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Transportation and Trade

Updated: Thursday, February 12, 2015

Trade Policy and Market Access

The Office of International Transportation and Trade manages all transportation-related international trade policy issues within the interagency trade policy mechanism that has been established to develop and coordinate the implementation of trade policy (i.e., policy on trade and trade-related investment) across the Executive Branch.  The interagency trade policy mechanism was established by the Congress in the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 and consists of three-tiers of committees as follows:

  • Trade Policy Staff Committee (TPSC), which is supported by more than 80 subcommittees that are responsible for regional and functional issue areas and several task forces that work on particular issues.  The TPSC is administered and chaired by the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR).
  • Trade Policy Review Group (TPRG), which is also administered and chaired by USTR, or Deputies Committee of the National Security Council/National Economic Council, either of which may be assigned responsibility for addressing issues that are more contentious and/or complex than those handled by the TPSC.
  • Principals Committee of the National Security Council/National Economic Council, which is the final tier of the interagency trade policy mechanism and consists of members of the Cabinet with or without the President in attendance.

The three-tiered interagency trade policy mechanism is designed so that trade issues are analyzed and policy differences worked out at the lowest possible level.  It is usually the case that interagency consensus on issues is reached at the TPSC level.  The usual TPSC process is that USTR requests input and analysis from members of the appropriate TPSC subcommittee or task force and the conclusions and recommendations of the TPSC subcommittee or task force are presented to the full TPSC and serve as the basis for reaching interagency consensus. 

The Office of International Transportation and Trade identifies and insures that Departmental staff participate on those TPSC subcommittees that are relevant to the work of the Department.  Transportation sector trade policy interests span regional and functional TPSC subcommittees and special task forces.  Some examples are transportation or transportation-related aspects of:

  1. Multilateral and regional  trade negotiations, such as those under the Doha Development Round on services under the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) and trade facilitation, and under  the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) between the United States and Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam (Canada and Mexico were invited to join the TPP negotiations in mid-June 2012 pending successful conclusion of domestic procedures);
  2. Technical barriers to trade (TBT) issues that may arise in the World Trade Organization;
  3. Government procurement issues that may arise within the plurilateral World Trade Organization/Government Procurement Agreement (GPA) or within regional or bilateral trade agreements or negotiations;
  4. Regulatory (deregulation) issues that may arise in multilateral, regional, or bilateral negotiations; and,
  5. Periodic reviews (Trade Policy Reviews) within the World Trade Organization of the overall U.S. international trading regime.

Export Promotion and the NEI

The Office of International Transportation and Trade coordinates the Department’s activities related to the National Export Initiative (NEI)  and staffs the Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee (TPCC) working groups on behalf of the Department.

The Department plays a key role in the export strategy of the United States. Annex 4 of Executive Order 13534  instructs the Federal Government to use every available Federal resource to support the National Export Initiative (NEI). The Export Promotion Cabinet (EPC) is tasked with developing and implementing the NEI and reporting to the President on progress. The Secretary of Transportation is a member of the EPC.

As an implementing mechanism, the existing TPCC was identified as the primary mechanism for executing U.S. trade promotion priorities under the NEI. The TPCC was established in 1992 to set priorities for Federal export assistance and financing programs. It consists of representatives from 20 U.S. Government departments and agencies, including DOT, and is chaired by the Secretary of Commerce.

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