Trump Administration Vows to Stay Tough on China in Trade Report

(Bloomberg) -- The Trump administration said it will continue to press China over its unfair trading practices and urged Congress to approve a pact to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement this year, in an annual report outlining U.S. trade priorities.

The U.S. will also pursue trade negotiations with Japan, the European Union and the U.K., the U.S. Trade Representative’s office said in the report released on Friday.

“All of this effort is part of an ongoing upgrade to adjust U.S. trade policy to the realities of the 21st century economy,” according to the report. “As that upgrade continues, the new jobs and higher wages that we have seen so far are only the beginning of what Americans can accomplish.”

President Donald Trump was elected on a promise to re-balance global trade in favor of the U.S., after he blamed years of neglect for hollowing out the U.S. manufacturing sector and job losses. He honed in on China as the main culprit for unfair trading practices, with the U.S. currently locked in negotiations to hammer out a deal to end an eight-month trade war with Beijing.

Since taking office, his administration has revised a trade agreement with South Korea and also withdrew the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal that 11 other nations still support. His administration rewrote Nafta with Mexico and Canada, which was renamed the U.S.-Mexico-Canada agreement and still needs approval by lawmakers in all three nations to take force.

“One of the administration’s top priorities in 2019 is to obtain Congressional approval of the USMCA,” according to the report. “The USMCA gives more priority to the interests of American workers than any prior deal signed by the United States. It is not merely a new trade deal -- it is a new paradigm for future agreements.”

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