On January 20, 2015, US president, Barack Obama, addressed the American people in his annual state of the union (STOU) address. His speech touched on many policies, including those regarding trade, Cuba, US taxes and technology. His statement met with a largely positive response from interest groups, including US trade association, the National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC), and Washington, DC-based think tank, Brookings Institute.

NFTC applauded the president’s pro-trade message, and reiterated the importance of trade agreements, specifically those currently under negotiation. The Trans-Pacific Partnership, Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, Trade in Services Agreement and multilateral trade initiatives involving the World Trade Organisation, are all aimed at creating new rules for a fairer trading system, breaking down barriers for US exports, strengthening commercial ties with dynamic economies across the globe, and generating opportunity for US companies, farmers and workers.

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“However, to fully maximise the benefits of these and future agreements, US Congress and the administration must work together to enact bipartisan Trade Promotion Authority legislation as soon as possible this year,” said NFTC's president, Bill Reinsch.

NFTC also responded positively to Mr Obama’s remarks on normalising relations with Cuba, and reinforced its call for passage of comprehensive tax reform to create a more level playing field for US companies in the global economy.

Darrell M. West, founding director of the centre for technology innovation at the Brookings Institute, reiterated the significance of the president’s call for nationwide broadband internet. “The Department of Commerce and the Department of Agriculture have worked to provide blazing fast fibre-based internet connections to metropolitan and rural areas all over the country,” he said. “The president has trumpeted his administration’s efforts to make it easier for private and public organisation to invest in next generation internet infrastructure.”

Mr West added that policy on technology has the potential to serve as an area of bipartisan agreement. “The proposals to expand broadband by increasing competition and removing regulatory barriers are especially promising as potential areas of compromise with Republicans,” he said. “STOU is encouraging because it suggests that the president agree with this political analysis and may reach across the aisle in the coming months.”