In This Review

American Trade Politics
American Trade Politics
By I. M. Destler
Institute for International Economics, 2005, 450 pp

This is the fourth edition of what has justly become a classic treatment of the politics of U.S. trade policy. Old chapters have been revised, and four new ones cover the decade that has elapsed since the third edition was published in 1995. Destler deftly weaves the ins and outs of Washington politics together with the strategic thrust and tactical maneuvers of successive presidents in dealing with the complexities of foreign trade. Three significant developments took place in the past decade, two in politics and one in policy. First, the business community has become much more global in its outlook and therefore less prone to seek protection or resist trade liberalization (with notable exceptions, such as in the cases of textiles, steel, sugar, and orange juice). Second, the long-standing tradition of congressional bipartisanship on trade issues, as with other aspects of foreign policy, has given way to polarization. Third, trade policy has given much more emphasis to bilateralism, as reflected in free-trade agreements with Singapore, Chile, and Australia. Destler offers constructive but also controversial suggestions for improving the formulation and execution of trade policy with bipartisan support.