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Donald Trump’s pre- and post-election statements on international trade and investment issues call into question the legal framework on which businesses and investors have relied in developing their global supply chains and businesses more generally. Mr. Trump has, for example: 

  • Called for a renegotiation of and potential withdrawal from NAFTA, pledged to impose tariffs on Mexican products, and criticized US manufactures for their Mexican investments and operations (see NAFTA In Play Alert)
  • Withdrawn the US from further participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership
  • Pledged to designate China a “currency manipulator” and use “every lawful presidential power” to get China to “stop its illegal activities, including its theft of American trade secrets"
  • Called for more robust enforcement of trade remedies (anti-dumping and countervailing duties)
  • Proposed reorganizing government agencies dealing with trade policy (the “America Desk” proposal)
  • Criticized the Iran nuclear deal and the easing of Cuba sanctions

The Presidential Transition Team announced that the choices of Steve Mnuchin for Treasury Secretary and Wilbur Ross for Commerce Secretary "signal a seismic and transformative shift in trade policy." The appointment of Peter Navarro (to lead a new team the President named the National Economic Council) may be another indication of a significant transformation. Mr. Navarro has warned of the US's "economic death" due to China's unfair trade practices and lack of consumer safety mechanisms, and claimed that NAFTA has caused the loss of 700,000 US jobs.  

Planning for the future

It is difficult to predict concrete steps based on campaign rhetoric.  Nevertheless, in the short-term companies should begin asking questions designed  to identify the potential risks - and opportunities - presented by the incoming administration's international trade and investment agenda.

We have a dedicated team of international trade and commercial experts who are able to help companies navigate their future. If you would like to discuss the implications of the Trump administration's trade policies for your company, please get in touch with your usual Baker McKenzie contact or, alternatively, Paul Burns, Raymundo Enriquez, Rod Hunter, Janet Kim, Amy de la Lama, Ted Murphy, Miguel Noyola or James Small.

For media enquiries, contact Stephen Stewart.

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