Joe Biden’s economic team is taking shape with plans to remake the Trump administration’s approach to economic relations overseas, with a distinction: agreement with President Trump’s assertion that globalization has been hard on many Americans but differences on how to address it.
The distinction shows Mr. Trump likely will have a lasting impact on the direction of U.S. economic policy, even though the incoming administration is trying to alter important parts of it.
For many years, peaking in the 1990s, mainstream Democrats and Republicans championed globalization and trade agreements with China, Mexico and others as developments that would make Americans better off. Economists said that there would be winners and losers as the U.S. imported and exported more, but that the trade-offs would be manageable.
Mr. Trump’s election four years ago in part reflected the toll that foreign competition took on Americans over two decades of amped-up globalization, particularly in manufacturing communities run down by cheap imports. One of Mr. Trump’s “America First” messages was that Washington elites, joining with global companies, let U.S. workers down with unbalanced trade deals. Another was deep skepticism of global institutions like the World Trade Organization, which was formed to resolve international trade disputes through multilateral rules.