Protectionist Vector of Trump Administration Trade Policy

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2020-64-2-15-23

S. Dmitriev (,
Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences (IMEMO), 23, Profsoyuznaya Str., Moscow, 117997, Russian Federation

Abstract. The Trump administration’s trade war for sole leadership is destroying the 70-plus-year reputation of the United States as the chief architect and founder of the liberal postwar order. The Trump administration’s use of tariff-restricting import measures to create greenhouse conditions for U.S. companies and even to generate political dividends during the election campaign has reached undue proportions. The willingness to “aggressively enforce” U.S. trade laws, to reduce the trade deficit and excessive national security requirements are widely used as a pretext for punitive measures aimed at causing the maximum possible economic damage to competitors. To justify this position, the thesis is used of the need to “make America great again”, to restore “fair and equal” conditions of competition and to force competitors to “stop receiving benefits” at the expense of the United States. Trump sees the trade deficit as proof that other countries are pursuing discriminatory policies against U.S. companies. As grounds for imposing or increasing duties against imports from other countries, such reasons are used as: ensuring national security, leveling the trade balance, protecting the intellectual property rights of American citizens and corporations and even other countries’ non-compliance with immigration rules. At the same time, any retaliation by trading partners is considered to be unlawful and is used as an excuse for further escalation. Some U. S. protectionist measures run counter to WTO rules, damage multilateral trade system, disrupt global supply chains, slow economic growth, while damaging competitiveness of the United States. It is unlikely that the Trump administration’s penchant for protectionism will diminish before the new presidential election. There are also fears that the position of the administration that will replace the incumbent will not be very different. The further escalation of the trade war may also lead to Russia’s involvement in the conflict. Against this negative backdrop, it remains to be hoped that the majority of WTO members will continue to operate within the rules of the organization and that relations between trading partners will gradually be restored on the basis of mutual benefit and respect for sovereignty.

Keywords: globalization, protectionism, USA, China, international trade, trade policy, national security, economic nationalism


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For citation:
Dmitriev S. Protectionist Vector of Trump Administration Trade Policy. World Eonomy and International Relations, 2020, vol. 64, no. 2, pp. 15-23.

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