Democratic critics look for Biden to break with Wall Street wing on trade



David Lynch | The Washington Post

When former vice president Joe Biden left government in 2017, most Chinese goods entered the country tariff-free, the U.S. had just negotiated a landmark treaty with 11 Pacific Rim nations, and corporate America largely called the shots on the Democratic Party’s trade policies.

After more than three years of President Trump’s “America First” administration, that world is long gone.

The average U.S. tariff on Chinese products is at its highest level in at least 40 years. The U.S. has abandoned the Obama administration’s signature pact, the Trans-Pacific Partnership. And organized labor has muscled its way into greater prominence in shaping trade bargains.

Navigating this landscape represents a challenge for Biden, who backed a 1994 trade deal with Mexico and subsequent legislation allowing China into the global trading system, both of which Trump and the Democratic left have long assailed. The president already is taking shots at his likely Democratic rival, accusing him in a television ad released this month of destroying millions of manufacturing jobs with “dangerous and foolish” trade deals.

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