2016 is set to be a monumental year for the US, as the world's leading economy prepares for new leadership following the presidential elections taking place this November.
However, outgoing head of state Barack Obama remains committed to further bolstering the country's status as a international trade superpower, and will be looking to pursue a number of key strategic objectives in the next six months.
The Office of the US Trade Representative recently released President Obama's 2016 Trade Policy Agenda, which outlines the main goals that the US administration will be trying to achieve. Given America's continued importance to the world economy, their efforts are likely to impact businesses across the globe in various ways.
To date, the Obama administration has achieved a number of key breakthroughs in terms of improving trade links to and from the US, including the improvement and passage of free trade agreements (FTAs) with Korea, Colombia and Panama.
The country has also brought 20 enforcement cases at the World Trade Organization (WTO) - more than any other country - while overhauling the Trade Promotion Authority, taken steps to facilitate business in Africa, and expanded the Information Technology Agreement. It is hoped that this momentum will be maintained in the months to come.
Ushering in the TPP
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) represents the cornerstone of the country's trade agenda for 2016, after the finalised version of the international pact was put to paper towards the end of last year.
Aiming to reduce trade barriers between 12 Pacific Rim nations, the TPP will lead to reductions across more than 18,000 foreign taxes on US-made products, while revamping intellectual property laws, facilitating trade in services and introducing measures to protect the environment and the openness of the internet.
The TPP is yet to be formally passed into law in any of the member countries, so diplomatic efforts are likely to be expended over the coming months to ensure it is up and running as soon as possible.
Pushing forward the TTIP
Like the TPP, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is a comprehensive trade and investment agreement that will provide US businesses with better access to the EU market - the single largest buyer of US goods.
Efforts will be made to reach an "ambitious, comprehensive and high standard TTIP agreement" in 2016, with negotiations over the agreement still ongoing.
Other legislative targets
The US will be aiming to achieve a number of other key legislative goals before the end of the year, with the overall aim of establishing itself at the forefront of the global trade agenda. These include:
- Further expanding the Information Technology Agreement - this WTO-backed tariff-eliminating deal will eliminate tariffs on approximately $1.3 trillion (€1.14 trillion) in annual global exports of information and communications technology products. Expanding the agreement will help generate jobs and wealth for the US.
- Conclude the Trade in Services Agreement - 23 economies are participating in the negotiations over this deal, representing 70 per cent of the world's $55 trillion services market in 2014. Concluding this deal would increase the value of this market.
- Securing the Environmental Goods Agreement - the US is working with 16 of the world's leading traders of environmental goods with the aim of eliminating tariffs on wind turbines, water treatment systems, solar water and other innovations. This will make green technology more affordable and accessible, benefiting the environment and the economy at the same time.
- Advancing an IP protection agenda - the government will be making numerous efforts to secure greater market access for IP-intensive US products and advance policies to protect and promote these products and services, securing improvements in the enforcement of copyrights, trademarks, patents and trade secrets, regardless of where companies wish to do business.
It is hoped that these measures will help the government to bolster the strength of the US economy and ensure American businesses remain competitive on the global stage.
US trade representative Michael Froman said: "The president's trade agenda is focused on supporting US jobs and raising wages. Over the past seven years, the administration has fought hard to open the largest and fastest-growing markets to US exports, most notably in Asia-Pacific. Our efforts have helped position more Americans to compete - and win - in tomorrow's global economy."