When it comes to international trade, it’s pretty clear that the incoming Biden administration will try to move the US away from the go-it-alone orientation of the Trump administration. Where Trump has denounced previously negotiated trade agreements and turned his back on the World Trade Organization (WTO), the globally recognized body that sets international trading standards and settles international disputes, the Biden administration will spend time mending fences and trying to regain the leadership position that we once had in international trade. Unfortunately, the state of our trading relations with China will complicate that effort.
Here’s some background: China and the US barely traded prior to the enactment of the US-China Relations Act of 2000 passed during the Clinton administration. This bill normalized trade relations between our two countries and allowed for China’s entry to the World Trade Organization. It paved the way for a dramatic expansion of bilateral trading to the point where China now ranks pretty much neck and neck with Canada and Mexico as one of the top three US trading partners.
Along the way, a sentiment in the US started to grow that China had been engaging in unfair trading practices. Among the charges voiced by China critics is that China has unfairly managed currency exchange rates and heavily subsidized key industries to make Chinese goods more competitive on world markets. They also forced multinationals to share technologies; and they engaged in the theft of intellectual property. While these charges