Scapegoating trade for problems real and imagined is nothing new. Blaming the Japanese, Mexicans, Chinese, and other foreigners for domestic woes ingratiates politicians to excitable elements of the electorate and helps them direct voter anger away from their own records. It has become a kind of quadrennial tradition ever since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) debate took center stage in the 1992 election.

Whereas trade economics focuses on the benefits of trade, emphasizing the net gains from specialization and trade, trade politics is more about the impediments to full liberalization and the processes through which gradual liberalization is made possible.

On this page you will find Cato’s analyses of the political obstacles to trade and the political processes through which liberalization is made possible.

More on Trade Politics

Commentary

No, Mr. President, You Don’t Have the ‘Better Ideas’ on Trade

By Daniel R. Pearson. The Hill (Online). May 19, 2017.

The Danger of Invoking National Security to Rationalize Protectionism

By Daniel J. Ikenson. China-US Focus. May 15, 2017.

‘America First’ Protectionist Policies Could Endanger National Security

By Christopher A. Preble. National Interest (Online). May 14, 2017.

Cato Studies

It’s Time to Negotiate a New Economic Relationship with China

By Simon Lester and Huan Zhu. Free Trade Bulletin No. 70. April 4, 2017.

Into the Abyss: Is a U.S.-China Trade War Inevitable?

By Daniel J. Ikenson. Free Trade Bulletin No. 69. February 6, 2017.

Should Free Traders Support the Trans- Pacific Partnership? An Assessment of America’s Largest Preferential Trade Agreement

By Daniel J. Ikenson, Simon Lester, Scott Lincicome, Daniel R. Pearson, & K. William Watson. Working Paper No. 39. September 12, 2016.

Articles

The Jones Act in Perspective: A Survey of Costs and Effects of the 1920 Merchant Marine Act

Russ Kashian, Jeff Pagel, and Ike Brannon. Grassroot Institute of Hawaii. April 2017.

Bad Trade Talk

Simon Lester. The International Economy. Fall 2016.

Rethinking the International Investment Law System

Simon Lester. Journal of World Trade. Vol. 49. No. 2. 2015.

Public Filings

Cato Reviews & Journals

Trade as “Social Dumping”

Pierre Lemieux. Regulation. Spring 2017.

International Trade and Investment Policy

Cato Handbook for Policymakers. Cato Handbook for Policymakers, 8th Edition (2017).

Would the TPP Advance Free Trade? A Scorecard

Policy Report. November/December 2016.

Events

The Way Forward for Trade

Featuring Daniel R. Pearson. November 14, 2016. Policy Forum.

Fall Fables & Fallacies: The Truth about Free Trade

Featuring Daniel J. Ikenson. October 27, 2016. Capitol Hill Briefing.

Policy Perspectives of the Presidential Candidates: Trade

Featuring Daniel J. Ikenson and Caleb O. Brown. July 15, 2016. Sponsor E-Briefing.

Speeches

Four Decades of Failure: The U.S. Embargo against Cuba

By Daniel Griswold. October 12, 2005.

Downsizing the Federal Government

Ending the Import-Export Bank

By Sallie James. October 2012.

International Trade Administration

By Tad DeHaven and Chris Edwards. February 2009.