The Biden Presidency trade policy: implications for Australia and the world

January 21, 2021: Incoming US President Joe Biden has immediately issued Executive Orders which reverse major Trump policies over the last four years, beginning with re-joining the World Health Organisation and plans to address deadly COVID-19 pandemic, reversing his environmental agenda including re-joining the Paris Climate Agreement, cancelling his anti-immigration policies, bolstering the economy and restoring federal efforts to promote diversity.

International trade agreements didn’t feature.

Trump election means TPP demise likely but not certain

MEDIA RELEASE, November 10, 2016: The election of Donald Trump as the next President of the US makes the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) less likely but does not guarantee the deal is dead, Convener of the Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network Dr Patricia Ranald said today.

The TPP could still pass in a lame duck session of the US Congress held before Trump is sworn in to office in late January 2017.

“Donald Trump has been elected on policies that discriminate on the basis of race, religion and gender, and he rejects the urgent need for government action on climate change. Despite his anti-establishment rhetoric, his policies for deregulation, business tax cuts and savage spending cuts will benefit the rich and make inequality worse. These policies are the opposite of our aims for a fair trade system based on human rights labour rights and environmental sustainability,” said Dr Ranald.

A fair alternative to both Trump and free trade ideologues

March 19, 2018: Jim Stanford from the Australia Institute writes in The Guardian that Trump’s unilateral and xenophobic approach to trade policy is dangerous and could lead to trade conflict. He argues we need an alternative to both Trump’s unilateralism and to corporate-dominated trade deals like the TPP.

Stanford sets out key principles for fairer trade, which include:

Trump tariff threat to China as US shifts focus to new FTAs

March 26, 2018: US trade policy has become more dangerously unilateral and contradictory.

US President Trump  threatened on March 23 to impose tariffs on US$60 billion of Chinese exports to the US after a “consultation” period. This is also linked to US strategic and military competition with China. China has threatened to retaliate with its own tariffs on US goods, resulting in a trade war and economic instability. Global stock markets plunged in response to the news.

Ironically, although such unilateral tariff action would violate WTO rules, Trump has also threatened to lodge a WTO dispute against China for presiding over violations of WTO intellectual property rules. This is despite the fact that the US has disrupted the WTO dispute process by refusing to nominate arbitrators to it.

Trump and G7 – what really happened to ‘global free trade’?

June 13, 2018: US President Donald Trump wrecked the furniture in the ‘global free trade’ shop at last week’s G7 meeting in Canada, making retaliatory tariffs by Canada, Europe and Mexico against US exports inevitable.

So far, the US has imposed tariffs on steel and aluminium exports from China and Japan, and now from Europe, Canada and Mexico. If these countries retaliate as promised, the US threatens to escalate the conflict, which will slow global trade and growth, with negative effects on all, including Australia.  

Government should reject Trump’s threat to affordable medicines through TPP and other trade deals

Media Release, May 14, 2018: “US President Donald Trump’s policy to end “freeloading” and force trading partners to increase prices they pay for US pharmaceutical exports is a direct threat to Australia’s policy of ensuring affordable medicines through our Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme,” AFTINET Convener Dr Patricia Ranald said today.

Today’s escalation of US – China trade wars will harm workers globally

24 September 2018: Trade wars are intensifying today between the US and China in the lead up to early November mid-term Congressional elections. As the US tries to gain domestic political advantage, the latest round of retaliatory measures between the world’s largest economies will mean repercussions for workers around the world, who are already most disadvantaged by unfair trading systems.

As the world’s strongest economy, the US wants to further advantage its own corporations and pressure China into changing investment rules, advanced technology transfers and intellectual property rights, while hoping to gain electoral advantage though anti-Chinese rhetoric.

New US trade deal eliminates ISDS for Canada: partial victory for community campaigning but bad news on medicines

4 October 2018: Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions in trade deals enable foreign investors to bypass national courts and sue governments in international tribunals if they can argue that a change in law or policy has harmed their investment.

The revamped NAFTA agreement between the US, Mexico and Canada, now called the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, will phase out ISDS between the US and Canada altogether after three years.

Explainer: Where is the Trump trade war heading and what’s the alternative?

July 25, 2018: The US Trump administration is escalating its America First strategy of using its power as the world’s strongest economy to get more benefits for US corporations from individual trading partners, in the hope of domestic political advantage in the mid-term Congressional elections due in November 2018. But there are long-term consequences for the global economy and the global trading system.

The biggest exporters in the world – Europe, China, Japan – are alarmed at the escalation of tariffs and threats of more tariffs by the US, and they are prepared to hit back with their own higher tariffs. So the trade war has now begun.

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