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Additional info for America's Trade Policy Towards Japan: Demanding Results (Routledge Advances in International Political Economy, 11)

Sample text

Such tactical learning is most likely within advocacy coalitions, although policy-oriented learning will be more ‘credible’ the more it embodies an element of learning across coalitions. Drawing attention to policy-oriented learning points to a fluid dimension of the US trade policy process in which certain belief systems strengthen over time, binding one coalition of actors together, whereas alternative belief systems fragment, loosening ties within the rival coalition. This book argues that over time particular ideas about the Japan problem left an imprint on US trade policy in a way that cannot be tied simply to changing external circumstances or the superior resources of one coalition.

Lake’s approach is logically consistent with continued US openness, but the emphasis on the strategic trade protection motive suggests it too is a weak predictor of policy content. While stopping short of ascribing all protection to strategic trade logic, he does assert that such motives ‘may explain the widespread patterns of protection observed historically’ (Lake 1993: 475). States are assumed to implement strategic trade protection to shift industrial structures towards capitalintensive industries that in turn create large technological spin-offs and a virtuous cycle of rising economic progress.

Over time, the hardliners successfully focused attention on the Japan problem as an issue of high political and economic salience. In the wake of a crisis in the American trade policy regime, hardline ideas helped to alter the boundaries of American market access policy towards Japan. The next chapter examines the sources of this regime crisis that, in turn, paved the way for the ascendancy of the hardliners over the free traders. 3 An American trade policy regime crisis The first half of the 1980s was marked by a crisis in the institutions, laws and norms that had oriented US trade policy since 1934 – a crisis in the 1934 regime.

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