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Interagency Trade Policy Group Holds Public Hearing on Negotiating Objectives for International Services Agreement Negotiations

March 12, 2013


Washington, D.C. – The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) chaired a public hearing today before the interagency Trade Policy Staff Committee (TPSC) to solicit comments and input on U.S. negotiating objectives for the International Services Agreement (ISA). The proposed agreement would include a diverse group of twenty one like-minded partners, from Costa Rica to Turkey, all interested in growing services trade with the United States and with each other. Three out of four Americans currently work in the service sector, and further opening the services trade can support broader U.S. services exports and even more American jobs. Testimony and written submissions for today’s hearing will enable USTR to further develop and refine U.S. objectives and goals, and will assist the negotiators in identifying barriers that constrain and disrupt the international supply of services.

“The ISA provides an opportunity to expand services trade among 21 parties, representing 47 economies and nearly two-thirds of global trade in services. With every $1 billion in U.S. services exports supporting an estimated 4,000 U.S. jobs, the ISA holds the promise of real benefits for service workers – from engineers to software designers, accountants to college professors,” said Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Services Christopher Melly, who received testimony from stakeholders at the hearing. “The purpose of this hearing is to receive input from interested parties that will help us in developing the U.S. negotiating position. We greatly appreciate the work that went into the submissions and testimony [for this hearing], and want to underscore the importance of these consultations in helping us both to better understand the concerns and objectives of our many stakeholders.”

Witnesses representing industry associations, retailers, financial service providers, information and communications technology firms, labor unions, and non-governmental organizations testified about the trade potential in U.S. service exports before a panel of U.S. government officials from the Departments of State, Commerce, Treasury and Labor, in addition to USTR. In their testimony, the witnesses raised several topics for consideration, including enhanced market access and national treatment, cross-border data flows, regulatory barriers and regulatory discretion, state-owned enterprises, and a host of sector-specific recommendations.

To view a complete list of the witnesses who gave testimony at the hearing, please click here. To view written testimony submitted in advance of the hearing, please click here. To view the opening statements from USTR’s Don Eiss and Christopher Melly, please click here.