Despite government shutdown, top U.S. trade officials keep traveling abroad

Posted by Rob Hotakainen on October 2, 2013 

The government shutdown has not altered travel plans for U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman.

COURTESTY OF THE WHITE HOUSE

While President Barack Obama chose to shorten part of his long-planned trip to Asia in response to the government shutdown, his top trade officials are still doing plenty of travel abroad.

Next week, the office of the U.S. Trade Representative plans to send a team of negotiators to Brussels for the second round of trade talks with the European Union. The office did not disclose how many of its employees would be attending.

And Michael Froman, who heads the office, left Washington before the shutdown.

On Monday in Brussels, he gave a speech on European trade and met with officials from the European Commission and Parliament. On Tuesday in Geneva, he gave a speech at an event sponsored by the World Trade Organization. And now he's headed for Bali for a few days of meetings with trade and economic ministers.

The talks in Brussels next week will take place as planned because the negotiators are exempt from the furloughs that have hit thousands of other government workers.

"We have exempted USTR personnel whose presence is required to meet a handful of the most pressing international trade negotiation and enforcement obligations," Carol Guthrie, spokeswoman for the USTR, said today.

While the shutdown has not interfered with next week's trade talks, she said: "In the event of a prolonged lapse in funding, plans may change."

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