Biden's and Trump's Trade Policies. - Same as Trump's? More Aggressive?

13 Pages Posted: 21 Jan 2022 Last revised: 31 Jan 2022

See all articles by Stuart Malawer

Stuart Malawer

George Mason University (Schar School of Policy & Government)

Date Written: January 29, 2022


The big question is the following: Is the Biden trade policy different from the Trump chaos?

My answer is “no.” I consider Biden’s trade policy to be Trump without the tweets. They both rely on unilateral measures and broaden protectionist ones. In fact, Biden not only relies upon Trump’s actions but also has broadened them.

Trade issues have reemerged during the past few months of this year as high-priority domestic and foreign policy issues for the Biden administration. This is especially true for the situation regarding trade with China and how that relates to U.S. domestic economic and national security issues. Let’s look at what Trump did, what Biden has done so far, and the challenges ahead.

There has not been much change in trade policies between President Trump and President Biden. In fact, Biden, relying upon Trump’s actions, has broadened them. There has been a slight change in tune: a little more reconciliation with Europe and the OECD. However, it is extremely difficult to identify any significant difference concerning China, Russia, and Iran. Has Trump’s America First policy morphed into Biden’s America First or Worker-Centered trade policy?

The Biden administration is confronting various trade challenges: removing Trump’s tariffs that are still in place; joining the revised TPP, especially now that China and South Korea have indicated their interest in joining; reengaging with the WTO, especially over the dispute resolution system; enforcing the Phase One Agreement with China, especially the purchase requirements; and more forcefully confronting China’s policies concerning state-owned enterprises and government subsidies. Other issues relating to trade are pending and growing in importance, for example, climate change, environmental issues, and pandemics.

Keywords: Trade policy, Biden and Trade, Trump and Trade, U.S.-China trade, WTO, Trade Sanctions, Tariffs,

JEL Classification: K, F1, F13, F52

Suggested Citation

Malawer, Stuart, Biden's and Trump's Trade Policies. - Same as Trump's? More Aggressive? (January 29, 2022). Available at SSRN: or

Stuart Malawer (Contact Author)

George Mason University (Schar School of Policy & Government) ( email )

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