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Jun 20 -- The United States, Barbados, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Mexico, Panama, Peru and Uruguay have launched the Americas Partnership for Economic Prosperity (Partnership) to deepen economic collaboration and integration in the Western Hemisphere. In November 2023, leaders of these countries issued the East Room Declaration, directing Ministers responsible for trade, foreign affairs and finance each to commence work in their respective areas to fulfill Partnership objectives. USTR is seeking public comments on matters described below, including U.S. interests and priorities, in order to develop trade-related lines of effort in the trade track of the Partnership. Submit comments no later than July 22, 2024.

President Biden first announced the Partnership at the 2022 Summit of the Americas. On November 3, 2023, the United States welcomed representatives of the founding Partnership countries to the White House for the first Leaders' Summit. Following the Summit, leaders of the United States, Barbados, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Mexico, Panama, Peru and Uruguay released the East Room Declaration, which directs Ministers to begin work in three tracks—Foreign Affairs, Trade, and Finance—to support the Leaders' intention that the Partnership serve as a lasting regional platform to pursue an ambitious, flexible and goal-oriented regional economic and development agenda. Leaders further identified five initial cross-cutting priorities:

-- Strengthening regional competitiveness and integration;
-- Fostering shared prosperity and good governance;
-- Building sustainable infrastructure;
-- Protecting the climate and environment; and
-- Promoting healthy communities.

Leaders also called on Ministers responsible for trade to develop inclusive and sustainable approaches to trade and investment that will support regional sustainable development and resilient supply chains for goods and services, enhance a predictable and transparent regulatory environment that can boost trade flows, and remove barriers to greater economic integration among our countries.

On March 18, 2024, the Partnership Trade Ministers met virtually. They took note of the work of the Partnership's Council on Trade and Competitiveness (CTC), which is comprised of senior officials for trade. The CTC has established committees on Trade Rules and Transparency, Sustainable Value and Supply Chains, and Inclusive Trade and SMEs.

The Ministers emphasized how the Partnership can complement and build on existing trade ties, further deepen economic integration in the region, and develop sustainable and inclusive approaches to trade and investment. They also recalled Leaders' expectation that the trade agenda under the Partnership promote formal jobs that lead to decent work and promote internationally recognized labor rights, environmental sustainability, and economic inclusion.

Trade Ministers plan to meet in person in Ecuador in August 2024 to review progress by the CTC and discuss priorities for next year. Ministers also will discuss preparation for the Leaders' Summit in Costa Rica in 2025.

The Trade Policy Staff Committee (TPSC) invites interested parties to submit comments to assist USTR in the development of priorities and lines of effort consistent with the regional scope and collaborative nature of the Partnership, as elaborated below. Because the Partnership will build on, and coexist with, existing U.S trade agreements, its work should not detract from or unnecessarily duplicate work that is taking place in the committees of existing U.S trade agreements, including free trade agreements, trade and investment framework agreements, and other similar agreements.

USTR is committed to broad and inclusive stakeholder engagement in developing projects for the trade work of the Partnership. In particular, the TPSC invites interested parties to comment on the following matters as they relate to trade and investment:

-- Customs and trade facilitation;
-- Value and supply chain resilience and sustainability, with particular focus on clean energy, medical supplies and semiconductors;
-- Inclusive Trade, including for women, Indigenous Peoples, and other underrepresented groups;
-- Issues of particular relevance to small and medium-sized enterprises;
-- Labor standards and worker rights;
-- Environment, climate, and conservation;
-- Transparency and good regulatory practices;
-- Anti-corruption;
-- Trade capacity building needs and priorities; and
-- Other matters related to trade and investment in the Americas that are consistent with the mission and scope of the Partnership.

FRN: https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2024-13470

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