ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI, U.S. — While the American Soybean Association (ASA) supports initiatives to improve government efficiency and eliminate redundancy, ASA said on Jan. 13 that it has strong concerns about at least one aspect of the President Obama’s proposal to merge the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) with other trade agencies.

ASA said that USTR should remain an independent agency within the Executive Office of the President (EOP), focusing on trade negotiations, trade agreements and trade enforcement. By being an independent office within the Executive Office of the President, USTR serves a critical function in supporting and balancing the divergent trade interests of each sector of the U.S. economy, while consistently advocating the reduction of trade barriers, ASA said.

USTR’s efforts have been vital to the growth of American agricultural exports. ASA said it is concerned that folding USTR into a massive Department of Commerce or Industry structure would significantly weaken the coordination role played by USTR on trade interests across sectors, and the work on agricultural trade opportunities and barriers would be diminished. ASA said it supports continuing the current structure and functions of the Office of the U.S Trade Representative.