US: Administration outlines international trade goals
The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) has outlined the US President's international trade goals and policies for 2014 - which include completing TPP negotiations, continuing T-TIP talks and working on eliminating trade barriers.
In its annual trade policy report for the new fiscal year, USTR said it had made "substantial" progress towards concluding the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations.
"In pursuit of job-supporting trade opportunities, the Administration will work to conclude negotiations of the TPP in 2014, producing a high-standard, comprehensive, 21st-century agreement that provides new export opportunities for US industry and agriculture, opens markets for US services and investment, protects worker rights, and enhances environmental protection," the office said in a document attached to President Barack Obama's budget blueprint for fiscal 2015.
The office did not give a deadline for signing the US-led trade pact after talks last week resulted in a number of disagreements.
Trade Ministers from 12 countries failed to reach a final agreement during talks in Singapore on 22-25 February, but said progress had been made, despite a number of remaining sticking points, including apparel and footwear.
The report, however, said it hoped to make "significant" progress with the European Union (EU) toward a T-TIP agreement to "further strengthen the world's largest trade relationship".
"We will advance negotiations on the TiSA (Trade in Services Agreement). And in Geneva, we will continue to strengthen the multilateral trading system and advance promising pathways for 21st century trade liberalization by maintaining America's leadership role at the WTO, expanding the Information Technology Agreement (ITA), and launching negotiations on an Environmental Goods Agreement (EGA)."
The office said these were "just some of the many pathways" the Administration will pursue to increase US exports to the world while supporting domestic job growth.
After three negotiating rounds in the latter half of 2013, the Administration said it plans to maintain a similar pace for the talks in 2014.
"Negotiators will seek ambitious market openings in goods, services, and investment. A successful T-TIP agreement could generate new business and employment by expanding trade and investment opportunities, and pioneering new trade rules and disciplines."
The report also noted that to facilitate the conclusion, approval, and implementation of its market-opening negotiating initiatives, it is working with Congress to support broad bipartisan passage of Trade Promotion Authority (TPA). This forms part of the Administration's larger of increasing US exports and global economic competitiveness.
"TPA is a critical tool for Congress to update and assert its role in trade policy, to guide current and future negotiations, and to ensure the completion of market-opening, job-supporting agreements.
"In 2014, the Obama Administration will continue to advance trade policies that promote open markets to enable additional job-supporting US exports and sustained economic growth."
Click here to read the full report.
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