Today, the United States Studies Centre releases its report Red Book | Blue Book: A guide to the next US administration, a roadmap into what Australia can expect from a second Trump or Biden term. While the prospect of a second Trump presidency has been a cause for much angst among US allies, the report explores ways that the Biden and Trump campaign platforms diverge but also dovetail, notably on support for the US-Australia alliance.

“There is strong bipartisan consensus in the US Congress that China represents a significant challenge and that working with US allies like Australia and Japan is more important than ever,” said USSC CEO Dr Michael Green.

The report discusses the implications of US-China strategic competition, the rise of US trade protectionism from both the Biden and Trump campaign, and the future of Biden’s signature green energy legislation if Trump is elected – as well as what it all means for Australia.

It draws on the analysis of 15 experts on key topics including the future of AUKUS, NATO, and US trade and industrial policy, and offers policy prescriptions on how Australia can advance its interests regardless of who is elected to the Oval Office.


On US alliances in Asia (Dr Michael Green):

  • A Biden administration may follow prior second term Democratic presidents in embracing a more ambitious trade agenda, though in this instance it may be focused on an area like digital trade.
  • A Trump administration will likely prompt US allies to strengthen security cooperation with other US allies, which aligns with outcomes the Biden administration is seeking.

On AUKUS (Professor Peter Dean, Alice Nason, Sophie Mayo, and Tom Barrett):

  • A Biden administration may seek to capitalise on current AUKUS momentum, by integrating new partners like Japan and Canada into Pillar II.­
  • A Trump administration may seek to sweeten the AUKUS deal for Americans by exacting additional investments or commitments from Australia and the United Kingdom­.

On trade (Dr John Kunkel and Hayley Channer):

  • A Biden administration will continue with its union-centric, trade protectionism agenda, but will likely persevere with the stalled IPEF.
  • A Trump administration will significantly ramp up US protectionism – delivering pain for US trading partners – and withdraw from the IPEF. Trump has proposed a 10 per cent tariff on all imported goods and painted the IPEF as a wrecking ball aimed at American workers.

On climate change (Lachlan Carey):

  • A Biden administration will continue to implement its sweeping domestic climate legislation while also looking to build out the international support for more climate efforts, including the US-Australia Climate Compact.
  • A Trump administration will seek to unwind the Biden administration’s climate legislation, accelerate fossil fuel development, and undermine global cooperative efforts on climate. However, it will also face obstacles in Congress to aspects of this agenda – particularly the elimination of clean energy tax credits – and growth in clean energy technologies will continue to outpace fossil fuels due to falling prices, baked-in policy support and growing consumer demand.

On China (Jared Mondschein):

  • A Biden administration will seek to strengthen alliances and cooperation with regional partners while increasing counter-pressure on China, including through deploying tariffs on targeted Chinese goods, particularly imports of green goods.
  • A Trump administration will seek tariffs of 60 per cent or more on all Chinese goods. Likely members of his cabinet have supported ending permanent normal trade relations with China and prohibiting Chinese companies from operating in the US without reciprocal access for US firms.

On Congress (Bruce Wolpe):

  • The next US president - be it Biden or Trump - will be constrained by a likely split in Congress, with the Senate going Republican and the House going Democrat

On Europe (Dr Gorana Grgić):

  • A Biden administration will prioritise strengthening NATO to bolster European allies’ long-term security capabilities, with Biden’s legacy being that of the last Atlanticist president.
  • A Trump administration may undermine US membership in NATO, posing the greatest challenge to NATO from within and the prospect of a major turn in US policy on Ukraine.

On development aid (Lester Munson):

  • A Biden administration will continue to emphasise climate and gender-focused projects while struggling to maintain historic US aid levels, which only face ever-growing budgetary pressures.
  • A Trump administration may call for slashing US aid budgets and utilising aid for US national security and economic interests.

On the Middle East (Jared Mondschein):

A Biden administration will continue to try to provide less resources to the Middle East and maintain its focus on the Indo-Pacific, yet will nonetheless still seek progress with the Abraham Accords.

A Trump administration will seek to cement Saudi-Israeli normalisation, yet will face challenges without recognising an independent Palestinian state.

DownloadRed book | Blue book 2024: A guide to the next US administration

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