“WELL, I’m mostly there on most items,” said Donald Trump of his 100-day plan. As far as trade policy is concerned, his self-assessment would indeed be true—if tweets and executive orders ratcheting up tensions in a growing number of trade disputes constituted progress.
However, although Mr Trump has withdrawn America from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a 12-country trade deal, he has neither labelled China a currency manipulator nor made progress in renegotiating the North American Free-Trade Agreement (NAFTA). On April 26th his administration denied reports that it was poised to trigger America’s withdrawal from the agreement. No new “America-first” trade deals have emerged, and his trade-related executive orders have requested reports or investigations. Mr Trump has created more work for pencil-pushers than for exporters.
The slow pace might reflect the obvious ideological infighting within his team, a desire for evidence before acting or the realisation that Congress, which sees trade policy as within its remit, must be kept on side. Congress officially delegates responsibility for trade to the United States Trade Representative. But it…Continue reading