U.S. Trade Representative (USTR)

What is the U.S. Trade Representative?

The U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) is a member of the Cabinet and the Executive Office of the President. This individual acts as the principal advisor, negotiator, and spokesperson regarding trade issues for the U.S. president.

The current USTR is Katherine Tai, who took office on March 18, 2021.

The office of the USTR, formed in 1962 by the Trade Expansion Act, develops and coordinates U.S. international trade and related policies. It also resolves disagreements and prepares issues for presidential decisions. It has offices in Brussels, Geneva, and Washington, D.C.

Key Takeaways

  • The U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) develops and coordinates U.S. international trade policies.
  • The USTR is a Cabinet member of the Executive Office of the President. This person advises the U.S. president and members of Congress on trade policies and decisions.
  • The USTR office develops and negotiates agreements to open markets around the world.
  • The USTR office was formed in 1962.

Understanding the USTR

One of the stated goals of American trade policy, according to the USTR, is to open markets around the world by engaging in trade agreements with other countries. The USTR develops and negotiates for these agreements, as well as for commodity and direct investment policies. The office of the USTR has many areas of expertise, including:

The USTR has historically served as vice chairman of the board of directors of the Overseas Private Investment Corp. (OPIC) and serves on the board of the Millennium Challenge Corp. and as a member of the National Advisory Council on International Monetary and Financial Policies.

The Trade Policy Review Group (TPRG) and the Trade Policy Staff Committee (TPSC) are two additional trade groups that the USTR oversees. These two groups are composed of 19 federal agencies and nearly 100 subcommittees and task forces responsible for niche areas of trade.

In addition to advising and partnering with the president, the USTR partners with Congress to provide detailed briefings to committees on agriculture, banking and financial services, and more. Members of Congress are also formally appointed as official congressional advisors on trade policy, working together with the office of the USTR.

Who is the current U.S. Trade Representative?

As of March 18, 2021, the current U.S. Trade Representative is Katherine Tai. Previous confirmed USTRs to serve include Robert Lighthizer, Michael Froman, Ron Kirk, Susan Schwab, and Rob Portman.

What is the job of the U.S. Trade Representative?

The U.S. Trade Representative develops and coordinates U.S. international trade policies, negotiates, and advises the president and Congress.

How many trade representatives are there?

In the office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) are more than 200 trade specialists with expertise in various areas of the world, sectors, and industries. That includes agriculture, environment, government procurement, labor, manufacturing, small business, textiles, and trade organizations such as the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Article Sources
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  1. Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. “Mission of the USTR.”

  2. Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. “Katherine Tai: Ambassador.”

  3. Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, Archive. “History of the United States Trade Representative.”

  4. Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. “About Us.”

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