Trump scrambles Ex-Im Bank politics

The politics around the Export-Import Bank just got much weirder.

President Donald Trump is reaching for a compromise in the debate raging around the bank, aiming to keep the agency open while putting an outspoken, ultra-conservative opponent of the institution at the helm.

In doing so, Trump has confused the politics around the export credit agency, which had been a major boost to American manufacturers such as Boeing, GE and Caterpillar before Republicans took steps to crimp the flow of financing.

The formerly anti-Ex-Im Trump abruptly changed his tune on the bank last week when he called it “a very good thing” and announced plans to nominate two board members. That was a major step toward bringing the agency back to its full working capacity.

Then, two days later, he nominated for the chairmanship former Rep. Scott Garrett (R-N.J.), a vocal foe of the bank who has also come under fire in the past for his comments about homosexuality. That set up a political tightrope that both supporters and detractors of the agency may have trouble navigating.

Democrats who champion the agency because they say it creates jobs and promotes manufacturing are uneasy about supporting a social conservative who might try to hamstring the bank from within. Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), a member of the Banking Committee, which will vet the nominees, said appointing Garrett as chair would put thousands of American jobs at risk.

Then there are conservative Republicans who have been critical of the bank and are now cheering Garrett’s nomination.

“For too long, the bank has been a clear example of corporate welfare run amok — benefiting special interests and foreign companies at the expense of U.S. taxpayers,” said Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), who also sits on the Banking Committee. “I am confident that Congressman Garrett will chart a new course for the bank that puts U.S taxpayers first.”

The result is a 180-degree flip-flop, where lawmakers and interest groups who had expended significant resources and political capital to rein in the bank could shift to support Trump’s nominees, while its biggest champions could be left behind.

“We’re encouraged and optimistic that [Garrett] would be able to substantively reform the Export-Import Bank, make it work better in the meantime,” said Chrissy Harbin, vice president of external relations at the conservative advocacy group Americans for Prosperity. “And then when the reauthorization comes up again … we’d encourage D.C. to have the same conversation about the possibility of letting it expire once and for all.”

Democrats on the Banking Committee have reservations about Garrett, including Sens. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.).

Cortez Masto said she was pleased that Trump was committing to making the bank functional. Still, she has concerns about Garrett, “given his past opposition to Ex-Im’s mission, not to mention his divisive rhetoric toward LGBT families.”

“This Garrett nom is a Catch-22,” one Senate Democratic aide said. “We need to confirm him to have a quorum, but he could be a cancer inside the agency.”

Last November, Garrett lost a seat he had held since being elected to Congress in 2002. A key moment in the race came in 2015, when POLITICO reported that he told fellow GOP members that he wouldn’t support the National Republican Congressional Committee because it backed gay candidates.

Financial companies that had been campaign backers during his years as a senior member of the House Financial Services Committee pulled back.

Garrett later denied that he objected to gay candidates and said his problem was with support for same-sex marriage.

He lost to a well-funded Democratic challenger, Josh Gottheimer, but stayed plugged in to the emerging Trump team. While in Congress, Garrett served with Vice President Mike Pence and is said to be close with the former Indiana congressman. He also counted White House counselor Kellyanne Conway as a constituent and campaign donor. A December meeting at Trump Tower was well-publicized.

Garrett could not be reached to comment on this story.

Beyond Congress, his nomination also puts big American manufacturers in an awkward spot. They need more board members at the bank to provide a quorum that’s necessary to approve deals with more than $10 million. Yet they are unsure what changes might be in store given Garrett’s past comments and promises from senior administration officials like White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney to put “reformers” at the helm.

For now, major users of the bank are focusing on the fact that Trump has put forward any nominees rather than worrying about who they are.

“Generally speaking, between the president’s comments and naming of two nominees, it’s really encouraging,” said Kate Bernard, a Boeing spokeswoman. Boeing, she added, has experienced the loss or delay of three satellite sales since the bank first fell victim to political crossfire in 2015, so giving the bank back its quorum to “shake loose” projects that remain in the pipeline is the most crucial step at this point.

There’s no question, however, that the Garrett nomination “raises some eyebrows in the business community” and “sends some mixed messages given his previous history in the House,” said one bank proponent who asked not to be named.

Garrett established himself as a consistent and outspoken opponent of the bank while in Congress, twice voting against its reauthorization in the past five years. In 2014, he expressed skepticism that attempts at reform would ever be successful, and he pushed hard the following year to let the charter expire.

“We have the opportunity to save capitalism from cronyism and to fulfill a promise to the American people to work for them instead of a select few with special connections in Washington,” Garrett said in May 2015.

“For the sake of the American taxpayer and the preservation of the free enterprise system, Congress should put the Export-Import Bank out of business.”

The White House noted that history of opposition toward the bank in discussing his appointment, saying Trump chose him “to both usher in reforms and prioritize small businesses.”

“Former Rep. Scott Garrett has passionately spoken out on some of the problems that the Bank’s previous activities created,” a White House spokeswoman said in an email. “He will be a key voice for reform.”

61ae8-exim-bank1The current nominees represent only a temporary fix: Garrett and former House Financial Services Chairman Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.), who Trump picked to sit on the board of directors, would both have to be approved to restore the bank to full working capacity. What’s more, they’ll provide a quorum that will only last until July 19, when acting Vice Chairman Scott Schloegel’s term expires. At that point, the bank would lack a quorum once again if no additional members have been confirmed before then.

But in the meantime, major users of the bank fear that the administration is trying to reshape the agency in a way that would hurt large companies that have traditionally benefited from it. Various administration officials have hinted at their own ideas for reform.

Mulvaney, who was a critic of the bank while a member of Congress, told CNBC last week that Trump’s nominees would make sure the bank “sticks to its knitting.” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told the network in a separate interview that he wanted a reformed bank to “help small businesses more.”

Some reforms will be put into place as soon as Garrett and Bachus — or any two nominees — are confirmed and a board with at least three members votes to approve them. The bank’s 2015 charter included a slate of changes for the bank, and while a majority have been completed, a handful require a board quorum to be implemented — something the bank has lacked since its reauthorization was passed almost a year and a half ago.

Two of the outstanding requirements involve appointing a chief ethics officer and chief risk officer. A third involves the bank’s lending to small businesses and “increases the authority of staff to approve applications for up to $25 million in export financing for small business working capital and insurance products.”

But beyond that, bank observers say there is little a chairman can do on his own to change the bank’s operations.

And while he could attempt to direct export credit assistance more often to smaller businesses, “there’s not a ton of discretion,” said Peter Cohn, an analyst with Height Securities.

“So I don’t know that we’re going to see a whole lot more than window dressing on that front,” he said.

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Main Street awaits fate of Ex-Im Bank, key lender

Mary Howe, president of Howe Corp. in Chicago, relies on the Export-Import Bank of the United States for credit insurance.

Lawrence Collins
Mary Howe, president of Howe Corp. in Chicago, relies on the Export-Import Bank of the United States for credit insurance.

The fate of the Export-Import Bank of the United States, a key lender for many small companies that do business overseas, again hangs in the balance.

The bank’s fund runs out Sept. 30. While the bank’s charter technically expired June 30, it continues to service loans with terms of up to 18 years. Adding to the drama, the U.S. government could potentially shutdown Oct. 1 if a budget agreement is not reached. However, the bank’s reauthorization is not directly tied to the federal budget process.

Known as “Ex-Im” for short, the bank is a financial lifeline and safety net for many small businesses that export goods in foreign markets than can be risky. The bank provides loans and insurance to support exports. President Barack Obama has been a vocal supporter of renewing Ex-Im’s funding, calling the move a “no brainer” over the summer.

For small business owners such as Mary Howe, the potential closure could reduce her access to working capital. Howe’s family business, Howe Corp. in Chicago, exports up to 40 percent of its industrial refrigeration equipment to places including Central America and Canada.

And if the Ex-Im Bank’s funding isn’t renewed? “Our backup plan is to self-fund; it’s going to get tight,” Howe said.

Read MoreBattle lines drawn over Export-Import Bank renewal

The Senate voted in July to fund Ex-Im as part of a longer-term highway bill, which has since moved to the House for consideration.

The vote in the U.S. Senate on the bill was a strong signal of bipartisan support for the Ex-Im bank and “businesses and workers that we have empowered in the past to grow their exports,” the bank’s Chairman Fred P. Hochberg said in an email statement to CNBC. Ex-Im Bank has been funded for some 80 years.

Since Ex-Im’s charter expired in June, it has not been able to make or guarantee any new loans, or extend insurance, partly due to congressional disagreement over who receives funding from the bank. The financial institution did $20.5 billion in financing last year.

Ex-Im Bank’s small-business authorizations in fiscal year 2014 were more than $5 billion, as measured by total dollar volume, which is nearly 25 percent of the total-dollar volume of overall authorizations.

The bank approved more than 3,300 small-business authorizations, nearly 90 percent of the total number of Ex-Im Bank authorizations.

The remaining $15.5 billion supports exports at other big corporations—including General Electric, which announced last week it would move about 500 U.S. jobs overseas to avoid losing business to foreign competitors, due to uncertainty about the bank’s charter. GE says 400 of the 500 positions will now be based at its facility in France, dependent on the company’s winning bids. The additional 100 jobs currently are in Texas, but will move to Hungary and China.

“Our customers rely on export credit agencies, like U.S. Ex-Im, to finance their critical power projects,” said Jeff Connelly, vice president of supply chain at GE Power & Water, in prepared remarks.

But critics, including House Financial Services Committee Chair Jeb Hensarling, Republican of Texas, see the bank as a form of corporate welfare. “Most of this goes to very successful, well-heeled companies that don’t need the help in the first place,” Hensarling told CNBC over the summer.

Export-Import bank

Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Still, the future of the bank is a “huge issue” for small companies, according to Morrison Textile Machinery Co. in Fort Lawn, South Carolina. President Jay White says Ex-Im allows the company, which designs, manufactures and installs textile machinery globally, to insure its overseas business on a rolling basis.

“If I can’t get Ex-Im insurance, I am taking on credit risk myself—the profit on my job would be eaten up if I get commercial credit insurance,” White says. “This overseas credit support is very important to my business,” he says.

And while Ex-Im Bank’s charter technically has expired, it will remain operational through the end of the month and continues to service existing loans. The bank’s funding lapse coincides with a potential government shutdown if a congressional continuing resolution is not passed to keep the government operational.

Read MoreEntrepreneuers who do biz overseas await bank’s future

Exporters Fear Credit Crunch

Ex-Im Bank’s Future Is Concern as Congress Allows Temporary Reprieve

Jennifer and Mark Dettman of Shank’s Veterinary Equipment, which relies on Export-Import Bank credit.
Jennifer and Mark Dettman of Shank’s Veterinary Equipment, which relies on Export-Import Bank credit. DANIEL ACKER

A decision by Congress to extend the Export-Import Bank only temporarily is raising concern among business owners who say they rely on the credit agency to lower the risks of exporting.

Congress extended the agency’s charter through the middle of next year as part of a compromise between supporters of the agency and those who want to eliminate it. Generally, lawmakers reauthorize the export-credit agency for multiple years at a time.

At Shank’s Veterinary Equipment Inc. in Milledgeville, Ill., Jennifer Dettman, the secretary and treasurer, said she relies on the Export-Import Bank to offer open credit for 60 days. Exports comprise about 30% of the company’s over $900,000 in yearly sales.

Shank’s, which has seven employees, manufactures surgery tables for large animals, and sells its equipment to universities, zoos and private clinics in countries such as Mexico and India. It started using the bank’s credit-insurance policy in 2011.

A welder works on a large tabletop at Shank's Veterinary Equipment in Milledgeville, Ill.EN
A welder works on a large tabletop at Shank’s Veterinary Equipment in Milledgeville, Ill. DANIEL ACKER

When a customer orders a Shank’s table, typically priced at $20,000 to $30,000, the business spends roughly two months manufacturing it. The Ex-Im Bank will insure the order for a fee equal to 0.5% of the shipment value—a fee that Shank’s generally passes on to its customers. If the customer defaults, then after 90 days Shank’s can submit a claim to the bank, which covers 95% of Shank’s loss.

“It minimizes the risk for us,” said Ms. Dettman, describing it as “pretty good coverage.”

She concedes there may be similar insurance coverage available in the private marketplace, but isn’t sure whether those policies will cost more. “I would have to start all over again,” she added.

Similar conversations are happening at other businesses. Ralph Imholte, the president and CEO of Bepex International LLC in Minneapolis, said the bank’s working-capital guarantee program has helped expand his company’s exports to more than 50% of the company’s $25 million in annual sales. Mr. Imholte said he is “very worried” about the bank’s future, because “without that guarantee, it would limit the size of the projects we could undertake and limit our growth potential.” Bepex provides equipment and assistance to food and chemical businesses.

“Many small businesses and many jobs are dependent on the bank’s programs. It’s an area that needs less political fighting and more policy discussion,” Mr. Imholte said.

Those concerns haven’t swayed House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R., Texas), who has led the charge to close the Ex-Im Bank. Congress creates uncertainty any time it considers changing the law, he said, and there are more substantive things lawmakers could do to help businesses.

“The best way to help our small businesses and exporters right now would be through a fairer tax code, relief from Washington’s regulatory red-tape burden and lower energy costs—not political favoritism placed on an unsustainable taxpayer balance sheet,” Mr. Hensarling said.

The push from some conservative Republicans to close the bank is part of a broader political debate about the role that government should play in the economy. Critics say the agency represents a form of corporate welfare that interferes with private markets. They also question its role in helping small businesses, arguing that major firms such asBoeing Co. and General Electric Co. receive a significant amount of its financing. Only 19% of the agency’s direct support to firms in the 2013 fiscal year, measured by dollar volume, went to small businesses, for instance.

Supporters note that major U.S. trading partners similarly seek to aid their exporters, and contend that the agency fills a need not met by private insurers and banks. They also point out that the agency helps reduce the federal government’s deficit. The agency said earlier this month it had sent $675 million to the Treasury Department in fiscal 2014. The extension passed by Congress lasts through June 30.

For now, supporters are pushing for a longer-term reauthorization. Two key members of the House Financial Services Committee last week unveiled bipartisan legislation that would extend the bank’s charter for five years while bolstering risk and fraud protections. The measure, from Reps. Maxine Waters (D., Calif.) and Gary Miller (R., Calif.), would, among other things, require the bank to allocate 50% of its net earnings each year to create a reserve fund to cover potential losses.

Congress needs to provide more certainty to firms, said Mr. Miller. “It is in our national interest to help American companies secure sales around the world by making sure they aren’t undercut by aggressive foreign-export credit agencies,” he said.

Mr. Hensarling quickly dismissed the measure, saying “I look forward to the bank’s expiration.”

Small businesses, meanwhile, don’t know if they can rely on the bank for assistance over the long term.

Mrs. Dettman, who said she consults local export-assistance programs for guidance, also is unsure whether a regular bank would be willing to work with Shank’s, which makes just a dozen or so foreign shipments a year.

“We’re really limited in terms of who will work with us,” she said.

Write to Michael Crittenden at Michael.Crittenden@wsj.com and Adam Janofsky atAdam. Janofsky@wsj.com

The New Tao of Trade: Don’t Just Import from China. Sell There.

Vision Quest Lighting's chief executive, Larry Lieberman, started to break into the Chinese market by selling through an established local company.
Chester Higgins Jr./The New York Times
Vision Quest Lighting’s chief executive, Larry Lieberman, started to break into the Chinese market by selling through an established local company.
By JOHN GROSSMANN, THE NEW YORK TIMES
Published: January 24, 2013

Like many American businesses fighting to keep their prices competitive, Vision Quest Lighting turned to China about six years ago. It now imports about a sixth of the two dozen to three dozen parts required to make its lighting fixtures from there. Recently, however, the Long Island company began to see China in a different light: as a sales target. The growing economy of the world’s most populous nation made it ripe for Vision Quest’s architectural lighting fixtures, many custom-made for hotel and restaurant chains like Hilton and KFC.

When one such client, a clothing retailer, ordered 1,500 lights for five stores, Vision Quest’s chief executive, Larry Lieberman, decided it made sense to start manufacturing lights in China. Other American clients, he reasoned, would no doubt begin placing similar orders as their chains sought to capitalize on the world’s fastest-growing consumer market. And with high-quality products from the West coveted in China, Mr. Lieberman also imagined his products on display in Chinese showrooms.

And yet, selling goods in China is not easy. Mr. Lieberman made the 1,500 lights only to see them gather dust in a warehouse in Guangzhou for more than four weeks because he had not yet established a local enterprise approved to process sales.

“The customer couldn’t pick up the goods because we were still trying to set up something so they could buy them correctly and pay the right tax,” he said.

With help from an experienced consultant, Mr. Lieberman finessed the impasse by selling through an established local company, and he remains bullish on cracking the Chinese market – as do many other small-business owners. After all, China, according to a 2012 McKinsey & Company report, From Mass to Mainstream, will be the world’s largest growth market for many years.

This small-business guide offers tips for getting started based on the experiences of entrepreneurs and small businesses that have already tried.

BILINGUAL IS NOT BICULTURAL Lou Hoffman is founder and chief executive of the Hoffman Agency in San Jose, Calif., a communications consulting company that generates more than 50 percent of its revenue in Asia. Mr. Hoffman planted his flag in China in 1999. “I thought I was in not just another country but another universe,” he said. “It starts with the language, but goes much deeper. We couldn’t do business on the phone or by fax. Placing our first classified ad took 14 hours. We had to do everything in person, and considering the traffic in Beijing, you could kill three hours so someone could see your face.”

Instead of dispatching a trusted lieutenant from his California headquarters to open a satellite office in Beijing, Mr. Hoffman delayed that expansion for nearly a year. Instead, he hired a Chinese national and embedded her in his San Jose office for 10 months so she could learn his agency’s culture, then carry it home with her. “We wanted someone able to interview people in their native tongue and able to bridge the cultures, which she was able to do,” Mr. Hoffman said.

SET UP SHOP AS A WFOE Although it is possible to scout opportunities with a so-called rep office and to do business in China by selling through distributors or by licensing products to a Chinese company, most American businesses that are serious about selling in China invest the time and money to establish themselves as a wholly foreign-owned enterprise, or what is known as a WFOE (pronounced WOOF-ee). “We do probably 100 WFOEs for every rep office,” said Dan Harris,  a lawyer with the Seattle firm Harris & Moure who writes a blog about Chinese law and business. “Legal fees for company formation, trademark and employee contracts and manuals typically run around $30,000 to $45,000.” But the upfront investment does not stop there. Depending on the location and the type of business, the Chinese government has minimum capital requirements – money deposited in a Chinese bank account – that can range “from $15,000 to millions of dollars,” he said

And think months, not weeks, to get all of the paperwork approved. “In China, you can’t do anything last minute,” said Savio S. Chan, president and chief executive of U.S. China Partners, which is based in Great Neck, N.Y, and which helped Vision Quest move its light fixtures out of regulatory limbo. “It can easily take up to six months to set up a WFOE.”

LET OTHERS NUDGE THE DOOR OPEN Cabot Hosiery Mills, which makes high-end recreational socks in Northfield, Vt., has edged into the Chinese market. Sought out by a Chinese distributor at an American trade show, the company has traded a bit of profit potential to test the demand for its made-in-America goods without wrangling a WFOE or staffing a sales operation. “Right now, it’s very straightforward and still small, less than 1 percent of our volume,” said Ric Cabot, chief executive of the company, which owns the Darn Tough Vermont brand. “But if it gets to the point where we see we’re leaving too much money on the table, we might consider doing something different.”

DON’T GET KNOCKED OFF Product infringement and knockoffs are risks in China. As a result, Earl Kluft, owner of E.S. Kluft & Company in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., a maker of luxury mattresses priced from $3,500 to $70,000, watched his first attempt to tap into the Chinese hunger for premium Western brands fall apart. “A huge manufacturer of recliners and small mattresses came to us, and we started a program under their name,” Mr. Kluft said, explaining that the arrangement started with six mattress products named for American cities. But on successive trips to China, he started to see fewer of his products on display – and more of other brands that looked very much like his. “Even after we stopped selling to them, they still had my picture up,” he said. Networking through a friend, Mr. Kluft has since signed a deal with a Chinese division of an Indonesian company that cautiously re-established a sales channel with minimal upfront investment. “The idea is to get this up and running,” he said. “We charge them a royalty, so much a year for use of our name in their stores, and they buy the product at a special discount.”

Mr. Harris, the lawyer, advises getting started by finding reliable partners on the ground. “Find them through people you know, and then pay for whatever due diligence is necessary to make sure that you have made the right choice,” he said. “And do all of this before you start doing business with them.” LOOK LOCALLY BEFORE YOU LEAP For some entrepreneurs, help may be surprisingly close at hand. Many states – including Georgia, Pennsylvania, Mississippi and Tennessee – have international trade programs that offer counsel.

“We think it’s hard for a small company who’s never been to China to figure this out all by themselves,” said Samir Ali, assistant commissioner of international affairs in Tennessee. “We’ll help them see if there’s a need for their product in China and to think it through: Do they need to set up a WFOE? Do they need to have a presence or not? Should they go the e-commerce route? And tell them how much they should budget going forward.” The assistance includes the use of Tennessee’s China offices for meetings with potential partners and help with business-to-business matchmaking through companies the international trade program has vetted in the 10 largest Chinese cities.

Though bullish on the opportunities, Ms. Ali finds herself repeating mantras like: “Don’t go in too fast. Don’t go in blind. And don’t leave your common sense at home.”

For more information on how to successfully expand your business abroad, visit  http://tiny.cc/oimha

 

USTR.gov May 27th

New U.S.-Mexico Telecommunications Agreement Will Ease Burdens on U.S. Manufacturers

May 26, 2011

 

Paris, France – United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk and Mexican Secretary of Economy Bruno Ferrari today signed an agreement that will ease burdens on U.S. companies, especially smaller manufacturers, seeking to export telecommunications products to Mexico, while maintaining our high levels of safety protection and facilitating cross-border trade. Under the Mutual Recognition Agreement between the Government of the United States and the Government of the United Mexican States for Conformity Assessment of Telecommunications Equipment, Mexican regulatory authorities will accept tests performed by recognized U.S. laboratories to determine the conformity of telecommunications equipment with Mexican technical requirements, rather than requiring additional testing before the American products can be sold in Mexico. The full text of the agreement is available here.

 

“This agreement will save American manufacturers money and time by allowing them to test their products only once before exporting them to Mexico, supporting good jobs here at home and further facilitating the vital trade that happens between our two economies,” said Ambassador Kirk.

 

Mexico is the United States’ third-largest goods trading partner, with a total two-way goods trade of $393 billion in 2010. This agreement further cements the mutually beneficial U.S.-Mexico trade relationship and supports American and Mexican businesses and workers with opportunities for growth.

 

This agreement will permit recognized U.S. laboratories to test telecommunications products for conformity with Mexican technical requirements, and vice versa. This saves manufacturers the time and expense of additional product testing and lowers prices for consumers. The agreement covers equipment subject to telecommunications regulation, including wire and wireless equipment, and terrestrial and satellite equipment. Under the agreement, both parties have committed to undertake confidence building measures during an 18 month transition period, which will include joint meetings and training opportunities for government officials involved in designating and recognizing testing laboratories and reviewing test reports.

 

The agreement fully preserves the authority of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission to determine the level of safety protection it considers appropriate, and in no way lowers current U.S. safety requirements.

 

Letter of Support from U.S. Governors Regarding Administration Trade Priorities

May 23, 2011

 

On Monday, U.S. Governors from the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Guam, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Main, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Oregon, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming sent a letter in support of the pending trade agreements to President Obama, Senator Harry Reid, Senator Mitch McConnell, Congressman John Boehner, and Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi.

 

In an ever-competitive, global economy, it is important that the United States act on new and expanded trade agreements in order to achieve greater economic prosperity through international trade.  Three such agreements appear to be near at hand and we offer bipartisan support for the South Korean, Colombia, and Panamanian trade agreements.  In addition, we also encourage support for the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program and urge Congress to once again grant fast-track trade negotiation authority to the President.

 

Read more and find the original letter here.

 

Ask the Ambassador

 

U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk is committed to addressing Americans’ concerns about trade. He wants to hear your thoughts about the Administration’s trade policy and current events at USTR.  Submit your questions here, and the Ambassador will answer select inquiries on theUSTR blog.

USTR.gov Headlines

Watch Ambassador Demetrios Marantis’ Testimony before the Senate Finance Committee

May 26, 2011

 

Ambassador Demetrios Marantis testified before the Senate Finance Committee to discuss the U.S.-South Korea trade agreement.  You can review the hearing by video on the Committee’s website here.

 

Video: Ambassador Kirk on Small Businesses Benefiting from Trade at OECD

May 25, 2011

 

Ambassador Kirk is in Paris, France at the OECD Ministerial today.  Watch a short video here on how USTR is working to make it “cheaper, simpler, and faster” for American small businesses to export and grow.

 

Ambassador Kirk Meets with Trade Minister Pangestu of Indonesia

May 25, 2011

 

On Tuesday, Ambassador Kirk met with Trade Minister Mari Pangestu of Indonesia for a wide-ranging discussion of the bilateral trade relationship. They welcomed progress made in advancing the relationship between the two countries and agreed to hold the next meeting of the U.S.-Indonesia Trade and Investment Framework Agreement in the next few months in Washington, D.C. Read more

 

Watch Ambassador Miriam Sapiro’s Testimony before the Senate Finance Committee

May 25, 2011

 

Ambassador Miriam Sapiro testified before the Senate Finance Committee to discuss the U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement.  You can review the hearing by video on the Committee’s website here.

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