There Is Substantial Agreement Among Scholars

And while Trump`s tariffs may have brought some countries to the negotiating table, tariffs have likely helped drive other potential trading partners away in the long run. In negotiating trade agreements, countries want partners with stable and predictable policies, with the aim of establishing a long-term win-win partnership. Trump`s zeal to use tariffs, including in dealings with close allies, has made the United States a less desirable trading partner for other countries. If Joe Biden wins, he will probably try to reverse some of Trump`s more protectionist advances. Biden will focus on restoring trade relations with allies in North America and Europe and working through established channels such as the World Trade Organization (WTO). Nevertheless, it seems unlikely that it will simply return to the trade paradigm of the Clinton, W. Bush and Obama administrations. Several Democratic trade policy advisers have argued that Biden should break with previous, more business-friendly approaches. For example, Biden`s trade policy would likely place more emphasis on labour and environmental issues than in previous governments. Biden promised his government „not to enter into new trade agreements until we make significant investments here, at home, in our workers and in our communities“ and spoke out in favor of a strong purchasing policy. He has been highly critical of Trump`s tariffs on China, but it is unclear whether his administration will uphold them or not. One way or another, a Biden administration would almost certainly have a more confrontational trade policy with China than Clinton, Bush and Obama.

The Trump administration also argued that tariffs were part of a tougher negotiating position that would give the United States influence to secure more favorable trade deals. During its first term, the government concluded two important trade agreements: the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which updated the previous North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA); and the Phase 1 agreement with China. U.S. tariffs certainly marked the context of the negotiations with the USMCA and China: without U.S. pressure, including the application of tariffs and the threat of future tariffs, it seems unlikely that Mexico and Canada or China would have attempted to negotiate a new agreement with the Trump administration.

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