Trump’s 2019 Trade Agenda

President Donald Trump’s administration has sent a strong indicator that they will not be messing with their trade agenda this 2019.

Watchers are already beginning to say that the first quarter of this year will be pivotal, as America and China are trying to deescalate a trade war and Trump will have to decide whether to hit car imports with tariffs.

While Washington on new year day updated free-trade agreement with South Korea, which the nations’ two leaders signed in September, and due to enter into force, some of the most important dates and deadlines for Trump’s trade agenda in coming days and months:

Week of Jan. 7: A US government delegation travels to Beijing for trade talks with Chinese officials, the first face-to-face encounter since Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to a temporary truce on Dec. 1. If the two sides can’t reach a deal by March 1, Trump has pledged to boost tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods to 25% from 10%.

Week of Jan. 7: European Union Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer are scheduled to meet as part of ongoing negotiations, a person familiar with the planning said. The White House hasn’t published its formal objectives for trade negotiations, but the two sides have been meeting informally for months.

Jan. 10: Deadline for businesses to submit feedback to the Trump administration on its strategy to tighten restrictions on high-tech American exports such as artificial-intelligence components, microprocessors and robotics. It could take the White House several months to draw up its final plans, former government officials said.

Jan. 21: Formal talks to negotiate the U.S.-Japan Trade Agreement could start. Lighthizer’s office on Dec. 21 posted its negotiating objectives, which entail tackling Japan’s “multiple tariff and non-tariff barriers” and reducing the trade deficit.

Feb. 17: Deadline for the Commerce Department to publish a report on the national-security implications of auto imports that could justify tariffs on foreign cars. Commerce issued similar reports on steel and aluminum in 2018 that prompted Trump to impose tariffs on the metals. The department is due to submit another national-security report on the effects of uranium imports by mid-April. If Commerce takes until Feb. 17 to submit the auto report to the president, Trump has until May 18 to make a decision on tariffs.

First half of 2019: Congress may hold an up-or-down vote for the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, which would replace NAFTA. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said a vote is high on the agenda for the new year, though multiple Democratic lawmakers argue the administration needs to go back to Mexico and Canada to negotiate stronger labor and enforcement provisions. Those demands could significantly delay the vote.

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