PPAI’s® public affairs team has been on the road in recent weeks, attending the inaugural Washington International Trade Conference (WITC) and joining Philadelphia Area Promotional Products Association (PAPPA) and Specialty Advertising Association of Greater New York (SAAGNY) at their shows to present legislative updates to attendees.

On January 29, the Washington International Trade Association held its first-ever WITC, bringing together national and international leaders on global trade to discuss important trade issues facing policymakers and those making decisions affecting international trade, investment and value chains. Among the panelists at the conference were Rep. Kevin Brady, ranking member of the House Ways & Means Committee; Perrin Beatty, president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, and Kenneth Smith Ramos, former Mexican chief negotiator for the modernization of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Anne Stone, PPAI public affairs director, and Maurice Norris, public affairs manager, attended the WITC and returned with several take-aways from the panel discussions. One piece of news is that the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement (USMCA), the signed but not ratified free trade agreement meant to replace NAFTA, should pass, but not before the U.S. lifts tariffs imposed last year on steel and aluminum imports from Mexico and Canada. WITC speakers noted, “The nature of the bilateral relationship has changed as part of these negotiations. The comfortable assumption that we are in this together cannot be taken as a given.”

On China Tariffs, panelists noted that reform is key, such as stronger penalties related to intellectual property theft. They said shifting the bilateral trade balance is unimportant and unrealistic, and our own tariffs are slowing down the economy—the U.S. is slowing its own global value chain by putting tariffs on component parts. WITC speakers also predicted that the souring economic relationship between the U.S. and China will likely extend beyond the Trump administration, and that there should be more emphasis on cooperation rather than competition.

Norris joined PAPPA’s show in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on February 5 and SAAGNY’s show in Suffern, New York, on February 7, and at both events provided legislative updates from PPAI’s point of view. In his presentations, he explained there has been a lot of activity in the worlds of government relations and product responsibility. Tariffs and Prop 65 are just the beginning, he said. His session took a deep dive into a variety of legislative developments and regulatory proposals that could impact industry businesses, including changes to the tax code and the joint employer rule.