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Entering Negotiations for an International Services Trade Agreement

By Roya Stephens, Office of Public and Media Affairs

New Negotiations in Geneva Seek to Boost Services Exports, Support Jobs Here at Home

During the next 90 days, USTR will consult widely with Congress and stakeholders to gather input that will inform U.S. negotiating efforts with 20 trading partners in Geneva toward a new agreement on international trade in services. That was the news Ambassador Kirk shared in a letter to Congressional leaders yesterday. This decision by the President to enter negotiations is part of the Obama Administration’s ongoing effort to support more jobs here at home by expanding American trade around the world – and in the case of international services trade, this effort plays to a major U.S. strength.

U.S. companies are already global leaders in industries such as telecommunications, financial services, environmental services, retail, and express delivery – and three out of four American jobs are already in the services sector. Expanding America’s services industry through trade is a smart effort, because every additional $1 billion in U.S. services exports supports an estimated 4,200 more U.S. jobs.

We’ve got a great base to build from. The United States is a global leader in exporting high-quality services to markets around the world. In 2011, one third of all U.S. exports, or $606 billion, came from services trade, reflecting a 110 percent increase in service exports since 2000.

So why do we need a new agreement?

One reason is that the United States has yet to tap the full trade potential that the dynamic and innovative U.S. service sector can achieve. The United States increasingly relies on its trading relationships with both developed and developing countries to support its growing trade in services. The negotiation in Geneva will involve a diverse group of like-minded partners, from Costa Rica to Turkey, all interested in growing services trade with the United States and with each other. Further opening services trade with this group, and with others who may join, can support broader U.S. services exports and even more American jobs.

You can find out more about the potential benefits of this new effort by reading Ambassador Kirk’s letter to Congress, and more about U.S. services trade in general here on