implementing and monitoring U.S. trade policy in the Western Hemisphere.
The Office leads the negotiation and implementation of U.S. trade agreements in the Western Hemisphere, and oversees the administration and operation of these agreements, including the North American Free Trade Agreement, the Central America-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement, and U.S. Free Trade Agreements with Chile, Peru, Colombia, and Panama. It also leads policy development and coordination of Trans-Pacific Economic Partnership (TPP) negotiations as they relate to countries in the Western Hemisphere.
The Office of the Western Hemisphere also manages U.S. trade relations with the Southern Common Market (Mercosur) and the Caribbean Common Market (CARICOM), including bilateral trade councils with Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay. In addition, it oversees U.S. trade preference programs in the region, including the Caribbean Basin Initiative, the Andean Trade Preference Act and the Haitian Hemispheric Opportunity through Partnership Encouragement.
The office provides legal advice to the United States Trade Representative, Deputy U.S. Trade Representatives, and regional and other USTR offices on negotiations, agreements, trade legislation, certain trade remedies, administrative law, and government ethics. In addition, the office monitors compliance by foreign governments with their obligations under trade agreements with the United States. The office also prosecutes and defends cases in WTO and U.S. free trade agreement dispute settlement proceedings.
The Special Textile Negotiator's office is responsible for international trade negotiations affecting textile and apparel products, at the multilateral, regional and bilateral level, including a particular emphasis on opening foreign markets to domestic producers. The office is also responsible for ongoing liaison and contact with domestic stakeholders and Congress on the Administration's trade policy decisions and trade negotiations affecting sector products.
The Trade and Development office develops policy and coordinates efforts to improve the effectiveness of trade-related development assistance worldwide, and to increase funding to trade-related economic growth programs. These efforts include programs relating to the free trade agreements, the WTO, TIFAs/TICAs, and preference programs. The office represents USTR at international meetings dealing with trade-related development programs at the OECD, WTO, World Bank, UNCTAD etc. Further responsibilities include developing policy relating to and managing the Generalized System of Preference (GSP) program and staffing issues relating to USTR's role as a member of the Board of Directors of the Millennium Challenge Corporation.
The Office of WTO & Multilateral Affairs has overall responsibility for trade negotiations and policy coordination regarding matters before the WTO, including the Doha Development Agenda negotiations. Specific responsibilities include the operation of various WTO committees, including those established for subject areas such as subsidies, anti-dumping and other trade remedies, standards and technical barriers to trade, government procurement, customs/trade facilitation & security matters, WTO Trade Policy Reviews, and preferential trade arrangements. WAMA staff is also often responsible for these issues where they are specifically addressed in individual FTAs. The office has the lead with regard to WTO accessions, and is also responsible for trade policy coordination and negotiations in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).