President Trump has advocated for more trade particism and imposed a series of tariffs on China, Mexico, Canada, the European Union and other trading partners. His Government justified this policy on three grounds: that it would benefit American workers, particularly in manufacturing; whereas they would give the US leverage to renegotiate trade agreements with other countries; and that they were necessary to protect the national security of the United States. Compared to these three metrics, how successful has Trump`s tariffs been? And what are the stakes of this election for the future of US trade policy? If Joe Biden wins, he will likely try to reverse some of Trump`s more protectionist advances. In particular, Biden will try to repair trade relations with allies in North America and Europe and work through well-established channels like the World Trade Organization (WTO). Yet it seems unlikely that he will simply return to the business paradigm of Clinton, George W. Bush and the Obama administrations. Several Democratic trade policy advisers have argued that Biden should break with more business-friendly business approaches. For example, Biden`s trade policy would likely put more emphasis on labor and environmental issues than in previous governments. Biden promised his administration “not to strike new trade deals until we make significant investments in ourselves, our workers and our communities” and he has worked for a strong buy-U.S.
buying policy. He has been highly critical of Trump`s tariffs on China, but it`s unclear whether his government would maintain them or not. Either way, a Biden administration would have roughly a more confrontational trade policy with China than Clinton, Bush, and Obama. It is difficult to assess the impact of trade policy on national security. Overall, policymakers in Washington generally agree that the intensifying U.S. security competition with China merits a revision of the economic strategy of the 1990s and 2000s, which was based primarily on growing commitment, but less clarity on what changes to make. The national security case for steel and aluminum tariffs is even darker: while there may be a reason to guarantee the domestic production capacity of these products, it is not clear that tariffs are the best instrument (or even achieve that goal). .