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As friends and families gather this week to celebrate Thanksgiving, Americans across the country are being swept up in the holiday spirit, taking advantage of black Friday deals, decorations, turkeys, and other festive holiday foods. USTR would like to take this time to give thanks for all of the advances in trade that have recently been accomplished– important advances that support American jobs.
Last month, USTR worked with congress and our trading partners overseas to pass landmark trade legislation in the form of three trade agreements with Korea, Columbia, and Panama. These trade agreements, which negotiators are working to bring into force quickly, will promote exports to these expanding markets and support the creation of new jobs here at home.
Just last week, United States Trade Representative Ambassador Ron Kirk joined President Obama at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Ministerial and Economic Leaders’ meetings in Honolulu, Hawaii. APEC’s 21-member economies make up 44 percent of world trade and include six out of America’s 10 largest trading partners. At the APEC Ministerial, Ambassador Kirk hosted trade negotiators from member economies and advanced work towards reducing trade barriers in the Asia-Pacific region. In this latest round of talks, leaders made commitments to support sustainable growth and green jobs by developing a list of environmental goods on which APEC economies will reduce tariffs to 5 percent or less by 2015. Leaders also worked towards streamlining regulatory processes in order to reduce unnecessary burdens on businesses.
USTR also continues to work towards the completion of the cutting-edge, 21st century Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement. On November 12, leaders of the nine TPP countries announced the broad outlines of the ambitious agreement. This framework includes new, cross-cutting trade issues such as regional agreements to facilitate the development of supply chains across TPP member countries and commitments to making regulation across economies more seamless and efficient. Leaders also promised to address concerns from small- and medium-sized businesses over how the complexity of trade agreements can prevent them from entering new markets. TPP countries are committed to the development of trade liberalization through a broad reduction of trade barriers.
Through efforts at APEC and with the TPP negotiations, USTR continues to strive to help American companies compete on a level playing field in foreign markets. Through these increased trade opportunities, companies will be able to support increased jobs all across the United States.
In December, Ambassador Kirk will travel to Geneva, Switzerland for the World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference. In Geneva, he will continue his work to reduce trade barriers and open markets for American businesses.
Even in the current challenging economic times, trade continues to support American jobs and open markets across the globe. The Obama Administration remains committed to helping American families prosper through the benefits provided by international trade, and will continue to advocate on their behalf this holiday season.