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Is Trump a Real Trade Protectionist?

It may be some of Trump's unconventional moves that have given the world the impression he is such a strong trade protectionist, says economist

By Han Bingbin Updated Mar.9

US President Donald Trump may be less of a trade protectionist than he appears, as it is his unconventional moves that have left such a strong impression on the world, according to Su Qingyi, an associate researcher at the Institute of World Economics and Politics under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, writing for news portal The Paper.  

US trade protection policies appeared to decrease in number during former president Barack Obama’s second term, a trend that was however reversed by the Trump administration. Even so, Trump can hardly be said to be more protectionist than the Obama administration. He has appeared so because his policies have demonstrated some aggressive new features, according to Su.  

First, Su said, Trump’s policies have appeared to be more directly targeting China and Mexico. On the other hand, he has used some “weird new moves,” such as quitting the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, even at the cost of hurting US allies.   

From a traditional numerical perspective, Trump can hardly be categorized as a trade protectionist, Su concluded. But from a structural perspective, many of Trump’s unconventional moves have left a strong impression that he is so.