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USTR Seeks Budget Increase to Fund Trade Expansion and Enforcement Efforts

Friday, June 16, 2017
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The Trump administration is proposing to increase the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative’s budget in fiscal year 2018 to help the agency achieve a number of goals and objectives.

The budget proposal would give USTR $57.6 million, up 5.9 percent from FY 2017, and eight additional staff members, increasing the total to 238. The administration’s budget submission for USTR to Congress states that these additional resources would assist USTR in preparing to (1) take significant action “far beyond that taken by previous administrations,” including self-initiated domestic litigation in defense of U.S. workers, farmers, ranchers, and businesses; (2) assume complete responsibility for the Interagency Center on Trade Implementation, Monitoring, and Enforcement; and (3) launch new bilateral negotiations with several major trading partners.

USTR’s five goals for FY 2018 are to open foreign markets and combat unfair trade, strictly enforce U.S. trade laws, develop sound trade policy, effectively communicate the president’s trade agenda, and achieve organizational excellence. Within these categories USTR is aiming to achieve numerous specified results, including the following.

- work with World Trade Organization members to achieve full implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement

- review the impact of existing and potential international trade agreements, including the Information Technology Agreement expansion, the Trade in Services Agreement, and the Environmental Goods Agreement, to determine whether they should be negotiated or renegotiated

- work with Congress to consider possible reforms or revisions to the capacity of the Generalized System of Preferences program to take into account evolving global trade relations, including the growing competitiveness of many emerging market GSP beneficiaries

- negotiate and implement mutual recognition agreements with select countries to facilitate U.S. exports of telecommunications equipment and pharmaceuticals

- encourage southeast Asian countries, including former Trans-Pacific Partnership partners, to continue with planned trade policy reforms that are in the best interest of the U.S.

- develop new initiatives with countries in east and southeast Asia to break down barriers to U.S. exports in key sectors through negotiations, dispute settlement, and other measures

- develop and implement initiatives to respond to tariff discrimination, alternative regulatory approaches, and other potential harm to U.S. exporters caused by other countries’ free trade agreements

- negotiate equivalency agreements with countries that are key markets for U.S. organic exports

- intensify engagement with Indonesia to support the development of trade policies that promote free and fair trade and address the growing number of trade and investment irritants

- identify disputes to be pursued, including with respect to barriers to U.S. exports due to trade-distorting subsidization, use of border measures, localization measures discriminating against imported goods, and lack of science-based rulemaking processes

- expand interagency contacts and coordination, identify and locate appropriate interagency expertise for the Interagency Center on Trade Implementation, Monitoring, and Enforcement, and create and integrate staffing mechanisms to simplify sharing of interagency expertise

- press for implementation of the government of India’s plan to eliminate export subsidies in the textiles sector

- work with Congress on legislative initiatives, including potential renewal of GSP and a potential miscellaneous tariff bill

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