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Kirk Reviews US Trade Policy

by Leroy Baker,, New York

05 December 2011

Ron Kirk, the United States Trade Representative, has, during recent remarks at the US Chamber of Commerce on ‘US Trade Policy’ confirmed that the Administration is 'on pace' to meet President Barack Obama’s goal of doubling exports by the end of 2014.

“The latest economic data through September 2011 shows that over the last 12 months overall US goods and services exports totaled USD2.1 trillion, which represents a 30.3% increase over 2009,” he disclosed. “Moreover, these gains are reflected across all sectors: services exports are up 17.1%; manufacturing exports are up 30.4%; and agricultural exports are up 39.5%.”

During Kirk’s speech, he highlighted five examples of how the government plans to continue pursuing increased trade: implementing the South Korea, Colombia, and Panama free trade agreements (FTAs); negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP); enforcing US trade agreements and international trade rules; maximizing export opportunities in every market, and providing leadership at the World Trade Organization (WTO) to combat protectionism and strengthen a rules-based global trading system.

For example, he confirmed that the government “welcomed the South Korean National Assembly’s approval of the KORUS FTA, because we are eager to implement our FTA with South Korea, as well as the agreements with Colombia and Panama. All three agreements will boost US exports and collectively they will support tens of thousands of jobs for Americans here at home. That’s why we’re working closely with each country to ensure requirements are met and agreements are implemented as quickly as possible.”

He also reiterated that the TPP “remains a top priority of the Obama Administration, because we think TPP has the potential to be a real game-changer in terms of trade and jobs. Let’s start with the fact that TPP is going to enhance US economic engagement with the dynamic Asia-Pacific region, which is home to some of the world’s largest and fastest growing markets.”

“All nine like-minded TPP partners are committed to aiming high,” Kirk continued, “and we think the TPP will be a deeply ambitious, groundbreaking trade arrangement, with binding commitments to market access across all sectors. TPP partners are seeking new disciplines on cross-cutting issues like regulatory coherence, small- and medium-sized businesses, and supply chains, competitiveness and business facilitation. We are also looking at how to address new trade-related issues, such as digital technology, and state-owned enterprises.”

He disclosed that, at its last meeting in Honolulu, the US welcomed expressions of interest in joining the TPP from Japan, Canada, and Mexico. “At the same time,” he added, “we conveyed that potential new entrants must be prepared to address a range of US priorities and issues, and meet the high standards sought by all TPP partners.”

With regard to trade enforcement, Kirk was reminded that, over the past three years, the US has brought more cases to the WTO dispute settlement body than any other member. The government’s intention is “to ensure American producers are able to compete and win in world markets where intellectual property is protected, where agricultural and industrial standards are based on science, and where transparent rules and regulations are applied without discrimination.”

Finally, he concluded that the government will “continue to strengthen ties with top trading partners such as Canada, Mexico, and the European Union, and more broadly across Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. In North America, our tariffs with Canada and Mexico have been eliminated, so we are working to reduce unnecessary regulatory differences among our countries.”

TAGS: tax | business | free trade agreement (FTA) | law | tariffs | agreements | United States | standards | regulation | trade | services

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