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Container Vessel from China unloads at Los Angeles Port – California – USA
Photo Credit: Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images

On March 1, 2019, Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer delivered President Trump’s “2019 Trade Policy Agenda & 2018 Annual Report” to Congress. He was full of praise for his boss.

“Thanks to President Trump’s leadership, the United States is pursuing trade policies that are more favorable to American workers,” said Ambassador Lighthizer. “In just two years, we have significantly re-written major trade deals with Korea, Mexico, and Canada. We have undertaken dramatic new enforcement efforts to stop unfair trading practices by China and other countries.” 

The full report can be viewed here.

President Trump has kept his promise made during his electoral campaign to renegotiate NAFTA. On November 30, 2018, the three trade partners signed the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which will replace NAFTA. It’s now up to Congress to approve or reject the terms of agreement.

In her article, “The Battle Over NAFTA 2.0 Has Just Begun,” Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, warns that “if progressives don’t engage strategically to improve the pact, the consequences could be devastating [for both workers and consumers].”

To date, our Dealer-in-Chief’s strategies to reduce our trade deficit has not shown results. Based on the U.S. Census Bureau foreign trade statistics released on March 6, 2019, here’s a look at U.S. trade (goods only) in 2018 for our top three trade partners—China, Canada, and Mexico—that account for 44.9 percent of America’s total trade, valued at $1.9 trillion.

Chart of US Top Ten Trade Partners 2018 prepared by Rosaliene Bacchus

America’s trade war with China is not over. Our success or failure matters. China is our Number One trading partner with 15.7 percent of total trade (imports & exports), valued at $659.8 billion. Trade teams from the USA and China are now in their eight round of negotiations. Judging from the import figures for 2018, our ten percent tariff on select Chinese imports have not yet had any effect, when compared to the previous year. U.S. export values tell a different story. Our farmers and ranchers continue to bear the burden of China’s retaliatory tariffs on American produce.

  • China
    Imports increased $34.0 billion to $539.5 billion
    Exports decreased$10.1 billion from $130.4 billion
    US-China Trade Deficit increased $44.0 billion to $419.2 billion
    —representing 47.7 percent of total trade deficit for all countries
Chart of US Total Imports & Exports of Goods & Services 2009-2018
Prepared by Rosaliene Bacchus

After China (15.7%), Canada (14.7%) and Mexico (14.5%) rank in second and third place, with total trade valued at $617.2 billion and $611.5 billion, respectively. In 2018, trade deficits increased for both Canada and Mexico, when compared with figures for 2017.

  • Canada
    Imports increased $18.5 billion to $318.5 billion
    Exports increased $16.3 billion to $298.7 billion
    US-Canada Trade Deficit increased $2.2 billion to $19.8 billion

  • Mexico
    Imports increased $32.5 billion to $346.5 billion
    Exports increased $22.0 billion to $265.0 billion
    US-Mexico Trade Deficit increased $10.5 billion to $81.5 billion

After decades of trade policies that have favored multinational and transnational corporations and gutted American manufacturing jobs, we cannot ignore the terms of our trade agreements that would impact our industries and livelihood. We can no longer expect more and pay less. This comes with a high price tag.

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