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The Global Battle Over Advanced Industries

While the Trump and Biden administrations have abandoned America’s long-standing mission of promoting global market opening, they’ve both retained the long-standing mindset that “all exports are equally good.” Indeed, since its inception, the office of the United States Trade Representative has remained largely indifferent on the relative priority of opening markets for corn or cars. All foreign trade barriers are seen as equally bad; all exports are equally good.

But as Rob Atkinson writes in the Spring 2023 edition of The International Economy, shaped by the neoclassical economic view that no industry is more important than any other, U.S. trade policy is woefully out of step with the fierce competition over advanced technology that is at the heart of today’s global economy. This is not because it is too consumer- or worker-centric, but because it is strategically obtuse. If the United States is to win the techno-economic battle instigated by China, trade policy must prioritize global market access for high-fixed-cost advanced industries such as aerospace, biopharmaceuticals, semiconductors, and software.

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