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Former Vice President Joe Biden tours McGregor Industries, a metal fabricating facility, in Dunmore, Pa. Former Vice President Joe Biden tours McGregor Industries, a metal fabricating facility in Dunmore, Pa., July 9, 2020 (AP photo by Matt Slocum).

Can Biden Outflank Trump on Trade?

Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2020

However one judges the results, there is no question that President Donald Trump has taken American trade policy in a very different direction than his predecessors going back decades. He has rejected multilateralism and severely weakened the World Trade Organization, while embracing the use of tariffs against allies and adversaries alike. Biden has been clear that, if elected, he would restore a more multilateral approach, especially with respect to challenging Chinese trade practices. He has also assured union supporters that he would put the interests of American workers at the core of his trade policy. Beyond those broad principles, however, Biden has been more vague about rolling back Trump’s tariffs, reforming and reviving the WTO, or negotiating new trade agreements.

Overall, unlike Democratic presidential candidates to his left such as Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Biden has hewed throughout his career, including 36 years in the Senate and eight as vice president, to a mainstream approach to trade policy. While calling for the enforcement of labor and environmental standards, Biden has generally supported agreements with major trade partners. He voted for the original North American Free Trade Agreement in 1993 and for legislation paving the way for China to join the WTO in 2001, and supported the negotiation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership as Barack Obama’s vice president. ...

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