The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) has released President Donald Trump’s 2020 Trade Policy Agenda and 2019 Annual Report, detailing how the Trump administration’s trade actions have resulted in “a ‘blue-collar boom’ with higher wages, more jobs and a stronger economy for all.” The report details several of President Trump’s trade accomplishments over the past year, including the signing of trade agreements with Mexico, Canada, China and Japan, as well as enforcement actions and efforts to reform the World Trade Organization (WTO). The report states that the president’s trade agenda for 2020 will be to continue to “rebalance America’s trade relationships to benefit American workers, aggressively enforce U.S. trade laws, and take prompt action in response to unfair trade practices by other nations.”
This “America First” trade agenda includes:
- Pursuing balanced and reciprocal trade agreements with the United Kingdom, the European Union and Kenya, which would be the United States’ first free trade agreement in sub-Saharan Africa.
- Enforcement of commitments in trade agreements, including “robust enforcement” of commitments by trading partners to the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), the China Phase One Agreement, and WTO agreements.
- Further negotiations with Japan for a comprehensive trade agreement.
- Pursuing a Phase Two Agreement with China that continues to require structural reforms and other changes to China’s economic and trade systems.
- Limiting the WTO to its original purpose of serving as a forum for nations to negotiate trade agreements, monitor compliance with agreements, and facilitate the member-driven resolution of international trade disputes.
Regarding the WTO, the report notes that the United States has engaged significantly with other WTO members on various issues of concern, including implementation of existing WTO rules, reform of the dispute settlement system and new ideas and proposed changes for a trade regulatory system first implemented over 25 years ago. Noting the USTR’s recent report on the WTO Appellate Body (see Trump and Trade Update of February 12, 2020), the report references the Appellate Body’s repeated failure to apply the rules of the WTO agreements in a manner that adheres to the text of those agreements as negotiated and agreed by WTO members. The annual report also notes that the United States continues to push for improving transparency and compliance with basic notification obligations. The report highlights efforts to advance proposals on e-commerce and digital trade. Overall, as part of its 2020 trade agenda, the USTR will continue to undertake efforts to reform the WTO so that it “reflects current economic realities and strengthens free-market economies.”
To read a fact sheet on the 2020 Trade Policy Agenda and 2019 Annual Report, click here.