Trade and American Leadership



From the nation-building of Alexander Hamilton to the trade wars of Donald Trump, trade policy has been a key instrument of American power and wealth. The open trading system that the United States sponsored after the Second World War serves US interests by promoting cooperation and prosperity, but also allows the allies to become more independent and China to rise. The case studies in Trade and American Leadership examine how the value of preferential trade programs is undercut by the multilateral liberalization that the United States promoted for generations, and how trade sanctions tend either to be too economically costly to impose or too modest to matter. These problems are exacerbated by a domestic political system in which the gains from trade are unevenly distributed, power is fragmented, and strategies are easily undermined. Trade and American Leadership places special emphasis on today's challenges, and the rising danger of economic nationalism.

Product Details

Cambridge University Press
Publish Date
January 03, 2019
6.27 X 9.3 X 1.21 inches | 1.8 pounds

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About the Author

Craig VanGrasstek teaches at the Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard University, Massachusetts, and has previously taught at American University's School of International Service, Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service, the World Trade Institute, and the University of Barcelona. He is the author of The History and Future of the World Trade Organization (2013).


'After years of malign neglect, the critical role of American leadership in the international trading system is once again front and center in the public debate. Craig VanGrasstek has therefore done an enormous service in bringing forth this timely, thoughtful, and deeply informed study of American trade politics from the nation's founding to the radical rupture being wrought by President Trump.' Benn Steil, Director of international economics, Council on Foreign Relations and author of The Marshall Plan: Dawn of the Cold War
'This book is a must-read for anybody hoping to understand the forces behind the current and future US trade and foreign policy. It combines historical depth to explore the theory and practice of American hegemony over several decades, with thorough analyses of Washington's slow shift from the multilateral to the preferential approach of trade and international relations - including its current episode of chaotic sanctions. An international political economy study at its best.' Patrick Messerlin, Sciences Po Paris
'Craig VanGrasstek offers a sweeping account for understanding the trade policies of Alexander Hamilton, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and Donald Trump - both nationalists and free traders - within one consistent geopolitical framework.' Gary Clyde Hufbauer, Peterson Institute for International Economics