The grand trajectory of the United States has shifted from leader to vocal sceptic of trade integration. Joe Biden is changing the tone but not the substance. The new administration is raising some barriers to entry into the US market. Despite the headlines, the US public attitude towards trade is increasingly positive. However, it is more difficult to translate that sentiment into deals. To make matters worse, Europeans are pushing for digital taxes that much of Washington see as tariffs.
With the president’s Trade Promotion Authority set to expire in the summer – and Congress showing little initiative to formulate objectives for a new TPA – Washington does not appear prepared to engage in major trade agreements any time soon. Going forward, when the US sees the need for a deal, it is likely to be associated with a broader strategic project. The rules-based trading will need new champions; others must coax the United States to come along when they can find shared reasons for doing so.
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