Economist Mark Blyth: US election will have huge global consequences, including for seafood

Economist Mark Blyth
Economist Mark Blyth | Photo by Cliff White/SeafoodSource
6 Min

If Donald Trump wins his bid for a second term as president of the United States, he’ll look to implement a plan that could result in the elimination of thousands of federal jobs.

Those involve career bureaucrats involved in the regulation of the seafood industry and food safety, warned Mark Blyth, a professor of international economics at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, who delivered the keynote address at the 2024 Seafood Expo North America in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A. on 10 March.

“He wants to replace the top 50,000 civil servants; that is to say you take everybody in all these [federal] departments who could be a blockage [to his agenda], and you put them on what's called Schedule F, which [provides] the jobs, the same benefits. But, you can be fired at well. So, let's say you work at the FDA or the EPA – people who, for example, are the ones requiring monitors on fishing boats and making the fishermen pay for it, which has turned into a Supreme Court case – and Schedule F is instituted. You might be a little bit more hesitant to block government policy under the circumstances,” Blyth said. “You might not think this is going to be a big deal but would be a huge deal.”

The conservative think tank Heritage Foundation released a plan in September 2023 that detailed how a second Trump administration could gut the federal bureaucracy. Blyth said the move would result in deregulation and the cutting of red tape, resulting in an economic boost, but it could also be dangerous for consumers as federal agencies lose the manpower they need to effectively staff food safety agencies and other vital programs.

“Very few superpowers advanced their own interest by hollowing out their own state capacities, which is essentially what we're setting out to do. For better or worse, that's what it's going to be,” he said. “I like to know when I'm drinking arsenic.”

The 2024 U.S. election is “the only globally significant election,” providing both an unpredictable result and drastically divergent repercussions depending on the outcome, according to Blyth.

For example, U.S. President Joe Biden has pledged to defend Taiwan in the case of a Chinese invasion and has vowed to continue supporting Ukraine following its invasion by Russia, whereas Trump – his presumptive opponent – has been noncommittal. Blyth accused Biden of “writing checks that we can't cash,” arguing a defense of Taiwan and the Baltics under the terms of NATO is impossible without catastrophic, untenable losses for the U.S.

“Are we going to actually fight that fight? No,” Blyth said.

The two candidates appear to be more aligned on trade, however, with Biden continuing most of the tariffs Trump placed on Chinese goods. But, Blyth said Biden hasn’t shown an interest in further ...

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