U.S. Trade Policy in the 1980s: Turns -- and Roads Not Taken
This paper is an assessment of three tilts in U.S. trade policy during the 1980s: minilateralism, managed trade, and Congressional activism. It describes their economic and political causes, and whether or not alternative policy directions might have been possible. Taking as given the unfavorable macroeconomic environment for trade policy, a few alternatives do seem possible, but only a few. Sectoral minilateralism might have been a feasible replacement for the more aggressive managed trade experiments, e.g., in semiconductors, and earlier Executive Branch initiative in drafting trade legislation of the late 1980s might have blunted some of the sharper edges of the Congressional arsenal in the 1988 act. Minilateralism is forecast to have mildly liberalizing effects in the near term. The prognosis for the effects of managed trade and Congressional activism is decidedly more mixed.