Sean Hackbarth Sean Hackbarth
Senior Editor, Digital Content, U.S. Chamber of Commerce


May 11, 2017


As a candidate, trade was a big issue for President Donald Trump. Now, that he’s president, how is his campaign rhetoric turning into policy?

BizTimes Milwaukee chatted with John Murphy, senior vice president for international policy at the U.S. Chamber, about what President Trump has done in the first few months in office:

I think the business community appreciates that the Trump administration is committed to expanding American exports, committed to getting rid of the foreign market access borders that often shut out American goods and services, and having stronger enforcement of our trade agreements. But the devil’s in the details. How are we going to move forward on some of the signature issues, like renegotiating NAFTA? That’s an area where we are really at the beginning of the journey.

While NAFTA has brought benefits to the U.S., Murphy notes that it’s due for some upgrades:  

If you look at the agreement calmly and in the light of day, you see an agreement that is 23 years old that was negotiated, to give one example, before the Internet existed. That’s one example of something that could be added and is not particularly controversial.

A driver of job creation and economic growth is business investment. Most of that comes domestically, but foreign direct investment plays an important role. Murphy notes how some of President Trump’s other policy actions could entice foreign companies to invest in the U.S.:

The way to get more investment in the United States is through measures to create a more welcoming investment environment. This administration is already taking a number of steps, whether it is halting the regulatory overreach that we’ve seen in recent years, the promise of tax reform, which is going to be a difficult fight in Congress, but there’s a lot of excitement about what that can mean. We’ve seen an energy revolution in North America. Energy costs for American businesses today are much lower than they are for their international competitors. These are all factors that are making businesses more keen to invest and do business here. And if we can see more focus on those kinds of policies, that’s what’s going to foster job creation here in the U.S. That’s what’s really front of mind for most business executives today.

Trade agreements have a winning record of opening up markets to U.S. goods and services, which create and support good-paying jobs. A result-driven trade policy by the Trump administration that helps American competitiveness can allow these gains from trade to continue.

Murphy was a keynote speaker at the Wisconsin International Trade Conference in Milwaukee, where a number of local companies were honored with Governor's Export Achievement Awards.

About the authors

Sean Hackbarth

Sean Hackbarth

Sean writes about public policies affecting businesses including energy, health care, and regulations. When not battling those making it harder for free enterprise to succeed, he raves about all things Wisconsin (his home state) and religiously follows the Green Bay Packers.

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