For free traders, the 2016 campaign was dispiriting. Free trade suffered repeated, unwarranted abuse from President-elect Trump, Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders, making it the truly biggest loser of the election.
Looking at what Trump’s done during the transition period, it’s apparent his trade protectionism was more than just campaign rhetoric. Shortly after winning, he announced he would withdraw the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and he’s appointed several protectionist-leaning officials to lead key trade posts in his administration. Likewise, Trump hasn’t backed away from tariff threats against specific companies who make business decisions with which he disagrees. That’s put him at odds with Congressional Republicans who have long been stalwart supporters of free trade.