On March 1, 2017, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) posted the 336 page 2017 Trade Policy Agenda and 2016 Annual Report of the President of the United States on the Trade Agreements Program. The reports are required to be submitted to the U.S. Congress by March 1, pursuant to Section 163 of the Trade Act of 1974, as amended (19 U.S.C. 2213). Chapter II and Annex II of the document are intended to meet the requirements of Sections 122 and 124 of the Uruguay Round Agreements Act with respect to the World Trade Organization. In addition, the report also includes an annex listing trade agreements entered into by the United States since 1984. Goods trade data are for full year 2016. Services data by country are only available through 2015. The Office of USTR states that it intends to submit a more detailed report on the President’s Trade Policy Agenda after the Senate has confirmed a USTR, and that USTR has had a full opportunity to participate in developing such a report.

The Trade Policy Agenda portion outlines the trade policy objectives and priorities of the United States for 2017, and reasons therefor. The Agenda states that, “The overarching purpose of our trade policy – the guiding principle behind all of our actions in this key area – will be to expand trade in a way that is freer and fairer for all Americans.” It lists the following key objectives:

  • Ensuring that U.S. workers and businesses have a fair opportunity to compete for business – both in the domestic market and in other key markets around the world.
  • Breaking down unfair trade barriers in other markets that block U.S. exports, including exports of agricultural goods.
  • Maintaining a balanced policy that looks out for the interests of all segments of the U.S. economy, including manufacturing, agriculture, and services, as well as small businesses and entrepreneurs.
  • Ensuring that U.S. owners of intellectual property (IP) have a full and fair opportunity to use and profit from their IP.
  • Strictly enforcing U.S. trade laws to prevent the U.S. market from being distorted by dumped and/or subsidized imports that harm domestic industries and workers.
  • Enforcing labor provisions in existing agreements and enforcing the prohibition against the importation and sale of goods made with forced labor.
  • Resisting efforts by other countries- or Members international bodies like the World Trade Organization (WTO) – to advance interpretations that would weaken the rights and benefits of, or increase the obligations under, the various trade agreements to which the United States is a party.
  • Updating current trade agreements as necessary to reflect changing times and market conditions.
  • Ensuring that United States trade policy contributes to the economic strength and manufacturing base necessary to maintain – and improve – our national security.
  • Strongly advocating for all U.S. workers, farmers, ranchers, services providers, and businesses – large and small – to assure the fairest possible treatment of American interests in the U.S. market and in other markets around the world.

To achieve the objectives described above, the Trump Administration has identified four major priorities:

  • Defend U.S. national sovereignty over trade policy.
  • Strictly enforce U.S. trade laws.
  • Use all possible sources of leverage to encourage other countries to open their markets to U.S. exports of goods and services, and to provide adequate and effective protection and enforcement of U.S. intellectual property rights.
  • Negotiate new and better trade deals with countries in key markets around the world.