The Clinton administration has also made a major breakthrough in trade policy with China, after several years of rocky relations on the security and trade front. The early years were marked by a series of high-level trade disputes that culminated in a pioneering agreement on intellectual property, signed under penalty of sanctions. Although the government identified WTO membership early on as one of the few levers available to the United States to influence China`s development and advance the rule of law, negotiations only seriously intensified when Chinese leaders, in particular Prime Minister Zhu Rongji, accepted WTO membership as a key complement to the internal reform agenda and decided that the United States would be the main mediator. But, as in the 1980s, twin deficits and U.S. dollar overruns have centrally contributed to a loss of competitiveness with its Asian rivals, so that in the 1990s, trade developments depended heavily on the Clinton administration`s commitment to fiscal discipline and the astonishing performance of the U.S. information technology sector. , as well as the ongoing economic collapse in Japan. In the mid-1990s, the U.S. economic performance was strong – trade was a major contributor.
At the sectoral level, it has become clear that the sectors where the United States is the leader are increasingly dominated by global economic performance. >The most striking example that distinguishes the Clinton administration`s approach is perhaps the case of steel. The Asian financial crisis was in full swing when the U.S. steel industry experienced a crisis, with layoffs totaling 10 percent of the workforce, a drop in capacity utilization and a corporate bankruptcy. The industry has adopted a strategy focused on anti-dumping cases, in parallel with efforts to obtain legislation imposing global quotas for steel imports. The Clinton administration responded by aggressively enforcing anti-dumping laws and making a strong commitment to industry adjustment measures, but it made it clear early on that it would veto WTO-inconsistent quota laws. Concerned about the fragility of international financial markets, the Clinton administration strongly opposed the idea of taking extra-legislative measures, or even submitting to a protection case, even though the legislation on steel quotas was passed by the House of Representatives by 289 votes to 141. President Clinton`s position – which would later affect America`s position in Seattle and the vote on permanent normalized trade relations in China (PNTR) – is in stark contradiction to the actions taken by previous governments.
Finally, it is worth briefly mentioning how trade policy was coordinated within the Clinton administration. President Clinton took office with the goal of strengthening international economic policy through the creation of a new coordinating body in the White House.