The Doctrine Of Free Trade

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Historically, Republican Presidents have often been considered to be wholeheartedly dedicated to the doctrine of free trade, with the common consensus being that “Republican Presidents have championed laissez faire foreign commerce since the end of the Second World War” (Batra, 1996, p1). Consequently the idea of protectionism under Republican governments has too often been reflexively denounced by US trade analysts. The purpose of this section is to explicate how even under supposedly ‘neoliberal’ Republicans such as Reagan, Bush JR and Nixon, domestic pressures have dictated that US Governments compromise their commitment to free trade. Such domestic pressures essentially stem from industries that are relatively uncompetitive; in that they tend to struggle to compete with foreign manufacturers and politically sensitive; in that they have substantial voting power and representation in Congress. This juxtaposition of a lack of competitiveness and political sensitivity has on a number of occasions proven to be sufficient in forcing committed free traders into invoking protectionist policies. The ultimate consequence of these pressures for both the Republicans and Obama has been ‘defensive protectionism’, which as previously mentioned provides ad-hoc import relief for specific industries on a case by case basis. This section will thus tackle two key myths with regards to US trade politics: firstly the notion that Obama’s protectionism represents a new trade policy in the US
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