June 22, 2020

Ambassador Lighthizer Testifies On U.S. Trade Policy

On June 17, 2020, U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Robert Lighthizer testified before the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee and the U.S. Senate Finance Committee on the Trump administration’s trade agenda. The discussion with lawmakers included remarks on the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), the World Trade Organization (WTO), and trade with China, Japan, and Europe.

Ambassador Lighthizer said the USMCA would incentivize manufacturing and secure greater market access for American businesses. He also said he expected the agreement to take effect within one week, on July 1, 2020.

Regarding China, Ambassador Lighthizer said the phase one deal with China is on track to be implemented (click here for a review of that deal) and that he expects a phase two agreement to address overcapacity, among other issues.

The trade representative also testified that while he is “confident” the United States will be able to reach a robust free trade deal with the United Kingdom, trade negotiations with Japan are “stalled.” Ambassador Lighthizer also confirmed that the Trump administration will continue to seek reforms to the WTO and urged federal lawmakers to explore alternative dispute settlement mechanisms.

Also during the hearings: Sens. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and Pat Toomey (R-Penn.) expressed continued support for exempting Canada from Section 232 tariffs and Rep. Suzan Delbene (D-Wash.) highlighted the ongoing challenge of Chinese aluminum overcapacity.

Last week the U.S. Customs and Border Protection also released updated USMCA Interim Implementing Instructions, which replace the Interim Implementing Instructions that were released on April 20. As indicated by CBP, the new instructions provide guidance on the new requirements under the USMCA, including information on claiming USMCA preferential treatment for goods. Final Implementing Instructions will be released prior to entry into force on July 1, and will provided additional details on USMCA entry, compliance and other requirements. Click here to review the updates.