May 2017 Policy Update


WCIT’s been hard at work following the twists and turns of trade policy updates in D.C. Here’s the latest:

The administration’s trade team is finalized:

The new U.S. Trade Representative, Robert Lighthizer, was confirmed. Ambassador Lighthizer was previously Deputy US Trade Representative in the Reagan Administration, and also worked for the Senate Finance Committee. In private practice, he was a partner at Skadden Arps, where is perhaps best known for representing the US steel industry against foreign steel imports. He joins several others in the administration with ties to the steel industry, including Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and trade lawyer Gil Kaplan, who has been nominated for Undersecretary of Commerce for International Trade. At USDA, former Georgia Governor Sonny Purdue was sworn in last month as the new Secretary of Agriculture.

Administration announces new framework for addressing China trade concerns:

Following President Trump’s meeting with President Xi Jinping earlier this year, the two countries announced a 100-day action plan under the framework of the U.S. – China Comprehensive Economic Dialogue. The U.S. side is being led by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. On May 11, Secretary Ross announced “initial results” under the Dialogue, including that China would begin importing US beef, and that China would issue guidelines for licensing US credit cards.

Administration announces plans to formally renegotiate NAFTA:

Last week, the administration also formally notified Congress that it plans to renegotiate NAFTA. The administration is required to give Congress 90 days’ notice before opening a trade negotiation. USTR Lighthizer sent the official letter to Congress, noting that “NAFTA was negotiated 25 years ago, and while our economy and business have changed considerably over that period, NAFTA has not.” Lighthizer called out digital trade as one area where new provisions are needed.

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