The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) is the United States government agency responsible for developing and recommending United States trade policy to the president of the United States, conducting trade negotiations at bilateral and multilateral levels, and coordinating trade policy within the government through the interagency Trade Policy Staff Committee (TPSC) and Trade Policy Review Group (TPRG). Established as the Office of the Special Trade Representative (STR) under the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, the USTR is part of the Executive Office of the President. The USTR is headed by the U.S. trade representative, which is a Cabinet-level position, and has over 200 employees, with offices in Geneva, Switzerland, and Brussels, Belgium.
The current trade representative is Robert Lighthizer, who was confirmed by the Senate on May 11, 2017.
On December 10, 2020, President-Elect Joe Biden announced that he would be nominating Katherine Tai as the United States Trade Representative. If confirmed, Tai would be the first woman of color to lead the Office of the United States Trade Representative.
The head of the office holds the title of United States Trade Representative (USTR), which is a Cabinet-level position, though not technically within the Cabinet, as is the case with office heads not of US departments but rather of offices contained within the Executive Office of the President. To fill the post, the president nominates someone for the position, and the appointment is then approved or rejected by a simple majority of the Senate. The United States trade representative and deputy United States trade representatives (DUSTR) carry the title of Ambassador.
In the Obama administration, Michael Froman served as the US trade representative from 2013 to 2017, with Michael Punke and Robert Holleyman serving as deputy US trade representatives. Ambassador Punke also concurrently served as the U.S. ambassador to the World Trade Organization (WTO).
On May 2, 2013, President Obama nominated Michael Froman to succeed Ambassador Ron Kirk as the U.S. trade representative. The Senate confirmed Froman on June 19, 2013, and he was sworn into office on June 21, 2013.
Robert Lighthizer, the current U.S. trade representative, was nominated by President Trump and confirmed by the Senate on May 11, 2017, by a vote of 82–14.
Office of WTO and Multilateral Affairs
The USTR participates in the World Trade Organization, which is currently in the Doha Development Round. This is partially managed by the USTR Office of WTO and Multilateral Affairs (WAMA). Relevant WTO agreements include the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) and the Generalized System of Preferences.