Few progressive economists would characterize Trump’s trade agenda as an unadulterated good. But several of them allow that a good trade policy would overlap with what Trump has done in several respects.
For instance, Scott said Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs “are sorely needed,” and America’s industries “have been greatly harmed by rising imports and falling prices, caused by massive, state-supported excess capacity in China, Vietnam, Russia, and other countries.” He also argued that mainstream warnings vastly overstate the damage that Trump’s tariffs will do to the American economy.
Meanwhile, Sitaraman and Meyer argue that the WTO and NAFTA really do need deep reform, as Trump argues. In language that’s almost Trumpian, they advise the U.S. to use hardball tactics both within these deals and institutions to reform them, and outside them to propose new trade regimes entirely. A willingness to “remake institutions through tough, innovative negotiations is the only way to achieve a trade policy that works for all Americans,” they say.