A second-term Barack Obama administration or an incoming Mitt Romney administration would both, in different ways, seek a more aggressive international trade policy, according to a new US Election Note.

The paper's author, Joseph K. Hurd III, says that President Obama's relatively cautious approach to international trade could change in a second term. Although Obama has completed three bilateral Free T rade Agreements and supported the multilateral Asia-focused trade pact, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), these initiatives were all launched during the Bush presidency.

In a second term, with a Vice-President  who is unlikely to run in 2016, Obama may have more space to make bolder moves on trade including pushing hard on the TPP, ensuring stronger enforcement of US trade laws, and pushing for a bilateral agreement with Russia and possibly even Japan and the EU.

Mitt Romney, on the other hand, would be likely to prioritize economic and trade issues above most others in foreign policy. In line with the Republican Party, he is likely t o seek more bilateral agreements at the expense of multilateral WTO negotiations, and to push harder, at least initially, against those he deems to be pursuing 'unfair' trade practices, not least China.

Notes to Editors

Read US Election Note: International Trade Policy after 2012

The US Election Notes is a series of short analyses on the likely foreign policy implications of this year's presidential election. More information about the project, including the previous Election Note on 'China Policy after 2012' can be found online.

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