With two international trade deals poised to open two-thirds of the global economy to American businesses – the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) with 11 Pacific Rim countries and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Treaty (TTIP) with the European Union – USCIB has been actively promoting the benefits of increased trade for the American economy. During 2015 and 2016, the business community noted several important achievements on the way to securing America’s ambitious trade agenda. In addition to supporting the conclusion of America’s many ongoing trade agreements, USCIB continued to press for high-standard investment protections and rallied support to prohibit localization requirements in trade deals.
TRADE PROMOTION AUTHORITY
In July 2015, the U.S. Congress finally renewed Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), legislation that makes it easier for the president to negotiate trade deals with America’s partners. The hard-fought conclusion of this legislation represented a major victory for the pro-trade community and helped set the stage for the finalization of TTP and TTIP. Renewing TPA required a strong advocacy push by USCIB and other members of the Trade Benefits America Coalition, an organization of business associations dedicated to spreading the word about the benefits of trade to U.S. jobs, growth and workers. The campaign involved many moving parts including earned media, paid media, third party engagement, grassroots activity, and consistent social media engagement. In 2015 alone, coalition members made more than 250,000 direct contacts with members of Congress and their staffs.
The business community celebrated another victory in February 2016, when 12 countries signed TPP in New Zealand, an important milestone on the road leading to the ratification of a historic market-opening free trade agreement whose signatories represent 40 percent of global GDP. Helping to build momentum for TPP, USCIB is a leading member of the U.S. Coalition for TPP, a broad-based group of American companies and associations representing all sectors of the U.S. economy. USCIB believes that the agreement, once ratified, will contribute substantially to economic growth and provide significant new opportunities for U.S. businesses. A central component of the United States’ foreign policy in the Asia-Pacific, TPP would help establish American commercial values in the region, with new standards to promote good governance and transparency.
Also in February, President Obama signed the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act, commonly referred to as Customs Reauthorization, into law, the first true Customs modernization legislation in nearly two decades. The legislation will strengthen trade enforcement at U.S. ports and borders, and update the organization and management of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Department. The bill includes provisions that streamline and facilitate trade, reduce business costs and paperwork burdens, and provide an enforcement mechanism for trade agreements. USCIB has been a longtime supporter of Customs Reauthorization and has strongly advocated for policies that eliminate trade barriers, harmonize global customs and border procedures and modernize outdated laws. Our focus on this bill’s provisions will now turn to implementation, and we look forward to working with the administration to ensure its success.
PROGRESS AT THE WORLD TRADE ORGANIZATION
In 2015, USCIB also welcomed the long-awaited expansion of the World Trade Organization’s Information Technology Agreement (ITA), a deal which eliminates tariffs on a wide array of information technology products and services. ITA was finalized at the WTO ministerial meeting in Nairobi, Kenya, and once implemented the agreement is expected to inject $190 billion into the global economy. The WTO estimates that ITA expansion will cut tariffs on over $1 trillion in annual global sales of high-tech products, of which $180 billion come from the Unites States. In addition to boosting American technology exports, the ITA is expected to support up to 60,000 new U.S. jobs.
USCIB also hailed progress on the ratification of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement, which is estimated to create 21 million jobs and increase global GDP by $1 trillion over the next decade. In March 2016, Brazil became the 72nd WTO member to ratify the TFA, an agreement that was forged under the leadership of Brazilian WTO Director General Roberto Azevedo, whom USCIB honored with its 2014 International Leadership Award. In order for the TFA to enter into force, 108 WTO members must ratify the agreement. Ratification of the TFA is a top priority for USCIB and our members.