ON THE campaign trail, Donald Trump’s trade policy was an alarming mixture of coruscating complaints and fierce threats of protectionist retaliation. But the world has been in the dark about how much of this rhetoric his administration might turn into reality. A flicker of light came on March 1st as the administration’s trade-strategy document was presented to Congress. Washington wonks see the hand of Peter Navarro, Mr Trump’s trade adviser and author of a book (and film) called “Death by China”. Robert Lighthizer, the nominee for the United States Trade Representative (USTR), has not yet been confirmed.
Little is new in the document’s promises of “ new and better trade deals” or of strict enforcement of American trade laws. But a preference for bilateral trade deals over multilateral ones is a change of tack. And the tone is certainly confrontational: “It is time for a more aggressive approach.” The document also gives an indication of how a Trump administration might take a trade fight to China: by using sections 201 and 301 of the Trade Act of 1974.
The first weapon,…Continue reading