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Today, Ambassador Kirk joined private sector advisors, Members of Congress, Acting Secretary of Commerce Dr. Rebecca Blank, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Administrator of the Small Business Administration Karen Mills, and Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis at the White House for a meeting of the President’s Export Council (PEC), the principal national advisory committee on international trade. The PEC advises the President on government policies and programs that affect U.S. trade performance, promotes export expansion, and provides a forum for resolving various trade-related problems in the business, industrial, agricultural, labor, and government sectors.
Ambassador Kirk briefed the council on the ongoing work at the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) to support the PEC’s Global Competitiveness Subcommittee. He provided updates to the committee members on a variety of issue areas, including developments on trade and intellectual property rights (IPR), the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations, Russia’s World Trade Organization (WTO) Accession, Middle East Commercial Engagement, and the Transatlantic Partnership.
Ambassador Kirk also touched on USTR’s continuing efforts to pave the way for permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) with Russia and Moldova. On August 22nd, Russia became the 156th Member of the WTO, and on November 16th the U.S. House of Representatives voted, on an overwhelming and bipartisan basis, to authorize the President to terminate the application of Jackson-Vanik and extend PNTR to Russia and Moldova. Shortly after the PEC meeting concluded, the U.S. Senate followed suit, and voted 92-4 to send the bill to President Obama for his signature. The council members thanked Ambassador Kirk for his efforts to secure Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) with Russia and Moldova, and for his work to bring the Korea, Colombia, and Panama trade agreements into force quickly.