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On Tuesday, December 13th, Ambassador Ron Kirk convened the Intergovernmental Policy Advisory Committee (IGPAC) meeting. IGPAC is comprised of state-level representatives who provide advice on trade policy with a particular focus on the effects of trade on individual states.
The meeting began with Ambassador Kirk giving brief remarks to the assembled members followed by questions and answers. In his remarks, Ambassador Kirk emphasized the recent success in passing three historic trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and Korea; renewing Trade Adjustment Assistance; and progress made with the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations. In addition, Ambassador Kirk discussed the administrations’ advancement in reaching President Obama’s ambitious National Export Initiative goal of doubling U.S. exports by the end of 2014; which is on a pace greater than the 15 percent required to reach this goal.
Ambassador Kirk also discussed trade enforcement issues affecting states as well as the State Trade and Export Promotion (STEP) Program. The STEP program, launched in 2010, is administered by the Small Business Administration (SBA). It is funded by federal grants targeting small businesses that are looking to begin exporting or want to expand their current export opportunities. Through this initiative, forty seven states were provided with at least $30 million and supporting approximately $43.4 million of total projects costs. The success of this program has increased export opportunities for small- and medium-sized businesses all across the United States and its territories, supporting American jobs.
Following Ambassador Kirk’s statement, members of IGPAC asked a variety of questions. Key topics of interest included U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT), the upcoming World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial in Geneva, Switzerland and the Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA) among other topics.