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


January 27, 2020


After several tumultuous years on the U.S. trade agenda, 2020 started with a bang with two back-to-back victories for American business: completion of a Phase 1 deal with China and final passage of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). These critical trade deals will create new opportunities for companies large and small and help restore certainty to business owners, workers, farmers, and manufacturers.

The Phase 1 agreement with China marks a positive and important first step in rebalancing U.S.-China relations. In addition to reducing certain tariffs, the 80-page agreement includes commitments by China to expand market access for agricultural products, manufactured goods, and some services. It also aims to open up financial markets, strengthen IP protection and enforcement, and begin the process of addressing unfair technology transfer practices. When fully implemented, China’s commitments should create a better environment for U.S. businesses.

Of course, this deal will only be as good as its implementation and enforcement. That’s why the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is pushing for China to follow through on all of its commitments in Phase I, including purchase commitments. Furthermore, we are urging our nation’s leaders to return quickly to the negotiating table to begin outlining a Phase 2 agreement to address some of the thorniest issues in the relationship, including subsidies, digital trade and data discrimination, and outstanding technology transfer concerns.

This month marked another milestone development in U.S. trade with Senate passage of USMCA. To get this important deal across the finish line, the Chamber leveraged its deep network of federation and international partners and met with members of Congress and their staff more than 1,000 times. USMCA guarantees American workers and farmers full access to our largest export markets for years to come. This action restores certainty to trade ties that support 12 million American jobs.

While USMCA misses critical opportunities on intellectual property protections—and in this regard, should not serve as a template for future trade agreements—the deal updates rules on digital trade, nontariff barriers, and services that promise real benefits to American businesses and consumers. Our focus now is ensuring the agreement is implemented in a way that maximizes its benefits for U.S. companies, workers, and farmers.

Completion of USMCA and the Phase 1 deal with China represent two big wins for American business. Let’s build on this momentum and reassert our commitment to free trade with additional deals in key markets around the world, including the U.K., the EU, Japan, Brazil, emerging markets in Africa, and the booming Asia-Pacific.

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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