As part of our commitment to establishing a new partnership with Congress on trade, USTR staff is briefing key Congressional trade committees as we begin developing U.S. negotiating positions for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations, which are aimed at advancing U.S. interests and expanding U.S. exports in the dynamic Asia-Pacific region. USTR is seeking input as it prepares for the first round of negotiations, to be held in mid-March in Australia.
USTR updated the House Ways and Means Committee on January 29 and the Senate Finance Committee on February 3 on our briefings to date with USTR's 28 trade advisory committees and other stakeholders, and provided a summary of the public comments USTR received though the Federal Register notice, which closed on January 25. USTR staff also discussed the "horizontal" or cross-cutting issues being pursued for the first time in the context of the TPP negotiations, including ways to promote innovation and competitiveness, to encourage new technologies and emerging economic sectors, to increase the participation of small- and medium-sized businesses in trade, and to support the development of efficient production and supply chains that include U.S. firms. On February 5, USTR held a second set of briefings with the Ways and Means and Finance Committees on services-related issues. We reported on initial input we had received from stakeholders on the services, investment, financial services, telecommunications, and e-commerce chapters of the agreement and explored ways we might use these chapters to promote new and emerging industries in the United States. Next week, we will discuss more with key congressional committees and other interested leaders on the Hill; topics will include the rules chapters of a potential TPP agreement and opportunities and challenges posed by specific TPP countries.