WITA’s Friday Focus on Trade | April 7, 2023




Remarks by Ambassador Katherine Tai at American University Washington College of Law


On April 5, 2023, United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai delivered the 2023 Wenger Lecture at American University Washington College of Law.  Following is an excerpt from Ambassador Tai’s remarks as prepared for delivery:
…This audience knows the traditional approach to trade well, which prioritized aggressive liberalization and tariff elimination.  
This approach produced significant benefits—massive increases in economic activity and historic reductions in poverty in some regions.
But we must also acknowledge that the focus on maximum efficiency above all else had significant costs and side effects. Prosperity without inclusiveness contributed to rising inequality and wealth concentration. Earlier this year, Oxfam reported that nearly two-thirds of all new wealth created since 2020 went to the richest 1%, almost twice as much as the bottom 99% of the world’s population. 
That is staggering. Trade also played a role in shipping jobs overseas, which decimated manufacturing communities. And our supply chains became more dispersed and fragile. All of this has fueled resentment and mistrust in global institutions and the international economic system here in the United States and elsewhere….
04/05/2023 | Office of the United States Trade Representative


International Trade Policy is a Vital Part of Our Fight Against Climate Change


Commentary by British Labour MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle in LabourList, “the leading place for news, views and debate about the Labour Party.”
One of Joe Biden’s key achievements has been his success in getting the Inflation Reduction Act through Congress. This provides a $369 billion boost to renewable energy and other green sectors of the US economy, involving subsidies and incentives to firms already in the USA or moving resources there.
There are two ways of responding to this. One is to complain that this represents a very unfair deviation from the principles of ‘free trade’. The other is to join in the race to decarbonise economies, matching US incentives with similar policies of your own.
The EU has taken the approach of joining the race, introducing its own programme of incentives and allowing for exemptions to its rules on ‘state aid’. The UK response has been to put more emphasis on complaining, refusing to match US and EU policies, and missing out on opportunities both for British business and employment, and for contributing to the greening of the world economy.
The government worries that joining in the green economy race would cost money at a time when many Tory backbenchers are pressing for spending cuts. That is all the more reason for finding other ways of encouraging green economic sectors, such as ensuring continuing alignment with EU product standards, something the Tories’ current Retained EU Law Bill is designed to obstruct.
At the same time it is right to seek fair arrangements in the international trade system, and it may be that the new moves from the US and EU, combined with complaints from countries including the UK, will provide the catalyst for some renegotiation of rules in the World Trade Organisation and elsewhere.
03/06/2023 | Lloyd Russell-Moyle | Labour List


The Global Trade and Gender Arrangement, Decoded


In 2022, the Global Trade and Gender Arrangement (GTAGA) welcomed two new participants: Colombia and Peru. The news did not make headlines: the signing ceremony coincided with the World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference in June, which attracted most of the trade-focused media attention.
The GTAGA has been heralded by many as “ground-breaking,” a “landmark,” and an innovative and comprehensive initiative. But is it really? What does it add to trade and gender provisions in existing agreements and how far can it go to redress gender inequalities in participating countries?
This article unpacks what GTAGA entails in practice, what officials from participating countries say about its potential, and what responses have emerged from the wider trade and gender community.
The idea of a GTAGA originated in the Asia–Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Inclusive Trade Action Group (ITAG) and came into being in 2020, with Canada, Chile, and New Zealand as its first three participants. The non-binding arrangement, commonly known as GTAGA (pronounced “gee-TA-gah”), aims to promote “mutually supportive trade and gender policies to improve women’s participation in trade and investment and in furtherance of women’s economic empowerment and sustainable development.” It is a stand-alone text, not linked to a specific trade agreement. Current GTAGA participants are Canada, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, New Zealand, and Peru.
Alicia Frohmann, a trade policy specialist who delivers technical assistance on gender and trade in the Latin American region, told IISD that “Canada, Chile, and New Zealand agreed on GTGA in the aftermath of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), which did not include gender specific provisions.”
GTAGA is a cooperation-focused initiative, strongly geared toward improving women’s access to trading opportunities. While none of its provisions impose legally binding obligations on its participants, it does provide a framework that they can build on for the future.
In its five pages, the Arrangement acknowledges that “women’s enhanced participation in the labour market, the growth of women-owned enterprises and entrepreneurship, women’s economic autonomy and access to, and ownership of, economic resources contribute to prosperity, competitiveness, and the well-being of society.” GTAGA further notes “the importance of adopting, maintaining, and implementing gender equality laws, regulations, policies, and best practices” and recognizes the need for evidence-based trade interventions to respond to barriers limiting women’s opportunities in the economy. 
GTAGA participants undertake to enforce their laws and regulations promoting gender equality and improving women’s access to economic opportunities. They reaffirm their obligations under other international agreements addressing women’s rights or gender equality and recognize that it is “inappropriate” to weaken or reduce the protection provided in domestic gender equality laws with a view to encouraging trade or investment. 
GTAGA participants agree to encourage enterprises to incorporate gender equality standards, guidelines, and principles and to support the goal of promoting gender equality in the workplace. The Arrangement notes that temporary special measures relating to licensing and qualification requirements and procedures “aimed at accelerating de facto gender equality” are not to be considered discriminatory by GTAGA participating countries. 
03/01/2023 | Caroline Dommen | International Institute for Sustainable Development

USTR Releases 2023 National Trade Estimate Report on Foreign Trade Barriers


United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai today released the 2023 National Trade Estimate Report on Foreign Trade Barriers (NTE Report), providing a comprehensive review of significant foreign barriers to U.S. exports of goods and services, U.S. foreign direct investment, and U.S. electronic commerce in key export markets for the United States.
“USTR is implementing President Biden’s worker-centered trade agenda to grow the economy from the bottom up and the middle out and deliver sustainable, inclusive prosperity for all,” said Ambassador Tai. “The 2023 NTE Report identifies a range of important challenges and priorities to guide the Biden Administration’s effort to craft trade policy that reflects our country’s values and builds a better America.”
Published annually since 1985, the NTE Report covers significant foreign trade barriers in over 64 markets which together account for 99 percent of U.S. goods trade and 66 percent of U.S. services trade.
The NTE Report covers significant trade barriers in areas, including: (1) import policies; (2) technical barriers to trade; (3) sanitary and phytosanitary measures; (4) government procurement; (5) intellectual property protection; (6) services barriers; (7) barriers to digital trade and electronic commerce; (8) investment barriers; (9) subsidies, especially export subsidies; (10) competition; (11) state-owned enterprises; (12) labor; (13) environment; among others.
Examples of these significant obstacles include:
Agricultural Trade Barriers: The 2023 NTE Report highlights a number of cross-cutting barriers affecting U.S. agricultural trade, including (1) opaque and burdensome facility registration requirements, such as China’s Decree 248 and 249, and Indonesia’s facility registration requirements for dairy, meat, and rendered products; (2) sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures that are not based on science, are maintained without sufficient scientific evidence, or are applied beyond the extent necessary to address SPS issues, such as India and Turkey’s procedures and requirements for agricultural biotechnology approvals, Mexico’s policies regarding products of agricultural biotechnology, and the EU’s non-science-based policies affecting innovative crop protection technologies; (3) import licensing requirements and non-transparent import licensing administration restricting the flow of U.S. agricultural exports to a number of countries, including Ecuador, Egypt, and Indonesia; and (4) lack of adherence to international science- and risk-based standards and commitments related to trade in poultry products from regions impacted by highly pathogenic avian influenza, including by China. USTR will continue to engage foreign governments on barriers that hamper the ability of U.S. farmers, ranchers and food processors to access markets worldwide.
03/31/2023 | Office of the United States Trade Representative


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