Donald Trump in his campaign promised to reverse the decline of American manufacturing.
Can he do it? I’m willing to be pleasantly surprised, but I don’t think so.
President-elect Trump’s proposed economic policies are the same as what most Republicans and many Democrats have been advocating for 30 years or more—lower taxes, less regulation, fewer public services.
None of these things has stopped the increase in U.S. trade deficits or the increase in economic insecurity of American workers.
Trump did speak against the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, promised to renegotiate other trade agreements and threatened to impose punishing tariffs on China and Mexico in retaliation for their unfair trade policies.
I myself am in favor of rejecting the TPP and renegotiating trade treaties. This would be a step forward. But it would take more than this to rebuild the hollowed-out U.S. manufacturing economy.
China, Japan, South Korea and most nations with flourishing industrial economies use trade policy as a means of strengthening their economies.
Their leaders, like Alexander Hamilton in the early days of the United States, seek to build up their nations’ “infant industries” under those industries are strong enough to stand on their own feet.
When foreign companies seek to sell these nations their products, their governments demand that the foreign companies not only set up factories in their countries, but that they employ native workers and transfer their industrial know-how to the host countries. The USA does nothing like this.