krueger39_CHRIS KLEPONISAFP via Getty Images_biden trade CHRIS KLEPONIS/AFP via Getty Images

Biden's Trumpy Start on Trade

After declaring that "America is back," US President Joe Biden has been busy reversing much of Donald Trump's toxic legacy. But a glaring exception has been trade policy, where a troubling continuity has cast doubt on the new administration's ability to achieve its broader policy goals.

WASHINGTON, DC – Former President Donald Trump did enormous damage to the United States’ reputation and future prospects, both domestically and internationally. Yet while President Joe Biden has set about reversing the previous administration’s legacy in many domains, he has yet to focus his attention on US trade policy.

That needs to change. Trump’s trade policies were not only a disaster for US and world trade; they also have made it more difficult for the US to achieve a broader range of economic and foreign-policy goals. Reversing those policies thus should be a top priority for the new administration.

After all, America’s friends and allies (particularly the European Union, the United Kingdom, Canada, Mexico, Japan, and South Korea) remain deeply shaken by Trump’s protectionist impulses. In addition to slapping tariffs on a broad range of goods, his administration forced a renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement and the US-Korea Free Trade Agreement, and withdrew the US from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) to which the US had agreed. It declared a “trade war” with China, despite that country’s membership in the World Trade Organization (WTO), and with no regard for US trading partners’ own dealings with China. Taken together, these policies have done serious damage to America’s standing in the world.

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