If the Democratic candidate, Joe Biden, becomes president of the United States next January, reforming US trade relations will not be one of his priorities, as he has clearly stated that he will not engage in any new trade agreements until he increases investments in the United States.
In his report, published by the American Foreign Policy magazine, writer Edward Alden said that it is not appropriate for us – accordingly – to expect the United States, led by Biden, to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement in Asia, or to resume talks on a new agreement with European Union, or pursue trade deals with any party from the world soon.
But for the rest of the world, 4 years of tariffs and sanctions imposed by the incumbent President Donald Trump make improving trade relations a priority, and Biden’s skill in handling this situation would prove whether the United States will regain some of its damaged power over the international economic system. Or will it stand idly by as the world plunges into trade wars?
From an American perspective, Biden is right about his priorities. The absence of investment in retraining the workforce and support for education and critical infrastructure, along with a tax law that favors layoffs, explains why trade has deteriorated in the United States.
The writer pointed out that the people’s dissatisfaction with the trade problems that had been rooted in former President Barack Obama’s agenda to expand trade, especially with Asia, which affected jobs in the manufacturing sector, helped Trump win the 2016 elections.
This year, Democrats are determined not to make the same mistake. Biden’s vision, titled “Build Back Better,” clearly states that “the goal of every trade decision should be to support the American middle class, create jobs and raise wages, and advance societies.” Local. “
But the world will not be able to wait for the months or years that it will take for the new administration to implement its domestic policies, and for additional years for the effects of these policies to appear. After 4 years of Trump’s term, the international trade system has begun to collapse, and the Biden administration cannot ask the rest of the world to stand idly by, while the United States is interested in returning its economic and social position to what it was previously.
Therefore, the writer is likely that Biden’s plans will make trade disputes worse, at least in the short term, due to the fact that his economic plan includes preferential treatment of American-made goods, and a long list of subsidies for domestic industries, as well as reducing dependence on foreign supply chains.
It is precisely the protectionist practices that previous trade agreements sought to contain, because they isolate domestic markets from foreign competition, and because governments and companies misuse them on a large scale, and often lead to other countries taking retaliatory measures.
For example, Biden wants to activate the “Buy American Products” plan, which focuses on infrastructure and clean energy technology, made in the US, with a budget of $ 400 billion. But this plan would exclude many highly competitive European and Asian suppliers. Biden was also clear in pledging that the government “will not buy anything that is not made in America.”
Although Trump had hoped to use the election campaign to portray Biden as lenient toward China, Biden responded in the opposite way as he criticized China for its “attack on American creativity”, through theft of intellectual property, cyber attacks and unfair subsidies.
In addition to calling for tougher measures on trade, Democratic members of the Senate unveiled a $ 350 billion spending plan last month, “to counter the apparent threat that China poses to the United States’ economic prosperity and national security.”
These proposals represent the Democrats’ version of the “America First” policy, which marries Trump’s hard-line stance on China with a long-standing Democratic wish list of domestic economic programs.
Europeans, Canadians, Australians and other allies are likely to be patient to avoid having to choose between trade with China or the United States, especially given how little China has made efforts to win new allies.
Conversely, Beijing has engaged in what the Financial Times journalist Jamil Anderlini called “punishment diplomacy,” as China uses economic weapons to intimidate countries that dare to criticize the Xi Jinping government’s policy on human rights or Hong Kong. Or corona virus. Countries that receive such treatment will be more than happy to embrace the United States again, even if it does not fulfill all of its commercial desires.
For allies and trading partners to remain happy, some hints of goodwill from Biden may suffice. Biden must work to preserve and revitalize the World Trade Organization. While the Obama administration has shared the Trump administration’s concerns about the WTO’s inability to curb and override China by the organization’s appeals body, the Biden administration should commit itself to saving the institution through serious reform rather than destroying it.
The new administration would also have to abandon tariff wars with the Allies. In the case of Europe, this means not only raising tariffs imposed by Trump on steel and aluminum, but also negotiating an end to the long-running dispute over support for aircraft makers, Airbus and Boeing, which is set to It escalates again after the recent World Trade Organization declared $ 4 billion in European tariffs on US goods.
The writer said that Biden will be forced to search for the appropriate opportunity, by recognizing international commitments and the importance of economic leadership to the strength of the United States and global stability. Since the Democrats ’failure in 2016 to find common ground in trade leaves the field wide open for Trump, Biden should seize the opportunity to find it.