Recent reports from the Biden administration and the private sector highlight the importance of trade to prosperity and jobs in the United States. They also emphasize North America’s role as a base for testing and achieving US trade objectives.
On March 1, the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) released the Biden administration report 2022 Trade Policy Program and 2021 Annual Report to Congress and its 2022-26 strategic plan for trade policy. The USTR reports highlight key elements of the administration’s approach and reflect its focus on crafting more fair and inclusive trade policy.
The USTR addresses trade around the world, but the key elements of the program all have significant North American dimensions, underscoring the role of Canada and Mexico as major trading and production partners of the United States.
On February 28, the Business Roundtable also published a updated study on trade and jobs that have found more than 41 million jobs in the United States are supported by trade. According to the study, one in five jobs in the United States was linked to imports and exports of goods and services, based on pre-pandemic data (2019), and trade-dependent jobs grew four times faster than American jobs in general. About 30% of those jobs, or more than 12 million, are supported by trade with Canada and Mexico, according to the authors. research.
The Business Roundtable report found that trade is increasing jobs in every US state, including in sectors not typically associated with trade, such as construction and hospitality. He concluded that trade has net positive effects on the middle class, union members, minorities and those with a high school education, as well as on higher levels of education.
Together, these reports underscore how vital the US trade agenda is to jobs and prosperity. Contrary to some current public opinion, trade is not an obstacle to job creation, an obstacle to a strong middle class or a side note to domestic investment. It is a key element in restoring, consolidating and creating future American jobs. Middle-class prosperity will increase as the United States expands markets for its goods and services and deepens its partnerships with countries that make American products more competitive and their supply chains more resilient and vibrant.
In this light, the North American market is a base for the progress of the American commercial program. Canada and Mexico are the United States’ largest trading partners, vying for the top spot for the past two years. They are the largest buyers of US exports, including agricultural products. About half of the trade across North America is done in “intermediate goods“, that is to say the goods that are used to manufacture final products. Mexico and Canada incorporate more American materials into their manufactured exports to the United States than any other country in the world, supporting jobs in all three countries.
Unsurprisingly, the Biden administration has put in place mutually reinforcing processes to achieve good results across the continent. First, it gives high priority to execution the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) with a series of commitments to put the agreement into action. Second, he forged three mechanisms to complement the USMCA and address issues such as pandemic recovery, resilient supply chains, better border facilitation, critical mineral supply, and energy deployment. green. The three processes are the United States-Mexico High-Level Dialogue (LEDH), the United States-Canada roadmapand the North American Leaders Summit (NALS), all of which include strong action programs.
An article from February 28 by Trade Representative Katherine TaiKatherine TaiHouse Passes Bill Banning Russian Oil Imports, Authorizing Sanctions It’s Official: The Biden Administration Has Outsourced China Policy to Congress emphasizes the USMCA importance. Combined with the HLED, NALS and the U.S.-Canada roadmap, these efforts address key elements of Biden’s trade agenda. It should be noted that the three governments agree to promote fairer and more inclusive trade in North America and use the USMCA’s cooperation and enforcement mechanisms to address issues. The United States is putting its emphasis on workers’ rights into practice with two successful USMCA cases support trade union democracy in Mexico and signaled that he will continue forced labor through the USMCA.
The three neighbors have agreed to bring more small enterprises and disadvantaged groups in North American commerce and to promote workforce development. They agreed on ambitious projects environmental objectives and the promotion of green technologies, including electric vehicles. US engages with Mexico to avoid environmental hazards energy policy reform proposals and requested USMCA consultations regarding Mexico environmental practices.
With Canada and Mexico being the largest markets for American agricultural products, North America will be a testing ground for working on differences and expanding markets vital for farmers in all three countries.
The three countries pledged to strengthen key supply chains after the disruption of the pandemic via bilateral and trilateral workgroups. There will be a lot of interest in seeing if these groups produce tangible results and if governments can resolve disagreements on issues such as “Buy America” or vehicle rules of origin. Making supply chains more efficient and resilient will be key to encouraging businesses to bring back investment from China. Likewise, if done well, this cooperative effort in North America can learn from the serious mistakes made during the pandemic and establish mechanisms to better manage any future pandemics and other cross-border emergencies. As Tai notes, success requires productive and ongoing engagement of public and private sector stakeholders that can build public support.
Done well, this North American cooperation will serve as a basis and a test bed for cooperation with other countries. A good North America and good trade are essential to growing jobs, prosperity, and public confidence in the value of trade in the United States.
Earl Anthony Wayne, former United States Ambassador to Mexico and Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs, is Co-Chair of the Board of the Wilson Center’s Mexico Institute and Diplomate Emeritus at the School of International Service at American University . Follow him on Twitter @EAnthonyWayne.