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March 9, 2020

White House Issues Trade Policy Agenda

Last week, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) released its Trade Policy Agenda for 2020, which outlines the Trump administration’s trade and tariff priorities for the next year.

The administration said it will focus on: negotiating new trade deals with the United Kingdom, the European Union, Kenya, and, potentially, Japan and China; enforcing the components of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which is not yet in force since the Canadian Parliament still has not ratified it; and reforming the World Trade Organization (WTO) by:

  • Limiting the WTO to its original purpose of serving as a forum for negotiations, monitoring trade compliance, and facilitating the resolution of trade disputes;
  • Addressing the Trump administration’s Appellate Body concerns;
  • Developing new rules to govern digital trade;
  • Improving transparency;
  • Enforcing notifications obligations and seeking reform of “special land differential treatment” for developing countries; and
  • Addressing a WTO system that “locks-in outdated tariff determinations that lead to many countries with large economies that continue to maintain very high bound tariff rates, far in excess of the rates applied by the United States or to which the United States is bound.”