It is not the first time that trade (deals) have been a hot topic in US election
campaigns. However, a zero-sum view of trade and disregard for multilateral
rules just does not square with the core ideas underpinning the multilateral trade
Both abrogating free trade agreements and turning away from the
multilateral trading system might prove to be short-sighted and ultimately hurt
the US economically and strategically.
So far, President Trump has marked a shift in rhetoric and communication style
when it comes to trade policy. The big questions remains whether his views on
trade, which run counter pro-openness republican mainstream, are going to be
backed or moderated by Congress. Clearly, the former is going to be a bigger
challenge for the global trading system. The US turning their back on the WTO
would certainly be a historic break both given the country’s tradition of
supporting the post World War II global trade order and for the WTO as an
organisation. It would come at high costs for both and imply (re)assessing the
role of the EU and China in the world trading system.
Three key issues which matter for the EU, China and the US and the trading
system at large are developments around China’s market economy status, the
use of trade defence measures and developments in the steel sector.