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Obama shake-up threatens USTR

US President Barack Obama wants to consolidate six government agencies, including the US Trade Representative, into one new authority

The USTR is an executive office of the President, and is responsible for developing and coordinating international trade, commodity and direct investment policy, and overseeing negotiations with other countries.

One of its roles is monitoring IP enforcement and it produces the annual Special 301 Report on IP enforcement worldwide.

In a statement on Friday, Obama asked Congress to give him authority to reorganise and consolidate the federal government.

He said he would use the authority, if granted, to reduce the number of government agencies and save expenditure.

He added that his first target was the six agencies that focus on business and trade. These are the part of the Department of Commerce, the Small Business Administration, the Office of the USTR, the Export-Import Bank, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, and the Trade and Development Agency.

Obama plans to replace the six with one agency with the mission to spur job creation and expand the US economy.

But his plans are likely to be opposed in Congress, amid concerns that merging the agencies would be difficult and distracting, and that the USTR would become weaker.

“Taking USTR, one of the most efficient agencies that is a model of how government can and should work, and making it just another corner of a new bureaucratic behemoth would hurt American exports and hinder American job creation,” said Dave Camp, Republican chairman of the House ways and means committee, and Max Baucus, chairman of the Senate finance committee, in a joint statement.

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