#1 – STATE OF THE UNION LIGHT ON TRADE
The news on trade coming out of President Trump’s State of the Union speech last week was that there was no news. While Trump used some familiar and broad rhetoric, the real takeaway was that the man who famously called on staff to “bring me some tariffs” did not include a mention of tariffs, upcoming trade enforcement actions or pointed NAFTA threats. Instead, tried and true Trump lines like: “We will work to fix bad trade deals and negotiate new ones” were the order of the day. Many see Trump’s increasingly mild rhetoric as a product of successful Hill and staff interventions focused on conveying that provocative trade positions are a threat to Trump’s most important personal measuring stick of success: stock market gains.
Read more from Vox HERE
#2 - 36 SENATE REPUBLICANS CALL ON TRUMP TO “KEEP NAFTA IN PLACE”
As President Trump was preparing to head to the Hill for his first State of the Union last week, three dozen Senate Republicans sent a letter calling on the administration to remain in NAFTA. The letter comes on the heels of weeks of trips to the White House from ag state Republicans to educate the President on the benefits of NAFTA.
READ the full letter, led by Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO), HERE
Read more on Republican efforts to “tame” President Trump on trade from POLITICO HERE
#3 - CANADIAN RULES OF ORIGIN PROVISION PANNED BY LIGHTHIZER
Canada came to the negotiating table in Montreal late last month with a proposal to bridge the gap on one of the most hot button NAFTA issues: auto rules of origin.
While the U.S. has insisted that half of all value content be produced in the U.S. and demanded a sharp increase in regional content requirements, Canada sought middle ground during the sixth round with a provision that would change the calculation on auto rules of origin to include high-tech components and intellectual property that the U.S. specializes in.
However, later in the negotiations, Lighthizer issued a statement calling the proposal “the opposite of what we were trying to achieve.” Read Lighthizer’s full statement on the Montreal round HERE
Read more about the Canadian proposal
#4 – TRUDEAU: “WE WON’T BE PUSHED AROUND”
In response to Lighthizer’s rejection of Canada’s attempt at compromise, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last week made some of his toughest comments on NAFTA renegotiations to date. At a town hall meeting in British Columbia Trudeau said “we aren’t going to take any old deal. Canada is willing to walk away from NAFTA if the United States proposes a bad deal. We won’t be pushed around.”
Read more from Bloomberg HERE
#5 - OVER 180 HOUSE DEMOCRATS LAY DOWN MARKER ON STRONGER MEXICO LABOR PROVISIONS
Late last month over 180 Democrats and a single Republican signed a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer calling for stronger labor provisions in NAFTA renegotiations. The letter, which could take on particular importance if Democrats retake the majority in November, calls on the administration to use their current labor proposals as a “starting point” in negotiations and to secure “strong, clear, and binding” provisions in NAFTA.
House Democrats are seeking a “TPP-plus” labor chapter that goes beyond the binding and enforceable provisions in TPP and builds on constitutional reforms Mexico made last year that were motivated by TPP.
READ the full letter.
#6 - THE STORY ON TRUMP'S DESK FOLLOWING SOLAR TARIFFS
Just a week after the Trump administration announced that it would impose a 30 percent tariff on imports of solar panels the Chinese solar company Jinko Solar announced that it would spend over $400 million to build a solar plant in Florida. The company said the Florida plant will create 800 new jobs and hinted in a statement that the decision, while in the works, was tied to the tariff decision.
The Jinko announcement is one early very early data point that clearly contrasts with the Solar Energy Industries Association’s (SEIA) estimate that new tariffs will result in the loss of 23,000 U.S. jobs this year.
#7 – FLAKE REMOVES HOLD ON DOUD NOMINATION, CLEARING PATH TO CONFIRMATION
The confirmation of Greg Doud to be the Chief Agricultural Negotiator at USTR is expected to move fairly swiftly now that Senator Jeff Flake has removed a hold on the nomination that has been in place since November. Flake held up Doud’s nomination over a U.S. NAFTA proposal that would give U.S. growers of seasonal produce that competes against Mexican produce access to new dispute settlement resources. Flake lifted the hold after Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch promised him a solution to his concerns about how the provision would impact Arizona producers.