In This Review

Populism and Trade: The Challenge to the Global Trading System
Populism and Trade: The Challenge to the Global Trading System
By Kent Jones
Oxford University Press, 2021, 272 pp

A longtime champion of open trade, Jones laments the impact on the multilateral trading system of the U.S. presidency of Donald Trump, the successful British campaign to leave the European Union, and populist movements worldwide. His explanations for the protectionist turn and its connection to populism are not new: multilateralism is the project of much-resented elites, foreigners are viewed with suspicion, and populist leaders have no scruples about shattering the norms that buttress the global trading system. More original, however, are Jones’s ambitious proposals for galvanizing support for that system. He calls on the U.S. Congress to reassert its control over presidential decisions on national security tariffs and the use of Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974, which authorizes the application of punitive tariffs against other countries. The European Union should address its “democratic deficit” so that European publics feel that their voices are heard when the European Commission negotiates trade agreements. The World Trade Organization should adopt a more flexible interpretation of the escape clauses in its agreements to avoid alienating nationalist members. Jones concludes that “the prospects for a more enlightened U.S. trade policy” in the post-Trump era remain uncertain. The same could be said of other countries’ trade policies.