FTAs Top Concern of Importers/Exporters

To gauge shipper perspectives on trade in today’s world, and particularly about the shift in free trade agreement (FTA) focus, global logistics and transportation solutions company BDP polled U.S. importers and exporters attending its 29th Annual Regulatory Compliance Seminar in Houston in late February.

The results confirms that FTAs remain in the forefront of the trading community’s concerns. Among the findings:

  • 73 percent of respondents say the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is antiquated and should be updated; however, 10 percent say NAFTA does not need to be changed at all.
  • 67 percent say withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was the wrong thing to do and that the United States will be left behind. Of the remaining respondents, 13 percent say withdrawal is positive, while 20 percent are unsure.
  • The audience did not have strong feelings about the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA), with 36 percent wanting it left as is and 36 percent undecided. Additionally, 21 percent want KORUS FTA to be updated and 7 percent say it should be canceled altogether.

BDP also asked seminar attendees which FTA would be the most beneficial for their organization: India, UK, Vietnam, Japan or Philippines. All five FTAs are equally important, according to 49 percent of respondents.

However, opinions were more divided over FTA benefits, with 56 percent believing they keep U.S. manufacturing costs down; 26 percent do not share that opinion, and 18 percent are undecided.

In dealing with current U.S. trade positions, 43 percent say they are maintaining the status quo and 30 percent are actively seeking to give input to the U.S. government. Another 27 percent are actively investigating sourcing choices in their supply chain to avoid certain countries they feel might be problematic going forward.

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