President Donald Trump salutes as he participates in a Veterans Day wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Patrick Semansky

Thanks to USMCA, working-class Americans will be integral to future U.S. trade policy

Thanks to USMCA, working-class Americans will be integral to future U.S. trade policy

WASHINGTON, D.C. — One of the lasting legacies of Donald Trump’s tumultuous presidency will be to give working-class Americans more of a say in U.S. trade policy, experts say — and that could pose a challenge for Canada in the years ahead.

Joe Biden, who successfully flipped blue-collar Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania in last week’s presidential election, has already promised to prioritize U.S. firms and workers as the country works to recover from its pandemic-induced economic crisis.

Future administrations, be they Democrat or Republican, are unlikely to forget the lessons of 2016 any time soon, a panel of trade experts agreed Thursday.

“The president-elect has been quite clear that trade policy begins at home,” said Robert Holleyman, a trade lawyer and former deputy U.S. trade representative in the final years of the Obama administration.

Biden will be focused on ensuring domestic investments, procurement efforts and tax policy are focused on generating benefits for those in the U.S. who have felt left behind by the global economy, Holleyman said.

“We cannot simply look at trade in a vacuum; it has to be part of this domestic discussion … it needs at the end of the day to return the right results for American taxpayers and citizens.”

Biden has promised stiff new tax penalties on companies that manufacture U.S.-bound products outside the country, incentives to keep jobs on U.S. soil and penalties for companies that “offshore” jobs and facilities to lower their tax bills.

He also plans to more strictly enforce, expand and tighten Buy American provisions, make U.S. products more competitive, lengthen the list of “critical materials” that must be American-made and establish a “Made in America” office in the White House.

Canada fully hopes to negotiate waivers to those rules.

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