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Administration Releases President’s 2017 Trade Agenda

President promises new approach to trade policy once USTR nominee confirmed

The President’s 2017 Trade Policy Agenda was released on March 1, even though the United States Trade Representative (USTR), who has the primary responsibility for developing U.S. trade policy, has not yet been confirmed. The Administration is required by law to submit the agenda, but noted a more detailed (than the current 336 pages) agenda will be submitted once the Senate has confirmed a USTR (nominee Robert Lighthizer). President Trump also plans to make good on his promise to deliver a new approach to international trade policy, the Administration said.

According to the report, U.S. trade policy will:

  • Ensure U.S. workers and businesses have a fair opportunity to compete for business – both in the domestic U.S. market and in other key markets around the world.

  • Break down unfair trade barriers in other markets that block U.S. exports, including exports of agricultural goods.

  • Maintain a balanced policy that looks out for the interests of all segments of the U.S. economy, including manufacturing, agriculture, and services, as well as small businesses and entrepreneurs.

  • Ensure U.S. owners of intellectual property (IP) have a full and fair opportunity to use and profit from their IP.

  • Strictly enforce U.S. trade laws to prevent the U.S. market from being distorted by dumped and/or subsidized imports that harm domestic industries and workers.

  • Enforce labor provisions in existing agreements and enforcing the prohibition against the importation and sale of goods made with forced labor.

  • Resist efforts by other countries – or members of international bodies like the World Trade Organization (WTO) – to advance interpretations that would weaken the rights and benefits of, or increase the obligations under, the various trade agreements to which the United States is a party.

  • Update current trade agreements as necessary to reflect changing times and market conditions.

  • Ensure United States trade policy contributes to the economic strength and manufacturing base necessary to maintain – and improve – our national security.

  • Strongly advocate for all U.S. workers, farmers, ranchers, services providers and businesses, large and small – to assure the fairest possible treatment of American interests in the U.S. market and in other markets around the world.
The Trade Policy Agenda places a significant emphasis on sovereignty and enforcement and briefly mentions the Administration’s intention to renegotiate trade agreements (no specific mention of NAFTA and timing) and to pull out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. However, the bulk of the 2017 agenda turns its attention to the 2016 Annual Report of the President of the United States on the Trade Agreements Program, including work done by USTR at the World Trade Organization (such as the work that SOCMA collaborated with USTR on to raise EU and South Korean chemical regulations as a technical barrier to trade- see p 31) and actions taken by the U.S. government in regards to bilateral and regional trade agreements.

Both the 2017 agenda and the 2016 report noticeably fail to mention the positive impact trade has played to expand markets and grow businesses here in the United States. However, we can expect a more detailed agenda and plan once the USTR is in place.

SOCMA members depend on a dynamic global supply chain and have benefited from trade agreements, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). However, SOCMA looks forward to working with the Administration to make sure our manufacturers continue to be competitive.
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