Helping U.S. businesses by
Browse by organization

Short Takes: News from the International Trade Administration

Trade, Intellectual Property Rights Issues Discussed with Algerian and Tunisian Officials

U.S. officials made a five-day visit to Algeria and Tunisia on September 7–12, 2007, to encourage economic engagement. Elizabeth Dibble, principal deputy assistant secretary of state, and Holly Vineyard, deputy assistant secretary of commerce, led the delegation. The delegation also included representatives from the Treasury Department and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.

“We were very pleased with the warm reception we received in Algeria and Tunisia and with the quality of the discussions we had,” said Vineyard. “I am encouraged by the commitment of both governments to economic reform and continuing close relations with the United States.”

The purpose of the visit was to pursue total economic engagement with government leaders and private-sector representatives. In both countries, the delegation met with senior government officials, including the prime minister, foreign minister, and economic ministers, as well as representatives of U.S. and local businesses.

In Algeria, government leaders emphasized their country’s commitment to eventual accession to the World Trade Organization, but they acknowledged problems with the banking system and seemed open to undertaking reforms in the financial sector. “Enforcement of intellectual property rights,” noted Vineyard, “also remains a challenge in Algeria, although awareness of the issue is increasing.”

In Tunisia, the delegation heard about the government’s bold long-term economic goals, which include doubling state revenue within 10 years and maintaining a consistent annual growth rate of 6 to 7 percent. Tunisian officials expressed enthusiasm about undertaking trade and investment framework agreement talks with the United States. They believe the talks are the best venue for discussing bilateral economic issues. Vineyard also raised intellectual property rights issues with Tunisian officials, noting that effective protection and enforcement serves to attract investment.

Sustainable Manufacturing Focus of Gathering

On September 27, 2007, U.S. manufacturers discussed the challenges and benefits of sustainable manufacturing at a one-day event held at the U.S. Department of Commerce in Washington, D.C. The event, “Enhancing U.S. Competitiveness through Sustainable Manufacturing: A Public–Private Dialogue,” gathered key leaders and stakeholders in the field. It was an opportunity for the Department of Commerce to receive input from individual stakeholders on the industry’s most pressing sustainable manufacturing challenges, and to find ways for the public and private sectors to work together to address them.

The Manufacturing and Services unit of the International Trade Administration organized the event, which included more than 75 participants from government, industry, and trade associations. The featured speakers included Steve Hellem, director of the Global Environmental Management Initiative; David Love, director of industrial solutions at Johnson Controls; and Alex Folk, center operations manager of the Manufacturing Extension Partnership at the National Institute of Standards and Technology and manager of the Green Suppliers Network.

For purposes of the event, sustainable manufacturing was defined as the creation of manufactured products using processes that are nonpolluting, that conserve energy and natural resources, and that are economically sound and safe for employees, neighboring communities, and consumers.

“The dialogue was informative, insightful, and important,” noted Jack McDougle, deputy assistant secretary of commerce for industry analysis. “The input provided by the participants was extremely valuable and will help the Department of Commerce support the sustainable manufacturing industry.”

Aside from presentations from the featured speakers, attendees participated in breakout sessions that focused on soliciting individual views on three topics: (1) profiting from sustainable manufacturing practices; (2) cost-effective implementation of sustainable manufacturing technologies; and (3) U.S. government programs, policies, and resources that support sustainable manufacturing.

More information about the sustainable manufacturing conference, potential next steps in the initiative, and updates about a possible follow-up event are available on the Web.

Trade Remedy Issues Discussed with Mexican Officials

On October 3 and 4, 2007, Joseph Spetrini, deputy assistant secretary of the Import Administration (IA), and other IA staff members held a series of meetings in Washington, D.C., with Hugo Perezcano, head of Mexico’s trade remedies administering authority in the Secretaría de Economía. The meetings were held to compare notes on a number of cutting-edge issues confronting both Mexico and the United States that involve antidumping and countervailing duty (antisubsidy) trade remedies.

The meetings, which followed up on a successful exchange in Mexico City in July 2007, helped both sides to move forward on bilateral concerns stemming from prior antidumping actions and to develop common ground on problems facing both countries, such as the effective application of trade remedy rules to imports from China. The meetings also provided an opportunity for IA officials to discuss with Mexican technical experts the U.S. position in ongoing rules negotiations at the World Trade Organization.

For several years, IA has conducted numerous similar exchanges with foreign trade remedy administrators that range from major users of trade remedies to developing countries just establishing their practice. The exchanges benefit U.S. bilateral and multilateral trade relationships and improve the ability of the government to assist U.S. exporters who find themselves subject to foreign trade remedy investigations.