About American Phoenix Trade Advisory Services

President Trump’s embrace of a more traditionally Democratic approach to trade has upended policymaking in Washington.  With 20 years’ experience, including with the Executive Branch and on the Hill, American Phoenix Trade Advisory Services is uniquely qualified to navigate the new landscape.

 

We can help you with analysis and strategic advice, including in the following areas:

  • USMCA
  • US/EU Trade Talks
  • US/UK Trade Talks
  • Unfair barriers to trade
  • Customs
  • Training

Recent Blog Entries

The De Minimis Loophole

We’ve talked about one loophole in NAFTA called “de minimis.”  In addition to rules of origin that already allow a certain amount of content originating from outside the region, the original NAFTA contains a loophole that allows an extra 7% on top of it.  The Trump Administration, in a position completely at odds with its China…

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Is Freedom a Deadweight Loss?

The recent furor over the NBA, South Park, and the long arm of the Chinese Communist Party is giving the average American a much better understanding of Chinese government authoritarianism in action. Until now, the discussion about the relationship between China and the United States had been dominated by pearl-clutching over how much more dog…

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Restoring FDR’s Vision for Global Trade

The following is an executive summary of a paper submitted to the Institute for Corporate Governance and Finance Conference A New Deal for a New Century: Making Our Economy Work for All.  Papers for the conference, including the full version of the summary below, can be found here.   Too often, the debate over trade devolves into tribalist…

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NAFTA 2.0: Digital Trade and Regulatory Certainty

Typically, trade agreement marketers rely on gains to GDP to explain why the agreements are worth doing. (Of course, in 2016 the U.S. International Trade Commission concluded that all these bilateral and regional trade agreements combined added a mere .2% per year to GDP.) Herein lies the conundrum: the existing NAFTA already provides duty-free treatment among…

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Lessons from Huawei: It’s the Supply Chain, Stupid

On June 6, Inside Cybersecurity had a webinar of government and American industry voices to discuss Huawei, 5G, and cybersecurity.  The panelists’ main concern is the myriad ways hostile actors, including state actors, can exploit supply chains to engage in nefarious activities. Huawei, which has a prominent position in the race to 5G thanks to Chinese government…

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Labor and Environment Arbitrage Quiz

Who said the following: many . . . have focused in particular on enforcement of labor and environmental provisions    . . . .   I am pleased that we obtained strong provisions in those areas, and I agree that they should be fully and effectively enforced so that our companies can compete based on…

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NAFTA 2.0: Does the Competition Chapter Promote Competition?

In the last blog, we talked about the SOE chapter. It lays out some interesting rules on anticompetitive behavior; but those rules only apply to state-owned enterprises.  If the goal is to discipline state capitalism, that chapter won’t do it. But because it has such detailed rules on anticompetitive behavior, it is worth comparing to…

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NAFTA 2.0: Is the SOE Chapter a Red Herring?

Much has been made of the TPP and NAFTA chapters on state-owned enterprises (SOEs).  They are supposed to be forward-looking provisions that will put a dent in state capitalism.  But the premise is wrong, and so the response is wrong. The premise of the argument is that state capitalism is executed through SOEs.  In some…

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The Myth of the Global “Free” Market

According to Politico, a “coalition of free-market advocacy, business and nonprofit groups is urging the leaders of the Senate Finance Committee to press forward on new legislation curbing the president’s tariff authority.” Ah, the siren song of the free market.  But does anyone really think the global trading system is characterized by “free” markets?  A…

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Questions about NAFTA 2.0’s Auto Rules – and China

Donald Trump campaigned in part on the flaws in the auto rules of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Much of his renegotiation of NAFTA has focused on tightening up those rules.  As this paper explains, he can rightly claim some credit for strengthening them. But there are nevertheless questions about whether those rules will work the way…

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NAFTA 2.0: Access to Medicines

One of the goals of this blog has been to facilitate an understanding of the backlash against the global trading system.  That system is characterized by a broad set of rules that are complex — opaque, even — with which few are familiar, even many of those staunchly defending the status quo.  An improved understanding…

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NAFTA 2.0: The Environment Chapter

Although the Trump Administration is no friend of environmental groups, the current U.S. Trade Representative has, as we have noted before, enforced environmental provisions under the U.S-Peru trade agreement.  In that context, it is not as surprising as it might otherwise be that the NAFTA 2.0 environmental chapter contains new, positive provisions. However, on the whole,…

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NAFTA 2.0: The Labor Chapter

To those outside the trade world, it might seem like a foregone conclusion that the Trump Administration’s renegotiation of NAFTA would contain provisions hostile to, rather than supportive of, organized labor.  However, trade has been the anomaly in this Administration.  As we have pointed out before, the President has consistently borrowed Democratic talking points on…

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NAFTA 2.0: On Sunsets

NAFTA 2.0 includes what many consider a novel provision:  a sunset clause.  That is, the agreement will terminate in 16 years unless all three parties agree to extend it. When the United States first proposed the concept of a sunset for the agreement, the reaction was to treat it akin to heresy.  A disagreement between…

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Trade Promotion Authority: Is it Binding?

With the conclusion of the NAFTA renegotiation, the next step in the United States is Congressional consideration.  The assumption is that the agreement will be considered pursuant to Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), and there are some questions as to whether the Administration has complied with TPA.  For example, TPA requires consultations with members “upon request,”…

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Eight Takeaways from “Pivotal Decade”

To situate the ongoing debate over trade, let’s take a look at some of the key takeaways from Judith Stein’s book Pivotal Decade: How the United States Traded Factories for Finance in the Seventies. Stein traces the evolution of American trade policy from Nixon to Clinton, and in particular she identifies choices that were made, across successive…

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The Pain-Free Solution to the Trade Crisis

There isn’t one. Contrary to the prevailing narrative, the pain didn’t start when the United States imposed tariffs on our trading partners.  The pain started much earlier.  When, exactly, doesn’t necessarily matter, though we can focus on China’s accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO), its subsequent skirting of the rules, the WTO’s insistence on…

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Atlas Shrugged

A previous blog explained that: the U.S. willingness to be the market of last resort has been a component critical to the functioning of the global trading system; the U.S. ability to serve as the market of last resort has been compromised by WTO overreach; and no other WTO Member seems to be willing to shoulder…

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The Mad Dash to Deem Trade Agreements “Progressive”

2018 seems to be the year of the Progressive trade agreement.  The Trans-Pacific Partnership has been renamed the “Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership” (CPTPP).  Canada has floated proposals in the NAFTA renegotiation that it has advertised as progressive. Why? Populists in 2016 reminded us that trade agreements are inherently not progressive.  Economic theory…

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Why is the Trump Administration So Mad at the WTO?

The Trump Administration has made no secret about its frustration with the World Trade Organization.  Campaign rhetoric is being channeled into policy.  The United States is single-handedly strangling the Appellate Body by blocking appointment of new members and complaining about those who are holding over past their terms.  The latest WTO ministerial resulted in no…

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The China Meme

The go-to talking point when a trade agreement is in trouble in the United States is to invoke the specter of China.  When TPP began to falter, the rallying cry for passage was that if we failed to seal the deal, China would score a win, not just commercially, but geopolitically as well.  At the…

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The NAFTA Renegotiation: Seven Ways to Modernize Trade Policy

The House Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee invited submissions in connection with its hearing on modernizing NAFTA. This is the Executive Summary of American Phoenix’s comments.  The full comments can be found here.    In the past year, the backlash against globalization has expressed itself through Brexit, the withdrawal of the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership,…

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Getting Past the Polarized Debate over Trade

  The debate over trade policy seems to lead to only two possible views:  on one side, trade is responsible for the decline of the American middle class; on the other, trade is always beneficial, regardless of the rules.  Each side has a pejorative label for the other, so that we live in a world…

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