A Conservative Consensus on Key Principles of Trade and Investment

Developed with Jamieson Greer, Clete Willems, and Kelly Ann Shaw

  1. The United States should pursue an active and pragmatic trade policy that seeks to advance its interests around the world, including by creating new opportunities for American businesses and workers, ensuring a diverse and level playing field, and promoting American values.
  2. The United States has a sovereign right – and responsibility – to pursue a trade policy that enhances its citizens’ general welfare and the country’s economic, national security, and foreign policy goals.
  3. The American economic model, which includes the freedom to buy, sell, produce, and trade, is fundamental to our way of life and democratic values. The United States is stronger and more secure because of its domestic economic model, which encourages free enterprise and promotes innovation, growth, and prosperity.
  4. Consistent with the American economic model, U.S. trade policy should promote a diversified American economy; jobs for Americans at all income levels; and U.S. leadership in manufacturing, agriculture, technology, and services.
  5. Every country pursues policies in its economic, political, and national security interests. The United States must therefore ensure that its essential economic and national security interests are also protected in any international trade agreement or in its engagement with international institutions.
  6. U.S. trade policy should be developed alongside and complement pro-growth tax, regulatory, government procurement, fiscal, and monetary policy to incentivize U.S. employment, production, and innovation.
  7. U.S. trade policy should strengthen our gross domestic product, promote U.S. employment, promote leadership in U.S. innovation, address trade imbalances caused by unfair trade and economic practices, ensure resilient and reliable supply chains, protect critical U.S. assets from foreign adversaries, and support the U.S. manufacturing and production base.
  8. Access to strong and open export markets is essential, particularly for U.S. farmers, innovators, and manufacturers. Similarly, access to a robust U.S. market is a strong incentive for foreign trading partners. Policymakers should use the leverage of the domestic market to meet economic and national security goals; open foreign markets; and obtain a level playing field at home and abroad for U.S. workers, farmers, ranchers, and businesses.
  9. The United States should strengthen and enforce its trade laws to ensure that U.S. producers and exporters are not injured by unfair or non-market trading practices.
  10. Trade policy tools are legitimate instruments of economic and foreign policy and should be used pragmatically to achieve U.S. economic and national security goals. This includes tariffs, export controls, sanctions, quotas, safeguards, investment screening, and other trade remedies. The United States should also develop new trade tools to address the challenges of a modern economy.
  11. Investment screening, including through coordination with allies, is an important tool to safeguard U.S. critical technology, infrastructure, assets, and data, with a particular focus on investments that would benefit hostile states and actors.
  12. The United States should seek to expand market access overseas. The U.S. should expect trading partners to provide, at a minimum, reciprocal market access.
  13. The United States should act in coordination with like-minded countries where possible with respect to its trade policy but take unilateral action if multilateral action would be delayed or ineffective. Multilateralism is a tool to advance U.S. interests in trade, investment, and other arenas—not an ideology to be pursued for its own sake.
  14. The United States should actively pursue policies to reform international institutions to meet modern challenges while being realistic and clear-eyed about their limitations.
  15. With respect to the current situation with China, which is historic and a unique threat, U.S. trade policy should be adapted to account for China’s unfair trading practices; massive industrial subsidies; blatant discrimination against U.S. goods and services; pursuit of forced technology transfer; military-civil fusion efforts; labor, human rights, and environmental abuses; disregard for the rule of law; and its persistent, imbalanced trade with the United States.
  16. The United States should approach economic interaction with China in a manner that ensures an advantageous relationship for the American people.
  17. The United States should actively promote the American economic model as an alternative to China’s authoritarian model and compete to secure the United States’ position as the partner of choice for nations around the world.
  18. The United States should work with allies and partners to reduce reliance on China and other adversaries and competitors for essential goods and services.