FederalStatewide NewsTradeTrade Policy Remains Critical Ongoing Issue for Country, Texas in New Year

With the USMCA awaiting action in the U.S. Senate and a deal with China announced, Trump's focus on trade continues into 2020.
January 7, 2020
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Just before the Christmas break, the House of Representatives passed the US-Mexico-Canada trade agreement (USMCA) by a wide margin.

Containing a wide array of provisions, the USMCA marks a revamping of the long-standing NAFTA — which had often been maligned by President Trump as “perhaps the worst trade deal ever made.”

The next stop for the deal is the U.S. Senate, where it is expected to be taken up this week or next — White House trade advisor Peter Navarro predicted it could be approved in the Senate as soon as Friday.

One of President Trump’s biggest potential legislative “wins,” he hopes it arrives on his desk shortly thereafter without much disruption.

Additionally, on the trade front, it was announced last week that a trade deal between the U.S. and China will be signed on January 15.

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No text of the deal with China has been made public — however — it is expected to lower tariffs, increase Chinese imports from the American agriculture and energy industries, and address the intellectual property dispute in some way, shape, or form.

One point of contention could be the Section 230 language — known as the “big tech protection” — that ensures tech companies cannot be held liable for what is said on their platform. With China being notorious for its censorious grip on all kinds of media, and even American basketball leagues, the role this provision plays in the larger prospects for a deal could be important.

That language is also something to keep an eye on within the USMCA as well — it made it into the House’s final version but has been receiving some staunch opposition in the Senate led by Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who is concerned that such language could run afoul of U.S statute as debate continues over whether certain tech companies behave more like platforms or publishers.

The trade war between the United States and China has been escalating for much of the last couple of years, reflecting a key plank of President Trump’s policy agenda. Tensions have flared so high that two of America’s–and Texas’s–largest industries (agriculture and oil) have been seriously hindered by the standoff.

Coming off of a massively successful decade, Texas’ energy industry stands to gain from the USMCA deal and potentially from an agreement with China, depending on what provisions are put in place. Meanwhile, America’s farmers have been given, at a minimum, $630 billion in aid as a direct result of the trade war.

Each industry remains optimistic that a deal with China will be worth the wait and the consequences incurred from the tariff dispute.

Revamping how America engages in international trade has been one of the issues the president has remained most persistent on and with two massively important trade deals potentially going through the approval process this month, it will remain an integral policy focus early this year.

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Brad Johnson

Brad Johnson

Brad Johnson is an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad watching and quoting Monty Python productions.