Trade Economist Shares Recent Surprises, Uncertain Future for International Trade – Newswise

By Dave Hendrick

Newswise — Professor Alan Deardorff has been a leading expert on international trade for decades, yet even the longtime University of Michigan professor has been stunned at the developments of recent years.

Speaking with University of Virginia Darden School of Business students in Professor Peter Debaere’s “Managing International Trade and Investment” course, Deardorff, the former academic adviser of Debaere and Darden Professor Dan Murphy, shared newfound lessons on the power of the U.S. presidency and what we might learn from trade in a time of a global pandemic.

On President Donald Trump’s actions on trade, Deardorff said he had been stunned by the unilateral actions undertaken by the 45th president of the United States.

“I haven’t seen anyone do on trade policy the things Trump has done,” Deardorff said. “Is it just because other presidents went in more persuaded of the benefits of trade or was it because previous presidents have been persuaded by others in government once they get there?”

While U.S. presidential candidates often express skepticism regarding the benefits of unfettered free trade, they tend to warm to the benefit of global agreements when in office. No such transformation occurred with Trump, who has used what Deardorff described as “loopholes in U.S. law” — specifically, section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 and section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974. Those laws give the president far more power than Deardorff previously understood to be possible to enact tariffs in the event of a perceived threat