If the 2016 presidential election taught us anything, it's that only fools make predictions. So let's give it a go! In this episode of GZERO World, Ian Bremmer poses a basic question: If Joe Biden wins the presidency how would he reshape U.S. foreign policy? Anne-Marie Slaughter, who served as a top State Department official under President Obama and now runs the think tank New America, weighs in.
If Joe Biden is elected president next month, how will he change US trade policy? It's a question with serious pocketbook implications for Americans and all US trade partners.
Trade has become more popular in the US in recent years. In 2012, when Gallup asked Americans what "trade means for the United States," respondents were evenly divided between the options "opportunity for economic growth" and "threat to the economy." The more positive view of trade has risen each year since, and when Gallup posed the same question earlier this year, "opportunity" topped "threat" by a margin of 79-18. According to Gallup, this is a point on which Republicans and Democrats agree.
This survey did not focus only on trade in the abstract. Some 80 percent of respondents told Gallup that they consider the USMCA deal, President Trump's update on NAFTA that was finalized earlier this year, to be "good for the country."
Yet, much depends on the makeup of the next Congress and its willingness to renew the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) —which allows the president to submit a trade deal to Congress for a simple up-or-down vote without the involvement of lawmakers in the deal's details— before it expires on July 1, 2021. Many Republicans will oppose anything that gives a President Biden more power, and many Democrats will insist on a say in the labor, environmental, and climate provisions of any new deals.
So, how might a President Biden approach trade?
The central question centers on China. Though Republicans favor a tougher approach, opposition to Chinese trade practices and theft of intellectual property enjoys bipartisan support, and Biden probably wouldn't move to lower the Trump tariffs quickly or without some concessions from Beijing. That said, escalation of the trade war looks unlikely as Biden tries to put the increasingly combative US-China relationship on a more constructive path.
Biden's different approach to China would also help define US trade policy toward allies. Many European and Asian governments share Washington's frustrations with China's ability to use loopholes in World Trade Organization rules to continue its policy of "state capitalism," China's system of direct state financial and political support for both state-owned and private Chinese companies that compete with foreign firms.
As part of a broader strategy to build a more united international front against China's trade practices, Biden is likely to end President Trump's steel and aluminum tariffs on Europe and to remove the threat of auto tariffs. That would offer a quick boost to Transatlantic relations.
A Biden administration would also move forward on a trade deal with post-Brexit Great Britain, but the end of TPA might delay it indefinitely. Biden is also less likely to threaten trade action against Japan, South Korea, Australia and other Pacific allies, but there are probably too many legislative obstacles for a US return to the Trans-Pacific Partnership anytime soon.
The return of Democrats to power would also mean a return to emphasis on the environmental and climate provisions of any trade deal. That's bad news for those who support a US deal with Brazil, where Jair Bolsonaro continues to enable deforestation in the Amazon.Bottom line. There are two dominant factors that will shape the Biden trade strategy: His bid to build a more unified international front against China's state-capitalist trade practices, and the limits imposed on his negotiators if, as expected, Congress fails to extend TPA next summer.
Is global cooperation on climate change possible?
Sure, it's possible and as it gets worse, increasingly populations around the world, especially young people, are making it a priority. We've seen it in Finland, we see it in Australia. We see it even among left and right among young people the United States. That makes me feel, over time, we're going to see more cooperation.
How will the ANC - The African National Congress - fare in South Africa's elections?
They will win. But they're going to get a lot lower than they have in recent elections. They'll be lucky to get 60%. That makes it harder for Ramaphosa to actually engage in the anti-corruption that they desperately need. They need to go through what Brazil went through to make that country really work and the growth is going be slow.
Can Trump clinch a trade deal with China by Friday?
Well no, but I'd be really surprised if the Chinese do not back away from the backtracking they were already doing the last couple weeks. They were feeling more confident. They thought they had a deal with Trump that was basically in the bag. They backed off. Trump hit him hard with a couple of tweets. They do not want to see these big tariffs coming in. I'd be real surprised if we don't still move towards a deal. The markets will be happier and Trump will have something to announce. It will be positive.
Can trump stop Robert Mueller from testifying on Capitol Hill?
No, he can't stop it. He could try to slow it down with legal challenges, maybe even invoke executive privilege, but he cannot stop it.
What's up with all of Trump's tweets about China over the weekend?
I'm told by an administration official that Trump is trying to force China's hand to get a deal done by Friday, it could backfire. The Chinese do not like these kind of tactics.
Can Jared Kushner get his immigration plan through Capitol Hill?
No, there's people lining up on left and right already opposing it. Immigration had proved incredibly challenging over the last decade to get anything done. And Jared Kushner is not going to be the one who solves that.
Is Mayor Pete Buttigieg a moderate Democrat?
Well it's tough to slot him into any particular category but he's definitely more moderate than Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren. He's also for 'Medicare for All' and fixing the environment. But he does care about debt and deficits and the long term impact on his generation.
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