American Trade Politics: System Under Stress

In This Review

American Trade Politics: System Under Stress

By I. M. Destler
Institute for International Economics/New York: Twentieth Century Fund, 1986
384 pp. $30.00
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This is an excellent analysis of the breakdown of the political process by which trade liberalization was accomplished from 1934 to the 1970s. It narrates in some detail the handling of the automobile and steel issues and how the Reagan Administration handled relations with Congress on trade (very well in 1984 and badly in 1985). A veteran analyst of the making of American foreign economic policy, Mr. Destler has a series of mostly sensible suggestions for doing things better in the future even though the old conditions cannot be re-created. More questionable is his suggestion that trade legislation be deferred until the merchandise trade deficit is greatly reduced. (It is rarely wise to put tactical conclusions in books dealing with long-run developments.) Appendices provide a valuable summary of investigations under the antidumping, countervailing duty, and escape clause laws from 1979 to 1985.

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