GTIPA Perspectives: Nations' Trade Policy Priorities for the Year Ahead

October 26, 2020

The Global Trade and Innovation Policy Alliance (GTIPA) represents a global network of over 40 independent, like-minded think tanks from 27 economies throughout the world that believe trade, globalization, and innovation—conducted on market-led, rules-based terms—can maximize welfare for the world’s citizens. The Alliance exists to collectively amplify members’ voices and enhance their impact on trade, globalization, and innovation policy issues while bringing new scholarship into the world on these subjects.

This report provides GTIPA members’ perspectives on their nations’ three most-significant trade priorities for the year ahead. This document aims to deliver a succinct snapshot of what to expect in the coming year regarding trade policy priorities for these countries. The volume compiles briefs from Argentina, Australia, Bangladesh, Chile, Colombia, Germany, Italy, the Philippines, Poland, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States. It also offers specific examples and recommendations that countries can seek to adopt to advance their trade policy agendas.

As stated in GTIPA’s Shared Statement of Principles, trade and cross-border investment are key drivers of global growth, which play a central role in increasing the social and economic prosperity of citizens worldwide. Whether it comes to improving health, protecting the environment, or ensuring Internet connectivity, trade in goods, service, and data enable countries’ GDP growth and improvements in quality of life and standards of living. If crafted effectively, trade policies can attract both foreign and domestic investment, spur innovation, foster competitiveness, and increase access to broader global markets.

The trade policy priorities of the countries listed in this report can be grouped as follows:

  1. Promoting trade openness.
  2. Bolstering programs to help exporters/importers.
  3. Tending to domestic concerns/priorities.
  4. Enhancing multilateralism and the global trade order.
  5. Addressing country-specific trade priorities (such as with regard to the United States or China).

On the first topic, almost every country listed expanding trade agreements as a priority for the year ahead. From ratifying the CPTPP in Chile (and encouraging the United States to accede to it), to joining the AfCFTA in South Africa, to leading an open-market orientation in Germany, to confirming an agreement with the EU in Argentina, countries here reiterate their interest in deepening trade ties and taking advantage of the benefits afforded by free-trade mechanisms.

In the same context, efforts to help exporters and importers are also at the top of the list. The UK and Colombia support unilateral tariff liberalization, with Colombia expanding it to curtailing non-tariff barriers as well. Diving deeper into Latin America, Argentina proposes reducing withholding taxes on exports of goods and services, while Chile eyes diversifying its destination markets for exporters and helping its firms identify new opportunities to export into international markets.

The report also includes policies focused on domestic considerations. For instance, Bangladesh proposes diversifying into new products and improving its labor-market conditions. Chile roots for modernizing its infrastructure and commercial offices, while Poland seeks to refurbish its trade diplomacy apparatus. Italy and the Philippines bet on strengthening their MSME and startup ecosystems. Lastly, South Africa registers protecting its investment act and securing property rights.

In addition, enhancing global trade regimes also occupies a key spot among next year’s priorities. Italy and the UK would seek new opportunities to enhance multilateralism and plurilateralism. The U.S. submission focuses on reforming its strategic trade engagement with the WTO and with like-minded trade partners, as well as building a global digital trade framework through new trade policies and agreements. From a regional perspective, Poland and Italy raise the issue of the Digital Single Market and barriers to services trade within the EU.

Lastly, European nations such as Germany and Italy list confronting U.S. protectionist policies while containing China’s aggressive trade policies as strategic priorities for the year ahead. Regardless of the outcome of the U.S. elections, the America-first approach and the China threat remain top-of-mind for countries from the old continent. Affected by Brexit, the UK would seek opening avenues with the United States via a bilateral agreement. It’s worth mentioning that the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic underpin every issue highlighted in this report.

Most importantly, this series of briefs is intended to help global trade policymakers identify issues affecting countries’ economic growth potential and to help them anticipate trends, adapt to changing legislation or regulatory frameworks, and promote common causes across countries.