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COA's Trade Advisory Group comprises member representatives from the Council and invited experts who each educate and advocate for open markets and trade facilitation in the Western Hemisphere.

Valparaíso, Chile. (AdobeStock)

Trade Advisory Group

Overview

The Trade Advisory Group (TAG), made up of Council of the Americas member representatives and invited experts, advocates for open markets, trade facilitation, and rules-based trading systems in the Western Hemisphere. TAG members share a common commitment to the principle that international trade is a critical element in achieving sustainable economic growth in the United States and the nations of the Americas. TAG is a leading platform for policy-level idea generation and guidance related to hemispheric trade and investment, consistent with the longstanding values of Council of the Americas.

The regional trade agenda in the Western Hemisphere underwent a retrenchment amid the coronavirus pandemic, which raised the specter of protectionism and how best to manage global supply chains. At the same time, digital economy, sustainability, labor, and inclusion have taken center stage. We continue to prioritize the importance of a robust North American trade and investment relationship, Western Hemisphere engagement in the Asia-Pacific region including APEC and the Pacific Alliance, and enhanced intra-regional trade, with a focus on both pandemic recovery and ensuring that the region is a competitive player in global digital trade.

In 2020-21, the Washington Office has hosted a wide range of trade- and investment-related events under the auspices of TAG to keep members apprised of developments as the region felt the effects of the pandemic.

USMCA Implementation

U.S. President Donald Trump and his Canadian and Mexican counterparts concluded a revamped North American trade agreement, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which took effect July 1, 2020. An update of the 1994 NAFTA agreement, USMCA adds important digital economy, labor, and environment provisions. The incoming Biden Administration promised vigorous enforcement of this updated pact.

COA’s Trade Advisory Group actively advocated for passage of USMCA, keeping members informed of implementation through a series of activities, including:

  • Briefings by senior Mexican officials, including Secretary of Economy Graciela Márquez, Under Secretary for North America Jesús Seade, Under Secretary for Foreign Trade Luz María de la Mora, and Ambassador of Mexico to the U.S. Martha Bárcena.
  • A look at the future of the U.S.-Canada economic partnership with Canadian Senator Peter Boehm.
  • Insights into implementation of USMCA labor and energy provisions from U.S. Deputy Under Secretary of Labor for International Affairs Martha Newton and U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Energy Transformation Melissa Simpson.
  • A preview of U.S.-Mexico Relations under the Biden Administration from a panel of former U.S. ambassadors to Mexico.
U.S. Trade with Western Hemisphere Partners

Beyond USMCA, the Trump Administration signed so-called “Phase 1” executive agreements on trade-related issues with Brazil and Ecuador. With the inauguration of President Joe Biden in January 2021, the United States has sought to focus on implementation of current trade agreements and is formulating a new approach to future agreements with hemispheric partners.

COA’s Trade Advisory Group has continued to support regional integration, with a focus on digital trade and other 21st-century trade issues. Council activities on broader Western Hemisphere trade in 2020-2021 included:

  • Washington Conference on the Americas keynote addresses by U.S. Vice President Kamala D. Harris, Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimundo, and U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai.
  • A briefing on Ecuador’s trade agenda with Minister of Production, Foreign Trade, Investment & Fisheries Iván Ontaneda Berrú.
  • Discussion of the U.S.-Brazil trade agenda with Brazil’s Secretary of Foreign Trade Lucas Ferraz.
  • A view from Congress on U.S.-Brazil trade and bilateral relations with U.S. Congressman Darin LaHood.
  • In-depth briefings on the U.S.-Brazil commercial relationship with U.S. Department of Commerce officials, including Acting Under Secretary for International Trade Joe Semsar, Assistant Secretary for Global Markets Ian Steff, and Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Western Hemisphere Ian Saunders.
  • A review of Chile’s regional trade agenda with Vice Minister for Trade Rodrigo Yañez.
  • A deep dive on digital trade with Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Telecomm & E-Commerce Policy Jonathan McHale.
World Trade and the Americas

Although the pandemic dominated 2020 and 2021, COA has maintained an active agenda to keep members informed of how shifting global geo-politics are affecting trade priorities in the Western Hemisphere. Recent activities include:

  • Programs with representatives from the U.S., Brazilian, and Japanese governments to discuss Japan’s growing trade and investment with the region and how the need for resilient post-COVID supply chains may affect the region.
  • Discussions on China’s rising influence in Latin America with academic experts, senior business executives, and U.S. government officials including Senator Bill Cassidy and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Julie Chung.
  • A look at the implications of Brexit for UK-Americas relations with British Trade Commissioner for Latin America and the Caribbean and a panel of experts.
Events
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