On December 1, Ambassador Ron Kirk spoke before members of the Industry Trade Advisory Committee (ITAC) at their annual plenary meeting. At the meeting, he briefed the ITAC members on a number of trade related issues. These initiatives included the successful passage of the trade agreements with Korea, Colombia, and Panama, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings hosted by President Obama in Hawaii, and his recent trip to China as co-chair of the 22nd session of the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT).
Ambassador Kirk highlighted how the recently signed trade agreements benefit American businesses and workers by opening new markets abroad and supporting jobs at home. The agreements are significant achievements that will help the Obama Administration reach the goal of the President’s National Export Initiative to double American exports by the end of 2014. The agreements will also boost the presence of American goods in global markets, protect intellectual property rights, and support tens of thousands of jobs here at home. These agreements, which received bipartisan support in Congress, included a renewed Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) that provides training and support for American workers who are displaced by increased global competition.
Ambassador Kirk then discussed some of the progress made at the recent APEC Economic Summit and Leaders’ meeting in Honolulu, Hawaii. During the summit, leaders agreed to concrete and meaningful steps to increase trade and investment throughout the Asia-Pacific region:
“First, we agreed on a set of policies that economies will implement to establish a model for innovation policy in the region that is market-driven and non-discriminatory; not government-directed and not protectionist. This is a key next-generation trade issue, and addressing it will encourage the entrepreneurship that creates new businesses and new industries.
Second, we agreed to reduce tariffs on environmental goods to 5 percent or less by 2015 and to eliminate local content requirements and other non-tariff barriers to trade and investment in environmental goods and services. This will improve market access in the region for U.S. manufacturers, services providers, and workers, while also making a significant contribution to our efforts to promote green growth.”
On the margins of APEC, leaders of the nine Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiating partners announced they had achieved the broad outlines of an ambitious and groundbreaking 21st-century trade agreement. Leaders are seeking market access for all partners and working for an agreement that allows TPP standards to be updated as new issues arise with the inclusion of new countries.
Ambassador Kirk also described some important steps forward made at the 22nd U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade in Chengdu, China this past month. He discussed China’s agreement to remove barriers related to electric vehicles, eliminate discriminatory indigenous innovation policies, and enforce stricter intellectual property rights. These moves will level the playing field and create American jobs. He also explained the details of commercial agreements signed by U.S. companies in parallel with the JCCT that will result in nearly $40 million in U.S. exports and support jobs for American workers.