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Current Accounts: The Hinrich Foundation Trade Podcast

Decoding the role of US trade policy in presidential elections

Published 12 March 2024

In this special edition of Current Accounts, the Hinrich Foundation’s podcast on global trade, Patrícia Vasconcellos from the US Association of Foreign Press Correspondents talks to Inu Manak, Fellow for Trade Policy at the Council for Foreign Relations, about the role of US trade policy in a crucial presidential election year.

Tune in to the special episode hosted by the Association of Foreign Press Correspondents in the United States here:

Trade exerts a profound impact on our daily lives as it plays a pivotal role in shaping consumer choices, production processes, and overall economic resilience. The historical trajectory of US trade policy reveals a gradual shift towards protectionism, driven by factors such as the economic disruptions and the lack of effective worker adjustment programs. While the move towards protectionism predates the Trump administration, it is important to note that Trump’s intensification of protectionist sentiment is viewed more as a symptom than the cause.

Looking ahead to future trends, the anticipation looms over the continuation of the trade restrictions in US trade policy, regardless of the election outcome. The dynamic interplay between security concerns and trade decisions highlights the need for a balanced approach.

Moreover, a discernible gap exists between public perceptions, which generally acknowledges the positive aspects of trade, and political narratives that often carry a negative connotation. Bridging this gap requires enaging with everyday Americans to capture their views on the global economy.

This episode dissects the evolving landscape of US trade policy during the ongoing presidential election year with guest Inu Manak, PhD in government and an expert in international political economy. Manak's insights offer a nuanced understanding of the intricacies shaping US trade policy, shedding light on the challenges and potential future trends.

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Here is an excerpt from their conversation: 

Patrícia Vasconcellos:

And what comes next? More trade restrictions? An open market? What [do] statistics show?

Inu Manak:

Well, I think if we're looking at the trends in the last several years, I would expect that regardless of who wins the election in November and the United States, we're likely to see more of the same on trade. So I think if we see President Trump come to power again, we probably have more trade restrictions. He's talked about it already quite a bit, putting a really hefty tariff on the entire world. I don't think President Biden would do anything similar to that, but certainly he would maintain the trade restrictions he's already kept in place.

Tune into the Hinrich Foundation’s podcast series for insights on international trade.  

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Inu Manak

Inu Manak is a fellow for trade policy at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). At CFR, she researches and writes on policy issues relevant to US trade policy, including topics such trade politics and institutions, trade negotiations, and dispute settlement.

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