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What does Biden's new presidency mean for trade?



As the new American president, Joe Biden started of his first week in office last week, let’s review the promises he has made for trade relations. Biden has promised to implement “Buy American” policies to favour domestic producers; and to focus on domestic priorities to boost U.S. competitiveness. He wants to invest trillions of dollars into energy, education, and infrastructure. He also echoes some of former president Trump’s rhetoric against Beijing as he says he won’t immediately lift Trump’s China tariffs and calls for “aggressive” retaliation against Beijing’s trade cheating. However, what makes Biden different from Trump is his will to take a multilateral approach. Biden promises to stand with U.S. allies including the EU in a common front against China. This means there are hopes to lower tariffs to the EU, but Biden has made no promises on ending existing tariffs on EU products. However, as his priorities are set on the domestic agenda, his plan to recede or erase the tariffs maybe delayed. Combined with this and the recent EU-China investment treaty could undermine Biden’s will to unite with the EU against China. There are also questions for USA to whether re-join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). There are also plans to continue trade talks with Kenya that Trump started and the United Kingdom. For the UK, Biden is no fan of Brexit and has said that there will be no deal if the Good Friday Agreement is undermined. Therefore, there might be tensions to get an agreement that the UK hopes for. However, as both Biden and the UK are planning for a membership of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). The new president will also decide how to proceed with the selection of the next WTO general and revamping the WTO dispute process. There are hopes that Biden will focus on encouraging reform and modernisation of the organisation. Overall, Biden seem to be set on the domestic agendas first and then foreign trade.

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