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Proposed USTR Budget Would Focus on Trade Expansion and Enforcement Efforts

The Trump administration is proposing to increase USTR’s budget in fiscal year 2018 to help the agency achieve a number of goals and objectives. The budget proposal would give USTR US$57.6 million during that period, up 5.9 percent from FY 2017, as well as 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 (i) take significant action “far beyond that taken by previous administrations,” including self-initiated domestic litigation in defence of U.S. workers, farmers, ranchers and businesses; (ii) assume complete responsibility for the Interagency Center on Trade Implementation, Monitoring and Enforcement; and (iii) launch new bi-lateral 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 organisational excellence. Within these categories USTR is aiming to achieve numerous specified results, including the following.

  • work with WTO 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 Generalised System of Preferences programme 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 United States
  • 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 subsidisation, use of border measures, localisation measures discriminating against imported goods and lack of science-based rulemaking processes
  • expand inter-agency contacts and co-ordination, 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 inter-agency 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
Content provided by Picture: HKTDC Research
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