FINANCIAL REVIEW: Congress, not Trump, will call the shots on US trade future




March 21 | By: Alan Oxley. 

Over the weekend, Donald Trump’s Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, blocked the G20’s ritual declaration that free trade has to be protected because protectionism is on the rise. The G20 finance ministers lamely declared instead the G20 should instead “strengthen the contribution of trade to our economies”.

It would have been more useful if Mnuchin had instead pressed to wind up the G20 altogether. It is long past its use-by date and has no institutional function like the IMF. Mnuchin has demonstrated it is little more than a media opportunity. We will have to live with that. The real question is, can Trump overturn long-established US trade policy?

Trump’s election campaign team has already discovered something not understood outside Washington DC. Congress sets trade law. And it has a mind of its own. Donald Trump has declared the TPP dead but the Republican leaders in both Houses support it. They will bide their time.

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