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Please be advised of the following updates from the Office of the United States Trade Representative today regarding progress on various pending trade issues, including the Administration’s assessment of materials provided by the Government of Colombia under the agreed Action Plan Related to Labor Rights, through which Colombia is addressing a number of labor-related concerns so that the U.S.-Colombia trade agreement can move forward; discussions regarding the renewal of expanded Trade Adjustment Assistance; and the application of the existing 2008 U.S.-South Korea beef protocol.
PENDING TRADE AGREEMENTS
Today, the Administration has indicated its readiness to begin technical discussions Thursday morning with key congressional staff on the draft implementing bills and draft Statements of Administrative Action for the pending trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama. This follows the transmission today of a letter from U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk to the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means Committees indicating that Colombia has taken the necessary steps, consistent with the April 22 milestones outlined in the Action Plan, to move to the next stage in the process. You can view the text of the letter here. You can view the Colombian Action Plan here.
TRADE ADJUSTMENT ASSISTANCE
In parallel with these technical discussions to finalize the text of implementing legislation for all three pending trade agreements, the Administration expects to work with Congress on a strong and robust TAA renewal that supports Americans who need training and other services when their jobs are affected by trade. TAA is a key component of our comprehensive legislative agenda for trade policy, which also includes the renewal of trade preference programs and Permanent Normal Trade Relations for Russia as that country joins the WTO.
U.S.-SOUTH KOREA BEEF PROTOCOL
Also today, Ambassador Kirk transmitted a letter to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) indicating that once the U.S.-South Korea trade agreement has entered into force, the United States will request consultations under the existing beef protocol with South Korea to discuss the Protocol’s full application, recognizing that the U.S.-South Korea trade agreement and the Protocol are separate agreements. You can view the text of Ambassador Kirk’s letter to Chairman Baucus here. You can view the U.S.-South Korea beef protocol here.
Also today, the U. S. Department of Agriculture has awarded an additional $1 million of FY2011 Market Access Program (MAP) funds to the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), which they will utilize for their ongoing beef promotion in South Korea. USDA also welcomed USMEF's creation of a 5-year, $10 million initiative to promote U.S. beef in Korea. More information can be found here.