Look West: The Evolution of U.S. Trade Policy Towards Asia

Vinod K Aggarwal

Globalizations, 2010

US trade policy toward Asia has undergone an important evolution over the last 60 years, reflecting not only changes in its vision of engaging Asia but also in the general American approach to trade negotiations. Put succinctly, in the late 1980s the USA turned away from its former deep commitment to multilateral trade negotiations and began to pursue a strategy of ‘competitive liberalization’. This shift has been marketed as an innovative approach to trade negotiations, and includes the pursuit of bilateral and minilateral arrangements as well as sectorally based market opening. At the turn of the millennium we have seen the active pursuit of bilateral trade agreements. How can we categorize the patterns of US trade arrangements over time? What are the driving forces behind the evolution of US trade policy towards Asia? What are the implications, both domestically and internationally, of this changing US trade strategy? And finally, what is the likely direction of future US trade policy?

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