Weaponization of International Trade
The Liberal World Order under Threat
Trade policies of Trump administration are causing more problems than they solve as they treat friends like adversaries, thereby weakening alliances. They are further complicating an already fragile US-China relationship. By discarding the current multilateral system in favour of a bilateral approach, the Trump administration is encouraging other countries to view trade negotiations as a zero-sum game and a power-driven process. In an era of renewed geopolitical competition, this is eroding the dividing line between economic and security issues and, more broadly, undermining the foundations of the liberal world order.
The nature of US’s engagement with the rest of the world has emerged, of late, as a key cleavage in US political culture, and no public figure has done more to facilitate this phenomenon than the current President of the United States, Donald J. Trump. When Trump campaigned for president in 2016, he blamed international trade for some of America’s biggest problems. He argued that previous administrations had betrayed Americans by “aggressively” pursuing “a policy of globalization, moving our jobs, our wealth and our factories to Mexico and overseas.” And in order to “Make America Great Again,” he promised to revamp US trade policy, as part of a broader drive to extract concessions from allies and trading partners. In the process, however, he is contributing to the partial de-globalization of the international system.
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