HKS Affiliated Authors


March 2021, Paper: "A frequently voiced complaint from the trade specialists in the Trump administration was that US firms have faced a competitive disadvantage in exports because the US market is open and US tariffs are low but US trading partners protect their markets with high tariffs. One example cited often was that the United States applies a 2.5 percent tariff on automobile imports, whereas Canada charges 10 percent, China 15 percent, and India 125 percent.1 The Trump administration used this concern to justify raising US tariffs whenever it could.2 This Policy Brief argues that these claims need to be more nuanced and should take account of the extensive unilateral liberalization that many countries have undertaken over the past 30 years and that the grievances that motivated the Trump trade policies are increasingly misplaced. The norm of lowering tariffs has spread not because of externally imposed constraints but because the opportunities of participating in global value chains have convinced many countries that trade liberalization is beneficial."

HKS Author - Robert Z. Lawrence