ICYMI: Trade in the Trump Era


Pat Togni discusses “Trade in the Trump Era.”

On November 7, the International Practice Section held a Lunch and Learn titled “Trade in the Trump Era” at Poyner Spruill in Raleigh. Pat Togni from King & Spalding introduced the topic with an overview of the historical trade landscape. The Trump Administration’s activities, in part, are premised on the idea that while other countries have been actively pursuing their national interests, the United States historically has not been as aggressive as it should have been in trade negotiations to promote the interests of the United States.  The change in approach can be seen in at least three current administration objectives: (1) restoring U.S. manufacturing, as trade negotiations have been more heavily weighted in the past on other interests; (2) recognizing that a well implemented trade strategy can promote other policy objectives (e.g., serving as an additional “tool in the toolbox”); and (3) addressing the China “problem”, i.e., recognizing that the world’s second largest economy is not a market economy and fails to respect intellectual property.  These tactics have included unilateral actions/tariffs (to bring countries back to the negotiating table), bi-lateral vs. multi-country agreements, and a focus on leverage and supply-chain uncertainty.

The session also provided updates on current trade issues, including the trade war with China, the Made in China 2025 Plan, and the process by which products are excluded from Section 301 tariffs.  Mr. Togni also discussed how U.S. companies may qualify for a discount or complete relief from duties depending on the ability to source certain goods, and the volume or quantity available, in accordance with the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill. Imports from certain countries may also qualify for relief from general import duties depending on their relative economic status and other factors under the Generalized System of Preferences. Such benefits may be removed if a country’s economic standing improves; however, the Trump Administration has shown a willingness to use GSP as a leverage tool in the current geopolitical environment.

Mr. Togni discussed the ratification status of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (“USMCA”).  The Lunch and Learn concluded with Mr. Togni emphasizing the fast moving nature of trade law and the importance of remaining up to date given the impact on almost all aspects of the economy.

The International Practice Section looks forward to hosting more events in the coming months. If you have a suggestion for a topic or location, please email NCBAInternationalLawBlog@gmail.com.