U.S. businessman Donald Trump accepted the Republican presidential nomination last week at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio. In his acceptance speech, Mr. Trump called for a “new, fair trade policy that protects our jobs and stands up to countries that cheat.” He also said that he would “make individual deals with individual countries. No longer will we enter into these massive transactions with many countries that are thousands of pages long and which no one from our country even reads or understands.” Amid boos, former challenger Senator Ted Cruz resisted endorsing Trump on the stage at the convention, defying the Party’s attempt to demonstrate unity, and instead advocated for Republicans to vote their conscience. The Republican 2016 Platform was also formally approved at last week’s convention.
Meanwhile, the Democratic National Convention is being held this week in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Ahead of the event, the Party released its 2016 Platform on Friday. Confirmed as the Party’s nominee on 26 July, Hillary Clinton also announced last week that Senator Tim Kaine (Virginia) will be her running mate. Senator Kaine, a former governor who comes from a working-class background, is viewed as possibly helping to attract more support from independent and moderate voters.
Both chambers of Congress remain in recess until the week of 5 September.
TPP – Party Platforms Omit Endorsement. Notably, both Party Platforms failed to endorse congressional passage of the TPP deal. The Republican Platform argues for better negotiated trade agreements that “put America first,” while warning: “Significant trade agreements should not be rushed or undertaken in a Lame Duck Congress.” The document also says Republicans look to broaden trade agreements with “countries which share [U.S.] values and commitment to fairness, along with transparency.”
The Democratic Platform outlines standards that must be applied to all trade agreements, including the TPP: (1) ensuring strong and enforceable labor and environmental standards are included in the core text with streamlined and effective enforcement mechanisms; (2) addressing “unfair” and illegal subsidies other countries grant to businesses; (3) promoting innovation of and access to lifesaving medicines; (4) protecting a free, open Internet; and (5) not infringing on the rights of governments to establish rules protecting the environment, food safety, or human health.
Brexit/TTIP – U.S.-U.K. Trade Agreement Now Possible. While in London last week, Secretary Kerry said the United States could begin discussing the outline of a bilateral trade agreement with the United Kingdom, cautioning that the negotiations could not significantly advance until Britain had concluded the process of leaving the EU. This latest statement steps back from the Obama Administration’s language prior to the U.K. referendum, indicating a bilateral deal with the country would go “to the back of the queue.” The Administration, however, continues to place a higher priority on concluding the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), with Secretary Kerry noting the U.K. is yet still a member of the TTIP negotiations.
Prior to recessing, on 13 July, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) offered companion resolutions (S. Con. Res. 47; H. Con. Res. 146) urging President Obama to consult with Congress to improve commercial ties with Britain. The Republican-sponsored resolutions also express support for the conclusion of a “high-standard” TTIP. Chairmen Hatch and Brady have said they intend to move the companion measures quickly this year.