Earlier this year, two members of the American Supply Association’s Vendor Member Division were named to the Department of Commerce’s Industry Trade Advisory Committees.
Representing ASA are Weldbend’s Stephen Letkoand Matco-Norca’s Lynn McVey.The ITACs are a unique public-private partnership jointly managed by the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Office of United States Trade Representative that engages business leaders in formulating U.S. trade policy.
As part of the USTR-led trade advisory committee system, the Department of Commerce and USTR co-administer 16 ITACs, an ITAC Committee of Chairs, and more than 300-plus trade advisors who provide detailed policy, technical advice and recommendations to the Secretary of Commerce and the USTR regarding trade barriers, negotiations of trade agreements, implementation of existing trade agreements affecting industry sectors and also perform other advisory functions relevant to U.S. trade policy matters.
The 16 ITACs include (with ASA membership in italics): Aerospace Equipment (ITAC 1); Automotive Equipment and Capital Goods (ITAC 2); Chemicals, Pharmaceuticals, Health/Science Products and Services (ITAC 3); Consumer Goods (ITAC 4); Distribution Services (ITAC 5); Energy and Energy Services (ITAC 6); Forest Products (ITAC 7); Information and Communications Technologies, Services and Electronic Commerce (ITAC 8); Building Materials, Construction and Nonferrous Metals (ITAC 9); Services and Finance Industries (ITAC 10); Small and Minority Business (ITAC 11); Steel (ITAC 12); Textiles and Clothing (ITAC 13); Customs Matters and Trade Facilitation (ITAC 14); Intellectual Property Rights (ITAC 15); and Standards and Technical Trade Barriers (ITAC 16).
Some of the issues discussed include competitiveness, barriers to trade, market access, standards, sustainability and much more. Appointees periodically meet in Washington and correspond electronically on a regular basis. Due to the sensitivity of the topics discussed, they are required to complete rigorous background checks and comply with full confidentiality.
“The opportunity to represent our industry, ASA and my company all at once is immeasurable,” McVey says.
Letko adds: “This is a tremendous platform to bring to the decision-makers in the executive branch the issues we face, enabling us to then utilize our years of practical experience to help formulate the appropriate response to address them.”
Officials stress that ITAC members are critical to ensuring the government is aware of the views of U.S. industry regarding trade negotiations and in developing, implementing and administering U.S. trade policy.
According to their charters, the committees provide detailed policy and technical advice, information, and recommendations to the Secretary of Commerce and the USTR regarding trade barriers, negotiations of trade agreements and implementation of existing trade agreements affecting its sectors, while performing such other advisory functions relevant to U.S. trade policy as may be requested by the secretary and the USTR.
ITAC members are jointly appointed by the Secretary of Commerce and the USTR. Appointments are made at the re-chartering of each ITAC and periodically throughout the two-year charter period. Members serve at the discretion of the secretary and the USTR. Appointments to the ITACs expire at the end of the ITAC’s charter term (the duration is four years).
Author bio: Dan Hilton is director of government affairs for the American Supply Association, representing the PVF-PHCP industry in Washington, D.C. If you would like to learn more or have an interest in serving on an ITAC, go to http://ita.doc.gov/itac/index.asp or contact Hilton at firstname.lastname@example.org or 703 /328-5234.