U.S. Trade Representative Releases 2019 Trade Policy Agenda and 2018 Annual Report

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) has released President Donald Trump’s 2019 Trade Policy Agenda and 2018 Annual Report, detailing how the Trump administration’s trade policies “are benefitting American workers and contributing to the strongest economy in decades.” Claiming that the Trump administration “inherited a significantly flawed trading system,” the report states that the administration “took immediate and decisive action to implement a new trade agenda.”

The USTR indicated that it “and other parts of the Administration have used both domestic laws and international fora to press U.S. trade priorities and enforce trade commitments made by America’s trading partners. In 2019, the Administration will continue this work and take further steps to rebalance America’s trade relationships and the global economy.”

In one of its more interesting statements in support of Trump’s trade agenda, the report states:

For too long, workers here and throughout the developed world have been frustrated by elected officials who talk about the problems resulting from globalization – but do nothing about them. For too long, policymakers here and throughout the developed world have been intimidated by the claim that any effort to shift trade policy in a more worker-friendly direction represents some type of Smoot-Hawley style “protectionism.” But this is nonsense – recent events demonstrate that by using its leverage as the world’s largest market, the United States can create better conditions for U.S. workers, and encourage more efficient global markets.

The lengthy report focuses on three broad areas: (1) President Trump “inherited a deeply flawed global trading system,” (2) the Trump administration is making U.S. trade policy “work better for American workers,” and (3) the administration in 2019 will continue to pursue new trade deals, enforce U.S. laws, monitor trade agreements and rebalance U.S. trade relationships. A fact sheet on the president’s Trade Agenda and Annual Report is also available.

The report provides summaries and comments on the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), the revised U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement and discusses the new trade negotiations with Japan, the European Union and the United Kingdom. In the area of trade enforcement, the report addresses the ongoing Section 301 trade and tariff actions toward China and notes that the United States will continue to press China to address long-standing U.S. concerns about unfair trade practices. Concerning the World Trade Organization (WTO), the report notes ongoing reform efforts, particularly the challenges of non-market economies and concerns over the WTO dispute settlement system. These efforts are “part of an ongoing upgrade to adjust U.S. trade policy to the realities of the 21st century economy.”

Compliments of Thompson Hine, a member of the EACCNY