President Trump's recent decision to part ways with chief strategist Steve Bannon — until now, the White House's leading voice of so-called "economic nationalism" — has been interpreted by some as a victory for the administration's so-called "globalists." Alas, this paradigm is too simple and the threats to free trade posed by this administration remain very real, if less apparent to casual observers.
During the 2016 presidential campaign, then-candidate Trump promised a bold new protectionist trade agenda for the United States. If elected, he said, he would withdraw the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, back out of the North American Free Trade Agreement, and potentially withdraw from the World Trade Organization.
In the administration's earliest days, it appeared the president was ready to make good on those promises. His inaugural address was littered with over-the-top protectionist rhetoric and one of his first official acts as president was to withdraw the U.S. from TPP. In April, at Bannon's urging, the president came close to withdrawing the United States from NAFTA as well, only to be convinced to renegotiate the agreement.
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