Grassley Praises Restructuring of Trade Advisory System
M E M O R A N D U M
To: Reporters and Editors
Re: Restructured trade advisory system
Da: Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2003
Sen. Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Committee on Finance, in October 2002 urged the Administration to restructure the decades-old, outdated trade advisory system after a General Accounting Office report he commissioned found flaws in the system.
Today, the U.S. Department of Commerce and the United States Trade Representative responded to Grassley’s initiative and announced they have restructured the trade advisory committee system to ensure the committees reflect today’s U.S. economy and vision for the future. The trade advisory system provides the private sector and civil society the opportunity to advise the Administration on trade issues and is an important part of the Administration’s outreach efforts. Grassley made the following comment on today’s announcement.
“I know these agencies have worked hard to improve our trade advisory system, and I appreciate their efforts. It’s common sense to make sure business and agricultural groups have a saying how trade policy will affect their ability to keep jobs, create jobs and otherwise contribute to the economy. This helps ensure that trade negotiators and members of Congress are fully informed about the implications of our actions. Today’s action might not get a lot of headlines, but it’s important to the behind-the-scenes work of creating trade opportunities. Trade is important to oureconomy. It’s important that we have the most efficient, effective trade advisory system possible.Today’s actions help us achieve that goal.”
(1) today’s news release from the agencies
(2) Senator Grassley’s news release from October 2002
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 25, 2003
U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. Trade Representative Announce New Industry Trade Advisory Committee Structure
WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Department of Commerce and the United States Trade Representative (USTR) today announced that the agencies have restructured their jointly-administered industry trade advisory committee system to ensure the committees reflect today's U.S. economy and vision for thefuture. The trade advisory system provides the private sector and civil society the opportunity to advise the Administration on trade issues and is an important part of the Administration's outreachefforts.
"This new structure better reflects the 21st Century economy and will provide our negotiators withcritical and timely advice during trade negotiations," said Commerce Secretary Don Evans. "Thecurrent committees were put in place more than twenty years ago. This new structure reflectsimportant changes in the U.S. economy since then, and will give us the advice we need to continuecrafting state-of-the-art trade agreements that will benefit U.S. workers, companies and consumers,"said U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick. "We greatly appreciate the input we receive fromcommittee members because it helps us bring back win-win trade agreements."
A new Industry Trade Advisory Center was announced today, with 16 new Industry Trade Advisory Committees (ITACs). The restructuring is consistent with recommendations in a recent U.S. General Accounting Office Report, "International Trade: Advisory Committee System Should be Upgraded to Better Serve U.S. Policy Needs" (GAO 02-876), and reflects the commitment of Commerce and the USTR to improve the trade advisory committee system. Commerce and USTR consider the newITACs, as well as those advisors who serve on the committees, to be an integral part of the U.S.trade policy making process in advancing the Administration's ambitious trade agenda to improveeconomic opportunities for the United States as well as its trading partners.
In announcing the new ITAC structure (attached), Commerce and USTR will be working diligentlyto complete the chartering of the new ITACs and the appointment of members to the newcommittees. Implementation is expected in March 2004. The two agencies also intend to implementa new calendar of meetings, with plenary sessions of all ITAC members during weeks whenindividual ITAC meetings are also taking place. This will increase efficiency and improve thesharing of views and information across sectoral committees.
The trade advisory committee system was established by Congress in the Trade Act of 1974. Todaymore than 700 advisors participate on committees jointly administered by USTR, the Departmentsof Commerce, Labor and Agriculture, and the Environmental Protection Agency. The largestcomponent is the Industry Sector Advisory Committee and the Industry Functional AdvisoryCommittee (ISAC/IFAC) system, now the ITAC system, jointly administered by the U.S. TradeRepresentative and the Secretary of Commerce.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE AND THE OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES TRADE REPRESENTATIVE INDUSTRY TRADE ADVISORY COMMITTEES (ITACs)
Committee of Chairs of the Industry Trade Advisory Committees
(ITAC 1) Aerospace Equipment
(ITAC 2) Automotive Equipment and Capital Goods
(ITAC 3) Chemicals, Pharmaceuticals, Health/ScienceProducts and Services
(ITAC 4) Consumer Goods
(ITAC 5) Distribution Services
(ITAC 6) Energy and Energy Services
(ITAC 7) Forest Products
(ITAC 8) Information and Communications Technologies,Services, and Electronic Commerce
(ITAC 9) Non-Ferrous Metals and Building Materials
(ITAC 10) Services and Finance Industries
(ITAC 11) Small and Minority Business
(ITAC 12) Steel
(ITAC 13) Textiles and Clothing
(ITAC 14) Customs Matters and Trade Facilitation
(ITAC 15) Intellectual Property Rights
(ITAC 16) Standards and Technical Trade Barriers
Industry Trade Advisory Center
U.S. Department of Commerce
Washington, D.C. 20230
phone: (202) 482-3268
fax: (202) 482-4452
*Note: The Committee of Chairs is comprised of the elected Chairs ofthe sixteen ITACs.
For Immediate Release
Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2002
Grassley Urges Improvement of Trade Advisory System
WASHINGTON – Sen. Chuck Grassley, ranking member of the Committee on Finance,today encouraged United States Trade Representative Robert Zoellick to continue implementing the recommendations of a new report showing the nation’s trade advisory system needs improvement.
“This report is extremely important and timely,” Grassley said. “It’s been decades since therehas been a comprehensive review of our trade advisory system. With the passage of TradePromotion Authority, our trade negotiators are embarking on a number of new bilateral andmultilateral trade negotiations. We need to make sure our nation has the best trade advisory system possible to meet the needs of our negotiatiors, the Congress and the U.S. economy.
“The General Accounting Office report reinforces the positive impact that the trade advisory system has on our trade negotiations. But the report also shows the system could use improvement. I know Ambassador Zoellick is already taking steps to improve our trade advisory system, and Iappreciate his efforts. It’s common sense to make sure business and agricultural groups have a sayin how trade policy will affect their ability to keep jobs, create jobs and otherwise contribute to theeconomy. This helps ensure that trade negotiators and members of Congress are fully informedabout the implications of our actions.”
Grassley’s comments came after the completion of a review he requested of the tradeadvisory system by the General Accounting Office (GAO). The GAO’s report, “InternationalTrade/Advisory Committee System Should Be Updated to Better Serve U.S. Policy Needs,” GAO-02-876, will be available soon at www.gao.gov.
Grassley wrote a letter to Zoellick to encourage the continued implementation of the GAO’s recommendations. The text of Grassley’s letter follows.
October 22, 2002
The Honorable Robert B. Zoellick
United States Trade Representative
600 17th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20508
Dear Ambassador Zoellick:
As you know, the United States General Accounting Office (GAO) recently reviewed, at myrequest, the role, structure, and operations of the 28-year-old trade advisory committee system. Iasked GAO to perform this review because I believe that it is essential for our international tradenegotiators to have access to the most comprehensive and effective trade advisory system possible.
The published report, “Advisory Committee System Should be Updated to Better Serve U.S.Policy Needs” (September 2001; GAO-02-876), reinforced the positive impact which the tradeadvisory committee system has on our international trade negotiations. However, in its report GAOalso identified a number of concerns with the current system. In specific, the GAO noted that “lackof policy direction and poor system administration at executive branch agencies are weakening theadvisory committee system’s capacity to accomplish its statutory mission. USTR, as the leadagency, has not provided clear policy direction.” GAO also found that, “mismatches between theadvisory committee system and the U.S. economy and trade policy issues suggest that the systemneither provides the executive branch with all the advice it needs nor assures Congress thatnegotiated agreements are fully in U.S. interests.”
GAO also made specific recommendations about how to improve and strengthen the system.I understand from your written comments in response to the report that your office is taking stepsto implement some of GAO’s recommendations. Specifically, USTR stated that it is working onimplementing the four following GAO recommendations to:
-- clarify procedures for consulting with trade advisory committees,
-- seek qualified candidates to serve on committees,
-- streamline the security clearance process for advisory committee nominees, and
-- improve consultation procedures so advisory committee members have timely access to relevant documents.
I believe these are important steps that will make the consultation process more relevant andmeaningful and I would be interested to learn the results of your efforts. Therefore, please advise meat the earliest possible date, but no later than January 15, 2003, of the specific steps USTR is takingto implement these recommendations.
In addition, GAO recommended that USTR undertake, in concert with the Secretaries ofAgriculture, Commerce, Labor, and the EPA Administrator, an assessment of the entire tradeadvisory system, and update it to make it more relevant to the current U.S. economy and trade policydemands.
In my view, this is also a important recommendation that addresses many of the concernsraised in the GAO report. Because I am considering introducing legislation in the 108th Congressto implement some of GAO’s recommendations and to enhance the current trade advisory system,I would appreciate knowing your timetable for implementing this recommendation at the earliest possible date, but not later than January 15, 2003.
Your efforts to implement the GAO recommendations, and update and streamline the trade advisory committee system, will help ensure that the advisory committee system can meet theobjectives set for it by Congress. They will also enhance the prospects that your work at thenegotiating table will result in international trade agreements that Congress can approve withconfidence.
I appreciate your consideration of my views and look forward to your response.
Charles E. Grassley
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