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US trade policies vis-à-vis the disputes with Japan and China (1980-2021) and their lessons for emerging powers

Grant number: 22/05841-2
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Master
Effective date (Start): September 01, 2022
Effective date (End): February 29, 2024
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Political Science - International Politics
Principal Investigator:Yi Shin Tang
Grantee:Débora Lemos Nascentes
Host Institution: Instituto de Relações Internacionais (IRI). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil


This project dissects the formulation of US trade policy, paying attention to the escalation of trade conflicts to trade wars through the analysis of two specific cases, namely: United States-Japan (1970-1990) and United States-China (2018-2021). Therefore, the central question of this research is to contribute to the area of knowledge by understanding which elements stimulate the United States to initiate a trade war. To this end, the study will start from the hypothesis that trade wars are mobilized as an American instrument to ensure its central position in the International System when key elements - such as surplus, control of financial capital, cutting-edge technologies, and natural resources - are put in check. The general objective of the research is - through a historical analysis of official documents - to systematize how the United States draws its commercial strategy vis-à-vis emerging trade competitors, notably Japan in the 1980s and China in the most current context. The research also contemplates how Brazil, as one of the recurring examples of the so-called emerging powers, can use these elements to outline its trade strategy and might even collaborate with the formulation of Brazilian foreign policy. This research seeks to contribute to a type of analysis with a high opportunity for exploration in the area of International Relations: the one of studying trade wars as a catalyst for new political-economic instruments. Thus, the investigation is part of a research agenda that aims to analyze the US motivations behind the trade wars they started through a analysis of the two selected cases.

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