TPP Talks in New York on Monday

The TPP talks continue despite a number of missed deadlines. The chief negotiators from the 12 member countries will meet in New York on Monday for negotiations that will continue through February 1st.

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The focus will be both on tariffs and intellectual property rights, according to public reports.

President Barack Obama referenced the trade negotiations with the Asia-Pacific region and pushed for trade promotion authority to conclude these negotiations during this week’s State of the Union address.

The chief negotiators aim to conclude the talks by this spring. We will see if this deadline is finally met.

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The Top 5 Trade Policies to Follow in 2015

This year is an important year for a number of trade policies and agreements between the United States and countries around the world. These trade policies are important in determining U.S. competitiveness around the globe.

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1. African Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA)

AGOA was signed in 2000 by President Bill Clinton to promote trade between the United States and eligible Sub-Saharan African countries. (For details about what AGOA means for US and Sub-Saharan African businesses, check out my earlier posts.) AGOA is set for reauthorization this year. Otherwise, this piece of legislation will expire on September 30, 2015. In other words, the duty-free access that African exporters enjoy in the U.S. market will come to an end if AGOA is not reauthorized. President Obama supports reauthorization, but the question remains as to what the U.S. Congress will do.

2. Dominican Republic-Central American Free Trade Agreements (DR-CAFTA)

DR-CAFTA  took effect in the United States, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua in 2006; the Dominican Republic, 2007; and Costa Rica, 2009. This year, all duties placed on manufactured goods traded between the seven countries will be completely eliminated provided that they satisfy certain rules. (See earlier posts on DR-CAFTA rules that producers must follow to enjoy duty-free treatment.)

Additionally, Nicaragua no longer enjoys a special benefit known as Tariff Preference Levels (TPLs), in which apparel made of certain cotton and man-made fiber and assembled in Nicaragua could enter the U.S. market duty-free regardless of where the fabrics were produced. These TPLS were designed to help Nicaragua, since its textile industry is extremely small. All other DR-CAFTA countries can only use fabric that originates in one or more of the DR-CAFTA countries. Efforts are being made by various organizations within the textile and  apparel industry, such as the United States Fashion Industry Association and the American Apparel and Footwear Association, to extend the TPLS for Nicaragua. (For other posts about DR-CAFTA, see U.S. labor complaint against Guatemala)

3. National Export Initiative (NEI)

President Obama announced the NEI in January 2010. The goal of the NEI was to double U.S. exports by January 1, 2015. According to numbers provided by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, U.S. exports of goods and services to the world reached $1.6 trillion by the end of 2009. That figure reached $2.3 trillion in 2013. The data available covering January-November 2014 shows an export value of $2.1 trillion. The next report should have the final numbers for all of 2014. It appears that U.S. exports have increased but have fallen short of actually doubling in growth.

4. Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP)

The TPP will be a large trade deal that the United States has signed with multiple countries throughout the Asia-Pacific region. (See earlier posts describing the TPP in detail.) However, negotiations still continue after missing a number of deadlines. This year, media reports continue to show the opposition to the TPP. The question remains as to whether this will be another year in which the talks fail to make any significant progress or the year that the deal collapses altogether.

5. Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership Agreement (T-TIP)

The T-TIP is another agreement that is still being negotiated. Similar to the TPP, this potential trade deal between the United States and the European Union continues to face an uphill battle on both sides. (For a detailed description of T-TIP, click here.) For example, just this week, the European Commission published the results of a public consultation conducted in March 2014. Many respondents voiced their opposition to the T-TIP altogether and others expressed serious concern about investor protection. In a Pew Research Center report, many Americans support T-TIP but express concern about certain points within the agreement such as removing all investment restrictions on trade between the United States and the EU.

We will see what will become of these five trade programs and free trade negotiations, especially with the shift in the U.S. Congress following the midterm elections. (See my analysis of the midterm elections and what it means for the U.S. trade agenda.)


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Today’s Announcement on U.S.-Cuban Commercial Relations

President Barack Obama has just made a significant announcement pertaining to normalizing relations with Cuba. His comments come on the heels of the release of U.S. contractor Alan Gross, who spent five years in prison in Cuba, and the three remaining Cuban prisoners held in the United States who were a part of the group of prisoners labeled the Cuban Five. All prisoners were held on espionage charges in the countries in which they were imprisoned.

Here is a brief synopsis of the announcement and analysis of what these changes will mean for U.S.-Cuban trade.

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“It has had little effect….These 50 years have shown isolation has not worked,” President Obama said in today’s address. Here are some of the points that I noted as they pertain to the exchange of goods and services between the United States and Cuba:

  • Re-establish diplomatic relations, which will include setting up a U.S. embassy in Havana, Cuba
  • Lift restrictions on travel, commerce and the flow of information

The second point entails the following:

  • “Remittance levels will be raised from $500 to $2,000 per quarter for general donative remittances to Cuban nationals (except to certain officials of the government or the Communist party); and donative remittances for humanitarian projects, support for the Cuban people, and support for the development of private businesses in Cuba will no longer require a specific licenses. Remittance forwarders will no longer require a specific license.”
  • “The expansion will seek to empower the nascent Cuban private sector.  Items that will be authorized for export include certain building materials for private residential construction, goods for use by private sector Cuban entrepreneurs, and agricultural equipment for small farmers.  This change will make it easier for Cuban citizens to have access to certain lower-priced goods to improve their living standards and gain greater economic independence from the state.”
  • “Licensed U.S. travelers to Cuba will be authorized to import $400 worth of goods from Cuba, of which no more than $100 can consist of tobacco products and alcohol combined.”
  • “U.S. institutions will be permitted to open correspondent accounts at Cuban financial institutions to facilitate the processing of authorized transactions.”
  • “The regulatory definition of the statutory term “cash in advance” will be revised to specify that it means “cash before transfer of title”; this will provide more efficient financing of authorized trade with Cuba.”
  • “U.S. credit and debit cards will be permitted for use by travelers to Cuba.”

The U.S.-Cuba embargo remains and a ban on travel to the Caribbean island for tourism purposes is still in place. Nevertheless, this administration is taking steps to ease the tensions between the United States and Cuba and facilitate trade in additional goods and services that may be beneficial to both sides.

I was fortunate enough to benefit from earlier reforms and travel to Cuba in the summer of 2012 to study its political and economic reforms. Please see my earlier analyses of U.S.-Cuba policy and U.S.-Cuba trade (click here). Today’s announcement further advances the earlier policy reforms that allow for trade between the United States and Cuba even with the U.S. embargo against Cuba.

What are your thoughts on President Obama’s speech?

If anyone has an analysis of Cuban President Raul Castro’s speech, which was made at the same time as that of President Obama, please contact me at 

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Holidays around the World: Take your product or service to the international marketplace

As a business owner, you are probably implementing a strategy to increase your revenue this holiday season. Have you thought about selling your goods or services to the overseas market this holiday season and reaching a far greater number of consumers?

The Global Research Institute of International Trade (GRIIT) is co-sponsoring a seminar to help your business take advantage of both the holiday season and the markets that exist overseas.

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Date: Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Time: 2:00-5:00 p.m.

Location: LA Law Library 301 W. 1st Street Los Angeles CA 90012

To register: Click here

This seminar is designed for business owners who want to export but just do not know where to start. Business owners will be introduced to the combined market opportunities worth about $7 trillion throughout Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean as well as the resources needed to enter those markets.

Class covers:

  • Free trade agreements
  • How to transport your goods overseas
  • Export financing

At the end of the seminar, you will be able to:

  • Name the laws that provide opportunities for U.S. businesses in specific overseas markets
  • Identify the right market(s) for your specific product or service
  • Name three common modes of overseas transportation
  • Meet international trade specialists in the areas of market research, transportation of goods and export financing

Presented by:

Sarita D. Jackson PhD PhotoSarita D. Jackson, Ph.D. is the founder, president and CEO of the Global Research Institute of International Trade (GRIIT), a think-tank/consulting firm. She conducts market competitive analyses for clients and helps organizations develop international trade programs. She also teaches Fundamentals of International Trade at UCLA Extension. Dr. Jackson has published numerous scholarly articles both nationally and internationally and is currently drafting a book on international trade competitiveness in the 21st century. Dr. Jackson serves on the Board of Directors of Women in International Trade-Los Angeles (WIT-LA) and is a member of the National Association of Small Business International Trade Executives (NASBITE).

She earned a Bachelor’s degree in journalism and Spanish at the University of Southern California and a Master’s and Doctorate in political science at Brown University.

OIT Photos-PellsonPellson Lau joined the U.S. Small Business Administration – Office of International Trade in 2011 as the Regional Manager of the Export Solutions Group. He currently covers Southern California and the State of Arizona from his office at the U.S. Export Assistance Center – Los Angeles (USEAC). Prior to the SBA, he amassed over 25 years’ experience in the banking industry, specializing in international trade operations, commercial lending, credit review and administration, and various government loan guarantee programs through the Export-Import Bank of the U.S. and the SBA.

Pellson holds a banking diploma from ifs School of Finance, United Kingdom, a certificate inpersonal financial planning from the University of California, Los Angeles and a MBA from the University of Southern California. He is an enrolled agent licensed by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. Pellson is also a Certified Global Business Professional (CGBP).


Lynda WilsonLynda Wilson-Bey is President and CEO of South Los Angeles Logistics, FPC, a 3PL company that integrates and manages all logistics services of a complex supply chain. The Company’s mission is to facilitate the exchange of goods and service between Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean and the U.S. through trade and investment. Her extensive experience with detailed coordination of complex operations involving many people, facilities and suppliers began 35 years ago as a Legal Secretary. The knowledge involved in learning to navigate federal, state and local court jurisdictions while also having to manage the flow of documentation from origin to disposition, has given her the foundation, skills and expertise to lead her company into the 21st Century global economy. Today, she uses that same knowledge as a business planning frame-work for the management of materials, service, information and capital flows. She serves as Director of Global Logistics Education for Africa-USA Chamber of Commerce & Industry.

Registration Fee: 

$25 for the class (nonrefundable, payment reserves spot)
Parking options available during on-line registration.

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Dr. Jackson to Speak at USC Today

saritagreenI look forward to participating in a panel discussion on leadership and entrepreneurship.

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“Let’s Talk Leadership: Young Entrepreneurs Making Waves in the Workforce” will take place this evening from 6-9 p.m. at USC. It is a free event. You can learn more and RSVP at I hope to see you there.


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