The average U.S. tariff on Chinese products is at its highest level in at least 40 years. The U.S. has abandoned the Obama administration’s signature pact, the Trans-Pacific Partnership. And organized labor has muscled its way into greater prominence in shaping trade bargains.
Navigating this landscape represents a challenge for Biden, who backed a 1994 trade deal with Mexico and subsequent legislation allowing China into the global trading system, both of which Trump and the Democratic left have long assailed. The president already is taking shots at his likely Democratic rival, accusing him in a television ad released this month of destroying millions of manufacturing jobs with “dangerous and foolish” trade deals.
It’s easy to see how Biden, who promises to court U.S. allies and to emphasize climate change, would differ from Trump. But the Democratic candidate has sketched an approach to trade that also would depart from the corporation-friendly orthodoxy of the Clinton and Obama years.
He told the United Steelworkers union he would insist on “strong rules of origin” in any new trade deal, which would require more manufacturing in the U.S. while complicating corporate planning. He vowed to crack down on provisions of the tax code that encourage outsourcing, especially in the pharmaceutical industry. And he ruled out the establishment of special tribunals for corporations to dispute actions