In today’s edition of the Federal Register, the U.S. Trade Representative and the U.S. Department of Commerce, two federal agencies at the forefront of U.S. trade policy, request comments from the public regarding the performance of U.S. free trade and investment agreements, preference programs, and trade relations with countries that are members of the World Trade Organization.
On April 29, President Trump issued an executive order calling for the agencies, along with other arms of the federal government to conduct comprehensive performance reviews of U.S. trade agreements, including the WTO Agreements. The agencies plan to use the public comments they receive as a result of today’s information request as part of this comprehensive performance review. As such, the agencies request that commenters submit information relating to:
- The performance of any one or more of the United States’ fourteen free trade agreements and forty bilateral investment treaties;
- The performance of the WTO Agreements as to any trading partner with which the United States has no current free trade agreement, “but with which the United States runs significant trade deficits in goods”; and/or
- The performance of U.S. trade preference programs, such as the Generalized System of Preferences.
The request for comments indicates that commenters may wish to focus on whether violations or abuses of the agreements, treaties, or programs have harmed U.S. workers, manufacturers, or U.S. intellectual property rights. Likewise, the request asks for information on any unfair treatment by trade and investment partners that has harmed similar U.S. interests, and on whether U.S. agreements have failed to meet predictions regarding “new jobs created, favorable effects on the trade balance, expanded market access, lowered trade barriers, or increased United States exports.”
Comments are due to the agencies by July 31, 2017.