U.S. foreign policy and the need to cultivate international alliances increasingly conflict with US domestic politics, particularly with regard to trade. The 2016 election featured an outgoing Democratic administration insisting the Trans-Pacific Partnership was the U.S.’s last hope to show its commitment to the Asia-Pacific, a Republican candidate blaming it and other trade deals for all that ails the U.S. working class, and a Democratic candidate caught in the middle. Given the rise of right-wing economic authoritarianism that co-opts certain aspects of the trade policy critique of progressives, the latter are struggling with whether to pivot right, left, or center on trade questions.


This report outlines a Sustainable Equitable Trade (SET) doctrine that can make international cooperation more domestically palatable. It uses “doctrine” not in the sense of “dogma,” but rather as a broad set of policy goals through which specific policies (old and new) can be evaluated.

The doctrine has three pillars:

  1. Flip the class bias
  2. Promote systemic participation
  3. Win power
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