Seal of the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative
Flag of the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative
|Headquarters||Winder Building 600 17th St. NW Washington, D.C.|
|Annual budget||$54 million (FY 2016)|
|Parent agency||Executive Office of the President of the United States|
The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) is the United States government agency responsible for developing and recommending United States trade policy to the president of the United States, conducting trade negotiations at bilateral and multilateral levels, and coordinating trade policy within the government through the interagency Trade Policy Staff Committee (TPSC) and Trade Policy Review Group (TPRG).
Established as the Office of the Special Trade Representative (STR) under the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, the USTR is part of the Executive Office of the President. With over 200 employees, the USTR has offices in Geneva, Switzerland, and Brussels, Belgium. The current U.S. trade representative is Robert E. Lighthizer, who was announced by then-President-elect Donald Trump on January 3, 2017. Lighthizer was confirmed by the Senate on May 11, 2017, by a vote of 82-14.
The head of the office holds the title of United States Trade Representative (USTR), which is a Cabinet-level position, though not technically within the Cabinet, as is the case with office heads not of US departments but rather of offices contained within the Executive Office of the President. To fill the post, the president nominates someone for the position, and the appointment is then approved or rejected by a simple majority of the Senate. The United States trade representative and deputy United States trade representatives (DUSTR) carry the title of Ambassador.
Michael Froman served as the US trade representative until 2017, with Michael Punke and Robert Holleyman serving as deputy US trade representatives. Ambassador Punke also concurrently serves as the U.S. ambassador to the World Trade Organization (WTO).
On May 2, 2013, President Obama nominated Michael Froman to succeed Ambassador Ron Kirk as the U.S. trade representative. The Senate confirmed Froman on June 19, 2013, and he was sworn into office on June 21, 2013.
Robert Lighthizer, who is the current U.S. trade representative, was confirmed on April 25, 2017, after being nominated by President Trump.
The USTR participates in the World Trade Organization, which is currently in the Doha Development Round. This is partially managed by the USTR Office of WTO and Multilateral Affairs (WAMA). Relevant WTO agreements include the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) and the Generalized System of Preferences.
There are two key advisory committees when it comes to agriculture. These two are the Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee (APAC) and the Agricultural Technical Advisory Committees (ATAC). APAC is made up of 34 organizations. ATAC is made up of 6 groups. These groups being animal and animal products; fruits and vegetables; grains, feed, oilseeds, and planting seeds; sweeteners and sweetener products; tobacco, cotton, and peanuts; and processed foods. APAC and ATAC allow the private sector to play a role in the U.S. government when it comes to trade.
In agriculture, free trade agreements (FTAs) play a big role. As stated, "[f]or 16 of the 20 countries that the U.S. has FTAs with, U.S. exporters will face zero tariffs on 98% or more of agricultural goods once the agreements are fully implemented."
Global trade is one area in which America excels. They also have the world's largest economy. Being competitive allows an increase in productivity and the growth of the economy. Expanding and shifting production has increased productivity and the country's economic growth rate as well. "Exports have contributed nearly a third of economic growth since mid-2009, and account for approximately 13.5 percent of our economy".
USTR uses enforcement to secure U.S. trading. This is especially keen to American workers, farmers, ranchers, and businesses. It is interpreted to be fair and open, making sure that everyone follows it.
The purchasing done under the government makes up 10 to 15 percent of the country's GDP. In 1979, the first major government procurement agreement appeared. Relations with Canada and Europe are especially noticeable in government procurement.
The Office of Small Business, Market Access, and Industrial Competitiveness (SBMAIC) manages manufactured goods that the United States exports. Two of the biggest goals are to expand export opportunities and strengthen enforcement of trade rules. Industrial tariffs are a huge commodity, for approximately 96 percent of U.S. merchandise imports are nonagricultural goods.
The Office of Intellectual Property and Innovation (IPN) focuses heavily on intellectual property laws and enforcing them worldwide. Trade agreements, the annual Special 301 review and report, World Trade Organization, and pharmaceutical and medical technology industries are all key areas.
The Labor office holds the United States responsible in making sure they follow all labor laws. Worker's participation and rights is looked at thoroughly through this office.
Preference programs are used as aiding other countries. It provides greater access to the U.S. market.
The Office of Services and Investment partakes in anything involving services, investment, and digital trade relevant to U.S. trade policy. International Investment provides both economic growth and protection for American workers. Services allows the world to connect. Through businesses, technology, retail, and all other forms of services, people interact globally. In the United States, service industries make up two thirds of the GDP and four out of five private-sector jobs.
Small businesses are significant in U.S. trade because they account for 98 percent of the country's exports. The top exports going to Canada, Mexico, China, Japan, and the United Kingdom.
The Office of Textiles is in charge of both textiles and apparel. It works closely with Congress, domestic partners, and international ones.
Worldwide aid and domestic funding related to trade are coordinated through the USTR.
The World Trade Organization (WTO), Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) all have an impact in trade. The WTO deals heavily with FTAs. Licensing and trade barriers are addressed here. APEC facilitates trade with Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, People's Republic of China, Hong Kong, China, Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, the Russian Federation, Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Thailand, The United States of America, and Vietnam. The U.S. also has a relationship with the ASEAN. ASEAN comprises Brunei Darussalam, Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. Lastly, OECD accounts for 78 percent of the entire world's GDP and has 34 democracies in Europe, North America, the Pacific Rim, and Latin America in the organization.
The National Trade Estimate Report on Foreign Trade Barriers (National Trade Estimate or NTE) is an annual series that surveys prepared by the USTR, which reports significant foreign barriers to U.S. exports. Since 1986, the NTE provides, where feasible, quantitative estimates of the impact of these foreign practices on the value of U.S. exports. Information is also included on actions taken to eliminate barriers. It is based on information provided by USTR, the U.S. departments of commerce and agriculture, and other agencies and sources.
The Special 301 Report is prepared annually by the USTR under Section 182 as amended of the Trade Act of 1974. The act states that the USTR must on an annual basis, by April of each year:
identify those foreign countries that deny adequate and effective protection of intellectual property rights, or deny fair and equitable markets access to United States persons that rely upon intellectual property protection, and those foreign countries identified under" this "paragraph that are determined by the Trade Representative to be priority foreign countries". The Act defines "priority foreign countries" as "those foreign countries that have the most onerous or egregious acts, policies, or practices that deny adequate and effective intellectual property rights, or deny fair and equitable market access to United States persons that rely upon intellectual property protection, whose acts, policies, or practices described in" this "paragraph have the greatest adverse impact (actual or potential) on the relevant United States products, and that are not entering into good faith negotiations, or making significant progress in bilateral or multilateral negotiations to provide adequate and effective protection of intellectual property rights.
The Uruguay Round Agreement Act furthermore states that countries may be identified under Special 301 "taking into account the history of intellectual property laws and practices of the foreign country, including any previous identifications" and "the history of efforts of the United States, and the response of the foreign country, to achieve adequate and effective protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights". It also states that compliance with the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights does not include a country from being identified as denying "adequate and effective protection of intellectual property rights".
In 2006, along with the International Intellectual Property Alliance, the USTR published a list of places where large-scale copyright infringement takes place in the Special 301 Report. Since 2010, the notorious markets report has been published as a separate report.
|Portrait||Officeholder||Term start||Term end||President|
|Christian Herter||December 10, 1962||December 30, 1966||John F. Kennedy|
|William Roth||March 24, 1967||January 20, 1969|
|Carl Gilbert||August 6, 1969||September 21, 1971||Richard Nixon|
|William Eberle||November 12, 1971||December 24, 1974|
|Frederick Dent||March 26, 1975||January 20, 1977||Gerald Ford|
|Robert Strauss||March 30, 1977||August 17, 1979||Jimmy Carter|
|Reubin Askew||October 1, 1979||December 31, 1980|
|Bill Brock||January 23, 1981||April 29, 1985||Ronald Reagan|
|Clayton Yeutter||July 1, 1985||January 20, 1989|
|Carla Hills||February 6, 1989||January 20, 1993||George H. W. Bush|
|Mickey Kantor||January 22, 1993||April 12, 1996||Bill Clinton|
|April 12, 1996||January 20, 2001|
|Robert Zoellick||February 7, 2001||February 22, 2005||George W. Bush|
|Rob Portman||May 17, 2005||May 29, 2006|
|Susan Schwab||June 8, 2006||January 20, 2009|
|Ron Kirk||March 18, 2009||March 15, 2013||Barack Obama|
|March 15, 2013||May 23, 2013|
|May 23, 2013||June 21, 2013|
|Michael Froman||June 21, 2013||January 20, 2017|
|January 20, 2017||March 1, 2017||Donald Trump|
|March 2, 2017||May 15, 2017|
|Robert Lighthizer||May 15, 2017||Incumbent|
As of January 2020, there are nine living former trade representatives (with all representatives that have served since 1989 still living), the oldest being Bill Brock (served 1981-1985, born 1930). The most recent representative to die was Frederick Dent (served 1975-1977) on December 10, 2019. The most recently serving representative to die was Clayton Yeutter (served 1985-1989, born 1930) on March 4, 2017.
|Name||Term||Date of birth (and age)|
|Bill Brock||1981-1985||November 23, 1930|
|Carla Hills||1989-1993||January 3, 1934|
|Mickey Kantor||1993-1996||August 7, 1939|
|Charlene Barshefsky||1996-2001||August 11, 1950|
|Robert Zoellick||2001-2005||July 25, 1953|
|Rob Portman||2005-2006||December 19, 1955|
|Susan Schwab||2006-2009||March 23, 1955|
|Ron Kirk||2009-2013||June 27, 1954|
|Michael Froman||2013-2017||August 20, 1962|