Press Releases

Will “America First” Make the United States Last in Asia-Pacific Trade?

By / 5.22.2017

PPI Statement on Recent APEC and TPP Developments

Recent developments in the Trump Administration’s “America First” trade policy are hardly encouraging for American manufacturers, farmers, ranchers, service providers, and workers who want to prosper and grow through increased Asia-Pacific trade.

At this weekend’s Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) trade minsters’ meeting, U.S. officials reportedly wasted vital negotiating capital in an unsuccessful attempt to amend the meeting’s joint statement reflect the Administration’s retrograde approach to trade. The 20 other APEC members scrapped a joint statement after rejecting U.S. efforts to remove APEC warnings against “protectionist trends” and to add references to “unbalanced trade.” In the end, the Chairman’s statement noted that APEC would continue to “fight against all forms of protectionism.”

Meanwhile, the 11 remaining members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreed to continue efforts to advance the agreement without the United States, which withdrew from the TPP in January. That’s potentially very good news for producers and traders in those countries—including many small businesses traders—which would benefit significantly from extensive reductions in tariff and nontariff barriers in the region and important new mechanisms to level the playing field for their trade. If the TPP-11 conclude the agreement without the United States, American exporters of goods, farm products, and services, on the other hand, would face significantly greater competition for business in TPP markets as these countries progressively reduce their barriers to each other’s trade.

Supporters of open, rules-based trade should at least be encouraged by APEC’s continued commitment to fight protectionism and by the TTP-11’s efforts to advance an agreement that includes important new trade rules in key areas like digital commerce, small business, labor and environmental protection, and state-owned enterprises. However, if the Trump Administration continues to distance the United States from global efforts to reduce barriers to trade, America will lose considerable influence in writing trade rules that reflect our values and interests, and American producers, traders, and workers will be left behind as other countries open up new opportunities for inclusive growth through trade.