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更新时间:2017-7-6 10:12:20 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

Trump’s Trade Choice: Follow the Postwar Order or Blow It Up

It seems President Donald Trump is ready to start rolling back globalization. Let’s hope he doesn’t blow up the postwar economic order.


While Mexican negotiators waited for the United States to make its first move in its proposed renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, the president last week turned on the invective against another trade deal he called unfair — that negotiated by the Obama administration with South Korea.

美国拟就北美自由贸易协定(North American Free Trade Agreement,简称NAFTA)重新进行谈判,当墨西哥谈判代表等待其迈出第一步的时候,特朗普总统上周又把矛头对准了另一项据他说不公平的贸易协议——那是由奥巴马政府和韩国达成的。

Largely in place with the confirmation of Robert Lighthizer as the nation’s top trade diplomat in May, the president’s trade team seems itching to deploy a wall of trade protection around the U.S.

罗伯特·莱特希泽(Robert Lighthizer)出任美国贸易代表一事在5月确定下来以后,总统的贸易团队基本就位。该团队似乎非常想在美国周围竖起贸易保护之墙。

This would include new tariffs on imports of steel — and maybe also aluminum — based on the novel argument that the imports somehow endanger national security. The administration is also mulling anti-dumping duties on Canadian aircraft and countervailing duties on imported solar panels.


A lot of this may look tame when set alongside Trump’s fiery campaign speeches portraying trade as the bane of the American worker. He no longer calls for a 45 percent tariff on imports from China, nor does he threaten to walk away from NAFTA.


Despite his campaign promises to voters in industrial states eager for protectionism, some analysts suggested that Trump might ultimately be hemmed in by the standard pro-trade orthodoxy of the Republican Party.


But the relative moderation of the administration’s recent trade initiatives is hardly reassuring. It’s not just that many of his proposals will invite retaliation from the nation’s trading partners — inviting the prospect of a protracted tit-for-tat trade war. The most frightening aspect of Trump’s approach is the seeming contempt for the rules and institutions that have underpinned global trade since World War II.


Might Trump hew to the rules overseen by the World Trade Organization even as he retreats from prior U.S. commitments to global trade? Or will he eschew the multilateral framework in pursuit of a set of bilateral deals, turning his back on a long history of trade diplomacy?

特朗普会在不兑现美国早前的国际贸易承诺的情况下,遵守由世界贸易组织(World Trade Organization,简称WTO)监督实施的规则吗?还是说他会绕开多边框架,寻求签订一系列双边协议,背弃历史悠久的贸易外交?

These days, quite a few economists show sympathy for the argument that some trade protection may be warranted to help workers in industries threatened by imports.


Protectionism will not add to U.S. jobs or raise wages, on the whole. At best it will shuffle jobs around — adding some in protected companies like steel makers and cutting some in industries that buy steel, like auto manufacturers. By making the economy less efficient, protectionism will also make the nation poorer as a whole.


But maximizing economic output is not the nation’s only objective. The case for trade liberalization also relies on the proposition that winners in the process will compensate the losers whose jobs are displaced. If U.S. politics impedes any redistribution of trade’s spoils, perhaps there is a case for restoring equity by throwing sand in the cogs of trade.


“It would be decreasing the size of the pie to increase the size of some slices,” as David Autor, a top labor economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, put it to me once. “We have always done the opposite thing without making people whole.”

“这会让整个蛋糕变小,以便让其中的某些份额变大,”麻省理工大学(Massachusetts Institute of Technology)权威劳动经济学家戴维·奥特(David Autor)曾对我说。“一直以来我们做的都是相反的事,没有考虑人的得失。”

What’s more, unanticipated shocks over the last quarter-century — when information technology swept through every industry and China emerged from nowhere to become the world’s biggest exporter — might justify reconsidering market-access commitments made earlier. “Maybe at the end of the day some trade responses are reasonable,” said Robert W. Staiger, a trade economist from Dartmouth College.

更重要的是,过去25年间,信息技术席卷每一个行业,中国横空出世,成为世界最大出口国,一系列出人意料的冲击或许让美国有理由重新思考其早前做出的市场准入承诺。“或许到头来一些贸易回应是合理的,”达特茅斯大学(Dartmouth College)贸易经济学家罗伯特·W·史泰格(Robert W. Staiger)说。

And yet even accepting that the U.S. may find it reasonable to retreat from trade somewhat, it is critical to figure out what this retreat might look like.


The many rounds of trade liberalization after World War II were anchored in two core principles that, in fact, had been adopted by the U.S. in 1934: reciprocity and nondiscrimination. Countries could expect to receive concessions as valuable as those they offered. Most critically, a concession made to one country would automatically be extended to all, under what was called the most-favored-nation rule.


The cocktail worked. Notably, the principle of nondiscrimination ensured that a given trading partner could not negotiate a tariff cut with the U.S. and then offer a more favorable deal to another country — undercutting the U.S. competitive position. This broke through a logjam that had stymied previous attempts to liberalize international trade by encouraging countries to make only miserly offers.


The problem is that these principles make for an ill fit with Trump’s worldview, honed in the zero-sum sphere of real estate deal making where one party’s win is the other’s loss.


In trade diplomacy, the objective is to arrive at an agreement that everybody can call a win. “The best way to have a trade commitment enforced is to make it mutually beneficial,” Staiger told me. “If we push to get the very best deal for the United States, we will push other countries to the point that they are indifferent.”


Bilateral trade deficits are not losses. Bilateral surpluses are not gains. They say little about the overall strength or weakness of the economy. “I have a deficit with my grocer and a surplus with my firm,” said Carla A. Hills, the nation’s trade representative during the NAFTA negotiations under the administration of the first President George Bush. “As long as I run my economy properly, I stay above water.”

双边贸易逆差不是损失。双边贸易顺差也不是收益。它们不太能说明总体经济实力的强弱。“我对杂货店存在逆差,对我的公司存在顺差,”曾在乔治·布什(George Bush)总统第一任期作为美方贸易代表参与NAFTA谈判的卡拉·A·希尔斯(Carla A Hills)说,“只要我让自己的经济正常运转,我就不会陷入困境。”

Paradoxically, if Trump wants to reduce the American engagement with global trade, his best bet is to stay within the strictures of the multilateral trading system. The WTO, in fact, does not prevent the U.S. from raising tariffs unilaterally to protect a few industries and their workers. He does not have to convince any of the nation’s trading partners.


All he must accept is that the trading partners would be allowed — after negotiations — to retaliate proportionally by raising barriers against imports from the U.S. “The system allows you to reset your commitments,” Staiger said. “But other countries are also allowed to react.”


Not unlike the guarantee of reciprocal benefits extended to all, the opportunity for retaliation merely ensures that the U.S. proportionally bears the costs as well as the benefits of its choices. Whether the ultimate objective is more trade or less, it seems like a sensible principle upon which to negotiate. And yet the big risk for the global trading system, and the postwar economic order, is that it is a cost that Trump will refuse to bear.