USTR.gov July 8th, 2011

Ambassador Ron Kirk Comments Following Trade Markups In Senate Finance, House Ways and Means Committees

July 7, 2011

Washington, D.C. – United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk issued a statement following informal markups in the Senate Finance Committee and House Ways & Means Committee of trade legislation. President Obama has called for the swift approval of trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama, along with a bipartisan agreement on Trade Adjustment Assistance. From Ambassador Kirk:

 

“The Senate Finance Committee took a significant step today to enable the formal submission of the pending trade agreements with South Korea, Panama, and Colombia, by voting to advance those agreements along with a responsible, cost-effective renewal of Trade Adjustment Assistance. The House Ways and Means Committee has also now considered the pending trade agreements, and we appreciate the numerous statements of support from that Committee for the bipartisan TAA compromise as well. We are eager to advance a balanced trade agenda that supports tens of thousands of well-paying jobs through increased exports to Korea, Colombia, and Panama, and that restores faith with those Americans who may be adversely affected by trade. We look forward to continuing to work with Congressional leaders toward that objective.”

USTR Kirk: This Friday Mexico to Drop Retaliatory Tariffs by Fifty Percent

July 6, 2011

Washington, D.C. – To resolve the dispute over cross-border trucking between the United States and Mexico, today the U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Mexican Secretary of Communication and Transportation Dionisio Arturo Pérez-Jácome Friscione signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Cross-Border Motor Trucking (MOU). U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk then announced that on July 8 Mexico is expected to reduce fifty percent of its retaliatory duties on goods exported from the United States.

 

“Mexico is the second largest export market for U.S. manufacturers, farmers, ranchers and small businesses. Today, by announcing a cross-border trucking program with the highest safety standards, we have taken the next step towards the complete suspension of the retaliatory duties on more than $2 billion of U.S. goods. This Friday we expect that the Mexico will suspend 50 percent of the tariffs levied against U.S. goods that began in March 2009. It is important to end these tariffs in order to increase U.S. exports and to help companies support the well-paying jobs that allow our workers to pay their bills, raise their families and save for the future.”

The MOU was signed today in Mexico City and is available here.

 

The agreement on Lifting of Retaliatory Measures signed June 10 by the Office of the United States Trade Representative and the Government of Mexico’s Department of the Economy can be viewed here. It provides that Mexico will suspend 50 percent of the retaliatory tariffs within ten days of the signing of the MOU between the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Government of Mexico’s Department of Communication and Transportation. Thereafter, Mexico will suspend the remainder of the tariffs within five days of the first Mexican trucking company receiving its authority to operate in the U.S. As a result, Mexican tariffs that now range from five to 25 percent on an array of U.S. products such as apples, certain pork products, and personal care goods will be immediately cut in half and will disappear entirely within a few months when the program is fully implemented.

Statement from USTR Chief Agricultural Negotiator Siddiqui and USDA Acting Under Secretary Scuse on Codex Commission Decision on Ractopamine Standards

July 6, 2011

Washington, D.C. – Today, USTR Chief Agricultural Negotiator Isi Siddiqui and United States Department of Agriculture Acting Under Secretary Michael Scuse issued the following joint statement regarding the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC)’s failure to advance the adoption of science-based standards for Ractopamine, a feed additive used to promote leanness in pork and beef. The decision came during the 34th Session of the Codex Alimentatrius Commission, of which 136 member countries were in attendance. Codex is the recognized international food safety science standard setting organization founded under the WTO SPS Agreement.

 

“We are extremely disappointed in the inability of Codex to reach consensus based on the volumes of scientific evidence presented to support international maximum residue limits on ractopamine. Political considerations should not cloud the decisions of an internationally recognized food safety authority. Today’s inaction is a set-back for CODEX, science and fair trade.

 

“The safety of ractopamine has been confirmed three times by Codex’s own panel of international scientists. The United States and a broad array of Codex members in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Pacific Islands supported the adoption of the standard, but other members blocked advancement due to non-science questions outside the mandate of Codex. This is the fourth year that some member countries allowed non-scientific factors to cloud decision-making.

 

“Many countries, particularly those without resources to conduct their own scientific assessments, rely on Codex standards to inform their national safety standards related to production and imports of food. Failure to adopt science-based standards deprives them of this important tool.

 

“As the world’s largest exporter and importer of food, the United States is directly impacted by Codex’s failure to act. The European Union, China, Thailand and Taiwan currently impose unjustified trade barriers on U.S. trade in beef and pork due to the use of ractopamine. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the use of Ractopamine in swine and cattle in 1999 and it is approved in 25 other countries.”

WTO Panel Finds Against China’s Export Restraints on Raw Materials

July 5, 2011

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk announced today that a World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute settlement panel has agreed with the United States, finding that export restraints imposed by China on several important industrial raw materials are inconsistent with China’s WTO obligations. China’s actions were not justified as conservation measures, environmental protection measures, or short supply measures. The raw materials at issue include various forms of bauxite, coke, fluorspar, magnesium, manganese, silicon carbide, silicon metal, yellow phosphorus, and zinc, and are used in a multitude of downstream applications in the steel, aluminum and chemicals industries.

 

“Today’s panel report represents a significant victory for manufacturers and workers in the United States and the rest of the world,” said Ambassador Kirk. “The panel’s findings are also an important confirmation of fundamental principles underlying the global trading system. All WTO Members – whether developed or developing – need non-discriminatory access to raw material supplies in order to grow and thrive.”

 

“China’s extensive use of export restraints for protectionist economic gain is deeply troubling. China’s policies provide substantial competitive advantages for downstream Chinese industries at the expense of non-Chinese users of these materials,”said Kirk. “They have also caused massive distortions and harmful disruptions in supply chains throughout the global marketplace. WTO rules are designed to deal with precisely these kinds of problems. If left undisciplined, these types of policies could proliferate not just within China but around the world – at the expense of everyone’s growth and development.”

 

The export restraints challenged in this dispute include export quotas and export duties, as well as related minimum export price, export licensing, and export quota administration requirements. These types of export restraints can skew the playing field against the United States and other countries in the production and export of numerous processed steel, aluminum and chemical products and a wide range of further processed products. The export restraints can artificially increase world prices for these raw material inputs while artificially lowering prices for Chinese producers. This enables China’s domestic downstream producers to produce lower-priced products from the raw materials and thereby creates significant advantages for China’s producers when competing against U.S. and other producers both in China’s market and other countries’ markets. The export restraints can also create substantial pressure on foreign downstream producers to move their operations and, as a result, their technologies to China.

 

BACKGROUND

Statement from USTR Ron Kirk Regarding Announcement of House Ways and Means Committee Markup

July 5, 2011

Washington, D.C. – United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk issued a statement today regarding the scheduling by the House Committee on Ways and Means of informal or “mock” markups for three separate implementing bills for pending trade agreements between the United States and South Korea, between the United States and Colombia, and between the United States and Panama. From Ambassador Kirk:

 

“We welcome the effort to move the three pending trade agreements forward in the House. This is an important step forward in the process of approval of the agreements with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama, which will contribute to job creation here in the United States. However, we note that the Ways and Means Committee documents released today do not provide a path forward for the bipartisan agreement to renew Trade Adjustment Assistance, and therefore are at odds with the Administration’s stated intentions for advancing a package that includes both the free-trade agreements and assistance for workers adversely impacted by trade. The Administration remains committed to advancing the renewal of a robust Trade Adjustment Assistance program that is the product of a bipartisan process, together with the pending trade agreements, as soon as possible.”

 

The Administration is making available to the House Ways and Means Committee legislative language that renews Trade Adjustment Assistance, along with measures to implement the U.S.-South Korea trade agreement, as well as implementing legislation for trade agreements with Colombia and Panama.

USTR.gov HEADLINES

Government of Mexico’s official notice to reduce fifty percent of retaliatory duties against U.S. exports

July 7, 2011

 

Please be advised that the Government of Mexico has posted official notice that beginning tomorrow it will reduce by fifty percent retaliatory duties levied on exports from the U.S. The notice may be read in Spanish here.

 

Additional background on cross-border trucking may be found here.

 

Senior USTR Officials Lead Small Business Conference in Brussels

July 7, 2011

 

Last week, Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Small Business, Market Access, and Industrial Competitiveness Christina Sevilla and Director for European Affairs Michael Feldman participated in the first ever U.S.-European Union (EU) meeting on policies to support small- and medium-sized businesses. The meeting, which took place in Brussels on June 28-29, was organized by USTR in collaboration with the European Commission, and focused on the involvement of small businesses in international trade.  Read more

 

Weekly Trade Spotlight: Your Favorite Fourth of July Foods Sold Around the World

July 5, 2011

 

Yesterday, the United States took a day to celebrate our history and culture. This week, USTR.gov takes a look at how some of our favorite home-grown American foods are shared with the world through exports.

 

Families all across the nation came together on the Fourth of July to celebrate not only our independence but our culture as well; through the clothes we wore, the songs we sang, and specifically the food we ate. As a result of agricultural exports, your Independence Day picnic table staples can be found in kitchens across the world every day.

 

Here’s a sampling of Fourth favorites and how consumers throughout the world enjoy American-grown food.

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About Alexander Gordin
An international merchant banking professional with over twenty years of business operating and advisory experience in the areas of export finance, international project finance, risk mitigation and cross-border business development. Clients include foreign governments, municipalities and state enterprises as well as Fortune 500 and small/medium enterprises. Strong entrepreneurial instincts, combined with leadership and strategic skills. Transactional and negotiations experience in over thirty five countries. Author of the highly acclaimed "Fluent in Foreign Business" book and creator of the "Fluent in OPIC", "Fluent in EXIM","Fluent In Foreign Franchising", "Fluent in FCPA",and "Fluent in USTDA" seminar/webinar series. Currently developing "Fluent In ......" seminars and publications. Co-author of the Fi3 Country Business Appeal Indices. Extensive international business development and project finance transaction experience in healthcare, aerospace, ICT, conventional and alternative energy infrastructure, distribution and hospitality industries. Experience managing international public and private corporations. Co-Founded three companies abroad. Strong Emerging and Frontier Market expertise. Published and featured in numerous publications including: The Wall Street Journal, Knowledge@Wharton, NBC.com, The Chicago Tribune, Industry Week, Industry Today, Business Finance, Wharton Magazine Blog, NY Enterprise Report, Success magazine, Kyiv Post and on a number of radio and television programs including: Voice of America, CNBC, CNNfn, and Bloomberg. Frequent speaker on strategy, cross-border finance and international business development. Executive MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. B.S. in Management of Information Systems from the Polytechnic Institute of NYU. Specialties Strategic Management Advisory, Export Finance, International Project Finance & Risk Management, Cross-border Negotiations, Structured Finance transactions, Senior Government and Corporate officials liason

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