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


April 09, 2018


U.S. trade policy has continued to make global headlines in recent weeks with multiple high-stakes issues coming to the fore all at once. It’s more important than ever for the American business community to have a seat at the table in these unfolding international debates. This is why I was pleased to participate in the B7 Business Summit in Canada last week, and I will speak at the Summit of the Americas in Peru this week to stress the importance of international engagement and working together with our global partners to solve shared challenges.

One of the hot topics of discussion has been the trade actions by the Trump administration targeting China’s problematic industrial policies and unfair trade practices. A potential trade war between the world’s two largest economies could send shock waves across the global economy.

The White House first imposed global steel and aluminum tariffs that risk alienating some of our strongest global partners. These measures won’t help American metal-consuming manufacturers that are struggling with soaring U.S. prices and shortages, and they do little to address the real issue of Chinese overproduction of steel and aluminum. Then, just last week, the administration announced about $50 billion worth of sweeping tariffs on a wide range of imports from China, which led China to retaliate by promising tariffs on about $50 billion worth of U.S. exports.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce shares many of the administration’s concerns about China’s problematic policies and practices, as do most of our nation’s key trading partners. But there is a better path to solving them. The U.S. should work with our partners in Europe, Asia, and elsewhere to confront China’s trade practices. A united front would maximize our leverage and send a clear signal that China’s actions pose a threat.

Indeed, we should work with our partners to forge new trade agreements that guard against China’s model of state capitalism. The goal would be to craft new trade pacts to promote cutting-edge technology and manufacturing jobs, enhance the digital economy, protect intellectual property, and compel state-owned enterprises to play fair in the marketplace. This is what the U.S. sought to do in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and it’s the path that makes the most sense going forward.

On all of the challenges and opportunities before us in the arena of global trade, the Chamber will continue to work with our own government and partners around the world to ensure positive outcomes that support the goals of growth and jobs for the American economy.

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.

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