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Caroline Baum: How much can Trump do by himself to fix trade deals?

Donald Trump will have some authority to unilaterally change U.S. trade policy.

President-elect Donald Trump calls himself a free-trader. That self-assessment would appear to depend on what the meaning of “free” is. There is nothing Trump has said during the 2016 presidential election campaign or in its aftermath to suggest that he favors the voluntary exchange of goods and services among nations.

Over the years, Trump has flip-flopped on everything from political affiliation (Republican, Democrat, Independent) to issues (a woman’s right to choose) to wives (three so far). But the one constant dating back at least to the 1980s is his protectionist stance on trade.

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