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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 Office of African Affairs 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 implementing the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) preference program and by negotiating, concluding, and effectively implementing a range of trade agreements, 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 food and agriculture. The office works with the Chief Agricultural Negotiator and other USTR officials as appropriate on agricultural trade matters. Specific responsibilities include: Free Trade Agreement and WTO negotiations on food and agriculture issues; operation of the WTO Committees on Agriculture and on Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Measures; addressing barriers in export markets, including agricultural regulatory issues (e.g., new technologies, food safety, and other bilateral SPS and Technical Barriers to Trade issues); 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 U.S. SPS regulations and Farm Bill programs to ensure consistency with international obligations in the 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) and the Central Asian states (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan). The latter 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 the development and implementation of U.S. trade and investment policy for China, Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan and Mongolia. The principal goals of the Office of China Affairs are to increase access for U.S. goods and services in the markets of these trade partners and to ensure that WTO and other commitments made by these trade partners 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 Trade Policy and Economic Affairs executes the U.S. Trade Representative’s primary responsibility for developing and coordinating the implementation of trade policy, with the advice of the interagency trade policy organization. Under the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, Congress established an interagency trade policy mechanism to assist with the implementation of these responsibilities. The mechanism includes the National Economic Council and the National Trade Council located in the White House and the Trade Policy Review process. This Office is also the economic consulting function for the 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. Further responsibilities include developing policy relating to and managing the Generalized System of Preference (GSP) program
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 develops, coordinates and implements USTR's policy towards, and pursues trade and investment initiatives with, Europe, including the European Union (and its Member States), Russia and its neighbors, and the Middle East (including Turkey and the northern tier of Africa). Prominent current responsibilities include: addressing chronic and emerging EU barriers to U.S. exports while promoting shared interests globally; ; 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 (Morocco, Bahrain, Israel, Jordan, 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 industrial and agricultural goods market access, services and investment, 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.
The Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015 establishes at USTR the Interagency Center on Trade Implementation, Monitoring, and Enforcement (the “Center”). The Presidential signing statement provides that: "The Act permanently establishes the Interagency Center on Trade Implementation, Monitoring, and Enforcement at the Office of the United States Trade Representative, codifying the successor to the Interagency Trade Enforcement Center (ITEC) that was created by Executive Order in 2012.” Using a “whole-of-government” approach, the Center draws on expertise from across the federal government to enhance the United States’ ability to enforce U.S. trade rights under various international trade agreements. The Center is composed of language-proficient researchers, subject matter experts, and economic analysts. By enhancing U.S. trade enforcement capabilities, the Center seeks to address foreign trade practices and remove barriers that limit American exports and economic growth.
The Office of Innovation and Intellectual Property (IIP) is responsible for U.S. trade policy relating to innovation issues and intellectual property protection and enforcement, including the negotiation, implementation, monitoring and enforcement of bilateral, regional and multilateral agreements. This reflects the importance of innovation and intellectual property to American jobs, exports and the future growth of the U.S. economy, and covers a range of issues, including copyrights, patents, trademarks, geographical indications, and trade secrets. In addition to the negotiation, implementation, and monitoring of intellectual property provisions of trade agreements, IIP develops and coordinates U.S. trade policy related to intellectual property and related innovation issues; engages bilaterally and regionally through such vehicles as the annual “Special 301” review; represents the United States in numerous intellectual property dialogues with trading partners; and represents the United States on intellectual property issues in the World Trade Organization (WTO).
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. IAPE 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 and implements trade and investment policy related to Japan, Korea and the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum. The office is responsible for trade negotiations with Japan and Korea, as well as the administration and operation of the U.S.-Korea FTA. The office also coordinates USTR’s work with Japan and Korea with respect to advancing U.S. priorities in the WTO, including enforcement against third parties, as well as in other multilateral institutions. As lead for the United States on trade and trade-related initiatives within APEC, the office coordinates across the U.S. Government and within USTR to develop and advance U.S. priorities. The office also supports the participation of the U.S. Trade Representative for meetings of the APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade (MRT).
The Office of Labor Affairs is responsible for developing and implementing U.S. trade policy related to labor, particularly the adoption and enforcement of internationally recognized labor rights, including freedom of association; the 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 leads negotiation and implementation of labor provisions of bilateral, regional, and multilateral trade agreements. The office evaluates adherence to worker rights provisions of trade preference programs, including those in the Generalized System of Preferences, the African Growth and Opportunity Act, and the Caribbean Basin Initiative. The office leads the U.S. 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), and Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The office works with other U.S. agencies to report on, and develop capacity-building initiatives to support, labor law reform and enforcement by trading partners.
The Office of Small Business, Market Access and Industrial Competitiveness (SBMAIC) develops, negotiates, and implements U.S. trade policy related market access for American manufacturers, and helps ensure that USTR’s trade policy efforts address the challenges facing smaller American businesses. The office works closely with other USTR offices to address key tariff and non-tariff barriers affecting U.S. industrial goods, including through the negotiation, implementation, monitoring and enforcement of trade agreements. The office also leads a number of industrial sector policy initiatives. Across these activities, the office engages in extensive outreach and consultation with stakeholders, including through the Interagency Trade Advisory Committees (ITACs).
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 U.S. trade policy relating to services, investment, and digital trade, including the negotiation, implementation, monitoring and enforcement of bilateral, regional and multilateral agreements. This work covers all sectors of the U.S. economy, including the financial, telecommunications, computer, energy, environmental, express delivery, and distribution services sectors, and the natural resources sectors. SI also represents the United States on services, investment, and digital trade issues at Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), G20, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), United Nations, World Trade Organization (WTO), and other international organization meetings. In addition, SI plays a role in considering the potential national security implications of foreign investment, as the office with lead responsibility for USTR participation on the interagency Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), and supports USTR's representative on the Board of Directors of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC).
The Office of Southeast Asia and Pacific is responsible for enhancing trade and investment relations bilaterally with the ten countries in Southeast Asia as well as Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands. The office leads the negotiation and implementation of U.S. trade agreements with Southeast Asia and the Pacific, including the administration and operation of U.S. FTAs with Australia and Singapore. It leads policy development and coordinates trade negotiations and trade dialogues, including under our bilateral Trade and Investment Framework Agreements, with the countries in Southeast Asia and the Pacific. The office also works to advance our relations regionally, including through initiatives with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). In addition, the office works with the Southeast Asian countries, Australia and New Zealand to coordinate efforts on APEC and the WTO Doha negotiations.
The 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 trade negotiations as they relate to countries in the Western Hemisphere. The Office also manages U.S. trade relations with the Southern Common Market (Mercosur) and the Caribbean Common Market (CARICOM), as well as bilateral trade councils with Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay. In addition, it oversees two regional U.S. trade preference programs, the Caribbean Basin Initiative and the Haitian Hemispheric Opportunity through Partnership Encouragement Act.
The Office of the General Counsel, which includes the Office of Monitoring and Enforcement, 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 and prosecutes and defends cases in WTO and U.S. free trade agreement dispute settlement proceedings.
The Office of Textiles is responsible for international trade negotiations affecting textile and apparel products, at the multilateral, regional and bilateral levels, with a special focus on opening foreign markets to domestic producers. The Office is also responsible for ongoing liaison and contact with Congress and domestic stakeholders – including U.S. manufacturers, brands, and retailers – on the Administration's trade policy decisions and trade negotiations affecting sector products. The Textiles Office works closely with our trading partners to implement trade agreements and preference programs and to find ways to maximize the U.S. industry’s use of existing agreements and programs. The Office monitors developments in trading partner markets to ensure compliance with our trade agreements and preference programs with respect to textiles. Finally, the Office provides technical and policy advice to other USTR offices and other U.S. Government agencies on trade policy issues affecting the textile and apparel sector.
The Office of WTO & Multilateral Affairs has overall responsibility for trade negotiations and policy coordination regarding matters before the WTO. 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). WAMA also works with other USTR offices and the interagency to address trade issues that come up in other international organizations, including UNCTAD, WIPO and the WHO.