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USTR Year in Review
The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) has made great strides in advancing President Obama’s economic agenda of creating jobs, promoting growth, and strengthening America’s middle class. In 2013, Made-in-America exports supported an estimated 11.3 million well-paying U.S. jobs, and in 2014, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative built on record-breaking exports, engagement, and trade enforcement to achieve strong results for American workers, manufacturers, service providers, farmers, and ranchers.
This year, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman and the staff of USTR in support of President Obama’s economic agenda, worked to create economic opportunity for American workers, farmers, and businesses by eliminating barriers to U.S. exports, trade, and investment.
We forged ahead on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a state-of-the art trade agreement that will guarantee Americans access to the rapidly growing economies of the Asia Pacific and raise labor, environmental, and other vital standards across the region – leveling the playing field for American workers and firms.
The United States and the European Union also took a renewed approach to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, which will strengthen our economic relationship with Europe – growing a relationship that will boost economic growth and add to the more than 13 million American and EU jobs already supported by transatlantic trade and investment.
What’s more, this year, under President Obama’s leadership, the United States played a critical role in realizing the first-ever fully multilateral trade agreement in the history of the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA). This deal will substantially lower the costs of trading across borders, and is projected to grow global GDP by hundreds of billions of dollars – delivering for the American economy and for our trading partners.
In July, the U.S. and 13 other partners launched negotiations on the Environmental Goods Agreement (EGA) at the WTO – the primary trade component of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan – which will make essential progress toward our environmental protection and economic goals by eliminating barriers faced by American exporters of environmental goods.
In November, the United States and China announced a major breakthrough in negotiations to expand the scope of goods covered by the World Trade Organization (WTO) Information Technology Agreement (ITA), which provided the basis for the resumption of plurilateral negotiations in Geneva.
USTR also continued negotiations on the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA), a free-trade agreement focused on services to promote fair and open competition across a broad spectrum ofservice sectors. There are currently nearly two dozen participants in the TiSA negotiations, representing roughly two-thirds of global trade in services market exceeding $30 trillion – or approximately half of the global economy.
Throughout the year, the Obama Administration has undertaken the most ambitious upgrade of trade enforcement in modern U.S. trade policy to level the playing field and bring the full benefit of the U.S. trade agenda to Americans. The year has seen victories in trade enforcement cases that have benefited a wide range of sectors, including U.S. auto workers, farmers, and producers of high-tech goods that utilize rare earth materials, and the Administration is pursuing dispute settlement through our free trade agreements to protect labor rights with our trading partners.
"2014 was a banner year for President Obama's trade agenda, an important part of his goal to create economic opportunity for the American people," said U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman. "Under President Obama's leadership, we made tremendous progress and are closer to realizing several historic trade agreements that will grow our economy, support well-paying jobs, and strengthen the American Middle Class. 2015 promises to be a big year in trade as well, as we work to complete major trade priorities that will deliver for America's workers, farmers, ranchers, and businesses."
The U.S. Trade Representative is committed to getting President Obama’s ambitious trade agenda right to benefit the American people. Our dedication to this mission can be seen in the following accomplishments made throughout the past year:
Supported More American Jobs through U.S. Exports
Significantly Advanced the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Negotiations. The United States worked with its TPP partners -- Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam -- throughout 2014, making significant progress toward agreement on access to each other's markets for goods, services and investment, and government procurement, as well as on ambitious trade and investment rules that will promote U.S. commercial and broader interests and values across the region. TPP Leaders met in November and reaffirmed their commitment to concluding a comprehensive, high-standard, and balanced agreement that supports job creation, spurs economic growth and prosperity, enhances their competitiveness, and promotes innovation and entrepreneurship. They also reaffirmed the importance of addressing emerging issues such as digital commerce and State-owned enterprises, and including binding commitments to strengthen protection of the environment and labor rights. Work to finalize the TPP will continue into 2015.
Advanced the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) Negotiations. U.S. and European Union (EU) negotiating teams conducted four T-TIP negotiating rounds in 2014, discussing ways to increase transatlantic trade and its contribution to growth, jobs, and competitiveness in a wide range of areas, including new market access for goods, services, and investment and steps to reduce the costs associated with unnecessary regulatory and other non-tariff barriers to trade. During the November G20 Summit meeting in Australia, President Obama and EU leaders reaffirmed their commitment to an ambitious, comprehensive, and high standard T-TIP agreement. In December, Ambassador Froman and new EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström discussed plans for a "fresh start" in the T-TIP negotiations, which the negotiating teams have started to implement. A comprehensive T-TIP agreement would strengthen an economic partnership that already supports $1 trillion in two-way trade annually, $4 trillion in investment, and 13 million jobs across the Atlantic.
Continued Engagement with Japan to Achieve High-Standard Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement. U.S. negotiators and ministers held numerous negotiating sessions with their Japanese counterparts throughout the year to address agricultural market access issues, as well as automotive issues, focusing on non-tariff measures. The two sides continue to make progress in closing gaps, with regard to agriculture, autos and other market access and rules issues, and are committed to work together towards the successful conclusion of a high-standard, comprehensive TPP agreement.
Secured the Historic Trade Facilitation Agreement at the WTO. In November, the United States with India and other WTO Members overcame an impasse in the Bali Package to allow the full implementation of a Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA). The TFA is the first multilateral trade agreement in the WTO’s 20 year history, and will reform global customs practices and substantially reduce the costs and time associated with goods crossing borders. The efficiencies generated by customs reforms in the TFA will significantly reduce the costs of trading for WTO Members, developed and developing countries alike, and some estimates suggest the global economic value of the new WTO deal could be worth $1 trillion.
Launched Negotiations on the WTO Environmental Goods Agreement (EGA). In July, the United States and 13 other WTO Members, representing 86 percent of global trade in environmental goods, officially launched negotiations on the Environmental Goods Agreement, which aims to eliminate tariffs on a range of environmental goods. Tariffs on these environmental goods, including wind turbines, solar water heaters, and catalytic converters are unnecessarily high and limit the technological advancement for green technologies. The EGA provides an important opportunity to protect the global environment while unlocking economic opportunity for American workers and businesses.
Advanced Negotiations to Expand the WTO Information Technology Agreement (ITA). In November, the United States and China announced a major breakthrough in negotiations to expand the scope of goods covered by the World Trade Organization (WTO) Information Technology Agreement (ITA). This bilateral breakthrough provided the basis for the resumption of plurilateral negotiations in Geneva. USTR will continue to work closely with all participants in the negotiation to bring about the successful conclusion an ITA expansion deal, which would be first major tariff-cutting deal at the WTO in 17 years, and would allow for an increase in Made-in-USA exports to growing markets. The ITA expansion is estimated to cover $1 trillion in trade, add $190 billion to the global economy and support tens of thousands of good-paying U.S. manufacturing and technology jobs.
Continued Progress in the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) Negotiations. The United States continued negotiations in the TiSA, a free-trade agreement focused exclusively on services. Presently, twenty-three economies are participating in the TiSA negotiations, representing roughly three-quarters of the world’s $30 trillion services market. With every $1 billion in services exports supporting an estimated 5,900 U.S. jobs, promoting the expansion of services trade globally will pay dividends for the United States.
Supported Made-in-America Farm and Agriculture Exports through the "Made In Rural America" Export and Investment Initiative. In February, President Obama directed his Administration to lead a new "Made in Rural America" export and investment initiative. Working through the White House Rural Council, the Initiative coordinates federal resources to help rural businesses and leaders take advantage of new investment opportunities and access new customers and markets abroad. Ambassador Froman and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative support the new initiative that will help businesses in rural America export more, particularly through our continued progress in the negotiation of plurilateral and bilateral trade agreements with our trading partners, and removing unwarranted non-tariff trade barriers to U.S. food and agricultural products.
Made Progress with China on Global Drug Supply Chain Integrity, Enhanced Market Access for Medical Devices and Innovative Pharmaceuticals.This year, USTR’s engagement with China has yielded significant progress on two key fronts in the biopharmaceutical sector. To promote access to safe and high-quality medicines, at the July U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue, China committed to develop and seriously consider amendments to its Drug Administration Law. These changes would address a significant gap in regulatory oversight of manufacturers of bulk chemicals, including "export only" producers and distributors. China also agreed to create a multi-ministerial work mechanism focused on developing a regulatory and enforcement framework for high-quality medicines. Secondly, to expedite the introduction of medical devices and innovative pharmaceuticals to China, at the December U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade, China agreed to take concrete steps to streamline its regulatory review and approval system for new pharmaceuticals and devices. Cutting red tape in China’s medical device approval process will benefit patients by allowing them to receive better treatment earlier, while allowing more exports to China, the industry’s largest growth market. In addition to these steps, the U.S. and China have agreed to hold high-level expert dialogues with relevant agencies in the coming year to advance regulation and market access in these sectors.
Contributed to the Successful Entry Into Force of the Revised WTO Agreement on Government Procurement. In April, the United States welcomed the entry into force of the WTO protocol amending the 1994 Government Procurement Agreement (GPA). The revised GPA expands business opportunities for American firms to supply goods and services to foreign governments, estimated to be worth between $80-100 billion annually. This adds to the $1 trillion already covered under the GPA, and establishes work programs that facilitate participation by small- and medium-sized businesses, while fostering best practices in sustainable procurement.
Engaged with Americans to Promote the Benefits of Trade
Unlocked economic opportunities for American businesses in Boston, Massachusetts. In an April trip to Massachusetts to highlight the state’s exports, Ambassador Froman joined Boston-based Atlas Devices in unveiling a factory expansion that will increase the company’s manufacturing capacity and support more jobs in Boston through continued success in exporting. Atlas Devices is a strong example of the effect exports can have on the success of American small businesses. Boston has longstanding ties to trade, and trade remains critical to the Boston and Massachusetts economies.
Highlighted Colorado’s Record-Breaking Exports. In June, Ambassador Froman visited Denver to highlight the positive trajectory of U.S. exports in Colorado, and across the country. In 2013, Colorado exported a record $8.5 billion in goods, supporting an estimated 43 thousand jobs. Ambassador Froman toured Denver’s Epic Brewing Company to spotlight the high-quality jobs supported by small business exporters in Colorado and spoke at the World Trade Center Denver to underline the success of Colorado exporters and how they will benefit from the President’s trade agenda.
Spotlighted Minnesota’s Growing Exports. In August, Ambassador Froman traveled to Minnesota to meet with small business owners to discuss how Made-in-America exports are fostering economic growth, supporting jobs, and unlocking opportunity across the state, and America. Ambassador Froman toured a Minnesota small business that is creating jobs by exporting using the web platform Etsy. According to reports, Etsy has 1 million artisans and craftspeople selling $1.3 billion of goods per year. The company began selling Made-in-America jewelry products on Etsy in 2011 and now boasts nearly 30 employees and annual sales of $2 million per year, one third of which are attributed to exports. During the trip, Ambassador Froman highlighted the benefits of President Obama’s trade agenda to Minnesotans, which exported $20.8 billion in goods in 2013, supporting 106 thousand jobs.
Promoted the Benefits of Made-in-America Agriculture Exports in Iowa. In August, Ambassador Froman travelled to Des Moines to meet with a diverse range of Iowans, including family farmers, business leaders, and elected officials who represent the many ways Made-in-America exports benefit the local economy. Iowa is the United States’ second largest exporter of agricultural goods, and Ambassador Froman toured the Iowa State Fair with Senator Chuck Grassley to sample the pork, corn, and other agricultural goods Iowa farmers raise and export to consumers around the world. Following the fair, Ambassador Froman held a roundtable with local farmers, ranchers, and state and local agriculture leaders to receive input on how America’s trade policy benefits the state’s agricultural community. He later joined Governor Terry Branstad and Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds at the Governor’s Charity Steer Show to highlight Iowa’s strong beef exports, a significant source of economic prosperity for the state.
Underlined Ohio’s Record-Breaking Exports. In October, Ambassador Froman traveled to Cleveland and Columbus to tout Ohio’s all-time-high exports and outline the ways President Obama’s trade agenda will help unlock economic opportunity for Ohioans. Throughout his trip, Ambassador Froman highlighted Cleveland and Columbus’s contribution to Ohio’s record-breaking $50.8 billion of Made-in-America goods exports, which supported an estimated 259,000 jobs in 2013. While in Cleveland, Ambassador Froman and U.S. Senator Brown toured Jet Incorporated, a small business creating jobs by designing, manufacturing, and exporting innovative wastewater treatment systems to 33 countries around the world. Ambassador Froman also participated in Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman’s MOMENTUM Small Business Conference & Expo, to stress the importance of Ohio’s over 16,000 exporting companies, nearly 90% of which are small and medium-sized businesses.
Touted Texas’ Made-in-America Exports. In October, Ambassador Froman travelled to the Lone Star state to highlight the ways the Obama Administration’s historic trade agenda unlocks economic opportunity for Texans. In 2013, Texas exported a record-breaking $279.5 billion Made-in-America goods to the world – supporting 1.1 million jobs and contributing to the nation’s all-time high of $2.3 trillion exports. In San Antonio, Ambassador Froman and Congressman Henry Cuellar (TX-28) met with local business leaders and entrepreneurs at the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce to discuss how trade helps their companies grow and support jobs in the community. The Ambassador toured Rackspace, a managed cloud computer company in Windcrest, Texas, supporting local jobs by exporting to over 200,000 customers in 120 countries. Rackspace is emblematic of the high-tech American companies that stand to gain from current trade negotiations between the U.S. and the Asia Pacific region in the TPP, which includes inaugural and groundbreaking provisions to address barriers affecting the digital economy. Ambassador Froman and Congressman Pete Gallego (TX-23) also toured Concord Supply Company, a San Antonio small business with roughly 90 percent of its sales to international markets. Through exports, the company has been able to expand and support more local jobs.
Promoted Strong American Manufacturing and Exports in Baltimore. To commemorate National Manufacturing Day and highlight the significant benefits manufacturing and Made-in-America exports deliver for Maryland’s economy, Ambassador Froman toured Zentech Manufacturing, a Baltimore small business and advanced manufacturer creating jobs in Maryland by assembling state-of-the-art circuit board technology, often used as inputs in American exports overseas. While at Zentech, Ambassador Froman met with local manufacturing workers and technical college students from Anne Arundel Community College to discuss the importance of advanced manufacturing to their everyday lives, their communities, and their families. In 2013, Maryland exported a record $11.8 billion in goods to the world. In the same year, Maryland exported $10.8 billion in manufactured goods, supporting an estimated 52,000 jobs.
Organized Small and Medium Sized Business Roundtables Across the United States to Participate in the Transatlantic Relationship. Pursuant to a request by USTR, the United States International Trade Commission (USITC) issued a report entitled "Trade Barriers That U.S. Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises Perceive as Affecting Exports to the European Union." USTR requested that USITC undertake this study as part of USTR’s effort to gather input from the public on the ongoing T-TIP negotiations. The U.S. Trade Representative, along with the US International Trade Commission (USITC), the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), and the U.S. Department of Commerce worked together to convene 28 small business roundtables in cities around the United States, to hear from small businesses around the country about concerns and barriers they face while exporting to European Union. The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) aims to help U.S. companies, farmers, and workers unlock opportunity by finding new European customers and boost job growth.
Enforced U.S. Trade Rights to Support American Jobs, Exports, and Innovation
Challenged India’s Requirements Affecting U.S. Solar Product Exports. In February, the United States requested WTO dispute settlement consultations with India concerning domestic content requirements in Phase II of India’s National Solar Mission ("NSM") and subsequently requested a WTO panel to examine India’s NSM measures. These domestic content requirements discriminate against U.S. solar cells and modules by requiring certain solar power developers participating in Phases I and II to use Indian-manufactured solar cells and modules instead of U.S. or other imported equipment. Moreover, India has now extended the domestic content requirements to more solar energy products than covered under Phase I of the NSM. In addition to the WTO consultations held on Phases I and II, the United States has engaged India on our concerns regarding the NSM over the last three years, including in bilateral fora such as the U.S.-India Trade Policy Forum and the U.S.-India Energy Dialogue, and at the WTO in various committees.
Challenged Indonesia’s Import Restrictions on Horticulture, Animals, and Animal Products. In May, the United States requested WTO dispute settlement consultations with Indonesia to address Indonesia’s import licensing restrictions on horticultural products, animals, and animal products. Following previous consultations on Indonesia’s trade restrictive measures, these additional consultations, requested jointly with New Zealand, are to address recent modifications to Indonesia’s import licensing restrictions.
Prevailed in China’s Challenge of U.S. Countervailing Duty Law. In March, a WTO panel found in favor of the United States and rejected China’s two challenges to U.S. Public Law 112-99, commonly referred to as the GPX legislation. In July, the WTO Appellate Body reversed certain interpretations by the panel but did not find that the GPX legislation inconsistent with WTO rules. The GPX legislation was enacted on March 13, 2012, to confirm the Department of Commerce’s ability to apply the U.S. countervailing duty (CVD) law on imports from non-market (NME) countries, including China. The failure of this challenge to our law is a significant victory for the United States. The WTO reports preserve the ability of the United States to remedy unfair subsidies and dumping by China, for the benefit of American businesses and workers.
Prevailed Against Chinese Duties on U.S. Exports of Automobiles. In May, the United States won a dispute at the World Trade Organization (WTO) on behalf of U.S. auto manufacturers and nearly 850,000 American automotive industry workers. The WTO dispute settlement panel agreed with the United States that China’s imposition of antidumping duties (ADs) and countervailing duties (CVDs) on American-made cars and sport-utility vehicles (SUVs) breached numerous international trade rules. The report, which was adopted by the WTO, marks the third recent WTO challenge that USTR has brought and won on China’s misuse of ADs and CVDs in a continuing effort to ensure American working families can seize all of the job-supporting opportunities available under U.S. trade agreements.
Prevailed on Numerous Indian Challenges to U.S. Countervailing Duties to Address India’s Unfair Steel Subsidies. In July, a WTO panel rejected numerous Indian challenges to key aspects of U.S. countervailing duty laws and regulations, and most of the hundreds of challenges brought by India against case-specific Department of Commerce determinations in a countervailing duty proceeding covering hot-rolled carbon steel flat products from India. In December, the WTO Appellate Body rejected the vast majority of India’s appeals seeking additional findings on U.S. regulations and determinations. This dispute is another example of the Administration’s commitment to fight for American workers and industry by taking strong trade remedy measures against unfair subsidies and defending those actions when challenged by our trading partners.
Secured a Victory in Challenge to China’s Rare Earth Export Restraints. In August, the United States won a major victory at the World Trade Organization (WTO), after challenging China’s export restraints on rare earths, tungsten, and molybdenum, which are used as key components in various U.S-made products for critical American manufacturing sectors, including hybrid car batteries, wind turbines, and energy-efficient lighting. The WTO Appellate Body, agreeing with an earlier panel report, found in favor of the United States’ challenge to Chinese export restraints that can skew the playing field against the United States and other countries in the production and export of manufactured products, while enabling China’s domestic downstream producers to produce lower-priced products from the raw materials and create significant advantages when competing against other markets. The reports, adopted by the WTO, send a clear signal to trading partners and display U.S. commitment to fighting on behalf of American businesses and workers.
Prevailed Against Argentina’s Import Licensing Restrictions. In August, the United States secured a victory at the World Trade Organization when a WTO panel found that Argentina’s restrictions on the importation of U.S. goods breach international trade rules. The Panel also found in breach restrictive trade-related requirements imposed by Argentina, including requiring U.S. companies exporting to Argentina to first agree to export Argentine goods, make investments in Argentina, lower prices of their products, or refrain from repatriating profits to the United States. The U.S. exports billions of dollars of goods to Argentina each year, including exports of computers, industrial and agricultural chemicals, agricultural and transportation equipment, machine tools, parts for oil field rigs, and refined fuel oil. The panel report is currently under appeal.
Prevailed Against Indian Ban on U.S. Agriculture Products to Protect U.S. Farmers. In October, the U.S. won a major victory at the World Trade Organization (WTO) on behalf of U.S. farmers, including the U.S. poultry industry when a dispute settlement panel found in our favor a claim challenging India’s ban on various U.S. agricultural products – such as poultry meat, eggs, and live pigs – allegedly to protect against avian influenza. The panel agreed with the United States that India’s ban breached numerous international trade rules, including because it was imposed without sufficient scientific evidence. The U.S. poultry industry, which directly employs over 350,000 workers and consists of nearly 50,000 family farms – had been particularly affected by India’s restrictions. The WTO has agreed the panel report will be adopted or appealed in January 2015.
Successfully resolved a Long-Standing Dispute with Brazil over Cotton. In October, the United States and Brazil reached an agreement to end the longstanding Cotton dispute in the WTO. Through this settlement, Brazil gave up its rights to countermeasures against U.S. trade or any further proceedings in this dispute. Brazil has also agreed not to bring new WTO actions against U.S. cotton support programs while the current U.S. Farm Bill is in force or against agricultural export credit guarantees under the GSM-102 program as long as the program is operated consistent with the agreed terms. This agreement completed discussions that began with a Framework Agreement signed in 2010.
Monitored Intellectual Property Protections and Obligations through the Special 301 Report. USTR released its annual "Special 301" Report on the adequacy and effectiveness of U.S. trading partners’ protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights. USTR maintained El Salvador’s status on the Special 301 list, noting significant and ongoing concerns with El Salvador’s protection and enforcement of intellectual property, including the treatment of geographical indications and pharmaceutical products. Israel, Italy and the Philippines were removed from the Special 301 Report Watch List, for their legislative and regulatory reforms in enhancing intellectual property rights enforcement. USTR announced that it would conduct an Out-of-Cycle Review of India, Kuwait, Paraguay and Spain. USTR also expressed growing concerns with respect to the environment for IPR protection and enforcement in India and other markets and serious, ongoing concerns about the protection and enforcement of trade secrets with respect to China.
Reinforced the United States’ Commitment to Fight Global Piracy and Counterfeit Goods with the Out-of-Cycle Review of Notorious Markets. The United States released the Special 301 Out-of-Cycle Review of Notorious Markets for 2013, which identifies global physical and online marketplaces that harm American businesses and workers through the infringement of intellectual property rights. The Notorious Markets report helps the US and foreign governments prioritize enforcement of the intellectual property rights that protect job-supporting innovation and creativity in the United States and around the world.
Concluded an Out-of-Cycle Review of India. In April’s 2014 Special 301 Report, USTR announced that the U.S. would initiate an Out-of-Cycle Review (OCR) of India to evaluate progress toward achieving meaningful, sustained and effective engagement on IP issues with India. Over subsequent months, there were multiple engagements with Government of India officials at the staff and senior levels on the broad range of issues of concern to the United States and to U.S. stakeholders. India made useful commitments, including to institutionalize high-level engagement on IP issues, to pursue a specific work program and to deepen cooperation and information exchange with the United States on IP-related issues under the U.S.-India Trade Policy Forum. The United States looks forward to the 2015 Special 301 Review process, which will provide the next formal opportunity for a thorough review of India’s environment for IP protection and enforcement, including progress made on recent IP-related commitments and on engagement through the agreed work plan.
Elevated Kuwait to Special 301 "Priority Watch List". In November, the U.S. announced the removal of Kuwait from the Special 301 Report Watch List to the Priority Watch List. The Special 301 Report identifies trading partners that do not adequately and effectively protect intellectual property rights. The United States is encouraged by Kuwait’s recent accessions to the Berne and Paris Conventions and recent progress on enforcement against copyright infringement. However, the U.S. remains concerned about the lack of sustained enforcement action against trademark infringement and the lack of progress in passage of updates to Kuwait’s copyright legislation, which hamper the overall market environment for intellectual property-intensive industries. The U.S. seeks to actively engage Kuwaiti authorities on these issues in the context of the long-standing cooperation between our countries.
Proceeded with an Historic Labor Enforcement Case against Guatemala Under the CAFTA-DR. The United States proceeded with a labor enforcement case against Guatemala under the Dominican Republic – Central America – United State Free Trade Agreement, to ensure Guatemala implements the labor protections to which its workers are entitled. The United States has engaged extensively with Guatemala, and even signed a groundbreaking Labor Enforcement Plan in an effort to improve the country’s labor law enforcement. The enforcement of strong labor protections in Guatemala would send a positive signal to the world and help attract investment, expand economic activity, and promote inclusive growth.
Strengthened Fundamental Labor Rights and Practices in Myanmar. In August, Ambassador Froman became the first U.S. Trade Representative to visit to Myanmar, where he convened representatives of the U.S. government, Myanmar and other international governments, the International Labor Organization, the World Bank, and the International Finance Corporation to build support for a joint U.S.-Myanmar Initiative to improve labor conditions in Myanmar. In November, the United States launched a joint "Initiative to Promote Fundamental Labor Rights and Practices in Myanmar" together with the Myanmar, the International Labour Organization, Japan, and Denmark. The is designed to improve Myanmar’s system of labor administration through a multi-year labor law reform and foster strong relations among businesses, workers, civil society organizations, and the Government of Myanmar through a stakeholder consultative mechanism. It also supports broader efforts to promote responsible trade and investment practices and sustainable economic development.
Advanced Worker Safety and Labor Rights in Bangladesh. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative led an interagency review of Bangladesh labor rights, and concluded that despite important progress, Bangladesh must do more to address the worker rights and safety issues that led President Obama to suspend the country’s Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) trade benefits in June 2013. The U.S. is seeking improvements to achieve the shared goal of protecting workers from workplace tragedies like the April 2013 Rana Plaza building collapse. The United States continues to work with Bangladesh to address outstanding concerns, including factory inspections, progress on labor law reforms, and reports of harassment of and violence against labor activists who are attempting to exercise their rights.
Promoted Labor Rights in Peru. The United States convened the Labor Affairs Council of the U.S.-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement (TPA) to review progress made under the Labor Chapter of the agreement. The U.S. and Peru discussed ongoing cooperation on labor matters such as those related to the prevention and abolition of child labor, combatting forced labor, and addressing concerns related to subcontracting, and discussed areas of future cooperation, such as capacity building for labor inspections.
Supported Workers’ Associational Rights in Swaziland. In June, the United States withdrew Swaziland’s benefits under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) due to concerns about implementation of eligibility criteria related to worker rights. The U.S. Government concluded that Swaziland had not demonstrated progress in the protection of internationally recognized worker rights, including the freedom of association and the right to organize. The United States continues to engage with the Kingdom of Swaziland to ensure worker and civil society groups can freely associate, and AGOA eligibility can be restored.
Promoted Labor Rights in Morocco. The United States worked closely with Morocco to enhance opportunities to improve labor standards, by promoting dialogue to better understand each other’s labor situation, cooperate on labor issues, and facilitate interaction with the public on labor matters. USTR is working with the U.S. Department of Labor to facilitate a technical assistance project to combat child labor, improve livelihoods and support safe youth employment and a project to empower women through increased recognition, promotion and enforcement of their labor rights.
Convened the Inaugural Meeting of the Labor Affairs Council under the U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement. In January, officials from the United States and Panama met to promote labor rights and to enhance technical cooperation on labor matters under the U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement. The two countries discussed cooperation on various issues to promote labor rights, including labor inspections and subcontracting arrangements.
Promoted Labor Rights in Jordan. Government officials from the United States and Jordan convened the Labor Subcommittee under the United States-Jordan free trade agreement. The Subcommittee works to promote labor rights and enhance technical cooperation on labor matters, such as respect for labor rights and improving working conditions for foreign workers in Jordan’s growing garment sector. A key objective of the meeting was to support and advance the Labor Implementation Plan the two governments signed in 2013 to address labor concerns in Jordan’s garment factories, including anti-union discrimination against foreign workers, conditions of their accommodations, and gender discrimination and harassment.
Improved Labor Rights in Colombia. In April, USTR and the U.S. Department of Labor released a new report on the Colombian Action Plan Related to Labor Rights, which the United States and Colombia announced in 2011 to address a number of serious labor concerns. President Obama insisted that the Colombian government address these concerns to support ratification of the United States-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement. The new report describes concrete steps Colombia has taken to improve labor protection, including new laws, regulations and resources to strengthen labor law enforcement and prosecute cases of violence against trade union leaders and activists. The report also describes areas where important work remains, such as the collection of fines for labor violations and addressing new forms of abusive contracting, as well as extensive resources the United States is providing to Colombia to support these efforts.
Promoted Ocean Sustainability Through our Trade Engagement. In June, President Obama announced an executive action to combat illegal fishing and support trade in legal, sustainable seafood, and on December 18 the Administration published a set of 15 recommendations designed to enhance the tools we have available to combat illegal fishing and seafood fraud. The recommendations include direction to USTR to use our existing and future trade agreements to combat illegal fishing and seafood fraud, including through enhanced cooperation with our trading partners and commitments to enforce environmental laws. Promoting strong, enforceable environmental provisions are central objectives in the United States’ ongoing trade negotiations with the European Union and the Asia Pacific. The TPP and T-TIP will cover a significant amount of the world’s seafood trade, and present an opportunity to advance ground-breaking oceans and marine conservation commitments, including sustainable fisheries management, combatting illegal fishing, prohibiting harmful fisheries subsidies; and promoting the long term conservation of sharks and other threatened marine species.
Combatted Illegal Wildlife Trafficking and Illegal Logging Through the Trade Agenda. The United States is committed to fighting illegal wildlife trafficking and illegal logging, including through implementation of FTAs with trading partners like Peru, negotiations of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, and development and implementation of a National Strategy to Combat Wildlife Trafficking. In June, as part of these efforts, Ambassador Michael Froman toured facilities in New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport that serve to keep trade safe and help combat illegal trafficking in wildlife, and in July we toured the National Eagle and Wildlife Product Repository in Colorado which holds the intercepted wildlife products.
Identified and Addressed Telecommunications Trade Barriers. In March, USTR released the annual Report of the 1377 Review, which outlined barriers faced by U.S. telecommunications service and equipment suppliers, and identified specific telecommunications-related issues on which USTR focused its monitoring and enforcement efforts throughout the year. The Report also highlights longstanding and emerging barriers to U.S. telecommunications services and equipment exports, which – when unimpeded – are a significant source of jobs here at home.
Engaged with Global Partners to Enhance Trade and Economic Growth
Made Progress with China on Key Trade Issues. In December, the United States joined China for the 25th Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade where they focused on key trade and investment issues. The U.S. and China made progress on important bilateral issues, including pharmaceuticals and medical devices regulatory reform, market access, intellectual property right protection and enforcement, innovation policies, and competition law enforcement, and continued to work towards building mutual trust and respect, promoting candid dialogue on bilateral issues and challenges, all designed to support jobs and exports in the U.S.
Strengthened Ties and Promoted Growth with the African Continent. In August, President Obama welcomed leaders from across the African continent for the inaugural U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit. The Summit marked the largest event any U.S. President has held with African heads of state and government, aimed at strengthening ties between the U.S. and one of the world’s most dynamic and fastest-growing regions. The Summit advanced the Administration’s focus on trade and investment in Africa, and during the Summit, Ambassador Froman convened the AGOA Forum with African trade ministers. AGOA is the cornerstone of U.S. trade policy with sub-Saharan Africa, and has contributed to the diversification and competiveness of sub-Saharan Africa’s economies, supported hundreds of thousands of jobs across the continent, increased global prosperity and market opportunities that accompany Africa’s rise.
Continued Bilateral Investment Treaty Negotiations with China. This year, negotiations toward a Bilateral Investment Treaty with China continued and intensified. The two sides made significant progress in the treaty text negotiations and agreed to initiate the critical "negative list" market access negotiations early in 2015. U.S. objectives include enhancing market access and protections for U.S. investors; encouraging the adoption of market-oriented policies that treat private investment in an open, transparent, and non-discriminatory way; and supporting the development of international law standards consistent with these objectives.
Strengthened relations with Nigeria. In March, USTR hosted the eighth meeting of the U.S.-Nigeria Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) Council to continue discussions on several shared objectives, including improving market access, utilization of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), protection of intellectual property rights, implementation of the new WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement, and improving the bilateral investment climate.
Marked Continued Gains in the U.S.-Republic of Korea Free Trade Agreement. In March, the United States and Korea marked the second anniversary of the KORUS agreement, noting strong results as the agreement continues to deliver new opportunities for American businesses and workers. For the first 10 months of 2014, U.S. goods exports to Korea are at record levels, totaling $37.2 billion, with October marking the thirteenth consecutive month of year-on-year increases. The Committees and Working Groups established under KORUS, including the Ministerial-level Joint Committee, succeeded in addressing a range of issues regarding the implementation of the agreement, including issues related to autos and financial services. USTR continues to work with its Korean counterparts to deliver the full benefits of KORUS, and to that end, both countries have agreed to continue to convene meetings in early 2015.
Streamlined Organic Trade with Korea. The United States and Korea announced new efforts to simplify organic trade and a shared commitment to ensure all traded organic processed products retain their organic integrity from farm to market. Organic processed products certified in the United States or Korea can now be labeled as organic in either country, which will allow American organic farmers, processors, and businesses greater access to Korea’s growing market for organic products. This deal serves as another foundation for future organic trade arrangements between the United States and other partners.
Strengthened Ties with the Philippines. In March, the U.S. and the Philippines agreed to a program of expanded engagement under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA). Following discussion on various bilateral, regional, and multilateral issues, USTR recognized the considerable efforts the Philippines has made to strengthen its intellectual property regime and overall framework for protecting worker rights.
Expanded Trade with Colombia. The United States and Colombia celebrated the second anniversary of the entry into force of the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement in May 2014. In 2013, U.S. goods exports to Colombia totaled $18.4 billion, up 28 percent in comparison to 2011, pre-FTA implementation. In the two years of the TPA, U.S. manufacturers have helped grow American jobs and substantially increased exports of transportation equipment, petroleum and coal products, processed food, and computer and electronic products, while farmers and ranchers have seen strong growth of agricultural exports, including in pork, beef, dairy products, soybeans, rice, grapes, and tree nuts.
Strengthened our Economic Relationship with Panama. In May, the United States and Panama held the first meeting of the U.S.-Panama Free Trade Commission, a forum to oversee the implementation of the U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement. The meeting underscored the importance of ensuring effective implementation of the Agreement, as well as the key role it plays in facilitating sustainable, broad-based economic growth and as an important catalyst in facilitating competiveness. The United States and Panama worked to ensure implementation of trade in goods and services, intellectual property rights, labor, and environment obligations to foster job creation and increase the economic prosperity for citizens in both countries.
Bolstered our Trade Partnership with Chile. In June, the United States and Chile held the ninth Free Trade Commission (FTC) Meeting in Santiago, Chile. The FTC reviewed implementation of the FTA and celebrated the 10th anniversary of the agreement. Since the FTA entered into force in 2004, two-way trade between the U.S. and Chile has more than quadrupled, growing by approximately 335%. This compares to 94% growth in total U.S. trade globally over the same time period.
Reinforced our Economic Relations with Peru. In June, the United States and Peru held the fourth meeting of the U.S.-Peru Free Trade Commission, and noted the fifth year of implementation of the U.S.-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement (PTPA). Since the PTPA went into effect in 2009, two-way trade between the U.S. and rose from $9.1 billion in 2009 to more than $18 billion in 2013.
Strengthened Trade and Investment Relations with Taiwan. U.S. and Taiwan trade authorities concluded the eighth Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) Council meeting under the auspices of the American Institute in Taiwan and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States. The U.S.-Taiwan TIFA serves as a key mechanism to make progress on the broad range of trade and investment issues important to the United States and Taiwan and strengthen robust commercial ties. At the 2014 TIFA, Taiwan took concrete steps to address trade concerns, including by lifting data center localization requirements, addressing technical barriers to trade, clarifying investment criteria, and made important commitment involving investment, agriculture, pharmaceuticals, and medical devices.
Supported Economic Security in Ukraine. USTR contributed to the Administration’s efforts to support the Ukrainian government's efforts to stabilize and expand its economy as well as protect it from unwarranted trade actions that hampered its exports. USTR officials visited Kyiv to collaborate with the Ukrainian government on steps to strengthen our bilateral trade and investment relationship.
Fostered Deeper Bilateral Trade and Investment Engagement with Moldova. In March, Ambassador Froman and Moldova’s Prime Minister, Iurie Leancă convened the United States-Moldova Joint Commercial Commission. During the meeting, Ambassador Froman pledged U.S. support for Moldova’s efforts to integrate with Europe, highlighting the potential for economic prosperity. USTR officials traveled to Chisinau to identify opportunities for further collaboration.
Continued Engagement with Tunisia. In June, the United States and Tunisia convened the bilateral Council on Trade and Investment to discuss potential commitments on a range of issues, including market access, services, investment, and intellectual property rights. The U.S. and Tunisian delegations discussed potential new initiatives that could increase trade and investment flows in the short- to medium-term, the importance of cooperation in protecting intellectual property rights, as well as possibilities for facilitating the participation of female entrepreneurs and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in U.S.-Tunisian trade.
Increased ties with Angola. In April, The United States hosted the second meeting of the U.S.-Angola Council on Trade and Investment (the "TIFA Council"), established pursuant to the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement between the Government of the United States and the Government of the Republic of Angola. Angola is one of the United States’ most important trading partners in sub-Saharan Africa. Angola’s great potential is recognized by the many international partners and investors who see Angola moving in the right direction. Angola is currently a leading beneficiary of preferential access to the U.S. market under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), exporting mainly energy-related products and some forest products.
Strengthened ties with Madagascar. In June, The United States reinstated benefits for Madagascar under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), following the formation of Madagascar’s first democratic government since a 2009 coup d’état. The decision recognized the country’s return to democratic rule, and AGOA’s potential to help Madagascar create employment, expand bilateral trade, and contribute to the economic well-being and security of its people.
Promoted Trade and Development in Myanmar. In June, the United States held the first-ever Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) meeting with Myanmar, addressing economic reform, implementation of Myanmar’s WTO commitments, and labor rights.
Strengthened Engagement with India through the U.S.-India Trade Policy Forum. In November, Ambassador Froman led a U.S. Delegation to the U.S.-India Trade Policy Forum (TPF) in Mumbai India. The Trade Policy Forum is the premier bilateral forum for discussion and resolution of U.S. and India trade and investment issues, and provides the venue for evaluating progress in the economic relationship at the Ministerial level.
Used Trade to Empower Women in Pakistan. In May, the United States and Pakistan signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Joint Efforts to Empower Women and to Promote Women’s Entrepreneurship, to provide a mechanism and platform to discuss how to ensure women participate fully in the economy and have access to economic, trade, and investment opportunities.
Promoted Trade, Investment, and Regional Cooperation in Pakistan. This year, the United States and Pakistan continued work under their Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) to chart a path forward on improving bilateral trade and investment flows over the next five years. Among the areas of cooperation in the Joint Action Plan include diversifying agricultural production, enhancing intellectual property protection, implementing the World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement, engaging on Pakistan’s accession to the WTO Government Procurement Agreement, increasing trade in services, outreach to U.S. State and Local Governments, promoting entrepreneurship, and increasing dialogue between our respective private sectors.
Strengthened Ties with Bangladesh. In April, representatives of the governments of the United States and Bangladesh held the inaugural meeting of the United States-Bangladesh Forum on Trade and Investment (Forum), established to identify and address obstacles to increasing bilateral trade and investment. The U.S. and Bangladesh reaffirmed their commitment to increase bilateral trade and investment and address worker rights and safety issues in Bangladesh. Through the Forum, the United States proposed the creation of a Labor Affairs Committee and a Committee on Women's Economic Empowerment.
Promoted Trade and Investment with Afghanistan. In January, U.S. and Afghan officials met in Afghanistan to continue progress under the U.S.-Afghanistan Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA). Signed in 2004, the TIFA has been the primary forum for bilateral trade and investment discussions between the two countries, and this year gave the United States an opportunity to support Afghanistan’s efforts to accede to the WTO through the signing of a bilateral market access agreement.
Promoted Trade and Investment to Foster Inclusive Economic Development in Sri Lanka. In October, the United States and Sri Lanka continued their trade dialogue to evaluate progress under the United States-Sri Lanka Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA). The officials discussed market access, labor, trade promotion efforts, the U.S. Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), intellectual property rights, agriculture, and sector-specific investment challenges. Progress on all of these trade and investment issues fosters economic growth, thus providing a strong foundation for inclusive economic development as Sri Lanka emerges from years of civil war. A U.S.-Sri Business Forum, held on the margins of the TIFA Council meeting, brought representatives of U.S. companies to Sri Lanka to explore additional investment opportunities and to expand our already healthy trade relationship.
Promoted Trade, Investment, and Regional Cooperation in Central Asia. In June, the United States convened the ninth council meeting of the U.S.-Central Asia Trade and Investment Framework Agreement(TIFA), along with Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Afghanistan. The Council is the key vehicle for trade and investment discussions between the United States and the countries of Central Asia, and focused on issues, including World Trade Organization (WTO) membership, customs, investment, standards and sanitary measures, and women’s economic empowerment.
Increased ties with Iraq. In March, senior representatives of the governments of the United States and Iraq held the inaugural meeting of the United States-Iraq Council on Trade and Investment (TIFA Council), which was established under the United States-Iraq Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA). The dialogue under the TIFA reaffirms both governments’ commitment to increase bilateral trade and investment.