Keith Chu, 202-224-4515
Wyden Statement on President’s Trade Agenda
White House Leaves Americans in the Dark About How It Will Meet President’s Trade Promises
WASHINGTON – Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., issued the following statement on the President’s Trade Agenda released today:
"While many of the president’s stated objectives are laudable, it is troubling that the President’s Trade Agenda still leaves the American people in the dark about the actions he intends to take on trade. The election was nearly four months ago, and there remains little substance behind the promises the president made to American workers and American families throughout and after the campaign,” Wyden said.
“Despite a law that requires Trump to spell out what actions he intends to take to achieve his objectives on trade, the American people still know as little about his trade agenda as his plans to replace the Affordable Care Act, reform the tax code, rebuild America’s infrastructure, or defeat ISIS.”
The Trade Act of 1974 established a requirement that the president annually submit to Congress no later than March 1 a report on the trade agreements program and the national trade policy agenda. For decades, both Republican and Democratic administrations have adhered to this important reporting requirement, which ensures that both Congress and the public have a clear understanding of the Administration’s priorities and the actions it intends to take with respect to trade policy. As part of the report, the president must not simply identify trade policy objectives and priorities, but must specify, “the actions proposed or anticipated to be undertaken during the year to achieve such objectives and priorities.” 19 U.S.C. 2213(a)(3)(A)(ii).
Regrettably, the trade policy agenda submitted by the Administration fails to specify the actions the Administration intends to take to achieve its objectives and priorities. While some of the priorities of the Administration are laudable – such as strictly enforcing U.S. trade laws and negotiating new and better trade deals – the report includes no indication of how they would be achieved. This omission is particularly surprising given the many statements the president has made over the past year, and continues to make, regarding American trade policy. It should be noted that the absence of a confirmed USTR has not prevented previous Administrations from complying with the statutory requirement and submitting in a timely manner a report that describes both trade policy objectives and actions to be pursued in the upcoming year.
For example, despite the president’s statement less than 30 days ago that he intends to renegotiate NAFTA, nowhere does the report indicate that the Administration proposes or anticipates a renegotiation of NAFTA. Furthermore, while the report emphasizes the president’s decision to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership to “pave the way for potential bilateral talks with the former TPP countries,” nowhere does the report indicate the actions the Administration intends to take to with respect to bilateral discussions with TPP countries.
Even with respect to trade enforcement – ostensibly a top priority for the Administration -- the report describes no actions the Administration intends to take in the upcoming year to rectify the concerns it identifies with respect to the WTO system, currency manipulation, and non-tariff barriers overseas. It fails even to mention critical concerns such as global overcapacity in steel, aluminum, and other basic commodities, that distorts markets and harms workers enforcement of environmental commitments, as well as enforcement of U.S. trade laws at our borders, much less specify actions to address these serious issues.
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