Trade negotiations have taken a back seat as leaders around the globe focus on combating the COVID-19 pandemic’s twin health and economic crises.
That made sense in the initial phase of the pandemic, when governments were focused on crisis management. But with COVID-19 restrictions on travel and in-person meetings likely to remain in place for an extended period, it’s critical for business that governments think through new avenues to get commercial deals done.
That’s why the U.S. Chamber – in collaboration with leading business organizations in Brazil – sent a letter to both governments last week supporting their commitment to secure the first phase of a comprehensive bilateral trade agreement in 2020. As the U.S. and Kenya look to begin talks on the first U.S. trade agreement with a sub-Saharan African country, the Chamber has also urged the U.S. government to pursue a comprehensive deal that removes barriers to trade and investment.
Trade negotiations are pending with the United Kingdom, Japan, and India, among others – all major trading partners with trade flows that support U.S. businesses and support hundreds of thousands of jobs for American workers. While the USMCA looks set to go into effect on July 1, the Chamber continues to actively advocate for U.S.-Mexican cooperation to align policies on “essential services” in order to ensure the continuity of North America supply chains.
COVID-19 should not become an excuse to let trade talks languish, particularly in a period where greater economic cooperation will be needed to get the U.S. and global economies back up and running. We hope that the U.S. and our trading partners around the globe will rise to the challenge.
–Myron Brilliant, Executive Vice President, Head of International Affairs, U.S. Chamber of Commerce