The office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) is responsible for developing and coordinating U.S. international trade, commodity, and direct investment policy, and overseeing negotiations with other countries. USTR's top priorities for FY2015, which begins on October 1, 2014, are concluding Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks and making progress in Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) talks with the European Union. USTR has expressed the position that TPP and TTIP will serve complementary policy goals by boosting domestic manufacturing and ensuring a level playing field in global markets.

USTR's proposed budget for FY2015 is designed to achieve these goals. USTR seeks a 5.5% increase to its annual budget from $54 million to $57 million. The additional funds would be used for travel expenses and the hiring of 12 new employees. USTR argues that a budget increase is necessary due to heavy cuts from the 2013 sequestration, which impaired the agency's ability to carry out trade negotiations and enforcement activities. USTR further explains that those budget cuts delayed TTIP negotiations and also affected the USTR's ability to deal with trade and investment issues with China.

Cole Pfeiffer