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Notice

Trade Policy Staff Committee; Request for Public Comment on Review of Employment Impact of United States-Southern African Customs Union Free Trade Agreement

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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AGENCY:

Office of the United States Trade Representative, Department of Labor.

ACTION:

Request for comments.

SUMMARY:

The Trade Policy Staff Committee (TPSC) gives notice that the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) and the Department of Labor (Labor) are initiating a review of the impact of the proposed U.S.-Southern African Customs Union Free Trade Agreement (FTA) on United States employment, including labor markets. This notice seeks written public comment on potentially significant sectoral or regional employment impacts (both positive and negative) in the United States as well as other likely labor market impacts of the FTA.

DATES:

Public comments should be received no later than June 6, 2003.

ADDRESSES:

Submissions by electronic mail: FR0075@ustr.gov. Submissions by facsimile: Gloria Blue, Executive Secretary, Trade Policy Staff Committee, at (202) 395-6143.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

For procedural questions concerning public comments, contact Gloria Blue, Executive Secretary, TPSC, Office of the USTR, 1724 F Street, NW, Washington, DC 20508, telephone (202) 395-3475. Substantive questions concerning the employment impact review should be addressed to Jorge Perez-Lopez, Director, Office of International Economic Affairs, Bureau of International Labor Affairs, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20210, telephone (202) 693-4883; or William Clatanoff, Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Labor, telephone (202) 395-6120.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

1. Background Information

On November 4, 2002, in accordance with section 2104(a)(1) of the Trade Act of 2002, the United States Trade Representative, Ambassador Robert B. Zoellick, notified Congress of the President's intent to enter into trade negotiations with the member nations of the Southern African Customs Union (SACU): Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa, and Swaziland. Ambassador Zoellick outlined specific U.S. objectives for these negotiations in the notification letters to Congress. Copies of the letters are available at http://www.ustr.gov/​releases/​2002/​11/​2002-11-04-SACU-byrd.PDF and http://www.ustr.gov/​releases/​2002/​11/​2002-11-04-SACU-hastert.PDF.

The TPSC invited the public to provide written comments and/or oral testimony at a public hearing that took place on December 16, 2002, to assist USTR in amplifying and clarifying negotiating objectives for the proposed FTA and to provide advice on how specific goods and services and other matters should be treated under the proposed agreement (67 FR 69295).

A free trade agreement with SACU would deepen economic and political ties to sub-Saharan Africa and lend momentum to development efforts for the region. SACU is the largest U.S. export market in sub-Saharan Africa, accounting for approximately $3.1 billion in exports in 2001. Total two-way trade in goods between the United States and the member countries of SACU totaled $7.9 billion in 2001. Leading U.S. exports to SACU include machinery and equipment, aircraft, vehicles, chemicals, plastics and agricultural products. Leading U.S. imports from SACU include vehicles, minerals, precious stones and metals, iron and steel products, and apparel.

2. Employment Impact Review

Section 2102(c)(5) of the Bipartisan Trade Promotion Authority Act of 2002, 19 U.S.C. 3802(c)(5), directs the President to Areview the impact of future trade agreements on United States employment, including labor markets, modeled after Executive Order 13141 to the extent appropriate in establishing procedures and criteria, report to the Committee on Ways and Means of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Finance of the Senate on such review, and make that report available to the public.” USTR and the Department of Labor will conduct the employment reviews through the TPSC.

The employment impact review will be based on the following elements, which are modeled to the extent appropriate after those in EO 13141. The review will be: (1) Written; (2) initiated through a Federal Register notice soliciting public comment and information on the employment impact of the FTA in the United States; (3) made available to the public in draft form for public comment, to the extent practicable; and (4) made available to the public in final form.

Comments may be submitted on potentially significant sectoral or Start Printed Page 24533regional employment impacts (both positive and negative) in the United States as well as other likely labor market impacts of the FTA. Persons submitting comments should provide as much detail as possible in support of their submissions.

3. Requirements for Submissions

To ensure prompt and full consideration of responses, the TPSC strongly recommends that interested persons submit comments by electronic mail to the following e-mail address: FR0075@ustr.gov. Persons making submissions by e-mail should use the following subject line: SACU Employment Review.” Documents should be submitted in WordPerfect, MSWord, or text (.TXT) files. Supporting documentation submitted as spreadsheets is acceptable in Quattro Pro or Excel format. For any document containing business confidential information submitted electronically, the file name of the business confidential version should begin with the characters “BC-”, and the file name of the public version should begin with the character “P-”. The “P-” or “BC-” should be followed by the name of the submitter. Persons who make submissions by e-mail should not provide separate cover letters; information that might appear in a cover letter should be included in the submission itself. To the extent possible, any attachments to the submission should be included in the same file as the submission itself, and not as separate files.

Written comments will be placed in a file open to public inspection pursuant to 15 CFR 2003.5, except confidential business information exempt from public inspection in accordance with 15 CFR 2003.6. Confidential business information submitted in accordance with 15 CFR 2003.6 must be clearly marked “BUSINESS CONFIDENTIAL” at the top of each page, including any cover letter or cover page, and must be accompanied by a non-confidential summary of the confidential information. All public documents and non-confidential summaries shall be available for public inspection in the USTR Reading Room in Room 3 of the Annex of the Office of the USTR, 1724 F Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20508. An appointment to review the file may be made by calling (202) 395-6186. The USTR Reading Room is generally open to the public from 10 a.m-12 noon and 1-4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Appointments must be scheduled at least 48 hours in advance.

General information concerning the Office of the United States Trade Representative may be obtained by accessing its Internet Web site (http://www.ustr.gov).

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Carmen Suro-Bredie,

Chairman, Trade Policy Staff Committee.

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[FR Doc. 03-11378 Filed 5-6-03; 8:45 am]

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