December 01 2021 | Papers

America and International Trade Cooperation

Chad P. Bown

The Biden administration inherits a U.S. trade policy in transition. This chapter provides a factual and contextual assessment of that transition as well as a normative set of U.S. trade policy recommendations. It starts by allocating recent changes in U.S. trade policy into one of two categories. Some are “noncooperative” trade policy actions, driven by the perception that other countries were not following agreed-upon rules, so no longer should the United States. Others are tweaks to “cooperative” policy and indicate continued U.S. adherence to existing trade rules, but with policy modifications demanded by changes in underlying domestic economic, social, and national security preferences. China was the driver behind many U.S. policy changes of both type; however, only some arose from the perception that Chinese policies were noncooperative. Other U.S. changes appear motivated by the combination of these new U.S. preferences with American dissatisfaction over how supply chains relocated globally, partly as a result of China’s integration into the global economy. A final set are not focused on China at all, but rather on trade policy changes due to cooperation on corporate tax reform, climate mitigation policy, and COVID-19 vaccines. After providing a descriptive analysis of these changes, the chapter then proposes a normative set of recommendations for how the Biden administration can implement its stated approach of a “worker-centered” trade policy with a commitment to work with allies to resolve bilateral issues, to work with allies on common concerns involving China, and to work with allies and China on global challenges.


Executive Summary

International Trade