In a lengthy State of the Union address, President Trump covered many issues and highlighted his administration’s achievements over the past year in claiming a “new American moment.” On international trade matters, Trump broke no new ground in reiterating his administration’s position that it will promote only “free, fair and reciprocal trade.” In his opening remarks on trade, the president stated that “America has also finally turned the page on decades of unfair trade deals that sacrificed our prosperity and shipped away our companies, our jobs, and our Nation’s wealth. The era of economic surrender is over.” While not mentioning any specific trade agreements, he indicated that his administration will continue to work to “fix bad trade deals and negotiate new ones.” Trump noted increased sanctions on Cuba and Venezuela while again urging Congress to address what he views as “fundamental flaws in the terrible Iran nuclear deal.”
While he did not specifically address the numerous trade actions currently pending (i.e., Sections 201, 232 and 301 investigations), the president appeared to reference the ongoing Section 301 investigation against China regarding that country’s intellectual property and technology transfer policies and practices when he said, “We will protect American workers and American intellectual property through strong enforcement of our trade rules.” Many trade policy experts took that statement as a signal the U.S. government will be announcing and implementing remedies soon in response to the Section 301 investigation. Overall, President Trump’s comments were a reaffirmation of his administration’s now well-known positions on trade negotiations and enforcement.
In conjunction with the address, the White House released a Fact Sheet providing details on the various trade achievements from President Trump’s first year in office.