It is a momentous week for trade issues. “Phase one” of the U.S.-China trade deal was signed at the White House today, and there is every indication that the U.S. Senate will vote on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) pact as early as Thursday.
The U.S. travel community stands strongly behind healthy and robust trade because of its clear benefits for travel and tourism’s ability to grow and create domestic jobs. Inbound international travel is the No. 1 U.S. services export and No. 2 export overall, and the industry generated a $69 billion trade surplus in 2018.
The U.S. travel trade balance is particularly favorable with China, with which travel generated a $35 billion surplus. In 2018, travel accounted for 20% of all U.S. exports to China—up from just 9% in 2010. The challenging trade relationship with that country has therefore had our industry’s full attention, and the signing of “phase one” takes a small step toward repairing the relationship. There is broad acknowledgment of work still left to be done, however, and we urge both countries to sustain the positive momentum until the current era of trade tension is a relic of the past.
The deal recognizes the importance of travel and China’s commitment to more inbound travel to the U.S. as a services export. U.S. Travel hopes that China honors its commitments in this deal and creates more opportunities for travel to the U.S. We stand ready to work with China and the United States on ways to ensure that Chinese travelers can visit and depart the U.S. safely and efficiently.
Senate action on the USMCA would be another welcome development. Our analysis shows that substituting that pact for the nearly three-decade-old NAFTA agreement would facilitate 15,000 new travel jobs and $1.7 billion in travel-related economic output.
So, even with a long road still ahead on trade policy, this week’s milestones offer some cause for a brightened outlook. The travel community will continue to advocate for more progress with China, and also looks forward to important looming talks between the U.S. and Japan, the U.K., and the E.U. We stand ready to engage these efforts.