The White House announced on Jan. 21 that it will “look at all of the trade deals throughout the globe…and in many cases [they] can update [them]” in order to “make sure they continue to benefit America and American workers.” Subject to re-evaluation are the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Trans-Pacific Partnership – which the Donald Trump administration said it would renegotiate and withdraw from – and the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement.
This White House announcement reconfirms the new U.S. aim of protectionism and trade agreement renegotiations, which were concerns even before the new administration began. The administration has declared its will to force changes on multilateral and bilateral free trade agreements based on “America First” ideals despite strong opposition from its trading partners. During the presidential campaign last year, President Trump showed hostility toward the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement, even calling it a “disaster” that “kills jobs.”
Such policy stances of the Trump administration are arbitrary decisions unfit for an economic superpower such as the U.S., and will prove harmful to U.S. interests. The World Bank report, which was announced on the same day, shares this concern, stating that the protectionism and destruction of trade agreements by the Trump administration will only threaten international trade. According to the report, international trade over the past five years has fallen short of the historical growth trend, and trade growth last year was the lowest since 2009, which came right after the global financial crisis.
Trade agreements are the basis of international trade. If whimsical decisions start to affect them, global supply chains will be dismantled and global trade will be decreased as a result, and it will not stop there. International society will be controlled by the fear that agreements between countries can be changed or withdrawn at any time. Thus, the Trump administration’s decision to re-evaluate free trade agreements is not the “road to U.S. prosperity,” nor is it beneficial to global prosperity.