What Biden Should Do on Trade
America’s rapid accession to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership would enhance US trade with important regional economies, and bolster their efforts to compete with China. US President Joe Biden should make it an urgent priority.
TOKYO – Former US President Donald Trump’s isolationist and protectionist “America First” policies seriously damaged America and its global leadership role. Raising tariffs on imports to the United States – in particular, from China – succeeded only in prompting other countries to impose reciprocal tariffs on US goods. Trump’s trade policy therefore ended up hurting most Americans, from farmers to middle-class consumers.
Under Trump, America also unilaterally abandoned its global role, which would have enabled the US to tilt international rule-making regarding trade and the management of the climate crisis to its advantage. The US withdrew from the 2015 Paris climate agreement, the World Health Organization, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, and launched a contemptuous assault on the World Trade Organization by refusing to agree to any appointments to the WTO’s Appellate Body.
Trump’s isolationism was particularly painful for America’s key allies in Europe and Japan. When the US abandoned the moral high ground of free trade and rules-based multilateralism, it threatened their values, too.