BAFT, the leading international transaction banking association, held its 27th Annual Conference on International Trade in Chicago on September 12, where USCIB President and CEO Peter M. Robinson served as keynote speaker to address the topic of U.S. Trade Policy.
“This is a very perilous time for trade,” noted Robinson. “In the past, no matter what other countries were doing or saying, we could always count on the U.S. and UK to stand up for open markets. That’s no longer the case. We could be at a point where anti-trade forces can effectively flip the script.”
In discussing NAFTA, Robinson emphasized USCIB’s recent recommendations to the Trump administration:
- First, do no harm. Most of NAFTA has worked well for companies and has spurred far greater integration of the North American economy than would have happened without it.
- Negotiate new and better rules for e-commerce and digital trade, an enormous part of the U.S. economy, to include provisions on e-commerce and digital trade such as ensuring the flow of data across borders, prohibiting requirements to localize data in a country, protecting personal data, and not carving out certain sectors (like financial services) from these provisions.
- More regulatory coherence, strong protection of investments (including effective investor-state dispute settlement mechanisms), and rules to level the playing field with state-owned enterprises.
On trade with Asia, Robinson discussed the importance of an alternative approach in place of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). “TPP was really a top-notch agreement in my view,” he said. “But we walked away from it for political reasons. And potential FTA partners like the UK and Japan would be likely to take a very hard line in any talks with us.”
Robinson also discussed innovation and USCIB’s work on the digital economy, alongside the OECD, that the OECD takes into account the views of business and to shape policy that would not stifle innovation. Robinson also touched upon the International Chamber of Commerce’s new status at the UN General Assembly which will enable USCIB to push for expanded trade, access to trade finance and sensible approaches to technological innovation and regulation, as well as promoting business involvement in the UN Sustainable Development Goals, which encompass financial inclusion.