Thomas J. Donohue Thomas J. Donohue
Advisor and Former Chief Executive Officer, U.S. Chamber of Commerce


July 30, 2018


As tariffsand trade wars continue to make headlines, it’s clear that there is disagreement over the strategies and tactics that govern trade policy. There are, however, certain facts that everyone can agree on. One is that the Indo-Pacific region, which encompasses India, Asia, and the Pacific Rim, is currently the fastest-growing and most dynamic region on earth. Another is that American companies are steadily losing market share in the region. Every stakeholder in business and government can agree that this is a problem. The only question is how to solve it.

The stakes couldn’t be higher. By the end of the next decade, the Indo-Pacific will represent 66% of the global middle class population and 59% of middle class consumption of goods and services. This means that trade with the region isn’t just an opportunity – it’s a requirement for any country hoping to be a leader in the global economy. The business community has several priorities that we believe are critical to regaining U.S. market share in the Indo-Pacific.

The first priority is openness. America cannot afford to close itself off from the region. We need smart, tough, and fair trade agreements to strengthen our existing partnerships and overcome unfair barriers to trade in key markets. Unfortunately, the U.S. is falling behind in the global race to ink new trade deals – and it’s costing us.

The second priority is to ensure that bedrock American principles, such as free enterprise, innovation, and rule of law, remain at the heart of our trade efforts. Adherence to these principles is the best way to confront state capitalism in other countries.

The third priority is to remember the lessons of history, which remind us that protectionism leads to economic hardship and even outright conflict. History warns us that today’s multifront trade war will likely undo the remarkable economic resurgence that the administration has unleashed with tax and regulatory reform.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce will outline these priorities as we convene top Trump administration officials and other leaders at an event today on America’s future in the Indo-Pacific. This will provide an important opportunity for business and government to listen to each other and work together toward a brighter future for America in the Indo-Pacific.

It’s true that the administration and the business community don’t agree on every aspect of trade policy. But what matters most is that we remain committed to working together to find solutions to the challenges we share. Today’s event proves that we share that commitment. The Chamber looks forward to hearing the administration’s ideas.

About the authors

Thomas J. Donohue

Thomas J. Donohue

Thomas J. Donohue is advisor and former chief executive officer of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Read more