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U.S. Trade Representative 2015 Year in Review

Through trade policy, the Obama Administration has made great strides in advancing the President’s economic agenda of creating jobs, promoting growth, and strengthening America’s middle class. In 2014, Made-in-America exports supported an estimated 11.7 million well-paying U.S. jobs. In 2015, the Obama Administration built on record-breaking exports, engagement with trading partners, and trade enforcement to win strong results for American workers, manufacturers, service providers, farmers, ranchers, and small businesses.

“2015 was a landmark year for President Obama’s trade agenda, which has played an integral part of his efforts to unlock opportunity for American workers, farmers, ranchers, and businesses,” said Ambassador Michael Froman. “Under the President’s leadership, we were able to complete negotiations of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, secure Congressional passage of bipartisan Trade Promotion Authority and the renewal of key preference and trade adjustment assistance programs, conclude a groundbreaking information technology agreement, and to begin to put the WTO back on the right track. We look forward to continuing this momentum through 2016 to benefit Made-In-America exports and the communities they support.

Here’s a look at the year’s accomplishments for American workers, farmers, ranchers, and businesses large and small.

 

Supported American Jobs through U.S. Exports

Completed the landmark Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Negotiations. The United States and eleven other countries in the Asia Pacific region, successfully concluded the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement after five and a half years of negotiations. The landmark agreement represents the largest tax cut on American exports in a generation, eliminating over 18,000 individual taxes on the products made, grown, and created in America. The TPP will open up services markets, including financial, express-delivery, electronic-payment, and architect/engineering services, and establish strong and balanced intellectual property rights rules and enforcement measures, while helping to support productivity and competitiveness, raise living standards, and encourage enhanced labor and environmental protections around the world. The TPP delivers new opportunities for manufacturing, agriculture, services, American workers, farmers and ranchers, entrepreneurs, innovators, and small & medium-sized businesses. You may read the TPP text, and learn more about the agreement, at the USTR TPP website.

Celebrated Congressional Passage of the Bipartisan Trade Promotion Authority Bill. In June, Congress passed bipartisan legislation to implement the Trade Promotion Authority bill, and set clear expectations for the high-standard trade agreements the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative negotiates. The bill’s passage demonstrated the bipartisan support for U.S. leadership in establishing the rules for global trade, while helping to deliver more well-paying, middle class jobs and economic opportunities for American businesses, farmers, ranchers, manufacturers, and entrepreneurs through the passage of trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP).

Secured an Expansion of the WTO Information Technology Agreement (ITA) In December, the United States and China joined over 50 developed and developing countries to announce an expansion of the Information Technology Agreement. The landmark agreement, the first major tariff-elimination deal at the WTO, will phase out hundreds of tariffs on roughly $1.3 trillion in global information and communication technology exports, and support economic growth worldwide. American producers and exporters of information technology products will benefit from the expanded agreement, as more than $180 billion in American technology exports will no longer face burdensome tariffs in key global markets.

Accelerated Work on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) Negotiations. Throughout the course of the year, the United States and the European Union redoubled our efforts in negotiations of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP). The U.S. and EU conducted four T-TIP negotiating rounds to continue engagement on a trade agreement that will unlock opportunity, set high standards, eliminate unnecessary redundancies and red tape, and strengthen the economic and strategic transatlantic relationship. The U.S. and EU have presented a new set of tariff offers, revised services and investment market access offers, and introduced proposals text for nearly every negotiating area within the agreement. Ambassador Froman and EU Trade Commissioner Cecelia Malmström met regularly throughout the year, and in December they reaffirmed their commitment to expeditiously reach an ambitious, comprehensive agreement that promotes economic growth and jobs and reflects shared values.

Secured Trade Engagement with Sub-Saharan Africa under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Renewal. In June, Congress passed bipartisan legislation to renew the African Growth and Opportunity Act to ensure continued trade engagement with Sub-Saharan Africa. AGOA has been the cornerstone of our trade relationship with Africa for 15 years, and its renewal for a 10 year period, the longest ever in the program’s history, will incentivize good governance and pro-growth, pro-development policies, including on labor and human rights. The improvement and implementation of AGOA will help provide much-needed certainty for African producers, U.S. buyers, and investors.

Renewed other key preference programs, including GSP and HOPE. Also in June, Congress renewed the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) and Haitian Hemispheric Opportunity through Partnership Encouragement Act (HOPE) programs. GSP, which lapsed in July 2013, will promote economic growth in the developing world by eliminating duties on a wide range of products from developing countries, GSP will also support U.S. jobs by helping keep American manufacturers competitive. HOPE supports thousands of jobs in Haiti’s textile and garment sectors, while providing important protections to workers. Early extension of this program will provide the necessary stability and continuity for companies to continue investing in Haiti’s future.

Achieved Significant Outcomes on Agriculture and Economic Development at the WTO Ministerial. During the 10th WTO Ministerial Conference in Nairobi in December, Members reached multilateral agreements to address challenges to development and poverty alleviation and agricultural trade. Trade Ministers delivered a package of multilateral outcomes that will aid development around the world, especially in least developed countries (LDCs), through new disciplines for export subsidies and credits, food aid, increased participation in services trade, among others. The Ministers also secured a global ban on export subsidies to eliminate some of the most trade-distorting subsidies and help level the playing field for American farmers and ranchers. Most significantly, the Ministerial marked a new phase in the WTO’s evolution, with candid discussions among WTO Members about the challenges and limitations of the Doha Development Agenda framework and development of new pathways to address unresolved and outstanding global trade issues.

Continued Momentum in the Ratification of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement. Following last year’s signing of the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), the World Trade Organization (WTO)’s first multilateral trade agreement, the United States has seen an increase in the WTO Members ratifying the agreement, moving closer to the 109 signatories required to implement the agreement. During the 10th Ministerial Conference in Nairobi, the United States announced additional funding to help developing countries implement the TFA through a new and unique multi-donor partnership with the private sector, the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation (GATF).

Made Meaningful Progress on a U.S.-China Bilateral Investment Treaty. In 2015, the U.S. and China made important progress on a Bilateral Investment Treatment (BIT), which would not only provide market access opportunities for U.S. businesses and workers and create a more level playing field, but would also give China the opportunity to reaffirm its commitment to reform.  Following improved negative list proposals in September, President Obama and President Xi committed to intensify the negotiations and to work expeditiously to conclude the negotiation of a mutually beneficial, high-standard treaty.

Significant Progress on the Environmental Goods Agreement and Trade in Services Agreement. In 2015, WTO partners made good progress in the Environmental Goods Agreement, which will help secure environmental protection and meet our economic goals by reducing and eliminating barriers faced by American environmental goods exports. We also made significant progress in the negotiation of the Trade in Services Agreement, which will promote fair and free trade across the spectrum of service sectors, which account for three quarters of U.S. GDP and 4 out of 5 jobs in the U.S.

Strengthened Enforcement of U.S. Trade Rights. Throughout the year, the Obama Administration continued its effort to fight for our workers through aggressive enforcement actions to level the playing field for American workers and businesses. To date, the United States has brought 20 enforcement actions over the course of the Administration, winning every one that has been brought to closure. In 2015, the United States saw victories in a wide range of trade enforcement cases that benefit American workers and industries, including high-tech steel exporters, farmers, and rare earth manufacturers, while launching cases and dispute settlement consultations to protect American manufacturers and exporters.

Engaged with American Workers and Businesses to
Highlight the Benefits of Trade

Praised the Benefits of Record-Breaking Texas Exports to Local Businesses. In January, Ambassador Froman travelled to Dallas to highlight Texas as America’s top exporting state. Ambassador Froman toured the Mary Kay manufacturing facility with U.S. Rep Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30) and Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings to discuss how the President’s trade agenda and trade agreements in the Asia Pacific and across the Atlantic would support additional jobs and economic growth around the country. In 2013, Texas exported $279.5 billion of Made-in-America goods to the world, supporting over 1.1 million jobs. 

Touted California’s Strong Made-in-America Exports. In March, Ambassador Froman visited California to highlight the positive trajectory of U.S. exports in California, and the benefits they bring to businesses throughout the state. During the visit, Ambassador Froman visited San Diego with U.S. Representative Scott Peters to tour the Ballast Point Brewing and Spirits, a local small business exporting American-made craft beer to countries across the Asia Pacific. They also visited Solar Turbines Incorporated supporting growth in the San Diego economy by exporting solar turbines worldwide. Ambassador Froman later travelled to Santa Rosa to meet Mayor John Sawyer to tour family-owned Amy’s Kitchen, a local business that manufactures healthy and organic convenience foods, and supports jobs throughout the region. In 2014, California exported a record-breaking $174.1 billion of Made-in-America goods to the world – supporting almost a million jobs.

Promoted the Benefits of Grown-in-America Agricultural Exports in Nebraska. In April, Ambassador Froman traveled to Nebraska to highlight the state’s strong agricultural exports and their benefits to the local economy. Ambassador Froman and Congressman Brad Ashford held a roundtable conversation with Nebraskan farmers and ranchers about how President Obama’s trade agenda helps them export world-class agricultural products around the world. Ambassador Froman later joined Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert in a tour of Valmont Industries, Inc., an exporter of infrastructure and agriculture equipment, and major employer in the Omaha area, which stands to benefit from increased international trade. Ambassador Froman also toured the Ueberrhein Family Farm, which raises soybeans and corn on 1,500 acres of land. Soybeans are Nebraska’s most-exported crop, and large amounts of American soybeans are exported to Asia, where the United States recently concluded the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Highlighted Alabama’s Made-In-America Exports. In May, Ambassador Froman joined Congresswoman Terry Sewell and Alabama Secretary of Commerce Greg Canfield to discuss the many benefits of increased trade to local Alabamans, including farmers, manufactures, and local businesses. In 2014, Alabama exported $19.5 billion in goods, supporting 95,258 jobs. 

Showcased Asia-Pacific Trade Deal’s Benefits to Delaware Economy. In October, following the conclusion of the Trans-Partnership negotiations, Ambassador Froman traveled to Delaware to meet with local businesses and discuss how the trade agreement will bring unprecedented benefits to the community. Ambassador Froman joined Senators Carper and Coons to tour WhiteOptics, a New Castle small business that develops, manufactures and exports technologies for the commercial lighting industry. They later met with a variety of Delaware business leaders at DuPont headquarters in Wilmington to illustrate how the TPP will level the playing field for American businesses, workers, and farmers by cutting foreign taxes on Made-in-America exports.                                                                               

Promoted Strong American Exports in Los Angeles. In November, Ambassador Froman travelled to the Los Angeles area to showcase how the Trans-Pacific Partnership will benefit Californian exports and support well-paying jobs in California. During his trip, Ambassador Froman and Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia visited the Port of Long Beach, the second-busiest container port in the country, and an important gateway for American exports to Asia. He later toured WET, a local L.A small business that designs, engineers and manufactures water and fire features, and supports over 300 local jobs through international exports.

Enforced U.S. Trade Rights to
Support American Jobs, Exports, and Innovation

Secured a Victory in Challenge to Argentina’s Import Licensing Restrictions. In January, the United States prevailed against Argentina’s widespread restrictions on the importation of U.S. goods in a dispute settlement at the World Trade Organization (WTO).  The WTO Appellate Body affirmed that Argentina’s import licensing requirements and other import restrictions breach international trade rules. Argentina’s restrictive trade-related requirements harm American businesses and exporters, and potentially affect billions of dollars in U.S. exports to Argentina each year. Key U.S. exports to Argentina include energy products, electronics and machinery, aerospace and parts, pharmaceuticals, precision instruments and medical devices, miscellaneous chemicals, motor vehicles and vehicle parts, and agricultural products.

Challenged China’s Export Subsidy Program. In February, the United States launched a challenge against China at the WTO concerning its “Demonstration Bases-Common Service Platform” export subsidy program. Under this program, China seems to provide prohibited export subsidies through “Common Service Platforms” to manufacturers and producers across economic sectors and sub-sectors located in industrial clusters throughout China known as “Demonstration Bases.” Several sectors including textiles, advanced materials and metals, chemicals, medical products, and agriculture appear to benefit under the program’s export subsidies. These export subsidies not only provide an unfair advantage to a vast array of Chinese exporters, but are also harmful to American workers and American businesses of all sizes.

Challenged Indonesia’s Import Restrictions on U.S. Agriculture. In March, the United States and New Zealand requested the WTO to establish a dispute settlement panel to examine Indonesia’s wide-ranging import restrictions on fruits and vegetables, animal products, and other agricultural products. Indonesia’s prohibitions and restrictions unfairly limited opportunities for U.S. farmers and ranchers to export their world-class products. Indonesia is the fourth most populous country in the world and an increasingly important export market for many U.S. agricultural products, with exports of agricultural products affected by Indonesia’s import licensing regimes totaling nearly $200 million in 2014.

Reasserted U.S. Trade Rights in Trade with China and Indonesia. In April, the United States moved forward with its two offensive WTO disputes with China and Indonesia at the WTO Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) meeting. After consultations failed to resolve the U.S. concerns with China’s export subsidies under its Demonstration Bases-Common Service Platform program and related subsidies to Demonstration Bases, the United States moved forward by requesting the WTO to establish a dispute settlement panel. The United States also formally requested that the WTO consider their panel requests at the same WTO Dispute Settlement Body meeting regarding Indonesia’s import licensing restrictions imposed on horticulture, animals, and animal products. In both of these disputes, USTR continued to seek unlocking economic opportunity for American workers, farmers, and businesses of all sizes by challenging policies leading to unfair competition and by removing unwarranted barriers to U.S. exports in key Asian markets.

Secured a Victory in Challenge to China’s Rare Earth Export Policies. In May, China eliminated its export duties on rare-earth elements after earlier in the year they ended export quotas on these same products. The United States, the European Union, and Japan successfully challenged China’s export duties and quotas as contrary to WTO rules, delivering a major enforcement victory. Last year, the WTO agreed with the United States in a major dispute, finding in favor of U.S. claims that China’s imposition of export quotas and duties on rare earths, tungsten, and molybdenum breached WTO rules. Rare earths, tungsten, and molybdenum are key inputs in a multitude of U.S-made products for critical American manufacturing sectors, including hybrid car batteries, wind turbines, energy-efficient lighting, steel, advanced electronics, automobiles, petroleum and chemicals.

Prevailed in Challenge to India’s Ban on U.S. Agriculture Exports to Protect American Farmers. In May, the WTO upheld an earlier panel ruling that India’s ban on various U.S. agricultural products were discriminatory, giving the United States a major victory in the dispute. The WTO panel and Appellate Body agreed that India’s ban on products such as poultry meat, eggs, and live pig were not based on international scientific standards on animal health to prevent avian influenza but were discriminatory trade barriers. This victory will help address barriers to the Indian market for U.S. farmers, including those in the U.S. poultry industry in particular. The U.S. poultry industry, which employs over 350,000 workers and consists of nearly 50,000 family farms – has been particularly affected by India’s restrictions.  The industry estimates that U.S. exports to India of just poultry meat alone could exceed $300 million a year once India’s restrictions are removed.

Prevailed Against Chinese Duties on U.S. Exports of Electrical Steel. In July, the United States prevailed in a WTO challenge to China’s compliance actions following WTO findings in 2012 that China’s duties on high-tech steel were inconsistent with WTO rules – duties that contributed to over $250 million in annual export losses for American steel exporters. The compliance challenge was the first time any WTO Member had initiated a WTO proceeding to challenge a claim by China that it had complied with adverse WTO findings. The United States took the unprecedented step of challenging China’s claim to ensure that China lived up to its WTO obligations and stopped misusing trade remedies in a manner that harmed American workers and businesses.

Challenged China’s Treatment of Certain Chinese-Produced Aircraft. In December, the United States requested WTO dispute settlement consultations with China to address China’s measures exempting certain aircraft produced in China from value-added tax (VAT), while imposing those taxes on imported aircraft. The Chinese measures are harmful to American workers and businesses in the aviation industry, and the consultations will help enforce WTO commitments to secure a level playing field for American-made aircraft and parts producers who provide components for foreign-made aircraft.

Monitored Intellectual Property Protections and Obligations through the Special 301 Report. In April, 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 China and India’s status on the Priority Watch list, noting continuing concerns about IPR protection and enforcement. USTR announced that it would conduct an Out-of-Cycle Review of Honduras, Ecuador, Paraguay, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Spain. USTR also expressed growing concerns with respect to the environment for IPR protection and enforcement in Turkey, Indonesia, Russia, Argentina and other markets.

Reaffirmed the United States’ Commitment to Fight Global Piracy and Counterfeit Goods with the Special 301 Out-of-Cycle Review of Notorious Markets. In March, the United States released the Special 301 Out-of-Cycle Review of Notorious Markets, 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.

Promoted Labor and Worker Rights in Honduras. The Obama Administration has taken unprecedented actions to promote and protect fundamental labor rights and ensure acceptable conditions of work in the countries with whom we trade. In February, the Department of Labor released a report on worker’s rights concerns in Honduras, and raised concerns regarding the effective enforcement of labor laws in Honduras under the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR). The report provides recommendations to address these labor concerns, and encourages the development and implementation of a monitoring and action plan.

Continued Making Progress on Labor Enforcement in Guatemala. In late 2014, the U.S. launched a labor enforcement case against Guatemala under the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR). The enforcement action – which was initiated following a public submission by the AFL-CIO and six Guatemalan labor organizations – has continued to move forward in 2015, with the U.S. submitting its second written submission in March, and arguing the case before an arbitral panel in June.

Implemented Trade Preference Programs to Advance Worker Rights. USTR announced hearings on several country practices reviews of worker rights under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) trade preference program.  The hearing will include testimony on a review of worker rights in Thailand, to ensure the country is enforcing worker rights, including freedom of association, collective bargaining, acceptable conditions of work, to remain eligible for GSP trade preference benefits. USTR will also hear testimony on worker rights reviews in Uzbekistan, Niger, Fiji, Georgia, and Iraq.  Protecting labor rights is a key component of U.S. trade preference programs, and USTR uses every tool at our disposal to improve labor laws and working conditions in countries with which we trade.

Strengthened Commitment to Ocean Sustainability through Task Force on Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing and Seafood Fraud. In March, President Obama released an action plan under the Presidential Task Force on Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing and Seafood Fraud. The plan directed the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative to use trade and trade agreements to combat the ecological and commercial impacts caused by IUU fishing practices and some of the most harmful fisheries subsidies. Trade agreements, like the recently concluded Trans-Pacific Partnership, provide an important tool to combat the ecological and commercial threat of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

Addressed Key Telecommunications Trade Barriers. In March, USTR released its annual Report of the Section 1377 Review, which identifies the latest major barriers faced by United States telecommunications service and equipment suppliers in the global economy. The report also illustrates the specific telecommunications-related issues on which USTR will allocate monitoring and enforcement efforts over the coming year so as to protect the high quality jobs supported by telecommunications trade. Since last year’s report, USTR has achieved progress on issues impacting telecommunications trade, but continues to monitor new challenges that face American telecommunications exporters, particularly in China and Vietnam.

Engaged with Trading Partners to 
Enhance Trade and Economic Growth

Made Progress with China on Key Trade Issues. In November, the United States joined China for the 26th Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade in Guangzhou, the primary forum for ministerial-level discussions on key trade and investment issues. The U.S. and China made progress on a number of important bilateral issues. China agreed to a number of intellectual property-related commitments, including on protection of trade secrets, addressing issues related to online counterfeiting, and on Geographical Indication-related measures. The U.S. and China also agreed to jointly promote cooperation on agricultural innovation and create a favorable environment for agricultural innovation.  Both countries reiterated that they would work together to further the agricultural biotech approval process based on international standards; and reiterated the importance of adopting a timely, transparent, predictable and science-based approval process. The United States and China achieved concrete outcomes on pharmaceutical and medical devices, including on eliminating application backlogs and improving the time it takes to make these products available to Chinese patients. The U.S. and China also made meaningful progress to promote due process in China’s enforcement of its Anti-Monopoly Law (AML), and agreed that China would commit to nondiscriminatory and transparent policies for ICT information security. The U.S. and China also agreed in 2016 to deepen discussions on excess capacity in the steel and aluminum sectors.

Strengthened Engagement with India through the U.S.-India Trade Policy Forum. In October, Ambassador Froman and Minister of Commerce and Industry of India Ms. Nirmala Sitharaman held the ninth ministerial-level Trade Policy Forum (TPF) in Washington. The TPF is the primary bilateral forum for discussion and resolution of U.S. and India trade and investment issues, and provides a platform to evaluate progress in the U.S.-India economic relationship. The U.S. and India reviewed substantive progress achieved in deepening bilateral trade and investment goals and exchanged views on a range of trade and investment issues particularly in agriculture (including on food safety and science and risk-based regulations based on international standards); on trade in goods and services (including on insurance, e-commerce, retail, legal, health, and direct selling services, as well as reducing trade costs across the health sector supply chain, and addressing Indian export subsidies in the textiles sector); manufacturing (including creating a transparent policy environment and simplified compliance to help attract manufacturing investment in India); and intellectual property (including on  copyrights, trade secrets, patents, IP policies, access to affordable medicines and healthcare, and India’s National IPR policy). Both countries noted the importance attached to the Trade Policy Forum by Prime Minister Modi and President Obama, and the TPF’s potential to increase bilateral trade and investment in a manner that supports economic growth, development, and job creation.

Strengthened Economic Ties and Trade Competitiveness with the East African Community. In February, Ambassador Froman and trade ministers from the East African Community (EAC) marked a major milestone for the Trade Africa program, signing a  Cooperation Agreement that will increase trade-related capacity in the region, deepen the economic ties between the United States and the EAC, and expand the Trade Africa program beyond the countries in the EAC. The Cooperation Agreement will help build capacity in three key areas: trade facilitation, sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures, and technical barriers to trade (TBT), while implementing critical customs reforms, harmonizing standards, and multilateral commitments to support greater EAC regional economic integration and strengthen its trade relationship with the United States and other global partners.

Marked Substantial and Continued Gains under the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement. In March, the United States and Korea marked the third anniversary of the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS), noting a substantially larger and stronger trade and investment relationship which contributed to a successful year for American exporters.  Overall, U.S.-Korea goods and services trade rose from $126.5 billion in 2011 to a record $145.2 billion in 2014. Since the agreement’s entry into force, the U.S. and Korea have carried out four rounds of tariff cuts and eliminations, creating new market access opportunities for U.S. goods and services exporters, strengthened intellectual property protection, and increased transparency in Korea’s regulatory system. USTR continues to work with its Korean counterparts to deliver the full benefits of the KORUS agreement.

Made Progress with Bangladesh on Key Trade, Worker Safety, and Labor Issues. In January, a USTR-led interagency review concluded that Bangladesh made progress to address and improve fire and building safety issues in the ready-made garment (RMG) sector, but additional progress was required, including to address serious worker rights issues, before reinstatement of Bangladesh’s Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) benefits. The review also found that urgent progress was necessary to fairly address reports of unfair labor practices and to advance and implement needed legal reforms to protect worker rights.

Promoted Intellectual Property Rights and Enforcement in Paraguay. In June, the United States and Paraguay signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on intellectual property rights (IPR), under which Paraguay committed to take specific steps to improve its IPR protection and enforcement environment. The MOU created a bilateral partnership to help the United States support Paraguay’s efforts to strengthen the legal protection and enforcement of IPR, and create greater opportunities for growth and development. As a result of the MOU’s signing and commitments to strengthen IPR enforcement, USTR has removed Paraguay from the 2015 Special 301 Watch List, pending an Out-of-Cycle Review.

Strengthened Agricultural Innovation and Engagement with China. In August, the United States and China held the inaugural Strategic Agriculture Innovation Dialogue (SAID) in Washington. Following President Obama and President Xi’s call to intensify science-based agricultural innovation for food security, the SAID provided an opportunity for U.S. and Chinese officials, along with a range of industry and academic experts, to discuss the development and increased use of innovative technologies in agriculture to help enable greater access to safe, nutritious, and affordable food globally.

Reinforced our Economic Relations with Pakistan. In March, the United States and Pakistan held intersessional meetings of the U.S.-Pakistan Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) Council, and reviewed progress of the Joint Action Plan. During the session, the two sides discussed their overall trade and investment relationship, and praised Pakistan’s recent admission as an Observer Nation to the World Trade Organization (WTO) Government Procurement Agreement (GPA), as well as trade facilitation measures adopted by the Government of Pakistan.

Strengthened Trade, Investment, and Economic Cooperation with Armenia. In May, the United States and the Republic of Armenia signed a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA), and created a related council to discuss bilateral trade and investment and related issues strengthen the bilateral economic relationship. Total two-way trade between the United States and Armenia totaled $153 million in 2014, and top U.S. goods exports to Armenia include poultry, machinery, vehicles, and optic and medical equipment. 

Reaffirmed Economic Engagement with Mongolia. In May, the United States and Mongolia resumed the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA), talks last held in 2008. TIFA serves as an important forum for fostering the U.S.-Mongolia trade and investment relationship, and support Mongolia’s efforts to develop a prosperous market-based economy by encouraging dialogue about mutual advancement of trade and investment opportunities.

Supported Trade and Economic Cooperation with Ukraine. In May, senior representatives from the United States and Ukraine reaffirmed their mutual commitment to expanding trade and economic cooperation between their countries during the fifth meeting of the U.S.-Ukraine Trade and Investment Council (TIC).  Participants discussed a range of issues, including how to address barriers to increased bilateral trade and how to improve the business and investment climate in Ukraine.          

Deepened Trade Engagement with Indonesia. In September, representatives from the United States and Indonesia held the U.S.-Indonesia Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA), the first meeting since Indonesian President Widodo took office. The TIFA is primary platform for trade and investment dialogue between the United States and Indonesia. During the discussions, officials exchanged views on a wide range of trade and investment issues, and discussed Indonesia’s new Economic Policy Package, which focuses on deregulation as a means to improve Indonesia’s business climate and competitiveness. In 2014, U.S. goods trade with Indonesia totaled topped $28 billion.

Bolstered the Trade and Investment Relationship with Georgia. In November, Ambassador Froman met with Georgian Vice Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili to discuss mutual interest to strengthen bilateral trade and investment between the United States and Georgia. During the meeting, they agreed that the U.S.-Georgia High-Level Dialogue on Trade and Investment support deeper trade engagement, including the possibility of a free trade agreement. 

Reinforced our Economic Relations with Peru. In November, the United States and Peru convened the fifth U.S.-Peru Free Trade Commission meeting to review progress in implementing and strengthening the U.S.-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement. Since its entry into force, the agreement has supported $16.1 billion in two way trade, and provided opportunities to address environmental and labor cooperation and implementation of the agreement.

Strengthened Ties with Bangladesh. In November, the United States and Bangladesh held the second annual Trade and Investment Cooperation Framework Agreement (TICFA) Council Meeting. The TICFA is the premier bilateral forum for U.S. and Bangladesh engagement aimed at expanding our trade and investment relationship, and featured discussions on a wide range of bilateral trade and investment issues, including labor rights and workplace safety under the GSP Action Plan and the Bangladesh Sustainability Compact; and trends in the investment climate in Bangladesh.