President Trump has released his first National Security Strategy (NSS), a statutorily mandated document that sets forth how the president intends to put his national security vision into practice on behalf of the United States. The strategy identifies four vital national interests, or “four pillars”: (1) Protect the American people, the homeland, and the American way of life; (2) Promote American prosperity; (3) Preserve peace through strength; and (4) Advance American influence.

To promote American prosperity, the NSS states that a strong economy is necessary to “restore our national power.” The NSS highlights that the United States for 70 years has embraced and advanced an international economic system “rooted in American principles of reciprocity, free markets, and free trade [that] served our economic and security interests.” Today, however, “American prosperity and security are challenged by an economic competition playing out in a broader strategic context” in which other countries do not share our belief in such a system and “espouse free trade rhetoric and exploit its benefits, but only adhere selectively to the rules and agreements.” In response, President Trump “will no longer turn a blind eye to violations, cheating, or economic aggression.”

The NSS sets forth a broad policy to promote free, fair and reciprocal economic relationships. The NSS reiterates the president’s commitment to address continuing trade imbalances, break down trade barriers, pursue enforcement actions and defend against economic aggression. To that end, the NSS sets forth these trade-related “priority actions” that the Trump administration will undertake:

  • Adopt new trade and investment agreements and modernize existing ones: The United States will pursue bilateral trade and investment agreements with countries that commit to fair and reciprocal trade and will modernize existing agreements to ensure that they are consistent with those principles. Agreements must adhere to high standards in intellectual property, digital trade, agriculture, labor and the environment.
  • Counter unfair trade practices: The United States will counter all unfair trade practices that distort markets using all appropriate means, from dialogue to enforcement tools.
  • Counter foreign corruption: Using our economic and diplomatic tools, the United States will continue to target corrupt foreign officials and work with countries to improve their ability to fight corruption so U.S. companies can compete fairly in transparent business climates.
  • Work with like-minded partners: The United States will work with like-minded partners to preserve and modernize the rules of a fair and reciprocal economic order. Together, we will emphasize fair trade enforcement actions when necessary, as well as multinational efforts, to ensure transparency and adherence to international standards within trade and investment projects.
  • Facilitate new market opportunities: The United States will partner with countries as they build their export markets, promote free market competition and incentivize private sector growth. We will expand U.S. trade and investment opportunities and increase the market base for U.S. goods and services.