One of the main tenets of Donald Trump's rhetoric in the US presidential campaign was the defence of US workers from globalization, either by bringing jobs back from abroad or preventing migrants from entering the country. Once in office, he soon adopted some classical protectionist measures which, a few years earlier, would have been considered completely unthinkable in the country that used to be the main sponsor for globalization. And Trump, albeit the most powerful, is not the first or the only politician to have recently reconsidered the virtues of protectionism. Indeed, the argument is an important element of the political discourse of the new wave of nationalist movements in Europe, brexiteers included. Inspired by the works of historical sociology and global political economy, this paper aims to analyse the recent literature on the subject, stressing the theoretical, methodological and historical deficiencies, as well as to offer suggestions for alternative research programs. While we recognise the appeal that these topics can exert in the electoral muscle flexing, the results of our analysis show how the eternal “liberalism vs protectionism” debate, while still very lively, is profoundly flawed at the theoretical level. Moreover, such debate appears largely anachronistic - at least since the development of transnational production networks as the most advanced form of manufacture in the 20th century - and cannot constitute the basis of any serious trade policy in the present world.

The New Trade Wars. International Trade Theory as Social Science Fiction

Oreste Ventrone
2019

Abstract

One of the main tenets of Donald Trump's rhetoric in the US presidential campaign was the defence of US workers from globalization, either by bringing jobs back from abroad or preventing migrants from entering the country. Once in office, he soon adopted some classical protectionist measures which, a few years earlier, would have been considered completely unthinkable in the country that used to be the main sponsor for globalization. And Trump, albeit the most powerful, is not the first or the only politician to have recently reconsidered the virtues of protectionism. Indeed, the argument is an important element of the political discourse of the new wave of nationalist movements in Europe, brexiteers included. Inspired by the works of historical sociology and global political economy, this paper aims to analyse the recent literature on the subject, stressing the theoretical, methodological and historical deficiencies, as well as to offer suggestions for alternative research programs. While we recognise the appeal that these topics can exert in the electoral muscle flexing, the results of our analysis show how the eternal “liberalism vs protectionism” debate, while still very lively, is profoundly flawed at the theoretical level. Moreover, such debate appears largely anachronistic - at least since the development of transnational production networks as the most advanced form of manufacture in the 20th century - and cannot constitute the basis of any serious trade policy in the present world.
978-2-9569087-0-8
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11588/789623
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