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TradeInFocus   Our compilation of news to keep you in focus on key trade matters

Remarks by President Obama at Opening Session of the US-ASEAN Summit
The Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands, Rancho Mirage, California ? 20 February 2016
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Good afternoon, everyone. It is my privilege to welcome you to this landmark gathering -- the first US-ASEAN Summit hosted by the United States. This reflects my personal commitment, and the national commitment of the United States, to a strong and enduring partnership with your 10 nations individually and to Southeast Asia as one region, as one community -- ASEAN. I want to thank my co-chair, President Choummaly of Laos; Secretary General Minh; and leaders from all 10 ASEAN nations for being here.

As everyone knows, I first came to know the people and the beauty and the strength of Southeast Asia as a boy when I lived in Indonesia for several years with my mother. As President, I?ve had the opportunity to visit most of your countries. You and the people of ASEAN have always shown me extraordinary hospitality, and I hope we can reciprocate with the warmth today and tomorrow -- which is why I did not hold this summit in Washington. It is cold there. It?s snowing. So, welcome to beautiful, warm Sunnylands. (Laughter.)

As President, I?ve insisted that even as the United States confronts urgent threats around the world, our foreign policy also has to seize on new opportunities. And few regions present more opportunity to the 21st century than the Asia Pacific. That?s why, early in my presidency, I decided that the United States, as a Pacific nation, would rebalance our foreign policy and play a larger and long-term role in the Asia Pacific. And this has included engagement with Southeast Asia and ASEAN, which is central to the region?s peace and prosperity, and to our shared goal of building a regional order where all nations play by the same rules.

As part of our deeper engagement, I'm proud to be the first U.S. President to meet with leaders of all 10 ASEAN countries. This summit marks our seventh meeting. At your invitation, the United States joined the East Asia Summit, and together we?ve made it the region?s leading forum for addressing political and security challenges. I?ve made now seven visits to the ASEAN region -- more than any previous American President. At our last meeting in Kuala Lumpur, we forged a new Strategic Partnership. And our sustained engagement is delivering concrete results that benefit all of us -- momentum that we can build on here at this summit.

Together, we can continue to increase the trade and economic partnerships that create jobs and opportunity for our people. Since I took office, we?ve boosted trade between the United States and ASEAN by 55 percent. The region is now our fourth largest goods trading partner, including U.S. exports that support more than 500,000 American jobs. U.S companies have been the largest source of foreign investment in ASEAN -- one of the many reasons that the region?s GDP has surged in recent years, lifting people from poverty into the middle class.

I want to take this opportunity to again congratulate my fellow leaders on the formation of the ASEAN Community, which is another important step toward integrating your economies. Here at this summit, we can build on this progress and do more to encourage entrepreneurship and innovation so that growth and development is sustainable and inclusive and benefits all people.

Together, we can also continue to increase our security cooperation to meet shared challenges. In recent years, the United States has increased our maritime security assistance to our allies and partners in the region, improving our mutual capabilities to protect lawful commerce and to respond to humanitarian crisis. Here at this summit, we can advance our shared vision of a regional order where international rules and norms, including freedom of navigation, are upheld and where disputes are resolved through peaceful, legal means.

Together, we can continue to support the aspirations and dignity of our citizens. The historic election in Myanmar and the transition now underway gives hope for a nation that is inclusive, united, peaceful and democratic. In joining the TPP, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei have committed to high labor and environmental standards.

I?m very proud that our Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative is helping to empower young men and women who are shaping the region every day. As you know, I've held a number of town hall meetings with these remarkable young people. And their idealism, their courage, their willingness to work for the future that they believe in should all give us hope. As leaders, we have to answer their aspirations. And here at the summit, we can reaffirm that strong, prosperous and inclusive societies require good governance, rule of law, accountable institutions, vibrant civil societies, and upholding human rights.

Finally, together, we can continue to do more around the world to meet transnational challenges that no one nation can meet alone. As we were reminded again by the attack in Jakarta last month, the scourge of terrorism demands that we stay vigilant, share more information and work cooperatively to protect our people. Just as our nations worked together to achieve a strong climate change agreement in Paris, now we need to implement that agreement and step up investment in clean, affordable energy, including for developing countries.

So, economic growth that is inclusive, creating opportunity for all; mutual security and the peaceful resolution of disputes; human dignity, including respect for human rights and development that is sustainable -- that is our vision. That?s what brings us here together today.

I want to thank all of my fellow leaders for being here and for your commitment to a strong US-ASEAN partnership. And given the extraordinary progress that we?ve achieved together these past seven years, I?m confident that we can continue our momentum at this summit.


Trade deal With Brazil Next U.S Priority?
American Shipper - January 29, 2016
The US Chamber of Commerce said that the United States should make it a priority to establish dialogue with Brazil on a comprehensive free trade agreement. Commercial relations between the largest economies in South and North America have grown substantially over the past decade and that trend could accelerate with more liberal trade policies, it said. A fully implemented free trade agreement with Brazil would have a positive impact on the US economy, wages and employment by nearly doubling exports there, according to a study the Chamber?s Brazil-US Business Council commissioned from Trade Partnership Worldwide LLC.

Two-way trade between the United States and Brazil reached $108.3 billion in 2014, with US export values ($70 billion) almost double those of imports. Exports to Brazil have grown 15 percent on an annual basis over the past decade. Key goods exports to Brazil include chemicals, petroleum, transportation equipment and machinery.
Meanwhile, investment by Brazilian companies in the United States ? mostly for manufacturing facilities ? rose from $29 billion in 2007 to over $93 billion in 2012. US Gross Domestic Product would increase .11 percent, or about $24 billion, on the strength of $62 billion or more in additional exports per year.

The study assumes an agreement will be able to fully eliminate tariffs in each nation and about half of the impact of non-tariff measures. Barriers are highest in the agricultural sector. A deal would benefit US manufacturing the most, with agriculture under pressure from competition from Brazilian producers. With the Obama administration trying to round up votes in Congress to ratify the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement and engaging in talks with the European Union to reduce barriers to transatlantic trade and investment, the Brazil-US Business Council said a Brazil free trade agreement should be next on the agenda.

?The commercial relationship the United States and Brazil have enjoyed over the last decade is deep and broad and a US-Brazil trade agreement would realize the full economic potential of this relationship,? Myron Brilliant, executive vice president and head of international affairs at the US Chamber of Commerce, said in a statement. ?This is not a short-term objective, but it?s important our two governments understand the benefits associated with expanding commercial ties through a trade negotiation.?

The study is designed to spark interest in deeper US-Brazil economic ties. Trade barriers are especially high in Brazil for imported beverages and tobacco, agriculture products, forestry products and fisheries products, according to the study. Motor vehicles and parts, processed foods imports, apparel and leather products also face high rates of protection, as is the case for air and land transportation services exports and business and ICT services. The US also imposes tariffs and non-tariff barriers on imports of goods and services from Brazil.

?The private sector welcomes the reduction of barriers that would help boost trade and investment,? Tim Glenn, president of DuPont Crop Protection and chairman of the Council?s Trade Task Force, said. ?It is time for the Brazilian and U.S. governments to begin a dialogue on a trade agreement that eliminates tariffs and reduces non-tariff barriers, which would have a net positive impact on the U.S. economy, consumer spending, bilateral as well as total exports and imports, employment and wages.?


Executive Forum: Connecting the Asia-Pacific
California Chamber of Commerce ? 16 February 2016
The Executive Forum will focus on the role that innovation and disruptive technologies can play in driving economic growth in Asia-Pacific markets. Participants will discuss the potential for new technologies to address society?s epic challenges ? climate change, health, and aging populations; implications for policymakers and traditional industries of the Internet of Things, what is needed to foster entrepreneurial innovation and creative disruption, and the role trade agreements play in promoting innovation and technological advances throughout the region.

Participants will include senior-level government and business representatives from 21 Pacific Rim economies, including Japan, China, Mexico, Peru, Indonesia and Australia, as well as thought leaders, media figures and representatives of US corporations, large and small, with an interest in Asia-Pacific markets. The all-day Forum will be held on 25 February 2016 at the Intercontinental Hotel, San Francisco, California.


Leading in Innovation
Office of Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi ? 16 February 2016
More than 50 years ago, when President Kennedy challenged Americans to reach for the moon, he reminded us that America must lead in innovation. President Kennedy said: ?The vows of this nation can only be fulfilled if we are first, and therefore we intend to be first. Our leadership in science and in industry, our hopes for peace and security, our obligations to ourselves as well as others ? all require us to make this effort.?

With this philosophy in mind, I joined Representatives Anna Eshoo, Zoe Lofgren and Mike Honda on Tuesday at Stanford University to meet with Silicon Valley thought leaders on House Democrats? Innovation Agenda 2.0. In early 2007, we launched the original Innovation Agenda, an ambitious and historic platform to ensure America?s continued position as the most competitive nation in the world. There were 22 planks included in the first Agenda, and of these, 21 have been translated into legislative provisions that were signed into law. The listening session at Stanford was the first of many around the country to help identify the bold new initiatives needed to build on those past accomplishments and ensure America remains number one in innovation.

Commerce Prepares Industry for TPP Implementation
American Shipper - February 16, 2016
The US Commerce Department is working to help businesses prepare for liberalized trade rules with 11 other Pacific Rim nations, even though it remains an open question if Congress will approve the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement. TPP negotiations were completed in October and the final agreement was signed by trade ministers earlier this month in New Zealand.

Under fast-track Trade Promotion Authority rules approved by Congress last summer, the free trade agreement?s text must be available for public and congressional review for 90 days before the treaty can be signed by the president. That period is coming to an end, but congressional leaders have not indicated when they might put the issue on the docket for debate.

There is talk in Washington that the trade agreement is too contentious to bring up during the presidential election season and that a vote might be tabled until after the November election. Many Democrats oppose the TPP, saying it doesn?t have enough protections to ensure US jobs aren?t outsourced overseas. Republicans are reluctant to hand President Obama a political victory.

Meanwhile, business groups such as the US Chamber of Commerce, The Business Roundtable, and National Association of Manufacturers are calling for the trade agreement to be ratified, saying it will increase US exports. However, some are urging President Obama to make some changes to the deal to help smooth its passage. That would require new concessions by other nations.

The Commerce Department will spend the next few months on outreach to educate different industry sectors about TPP and create a user guide for companies to take advantage of the agreement once it enters into force, Jean Janicke, the department?s TPP coordinator, told the department?s Advisory Committee on Supply Chain Competitiveness during a briefing last month in Washington.

?We found, for example, with the US-Korea free trade agreement that the time between entry into force and when we started seeing exporters take advantage of it was about six months. So with TPP, we?re trying to think ahead about what things businesses can be doing now to plan for eventual TPP implementation,? she said.

Larger companies are already planning how to source and ship products to maximize the benefits of new trade preferences, but ?smaller companies are going to need more lead time,? Janicke added. Commerce Department specialists for industry sectors and domestic offices are trying to do as many TPP-focused local events as possible to explain at a granular level what actions companies need to take to make use of the reduced trade restrictions.


tradeinfocus is a summary of news and events on the trade policy front for clients, trade & legislative colleagues, and professional friends of W.J. Byrnes & Co.