Editor’s Note: This post was written by Christian Podest.
As the newly sworn-in President of the United States, Donald Trump has many crucial challenges and opportunities lying ahead of him that will define his presidency for years to come. One opportunity that the Trump administration hopes to address is the reformation of various free trade agreements that the United States is actively involved in. The president will face a number of challenges in the coming months and years as well, one being the revitalization of American manufacturing that he has called for during the campaign. For Donald Trump’s presidency to be revered as successful, he will have to capitalize on key political opportunities and overcome the crucial challenges that present themselves to the nation over the next few years.
Free trade has long been thought of as an essential belief to anyone that subscribes to conservative ideology. While virtually everyone can agree on the fact that Donald Trump is by no means a hardcore conservative, it still seems odd for a Republican president to attack free trade so vigorously. President Trump has commenced a war against free trade by most notably advocating against the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The president and his administration have a unique opportunity to not only shift the Republican Party’s stance on free trade as a whole, but also to renegotiate/scrap the United States’ free trade agreements with some potential bipartisan support. Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and other notable Democrats have scrutinized some of America’s trade agreements during this past election cycle, which leads one to believe that some Democrats may actually side with Trump on issues of free trade. Only several days into his presidency, Donald Trump proactively took measures against free trade by withdrawing the United States from the TPP and signaled that the TTIP would not come to fruition during his time in office. Additionally, it seems as though he will target NAFTA in the near future, meaning that Trump’s war against free trade is actively underway; an opportunity that he and his administration are capitalizing on immediately.
On the campaign trail, Trump frequently sought to appeal to a core group of disenfranchised voters in states such as Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, among others, that have fallen victim to the diminishing industrial and manufacturing sectors in today’s United States. The Rust Belt played a crucial role in adding to Trump’s Electoral College vote total, which shows that many citizens from that area of the country approve of the president’s calls to revitalize the American manufacturing industry. While simply creating a certain number of assembly jobs would undoubtedly benefit the American economy, President Trump must also allow for further investment in research and development pertaining to the manufacturing field in order to achieve sustainable growth in the industry. Moreover, he has verbally promoted the use of import tariffs to protect the American manufacturing industry. Giving new life to American manufacturing is a mammoth task and may turn out to be easier said than done for President Trump. This will certainly prove to be one of the greatest challenges facing Trump’s presidency: fulfilling a crucial campaign promise that greatly contributed to his election win.