President Obama delivered to Congress his 2013 Trade Policy Agenda (“TPA”) and the 2012 Annual Report Report of United States trade activities on March 1, 2013. The TPA’s overarching goal is “supporting jobs and economic growth through trade.” This goal is pursued by a number of trade policy priorities including (1) expanding U.S. jobs, (2) enforcing trade rules, (3) enhancing economic relationships worldwide, (4) fighting poverty and fostering global economic growth, and (5) developing balanced trade policy. With this ambitious policy agenda, the President and relevant agencies aim to enhance market access and to enforce international rules to create opportunities for “American businesses, workers, farmers, ranchers, manufacturers, service providers, creators, and innovators.”
Such increased U.S. competitiveness derives from the TPA’s focus not only on traditional trade topics and the substantial progress achieved in 2012, but also on policy goals in diverse trade-impacting areas such as labor rights, gender equality, and the environment. A top priority carrying over from 2012 is concluding negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (“TPP”), which complements efforts in multilateral negotiations under the World Trade Organization (“WTO”); in bilateral negotiations such as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the European Union (“EU”); and in continued engagement with growing trade partners like China, Russia, Brazil and India. Building on the 2012 creation of the Interagency Trade Enforcement Center, the U.S. will continue to enforce WTO and other trade rules to ensure that U.S. industry and workers compete fairly with other trading partners.
The manufacturing sector receives particular attention in the 2013 TPA. The TPA highlights progress made under President Obama’s National Export Initiative, including the 47 percent increase in manufacturing exports over 2009. In 2012, manufactured goods comprised 87 percent of goods exports and 61 percent of total U.S. exports, thus making the manufacturing sector a key source of U.S. competitiveness and U.S. jobs. Supporting the advanced manufacturing sector through investment in education, infrastructure, and research and development will ensure the growth of U.S. companies and jobs. Further, enforcing U.S. rights under international rules, such as using WTO dispute settlement to hold China to its obligations and to secure a solution with the EU in the aircraft and aerospace manufacturing sectors, provides support to the U.S. advanced manufacturing sector.
U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, under whose responsibility the TPA is developed, remarked that “U.S. producers are selling more goods around the world stamped with ‘Made in America’ than ever before, and trade is supporting more 21st century jobs and industries here at home” under the President’s policy agenda.