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

Implementation of the WTO Agreement on Trade Facilitation is a Key Objective.
Additional Report by John Leitner from APEC Session in Peru - February 2016
Target: Simplify, improve predictability, automate, reduce costs. Tools to obtain target: Advance Rulings, Pre-Filing, and AEO / Trusted Trader programs, which are priority objectives. Abolition of 201 IT products was agreed upon by 53 member economies in July by the Information Technology Agreement (ITA). Approximately 65% of tariff lines are expected to be eliminated in the next six months, with most of the remaining tariff lines being completely phased out in four stages over three years. Meaning that by 2019 almost all imports of the relevant products will be duty free, accounting for about 10% of all global trade. This is the first major tariff-cutting deal taking place at the WTO in18 years.
John A. Leitner, Byrnes & US Delegate to APEC

TTIP - Economic Growth, Liberalism and Democracy
By Ambassador Lars Gert Lose and Karsten Dybvad - 01 March 2016
Last week, the 12th round of negotiations on a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the United States and the European Union was taking place in Brussels. The importance of TTIP cannot be overstated. An agreement would be of great geostrategic and geo-economic value in terms of strengthening Transatlantic ties and enhancing our ability to define a global rules-based architecture. This is crucial in order to promote economic growth, liberalism and democracy globally.

TTIP is a great opportunity for the US and EU to create growth and jobs as well as further investments across the Atlantic. The ambition is an agreement unprecedented in scope and depth. Even though tariffs on Transatlantic trade are already fairly modest compared to many other regions, there are still considerable gains to be made by a further reduction or complete elimination. Even bigger gains can be made from closer regulatory cooperation, easing costly and cumbersome regulatory burdens for US and European export companies. This is where TTIP goes beyond other existing free trade agreements and has the most to offer.

Denmark is among the strongest TTIP supporters in the European Union. In fact, labor unions and employer organizations as well as a large majority of the population are united in the support for TTIP. While we support the aim of reaching an agreement this year, it is equally important that we uphold our high level of ambition as to the content. Trade deals are not easy. But we have a great point of departure with the already strong economic ties between our economies and the fact that our respective consumer and environmental standards are at comparably high levels.

TTIP is not about harmonizing at the lowest common denominator, but rather aligning regulatory processes where it makes sense to the benefits of businesses and consumers alike. It is important to stress that this can - and must be achieved - without sacrificing each other's right to regulate and set standards nationally as high as wanted the same way we do today.

We are a small country, but as a result of the size of the Danish economy our private sector is geared towards markets abroad, not least the US. The US, in fact, is our largest trading partner outside the EU. Last year, Danish exports to the US were valued at more than $14 billion. Danish investments in the US are also on the rise. At the end of 2014, Danish foreign direct investments in the US totalled $12.5 billion. In addition, a recent study by the Confederation of Danish Industry and the Danish Trade Council in the US shows that the number of Danish companies with US subsidiaries has increased by 35 percent since 2013. Danish companies and their US subsidiaries employ more than 60,000 people in the United States.

American-owned companies also have a strong presence in Denmark with more than 500 subsidiaries, supporting close to 39,000 jobs*. US foreign direct investment in Denmark is valued at over $14 billion and last year total US exports to Denmark amounted to $7.8 billion. The future economic potential between our two countries is promising. In a number of sectors, including environmental technologies, renewable energy, healthcare and life sciences, food and agriculture, shipping as well as defense, Danish companies have the experience, advanced products and solutions that are in high demand in the US.

One example is the Danish experience of ensuring that economic growth and green energy policies go hand in hand. Denmark is a world leader in wind energy and Danish companies have played a leading role in Denmark's transition towards an economically efficient low-carbon energy mix. The US has vast potential for developing off shore wind energy in the Northeast and elsewhere and Danish companies are ready to provide the solutions.
Another example is the Danish healthcare and life sciences sector. In 2015, pharmaceuticals alone accounted for 25 percent of all Danish exports to the US. Our companies are global market leaders in the treatment of such diverse diseases as diabetes, depression, Alzheimer's, skin disorder and allergies. With demographic trends and ageing populations, demand for these treatments will rise and Danish companies are ready to provide. The list goes on.

Our goal-and hope-is to unlock this market potential, thereby helping the American people and businesses benefit from Danish exports and investments and vice versa. Open markets and increased trade are conducive to promoting democracy and liberal values and to ensure growth and prosperity. TTIP provides a great opportunity for the US and Europe to strengthen our partnership on this agenda.

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Ratifications for WTO Trade Facilitation Pact Grow as Members Prepare for Next Steps
Bridges News -10 March 2016
Ratifications of the WTO's Trade Facilitation Agreement continue to arrive, with 70 members having now notified the global trade body that they have approved the deal's terms domestically. The multilateral deal requires approval from two-thirds of the WTO's 162 members - in other words, 108 members - in order to enter into force. While the current tally is still short of that number, the pace of ratifications is now such that members have been urged to prepare for the deal's eventual entry into force.

During a 3 March meeting of the Preparatory Committee on Trade Facilitation, members were reportedly encouraged to notify the WTO secretariat of any support they may need - for instance, in terms of technical assistance and capacity-building - in order for the multilateral pact to enter into force smoothly.

Of the 70 WTO members who have ratified the TFA, 21 have submitted ratifications since the committee last met in October. Various other members are reportedly making quick headway toward ratification, with Brazil, El Salvador, and Nepal expected to submit their instruments of acceptance in the near term.

The Trade Facilitation Agreement was reached just over two years ago at the WTO's Ninth Ministerial Conference in Bali, Indonesia, in what was heralded as a landmark development for the organization. The deal is the first multilateral trade agreement since 1995, and aims to ease customs procedures to expedite trade flows. Notably, it is the first time that commitments adopted in a WTO agreement are calibrated to members' individual capabilities for implementation.

The committee's chairperson, Ambassador Esteban Conejos of the Philippines, told last week?s meeting that 81 "Category A" notifications - provisions under the TFA to be implemented immediately, with an additional year allowed for least developed countries (LDCs) - have been received to date.

"What is even more encouraging is that we also started receiving a growing number of B and C notifications. This is especially important since we are getting closer to seeing the Trade Facilitation Agreement enter into force - which equally shortens the remaining time for submitting B and C-related inputs," said Conejos.

Category B refers to provisions a member will implement after a transition period following the deal's entry into force, while Category C refers to those that require both a transition period as well as technical assistance and capacity-building support. According to last year's World Trade Report, published by the WTO, the trade pact could potentially boost global merchandise exports by US$ 1 trillion per annum.

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Senate Finance Holds March 3 Hearing on Trade Agreement Implementation
United States Senate - March 3, 2016
On Thursday, March 3, the Senate Finance Committee held a hearing on "Free Trade Agreement Implementation; Lessons from the Past."

In his opening statement, Chairman Hatch said: "After a trade agreement is approved by Congress, the administration must make sure that our trading partners fully and faithfully implement their obligations under that agreement before allowing the agreement to enter into force. After all, a strong trade agreement that is not fully and faithfully implemented and enforced isn't worth much more than the paper it is written on. It is that part of the puzzle - full and faithful implementation - that we will examine today. As a guidepost for this examination, we will look at some of the lessons we've learned under our existing trade agreements to see what has worked and where we can do better in the future."

Ranking Member Wyden, in his opening statement, said: "My number one goal, when it comes to the cutthroat global economy, is to fight for American workers. I believe our trade policies must spur the creation of red-white-and-blue jobs that can support a middle-class family in Oregon and around the country. - You do that by enforcing the rules here at home, stopping unfair trade before it hurts American workers and families. And you do it by making sure every nation plays by the rules."

In addition, the following witnesses testified:
. Mr. Jim Mulhern, President and CEO, National Milk Producers Federation, Arlington, VA | Testimony
. Mr. Sean P. Murphy, Vice President, Qualcomm Incorporated, San Diego, CA | Testimony
. Mr. Glenn Prickett, Chief External Affairs Office, The Nature Conservancy, Arlington, VA | Testimony
. Mr. Steven Tepp, President and Founder, Sentinel Worldwide, Vienna, VA | Testimony

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President Obama's 2016 Trade Policy Agenda: Trade that Serves the American People
Office of the USTR - March 3, 2016
Trade Agenda highlights the economic benefits of the landmark TPP agreement, including the more than 18,000 tax cuts on Made-in-America exports. Today, the Office of the US Trade Representative released President Obama's 2016 Trade Policy Agenda. Throughout this Administration, we have sought to level the playing field for American workers, raise global trade standards, and enforce US trade rights to promote economic growth, strengthen the American middle class, and support well-paying jobs at home.

"The President's trade agenda is focused on supporting US jobs and raising wages," said US Trade Representative Michael Froman. "Over the past seven years, the Administration has fought hard to open the largest and fastest-growing markets to US exports, most notably in the Asia-Pacific. Our efforts have helped position more Americans to compete-and win-in tomorrow's global economy."

The 2016 Trade Agenda outlines key priorities in the United States bilateral and multilateral trade and investment relationships, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which will cut over 18,000 taxes on Made-in-America exports, support more high-paying US jobs, and promote both our interests and our values. It also highlights our efforts to conclude the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, the Environmental Goods Agreement, the Trade in Services Agreement, and work to strengthen our trade and investment ties with countries and regional partners around the world.

The report offers an overview of major trade accomplishments under President Obama's leadership, including:
Improving and securing passage of the Korea, Colombia, and Panama FTAs;
Bringing 20 enforcement cases at the WTO, more than any other country;
Working with Congress to update and renew bipartisan Trade Promotion Authority, and extending and improving Trade Adjustment Assistance;
Renewing the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program and the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) to promote developing in Africa and elsewhere;
And expanding the Information Technology Agreement, concluding the Trade Facilitation Agreement and rejuvenating the WTO negotiating process.
The Office of the United States Trade Representative is the lead agency responsible for the development and implementation of the President's Trade Policy Agenda, which it sends in conjunction with the Annual Report on trade developments over the past year.

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Secretary Pritzker Issues Statement on Release of EU-US Privacy Shield Text
Executive Office of the White House - March 3, 2016
On Monday, February 29, the full text of the EU-US Privacy Shield framework was made publicly available. In response, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker issued a statement. Secretary Pritzker said: "The EU-US Privacy Shield is a tremendous victory for privacy, individuals, and businesses on both sides of the Atlantic. We have spent more than two years constructing a modernized and comprehensive framework that addresses the concerns of the European Court of Justice and protects privacy.

"Our US and EU negotiators worked around the clock to develop a new framework that underpins $260 billion in digital services trade across the Atlantic. The new EU-US Privacy Shield provides certainty that will help grow the digital economy by ensuring that thousands of European and American businesses and millions of individuals can continue to access services online.

"In the end, we achieved a strong agreement that enables transatlantic commerce while safeguarding privacy. ... We hope the Framework moves swiftly through the EU approval process, so companies and individuals on both sides of the Atlantic can continue to ensure a high-level of data protection."

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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.