The U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) is the lead trade agency of the United States government. It is responsible for developing and coordinating U.S. international trade policy and has the responsibility for trade negotiations with other countries.
The Trade Agreements Act of 1979 gives USTR the responsibility for coordinating the development of U.S. trade policy on all standards-related activities. According to USTR officials, the USTR leads federal government policy deliberations on foreign standards-related measures through the interagency Trade Policy Staff Committee in order to prevent and resolve trade concerns arising from standards-related measures. In addition, it is to engage with other governments on standards-related issues, as well as through multilateral organizations such as APEC and OECD. Further, the USTR also has a role in the activities of the International Sub-IPC.
In addition, the USTR:
- Manages the implementation of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade by monitoring other WTO members’ technical regulations and conformity assessment procedures; also engages with other WTO members bilaterally and in the WTO to clarify and resolve issues.
- Leads U.S. efforts to negotiate the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, part of which would establish international standards for enforcing intellectual property rights in the digital environment.
- Leads the Trade Policy Staff Committee and the Trade Policy Review Group to coordinate interagency policies related to international trade.
- Participates in Meridian Conference activities.
- Participate in OECD-WPISP meetings as a member of U.S. delegations.
- Participates in APEC-TEL.
- Engages with ISO on policy matters and serves as a voting member of the ANSI ISO Council and the ANSI International Policy Committee.
- Provides technical expertise and guidance to other U.S. agencies participating in international efforts via the International Sub-IPC.
Through its annual Special 301 report, USTR is charged with monitoring the adequacy and effectiveness of IPR protection of our trading partners as well as their compliance with bilateral and multilateral trade agreements, to identify countries not in compliance with such agreements, and to negotiate with those countries better compliance. The USTR also advances greater protection and enforcement of IPR in its negotiations of U.S. free trade agreements.
Additionally, the USTR works to implement the Administration’s STOP! Initiative, which draws together the major federal government agencies, private sector groups, and trading partners to take targeted action in fighting piracy and counterfeiting.