Experts predict Congress will temper or block many of Donald Trump’s proposed policies if elected president, from banning Muslims to making Mexico pay for a new wall. But Trump’s foreign trade policy might carry real weight, according to a new report detailed in the New York Times on Monday.
The findings worry researchers from the Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE), who recently outlined concerns in their study on both Trump and Hillary Clinton’s trade agendas. They believe Clinton would effectively preserve the status quo on America’s trade agreements despite coming out against the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) this year. Trump, on the other hand, presents a “sharp departure” from the status quo.
The brash, billionaire businessman has harshly criticized both the TPP and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which former president Bill Clinton signed into law in 1993. Trump has also contributed to the outsourcing of millions of manufacturing jobs to the malign of the country’s middle-working class.
This fuels Trump’s working man appeal and his free trade punitive proposal to slap tariffs on goods imported from countries like China, which he argues has unfair advantages with the current U.S. free trade policies.
“If implemented, those proposals would provoke retaliation by U.S. trading partners,” the report authors said, “unleashing a trade war that would send the U.S. into recession and cost millions of Americans their jobs.”
The authors also criticized Trump’s “musings” about the World Trade Organization. The Republican nominee has previously threatened to withdraw the U.S. from the intergovernmental organization responsible for regulating international trade.
“If, however, the United States withdrew from the WTO,” the authors said, “it could quickly find itself back in the Smoot-Hawley world of the Great Depression.”
The study authors’ criticism was not limited to Trump. They also criticized Clinton’s agreement with Trump on TPP, which the Democratic Party’s platform committee rejected.
“If TPP does not come to a vote in the lame duck session, some observers have speculated that President Clinton could flip-flop and return to the pro-TPP position she held as secretary of state,” the authors wrote.