Disarray in the Trump trade team has failed to produce disruptive trade policies that were promised. Indeed, Trump’s trade agenda is going down to defeat as did his attack on Obamacare and his Muslim travel ban.
This disarray in trade reflects a broader disarray throughout the Trump administration. But it is worthwhile to quickly review Trump’s trade actions thus far.
Most recently the Trump administration released its first two Executive Orders on trade on March 31st, 2017. One called for a plan to address the technical issue of bonding requirements in antidumping and countervailing duty cases. The other requested a joint report on trade deficits.
President Trump did withdraw from TPP negotiations. He has yet to start renegotiations of NAFTA. But his indications so far, by examining his correspondence with Congress, is that they will address only minor aspects of the trade arrangement. His tax proposals for tax on imports and subsidies for exports are not going anywhere. They clearly violate WTO rules.
Of course, nothing has yet been done concerning the WTO itself or China. The administration is still reviewing the question of the Yuan valuation. The first meeting with President Xi is still a few days away. My bet is that not much will happen. We may even be surprised on the upside.
My conclusions — What has been produced is very minimalistic. In fact, no policies at all have been enunciated let alone implemented. His USTR hasn’t even been confirmed.
My take — trade is deeply embedded in the economy throughout the United States, in its states, counties, and cities. The constraints in the U.S. political system — legal, political, judicial, and business — are now belatedly creating a reality check that is blowing away demagogic tweets.
New Article ………….. Stuart Malawer, “Trump’s China Trade Policies — Threats and Constraints.” 3 CHINA AND WTO REVIEW 109 (No. 1) (March 2017).