U.S. Trade Issues: A Reference Handbook

U.S. Trade Issues: A Reference Handbook

U.S. Trade Issues: A Reference Handbook

U.S. Trade Issues: A Reference Handbook


Since the negotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the emergence of China as a major exporter of goods and services, the trade landscape for the United States has changed dramatically -- imports have soared, factories have closed, and the United States is borrowing over $2 billion a day from foreign creditors to finance the dependence on goods from other countries.

What is the proper balance between free trade and protecting the American economy?

U.S. Trade Issues: A Reference Handbook is a timely exploration of this vital and politically sensitive question, one that emerged as a crucial issue in the 2008 presidential election. Written by a former chairman of the U.S. International Trade Commission, it provides an authoritative, accessible, and unbiased review of the defining events, principal players, and key controversies in U.S. trade policy.

U.S. Trade Issues describes American trade policies from the days of the republic to the present, focusing most intently on the post-World War II era. It explores a number of current issues, including the Doha Round of Multilateral Negotiations, NAFTA, and the president's trade authority. In addition, the handbook looks at American trade policy in the context of an increasingly globalized world economy.


As this book goes to press, the global economy is in the worst slump since the Great Depression of the 1930s. The Asian Development Bank says the world may have lost over $50 trillion in financial assets during the last year, equivalent to one year’s worth of world economic output (Asian 2009). The World Bank predicts that in 2009 global gross domestic product will decline for the first time since World War II. World trade is expected to record its greatest decline in 80 years (World Bank 2009).

The collapse of world trade has severely impacted nations everywhere. Developing countries, like China and India, which export manufactures and services to North America and Western Europe, have lost millions of jobs. In the United States and other high-income countries, the economic and financial crisis has had profound repercussions. Joblessness is mounting toward doubledigit levels, and the discontented are demanding greater government regulation of the domestic and international economies. There is also growing pressure for governments to protect domestic jobs with trade barriers, subsidies, and other procurement requirements.

In the United States the economic crisis is giving new life to an ongoing debate over trade policy. Critics of the current system claim U.S. trade policy has given priority to the interests of multinational corporations, and slighted the concerns of families, workers, and ordinary citizens. They advocate a new trade-policy model that gives greater weight to labor, environmental, and safety issues, and makes the country less dependent on foreign goods and foreign money to purchase those imports. Battling against this tide are proponents of the present rules-based world trading system. They seek to rally supporters of free trade and to sustain the market-opening efforts of the post-World War II period.

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